Artbeat

Capsule reviews of current area art exhibitions.

George W. Bush may have famously (and incomprehensibly) once uttered that "human beings and fish can co-exist peacefully," but "Fresh From the Sea: Tairyobata and the Culture of Fishing in Japan" isn't doing anything to help improve the historically violent relationship between the two. In fact, if anything, the exhibit celebrates attacks on these marine creatures. OK, so they've got whimsically exotic names, but Tairyobata are actually large colorful flags flown from the fishing ships to celebrate the largest massacres (i.e., the big catches). And the exhibit perpetuates human violence against fish here in our homeland by displaying equipment and revealing techniques used in these fishing practices. Of course, the Japanese love eating fish once they are captured and killed, so the exhibit offers handmade dishware featuring images of fish on which the creatures may be served post-mortem. You will also find fabrics — clothes and bedcovers — that pay tribute to the scaly creature's demise. The exhibit is a colorful variety of cultural and artistic artifacts — from the skeletal remains of one creature used for people's auditory pleasure (i.e., Conch Shell Trumpet) to a fish-shaped Buddhist temple wooden "sounding board" on which visitors may announce their arrival — which celebrate human dominion over sea life. In sum, the exhibit is proof that we have a long way to go to improve human-fish relations before we can reach the piscine-Homo sapien utopia our president believes in. (Through September 17 at Morikami Museum, 4000 Morikami Park Rd., Delray Beach. Call 561-495-0233.)

Now on Display

It's a sure sign summer has arrived when museums begin delving into their permanent collections. Hence, Miami Art Museum's "Big Juicy Paintings (and More): Highlights from the Permanent Collection." The exhibition delivers on its provocative title with more than 50 items from the vault, along with ten loans, presumably works it hopes to acquire. As always with such grab-bags, there are clinkers, often from big names: a 1991 oil-on-wood abstract by Gerhard Richter that another artist dismissed as so much corporate décor; a surprisingly uninspired shaped canvas from 1971 by Frank Stella; even a small roomful of Joseph Cornell collages and boxes that, with one or two exceptions, fall flat. But there's plenty to compensate. Morris Louis' monumental 1958 acrylic Beth Shin is as captivating as ever, and Edouard Duval Carrié's Apotheosis of Erzulie Dantor is a delightful sprawl of mixed media. The show fares especially well with wall installations, from the shimmering acrylic cubes of Teresita Fernández's Eclipse to María Fernanda Cardoso's Cemeterio-jardín vertical(Cemetery-Vertical Garden), an assemblage of artificial white flowers wired to the wall in clusters. Most commanding of all is a loan — Enrique Martínez Celaya's massive portrait of the late Leon Golub, which MAM should be so lucky to snag. (Through September 17 at Miami Art Museum, 101 W. Flagler St., Miami, 305-375-3000.) "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. Others club members, with deeper pockets, use their international travels to such places as Papua New Guinea to provide us glimpses of 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 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.)

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.)

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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