Capsule reviews of current area art exhibitions

The Gallery Center in Boca Raton, housing eight galleries, all respected and known for their expansive and diverse acquisitions, is one of South Florida's top gallery collectives. Rosenbaum Contemporary,a 2,000-square-foot gallery there, opened its 2005-06 exhibition season with major works by abstract-expressionist sculptor Louise Nevelson. One of the most important sculptors of the mid-20th Century, Nevelson explored and expanded the parameters of art by combining the sensibilities of several of her contemporaries, including Pablo Picasso's Cubism, Marcel Duchamp's Dadaism, and the neo-Plasticism of Piet Mondrian. The result was a body of work that is concurrently industrial blocks and flowing lines. The assemblages of monochromatic or often unpainted found objects that she became famous for consist of familiar, functional items, displaced to create a captivating three-dimensional visual display. Wooden oars, pieces of broken chairs, carved floral reliefs, and other fragments are incorporated as simplified geometric shapes typically contained in a boxy framework to create a dramatic contrast. Most of Nevelson's works, constructed as vertical sculptures, blur the boundaries of the form and function of the items involved. Whether she painted the piece her usual monochromatic black or left the naked rawness of the wood, Nevelson allows the viewer to understand the combined objects as they were originally intended and as the entirely new, monumental entity she intends. Mirror Shadow XXIV,standing at an expansive eight feet tall, exemplifies this duality and power, requiring a significant and stark exhibit space. Nevelson's work impacts the viewer with its quiet complexity and commanding presence. (Through December 6 at Rosenbaum Contemporary, Gallery Center, 608 Banyan Trl., Boca Raton. Call 561-994-9180, or visit www.rosenbaumcontemporary.com)

Now on Display

Everything about the Artist Known as Wyland — from his singular name to his bio, which touts him as "artist of the sea" and "the most influential marine life artist of our time" — shouts BIG! USA Today once called him "a Marine Michelangelo," the U.N. named him official artist for the International Year of the Ocean (1998), and the Guinness people certified his Ocean Planet in Long Beach, California, as the world's largest mural. Wyland's empire also includes nearly three dozen galleries in eight U.S. states as well as Canada and Mexico. Most are concentrated, not surprisingly, in Hawaii (his base), California, and Florida, with Wyland Galleries on Las Olas Boulevard one of his seven Sunshine State locations. That's a lot of hoopla for an artist who, bottom line, appears to have a Flipper fixation. OK, to be fair, Wyland does have an extraordinary knack for what he does, and what he does has made him very rich and famous. If you like paintings, drawings, and sculptures devoted to dolphins, whales, and other marine life — and such art is enormously popular with millions of people — then Wyland's your man. He can capture the play of light just beneath the surface of saltwater like no one else, and he has an almost fanatical fidelity to anatomical accuracy and to capturing the way these creatures move through their watery world. And in much the same way that Clyde Butcher is an advocate for Everglades preservation, Wyland wields his clout to promote awareness of marine ecology. The local gallery has a wealth of his work in all media, along with the highly variable output of similar-minded artists such as Noelito, who does striking chiaroscuro seascapes bathed in moonlight; Steven Power, whose landscapes have something of the feel of paintings by the Florida Highwaymen; and Jim Warren, whose unbearably kitschy surrealism includes images of things like white horses emerging from sea foam or cumulus clouds. (Wyland Galleries are at 1213 E. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-522-4222.)

 
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