Capsule reviews of current area art exhibitions.

"Everything I touch turns to $old," boast five sweaters, knitted appropriately in cash green and Midas gold-hued fibers. With these as the sole display in the windows of its Dixie Highway storefront, Gavlak Studios might easily be mistaken for a real estate office. That notion would not be entirely dispelled either inside the gallery, where a series of large format photographs titled "Small Businesses" features quirky, freestanding structures — as if they were real estate properties available for investors. In fact, both sweaters and photos are the creation of Lisa Anne Auerbach, who uses the media for social commentary on capitalism. The sweaters are part of Auerbach's knitting project "Steal This Sweater" (a nod to '70s social revolutionary Abbie Hoffman's Steal This Book), where her messages are literally knitted into a cultural fabric. "Buy this sweater off my back" is knitted into the fabric of some sweaters, along with prices that range from $5,000 to $25,000, all supposedly based on how much gold is used in each design. Auerbach's big pictures (30 by 40 inches) of small businesses capture their personalities and moods, each a portrait of a unique face of the American Dream. Signage is a constant that clutters these portraitures, and the photographs take their titles from the products being sold (Ice) or from the businesses' names (Desirables). The photos serve as a reminder of the contrast between the local retailers who contribute to the characters of their communities and retail giants who offer nothing but slickly presented homogeneity. (Through May 24 at Gavlak Studios, 3300 S. Dixie Hwy., Ste. 4, West Palm Beach. Call 561-833-0583.)

Now on Display

"Small Businesses"
"Small Businesses"

With more than 1,600 members and the mission "to present the public with the highest aesthetic standards in fine art," the Colored Pencil of Society of America has selected its finest 105 for its "Signature Showcase," an exhibition that includes winners from the society's competitive international exhibit. Displayed at the Cornell Museum, the works are exhibited in loose thematic groups so that you'll find fruits, veggies, and flowers in one room and animals, landscapes, and architecture in another. The styles are as varied as the colors: realism, photo-realism, impressionism, cubism, and abstraction among them. Some are predictable in their subject matter — for instance, Peppers IV, a serial study by Arizona's Bill Cupit — though expertly executed. Several, like Seattle-resident Laura Ospanik's Shadow Lights, study the play of light through transparent objects. Others are striking in their creativity: Lula Mae Blocton from Connecticut uses a bold, geometric pattern (presumably African) to dominate the foreground of Amistad Mende while an image of the historical slave ship repeats in the background. (Through June 3 at Cornell Museum at Old School Square, 51 N. Swinton Ave., Delray Beach. Call 561-243-7922.)

You'll find an artistic Zen and natural reverence in "Isabel Bigelow: Paintings & Monoprints and Luis Castro: Sculpture." The wife-and-husband show demonstrates the balance necessary to make relationships work, whether personal or aesthetic, two-dimensional or three-. Like the Japanese shoji (translucent, decorative screens) that inspire her, Bigelow's art is as much about the media as it is about subjects, most of which are naturally inspired — vines, trees, and landscapes. Brush strokes and wood grain provide texture and dimension that seep from otherwise flat forms, reducing the terrain to its most essential. Bigelow keeps even her palette simple. For instance, Field 28 captures — like most of her work — the undulations of its landscape in different shades of a single hue. Castro's sculpture, which the Venezuelan-born artist has designed to be touched, is similarly organic, in material and in form. The smooth stone, wood, and marble sculptures explore color, density, and textures of its materials. (Through April 29 at Mulry Fine Art, 3300 S. Dixie Hwy., West Palm Beach. Call 561-228-1006.)

 
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