Capsule reviews of current area art exhibitions.

"Fashioning Art: Handbags by Judith Leiber" is a retrospective featuring more than 150 high-end designs that "transcend utility to become objects d'art." Her 30-year career defined handbag trends of the elite and allowed her to join the ranks of esteemed designers such as Tiffany and Cartier. Leiber won the Council of Fashion Designers Award for Accessories in 1994 and has work shown in the costume institutes of well-respected museums, including the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., and the Metropolitan Museum in New York City. Clearly, the accolades and achievements are a direct result of the artistry and detail that Leiber applies to each bag. Hundreds of colored rhinestones make up the intricate surfaces of the minaudières she is so famous for — an assortment that can range from Tiffany-inspired dragonfly patterns and Fabergé eggs to almost anything from nature and folklore. The exhibit showcases an extensive array of images, including an Asian Foo Dog, a monkey head, a slice of watermelon, and a bundle of asparagus. Her fabric clutches vary from the ornate patterns of Persian rugs and Kashmir tapestries to delicate Japanese landscapes and Chinese motifs. Several of Leiber's handbags are attributed to particular artists such as Piet Mondrian and Georges Braque and specific genres, particularly Pop Art and Art Deco. Although Leiber is acclaimed for the kitschy rhinestone minaudières, her couture evening bags reflect a refined sophistication that is rarely seen elsewhere. One of the most dramatically striking pieces in the exhibition is an elegant, royal-blue, satin evening bag with a marcasite-trimmed frame adorned with blue cabachons, designed in 1989 to match Barbara Bush's inaugural gown. (Through December 31 at the Boca Raton Museum of Art, 501 Plaza Real, Mizner Park. Call 561-392-2500.)

Now on Display

Salvador Dali: Large and Monumental Sculptures: Amid the royal palms and thick-blade sod of the Village of Merrick Park plaza stand 15 of Dali's colossal bronze sculptures. Their stylistic range gives a comprehensive overview of the eccentric, mustachioed Spaniard's work — not to mention talent — in this medium. Flanked by The Collection's latest offerings from Jaguar and Lotus, the dynamic pieces created from Dali's original casts quietly struggle to steal glances from the mall's haute couture seekers. Although Dali is most remembered for his dreamlike, surrealist paintings, art historians are re-examining his work in other media, which only adds to the significance of this show. (Through May 2006, presented by Art+ Gallery at the Village of Merrick Park, 358 San Lorenzo Ave., No. 3135, Coral Gables, Call 786-497-1111 or visit www.artplusgallery.com.)

Everything about the Artist Known as Wyland — from his singular name to his bio, which touts him as an "artist of the sea" and "the most influential marine life artist of our time" — shouts BIG! Wyland's empire includes nearly three dozen galleries in eight U.S. states as well as Canada and Mexico, with Wyland Galleries on Las Olas Boulevard one of his seven Sunshine State locations. 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. (Wyland Galleries are at 1213 E. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-522-4222.)

 
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