You know those days when you just want to get away from it all? What better way to transport you to another world than a flying saucer? Or a magic carpet. Or the imagination. In "1001 Night Tales,"Turkish artist Sibel Kocabasi's one-woman show at the Armory Art Center, the artist incorporates all of these into her whimsical oil paintings, using the mind's ability to transport us from the mundane world into a magical one. In one painting, for instance, a mountain looks like a twisty-freeze ice cream cone in a land where birds arc like parachutes as they fall to Earth. The theme of many of her works seems to be, as the painting suggests, up in the air — as did some of the works' titles the day before the show opened. Although she wasn't exactly sure how it would be worded for the exhibit, Kocabasi's working title for the work in question was What Would Happen If Birds Did Not Know How to Fly? Here, she suggests that believing one can fly is all that is necessary to take flight. The magic in this Armory artist in resident's work is not without its dark side. Lurking there is something sinister, an uncontrollable force that transforms — or even destroys — Kocabasi's worlds. In many ways, the flying objects seem to suggest a divine interference. For instance, in Disaster in the Land of Holy Men, the threat comes not from warring neighbors, Israel and Palestine. Instead, the explosions are the result of an attack from a culture even more foreign — the extraterrestrial. (Through May 24 at the Armory Art Center, 1700 Parker Ave., West Palm Beach. Call 451-832-1776.)

Now on Display

Sibel Kocabasi
Sibel Kocabasi
Richard Frank
Richard Frank

Mother Nature sometimes needs help expressing her feelings for Sky Father, so Dennis Oppenheim lends the goddess a helping hand in "Salutations to the Sky."The series of aerial photographs are fictive proposals to redirect the flow of the Sacramento River so it spells out such messages as Always and Forever and Faithfully Yours. There's even a Dear John version that spells out Adios in earth tones. Patches of colorful earth create geometric fields that surround the river's winding declarations. Oppenheim, known as an innovator in what's known as Earth Art — for example, branding designs into fields — is also an inventive sculptor in the more traditional sense. Two of his pieces are displayed in the Eaton sculpture garden, including Aerial Water Closets, which appear to be powder-coated metal and steel trees whose limbs bear strange fruit — pastel toilets and sinks. Exhibited concurrently are the watercolors of Richard Frank,selected works commissioned by Northern Trust to capture local and historic landmarks so the artwork could be used for such things as corporate holiday cards. Some paintings capture their subjects — for instance, the Norton Museum of Art Courtyard or the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse — very literally, as if the artist rendered a watercolor version of a photograph. Others, like Celebratory — which depicts the architecture, art, and gardens of Society of the Four Arts — capture the many aspects of its subject in collage-like amalgam. (Through May 27 at Eaton Fine Art, 4325 Gardenia St., West Palm Beach. Call 561-833-3134.)

"Elliot Landy's Woodstock Vision: The Spirit of a Generation"captures photographic images of a rock 'n' roll era before the profession was a commercially viable one, let alone a glamorous one. As a result, Landy's work reflects virtually unlimited photographic access to many musical icons of the '60s. Capturing his subjects both candidly and posed for magazine stories and album covers, the exhibit guides visitors with the photographer's written reflections on the era and observations on his subjects. These wall-mounted notes include anecdotes of his friendships with legends such as Bob Dylan and Janis Joplin. Other subjects include Jim Morrison, The Band, Joan Baez, Van Morrison, Laura Nyro, Albert Ayler, Frank Zappa. Panoramic photographs of the 1968 Woodstock concert include perspectives from both the stage and from the audience. For instance, "Two Navels and a Vest" — an image of the torsos of three jean-clad hipsters, two female and one male—is strikingly similar to the fashion of youth culture today. Maybe times have not changed as much as Dylan predicted, because a photo of young men climbing the sound towers at Woodstock definitely captures the same spirit — a celebration of the beauty of individuality and the power of community — still alive in today's indie rock movement. The photographs also capture the political concerns of the times, whose climate parallels today's, including the pro- and anti-war protestors and the pro-choice campaigns. With an astute eye for what is important — socially and artistically — Landy has captured images as poetic as they are nostalgic. (Through June 3 at Palm Beach Photographic Centre, 55 NE Second Ave., Delray Beach. Call 561-276-9797)

"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, Gavlakgallery might easily be mistaken for a real estate office. That notion would not be entirely dispelled inside the gallery, where a series of large format photographs titled "Small Businesses" features quirky, free-standing 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.)

With more than 1,600 members and the mission "to present the public with the highest aesthetic standards in fine art," the Colored Pencil 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.)

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