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, which is mostly composed of their lesser-known compatriots and a couple of non-Israeli Jews. The Castel pieces are serigraphs rather than originals, among them El Ritual, in which 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 erotic about it. The sea creatures, the many-oared boat, and the 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 included perhaps 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.)

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. 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're captured and killed, so the exhibit offers handmade dishware featuring images of fish on which they may be served post-mortem. The exhibit is a colorful variety of cultural and artistic artifacts — from the skeletal remains of one creature used for people's auditory pleasure 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.)

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