Artbeat

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. 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.)

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.)

More than a view through children's eyes, the photographs on display as part of Palm Beach Photographic Center's "Picture My World" program offer a look at our community — both the people and the places. The exhibit is the result of the program's goal to use photography and digital imaging as means to develop self-esteem, non-violent expression, responsibility, and community in underprivileged and at-risk youth. For student photography, the exhibit is a strong one, particularly the "An All-American Town: Our Lake Worth" portion, where kids of Guatemalan Maya parents visually explore the neighborhood. The kids chose eclectic subjects for their photos. Of course, there are family members, but there are also shots of strangers: a man getting his hair cut at the vintage barber shop, a postman in front of the chocolate shop, ROTC members marching in a parade, an elderly couple holding hands ankle deep in the surf. Then there are the series like Madonna busts on an antique store shelf and a display of burritos for sale at a local market. Some kids even successfully experiment with foreground elements and reflected images. Deserving special note are the images of 10-year old Omar Andres, who has a natural talent for the art. In one photo, he captures the sun spilling through palm branches, the light shooting from the center so that its beams resemble the blades of the palms. In another, he shoots the interior of a market through its window so that the foreground elements become abstract, geometric squares. (Through August 5 at Palm Beach Photographic Centre, 555 NE Second Ave., Delray Beach. Call 561-276-9797.)

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