By Chris Joseph
By Michael E. Miller
By Kyle Swenson
By David Villano
By Kyle Swenson
By John Thomason
By Michele Eve
Ultimately, however, this biennial is most notable for what gets overlooked. Maybe Carol Prusa's You Are Too Many and Blooming Voices (both rendered in silverpoint, graphite, and acrylic on plastic paper) were deemed too similar to her three submissions last year, one of which earned her Best in Show. The Boca Raton-based artist, who creates ethereal biomorphic forms, has an instantly identifiable style that some might describe as monotonous, even as others (myself included) might champion it as coherent and consistent.
Not far from Prusa's work is a similarly otherworldly piece by Iris Even called Detached from the Body. Its three rubber forms, each about three feet long, suggest giant, segmented insects like centipedes, and they're suspended on monofilament (one trails onto the floor). Their top sides are a warm brown that's uncomfortably close to the color of freshly baked bread.
I was also drawn to a couple of mixed-media works in the main gallery that are interactive, although in different ways. Matthew Cox's Why Is a Vulture Following Me? is a wall-mounted contraption with chains and wheels that whir into motion when you approach, so that a long strip of canvas blanketed with markings in charcoal or pencil advances a few inches. The bird of the title seems almost like an afterthought, a tiny form perched on a slender rod attached to an immobile wheel.
While Cox's piece reacts to the viewer on its own terms, The Illustrated Alphabet of Memory, also by Pettersson, depends on the viewer's willingness to interact. It consists of a sheeted mattress on the floor with a pair of pillows and two dozen books of various sizes arrayed across its surface. The books are open to their inside front or back covers and include such markings as the names of owners, secondhand prices, drawings, and stains, and affixed to each is a little index tab with a letter of the alphabet (u and z are missing, which I suppose is a comment on the fallibility of memory). The interactive component is a small sign on the floor that reads "You may kneel on the bed," and there's a clear space at the foot of the bed for doing so, which of course I did. You should too, because the different vantage point changes the context of the work.
Overall, this second biennial at the Art and Culture Center, narrowed down from nearly 200 entries, is much easier to get a handle on than its predecessor, which featured more than 100 works by 66 artists. This time, photography doesn't threaten to take over, and the art that's included gets enough space to keep the exhibition from feeling cluttered. Just ignore the juror's winners and choose your own and you should come away satisfied.