Artbeat

Capsule reviews of current area art exhibitions.

"World's Largest Hell Factory," the remains of a damaged Shell store sign attests (the s was blown away). You'd think that'd pretty much sum up "Mean Season; Florida's Hurricanes of 2004," which documents the statewide legacies of Hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne. Of course, many of the photos document collateral damage — ruined infrastructure, demolished homes, damaged vehicles, and wrecked boats. But there are also those that capture the human element of natural disaster. A photo of diverse hands — male and female, thin and pudgy, pale and dark, single and wed — raised to request plywood demonstrates the fact that calamity is undiscriminating. The exhibit takes you through a range of human responses — from the grief of a young woman who lays hands on a beam of her destroyed childhood home to the resilience of an elderly man as he walks away from the mobile home that was demolished while he was in it. The exhibit also demonstrates tenderness as, for instance, a caregiver lays a kiss on the forehead of an elderly woman at a shelter. Kindnesses extend to the animal kingdom as well. Photos document townsfolk rescuing a manatee that had washed into the street, and they show spoonbills and ibises being sheltered in women's bathrooms. Photographers will be on hand at the opening reception, open to the public, on Friday, August 25, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. (Through September 23 at Palm Beach Photographic Centre, 55 NE Second Ave., Delray Beach. Call 561-276-9797.)

Now on Display

It might not be the place for art, but South Florida and art have something in common — body obsession. "Summer Selections II: The Figure," a group show of contemporary, figurative art, uses the figure as a loose organizing theme. No traditional, idealized nudes here. Not to say that there's not some nudity. Red Blanket by Dennis Aufiery ( whose subjects and style reflect the influence of mentor Graham Nickson) captures the image of an unclothed woman posing on blanket-draped rocks by the ocean. Oh, and there's a breast (if you look closely) in Jamie Adams' The Valley, a subtly depicted ménage a troiswith a platform shoe as the oil painting's focal point. And perhaps you could consider Dietmar Busse's Foot, a photograph of the artist's white-painted foot, a partial nude since flower petals cover his toenails. But other than that, the figures are clothed — and engaged in various states of activity or inactivity, whether it's soldiers preparing for battle (David Fertig) or a woman sitting next to a vacant chair (Sydell Masterman). And some are so active they are literally growing — like the plant in Robin Kahn's Nice Container,a blue-glazed "pot" shaped like a woman's head. In one (Robert Selwyn's whimsical suburban oil painting, Early Morning Happiness), the figures aren't even human — they're canine! With other works by Roxanne Lowit, Alice O'Malley, and Gail Thacker, the show seems to take a light-hearted approach to its subject. (Through September 2 at Mulry Fine Art, 3300 N. Dixie Hwy, West Palm Beach. Call 561-228-1018.) Marya Summers

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 upon 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.)

Now that it's summer and the locals have reclaimed their turf from the snowbirds, we have a chance to celebrate ourselves. It doesn't matter that most of us hail from somewhere else; now we're Floridians, and we're showcasing our talents in All-Florida art exhibits. The Cornell Museum at Old School Square launches the "13th Annual All-Florida Juried Fine Art Exhibition," which displays 59 works of its nearly 300 entries. Artists from Key West to St. Augustine entered works in a myriad of media — watercolor, oil, acrylic, graphite, mixed media, collage, pen and ink, batik, stone, wood, and digital and traditional photography. The idyllic subtropical culture here is the theme in Old School Square Commemorative Stamp, an acrylic painting that depicts its host venue on a larger-than-life stamp. But you can also find the uglier side of Florida — living images you'll never see come out of our state's department of tourism — in the six-pack of photos, Postcards, that pairs images like a moldy orange with the text "Beautiful Boca Raton" or dead fish with "See Sunny Sanibel." The exhibit is not as competitive as the concurrently running Boca Museum All-Florida Show, which is exhibiting nearly the same number of the best of more than 1,000 entries, but, hey, the Boca exhibit has 42 years up on its Delray counterpart. (Through September 9 at the Cornell Museum, 51 N. Swinton Ave., Delray Beach. Call 561-243-7922.)

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