Capsule reviews of current area art exhibitions.

"Pretty as a picture" is a phrase that was inspired by images like Carmel Brantles' sepia-toned Paper Nautilus. The photograph of the spiral shell and the delicate shadows cast by its graceful swoops, swirls, and spires was awarded this year's Best in Show at "InFocus: 10th Annual Juried Exhibition," which displays the best work of the Palm Beach Photographic Center's InFocus members. Beauty is the common denominator in most of the works — both photographic and digital — in the exhibit. Take Wind, a lovely close-up of highly detailed, saffron-colored petals from a sunflower as they are blown horizontally. Some members use their cameras as an opportunity to find the beauty in repetition, such as the many bows and sterns of the blue boats nestled together in Out and About. Other club members, with deeper pockets, use their international travels to such places as Papua New Guinea to provide us glimpses into the beauty of other cultures, as PNG Youngster 2005 does. Because so many of the entries in the exhibition are so idyllically lovely, it is refreshing when someone finally captures the humor in things. Harassment at the Workplace, for instance, captures a comically cross-eyed hawk in flight, grasping a catfish in its talons, as it is dogged by a seagull. True to the name of the shutterbug club (made up of both professionals and amateurs), all the images are, indeed, in focus. (Through August 5 at Palm Beach Photographic Centre, 55 NE Second Ave., Delray Beach. Call 561-276-9797)

Now on Display

Presumptuous title aside, there really are some first-rate works in "Hortt 45: The Best of South Florida," now at ArtServe. Typically, however, they aren't the prize winners in this juried show, which has regained some of the ground it lost when the Museum of Art/Fort Lauderdale abandoned it several years ago. There's plenty of warmed-over abstraction and lots of mostly mundane photography. But there are also such pleasures as the straightforward realism of Alfred Phillips' acrylic painting Dark Pleasure and Daniel Garcia's provocative expression of contemporary angst in the mixed-media piece El Corazon Grande. Best of all, there is a pair of big, complementary, mixed-media paintings by Dennis Dezmain that have the vitality and spontaneity tempered with technique of early abstract expressionism. (Through July 5 at JM Family Enterprise Gallery, ArtServe, 1350 E. Sunrise Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-462-9191.)

The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in North Miami continues its Trading Places program with "Metro Pictures,"a partnership that pairs the museum with the Moore Space in Miami's Design District. Even for a group show, the two-part exhibition is wildly uneven, with MOCA getting shortchanged in the deal. Much of what's on display is so nondescript that the museum's cavernous, usually versatile display space seems to swallow everything up, while the cluster of small galleries at the Moore Space proves much better-suited to the more varied selection exhibited there. A few artists are represented at both venues, although only George Sánchez-Calderón's work — large-scale installations that combine photo murals and mixed-media sculptures — successfully straddles both portions of the show. (Through July 31 at the Moore Space, 4040 NE Second Ave., Second Floor, Miami, 305-438-1163; and through September 17 at MOCA, Joan Lehman Bldg., 770 NE 125th St., North Miami, 305-893-6211.)

 
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