Artbeat

Capsule reviews of current area art exhibitions.

Imagine the best vintage clothing store on the planet, filled with the top gets on any thrift-store connoisseur's list -- Pucci, Chanel, and Blass. At the Museum of Lifestyle and Fashion History in Delray Beach, you can't buy or touch any of the many outfits currently on display from the permanent collection. While vintage clothes horses might experience a painful envy, the museum's mix of cool clothes from the late 19th Century to the mod '60s is a great attraction. Accompanying the clothes are several time lines and essays that fit fashion into historical context. Who knew (or knew they wanted to know) that the right to wear red sparked a 16th-century peasant revolt in Germany? Or that Nancy Reagan's fondness for the color coined a new shade -- Reagan Red? (Eeeew. Yuck.) Or that World War II sparked a move toward casual clothes for men and the ultrafeminine "New Look" for women as a reaction to wartime severity? There is an almost too-obvious tribute to the fashions of Jackie Kennedy Onassis, though it would be nearly impossible to have even the most cursory reviews of American fashion without her. Also, in the '50s section, there's an unfortunate choice of kitsch over clothes, with a full-skirted, June Cleaver-esque dress displayed alongside a kitchen set. A small exhibit in the corner does the most to bring the show's point down like a hammer -- a display of what tragedy does to fashion. In two small glass cases are purses inspired by 9/11, one by Charleston, South Carolina, artist Mary Norton titled After the Tragedy and one bedazzled in the ubiquitous red, white, and blue that emerged right after the attacks. It's good stuff, and did we mention the Pucci shift dresses? (Through summer at the Museum of Lifestyle and Fashion History, 322 NE Second Ave., Delray Beach. Call 561-243-2662.)

Magdalena Abakanowicz's 95 Figures stand in diagonal rows, like bronze sentinels, on the second floor of the Museum of Art in Fort Lauderdale. The human-sized sculptures provoke a heavy sense of foreboding. Some take a step; others are static; they're all headless and armless. The work is easy to appreciate for its size, the precision of the figures' placement, and its ability to draw a visceral reaction. The urge to climb in and stand among the figures, to be amid the crowd and absorb the mob's purpose, is almost irresistible. At the same time, the work provides no pleasure or enjoyment. There are five other pieces displayed with the figures. One at the end of the hall leading to the exhibit, The Second Never Seen Figure on Beam with Wheels, is looming and unique, a perfect counterpoint to the crowd. (Through October 30 at the Museum of Art, One E. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-525-5500.)

"Going, Going, Gone?"
"Going, Going, Gone?"

"At This Time, 10 Miami Artists": Donald and Mera Rubell's newly refurbished warehouse and legendary art holdings make the Rubell Family Collection one of America's best privately owned contemporary venues. Its current exhibit suggests Miami artists are internationally respected. Curator Mark Coetzee created a dynamic interaction among the pieces by not hanging each artist's works separately, thereby allowing viewers to move from the awe-inspiring -- José Bedia's raft installation -- to the bizarre -- Cooper's cryptic and angst-ridden Our American Cousin assemblage. Naomi Fisher offers some of her color-saturated and visually enticing Assy Flora series, while Jiae Hwang showcases I'm the Real Princess of the Magical Land, a witty and delicate collection of pencil drawings. Miami and its art scene are relatively young, and with an eye on the future, one easily understands why shows like this are needed: They bring to light historic points of reference for tomorrow's artists and historians. (Through October 30 at the Rubell Family Collection, 95 NW 29th St., Miami. Call 305-573-6090.)

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