The big draw at the Boca Raton Museum of Art right now may be the Whistler show, but don't miss a smaller, less flashy exhibition tucked away on the museum's second floor in the Walter and Lucille Rubin Gallery. "Milton Avery: A Retrospective of Nudes" features not quite three dozen works, but they form a fascinating cross-section of the long, full career of this American artist. Included are oils, gouaches, and drawings in ink, charcoal, and pencil, covering 1930 to 1963, two years before he died. All come from the sizable Avery collection of the Harmon-Meek Gallery in Naples, Florida. Avery's many influences show up here, especially the cubism of Picasso and Braque. As the artist himself neatly summed up: "I try to construct a picture in which shapes, spaces, colors form a set of unique relationships, independent of any subject matter." Indeed, the fact that the works included here all portray nudes is almost incidental — the pull of abstraction is present in most of the pieces, regardless of the artist's style of the moment. As one text panel emphasizes, Avery was something of a workhorse whose motto was "Keep painting — day in, day out. Be absorbed by it." Critic Barbara Haskell writes that Avery "viewed painting as a duty" and "likened himself to a shoemaker — working every day, regardless of mood or inspiration." Such dedication to the work is admirable, even if it also guarantees that Avery's output is uneven. Still, this slight show is, in its own way, more satisfying than the Whistler exhibition downstairs. (Through April 2 at the Boca Raton Museum of Art, 501 Plaza Real, Mizner Park, Boca Raton. Call 561-392-2500.)

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