Jurassic Parque

Clive Butcher's photos of Cuba's forests and mountains have an otherworldly strangeness about them

There are no people visible in Magote Water Buffalo Ranch, an expansive image of a U.N. farm beneath a towering rock formation that recalls Wyoming's Devils Tower, although there are a few tiny buildings suggesting that humans aren't far away. (There are no water buffalo either.) It's an eerily open hillside landscape scattered with palm trees and lines of bushes and trees forming graceful loops, and the clouds above darken and turn threatening at either side of the shot. There's an edgy sense of mystery here, a feeling that something big is about to happen.

Butcher's most majestic photograph is one that is simultaneously familiar and alien. In terms of things like composition, lighting, and texture, Magote #3 is classic Butcher, as unmistakable as his famous Everglades work. But the image seems freshly charged, reenergized by the strangeness of its subject matter, which includes Cuba's Sierra de Vinales mountains jutting up in unexpected shapes, including one to the left that made me think of one of those giant Easter Island statues, toppled and overgrown with greenery.


Banao #1 is a dramatic departure for Butcher.
Colby Katz
Banao #1 is a dramatic departure for Butcher.

Details

On display through November 19, 954-340-5000.
Coral Springs Museum of Art, 2855 Coral Springs Dr., Coral Springs

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I don't envy any curator faced with the challenge of incorporating other art into a space dominated by Butcher, but not surprisingly, the Coral Springs Museum's ever-resourceful Barbara K. O'Keefe found a striking solution. "Steckley: From the Ground Up" includes nine pieces of furniture and a fruit bowl handcrafted by Matt Steckley, and it's uniformly elegant stuff.

The Miami-based Steckley works primarily with Cuban mahogany but also with such exotic woods as wild tamarind and andiroba, and he even incorporates driftwood into a couple of pieces. He keeps his lines clean, simple, and mostly free of adornment in such items as a dining table with legs that resemble giant starfish and various chairs and small side tables. And his breathtaking Arches Writing Desk melds a plain rectangular slab of Cuban mahogany with two slender arches that form the legs and define a crescent holding two small drawers on the top surface. I'm convinced I could create literature on that desk.

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