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.)

"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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