Artbeat

Capsule reviews of current area art exhibitions.

Despite the current state of affairs in the Holy Land, "Treasures From the Cornell Museum: Voices of Israel" is not an explosive exhibit nor one with its voice raised in battle cries. In fact, if anything, the 30 exhibited works of Judaica — paintings, drawings, etchings, and mixed media by 20th-century Israeli artists — seem to whisper prayers as they reflect spiritual traditions and biblical lore. Some are images inside a synagogue; others read like storyboards telling the continuing saga of how the Jews were plucked from the hands of their enemies — like their exodus from slavery in Egypt and their salvation by Queen Esther from the evil plots of Hamen. Prominent artists Moshe Castel and Itzik Asher lend their names to this exhibit that is mostly comprised of their lesser-known compatriots and a couple of non-Israeli Jews. The Castel pieces are serigraphs rather than originals, among them El Ritual, where six stylistic figures stand before a religious text. And the exhibit offers just one untitled Asher piece — a painting rather than the sculpture he is known for — from the artist's "erotic period," though there's little that's erotic about it. The sea creatures, the many-oared boat, and giant eye all seem to suggest the themes he ascribes to his later "journey period." Also included is an untitled oil painting of what looks a lot like a sea anemone work by Soshana — not actually an Israeli, but perhaps included because of the Viennese artist's Jewish heritage; it's not quite clear. The same is true of Lennart Rosensohn, a Swedish Jew, whose hand-colored etchings are displayed. (Through September 9 at the Cornell Museum, 51 N. Swinton Ave., Delray Beach. Call 561-243-7922.)

Now on Display

Don't think of it as commitment-phobia; think of it as curatorial caprice! Eaton Fine Art assures only one thing about its summer exhibit, "Summer Sculpture: A Changing Exhibition" — that visitors will see modern sculpture by a dozen respected artists, many of them innovators in their field. Depending what day you visit, you may see Rosemarie Castoro's black-painted steel Portrait Flasher, Knotched Head. But don't count on it. The same goes for Bernar Venet's abstract Arc series, its individual works named for the degree and number of arcs it contains. One day, you might see 82.5º Arc x 14, its rusted steel pieces extending three feet above its pedestal; on another, you might be confronted with 237.5º Arc x 4, its black steel near-circles nested on the bare floor. There's just no telling. It's probably a safe bet, however, that the large works in the sculpture garden outside — like Dennis Oppenheim's whimsical tree of flying toilets (Aerial Water Closets) — will remain for the duration of the exhibit. The same is true of Donald Lipski's sculptural installation Gathering Dust, a collection of diminutive "found items" (code for garbage). Each lost or discarded item — some independent (currency, candy packaging, half a book of matches) and some artfully combined (pieces of wood encircled with wire, toothpicks protruding through metal, cardboard wound around a pencil eraser) — is affixed to the wall with pins with the same obsessive precision one might give a rare collection of precious items. Also on display are works of Alexander Archipenko, Alexander Calder, Nassos Daphnis, Harriet Whitney Frishmuth, Patrick Ireland, Mark di Suvero, and William Zorach. (Through September at Eaton Fine Art, 435 Gardenia St., West Palm Beach. Call 561-833-4766.)

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 — that 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.)

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.)

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