Art Finds a Way

Shattered mirror, raining jellyfish, delicate entrails: harsh images made beautiful at the Museum of Art

I dwell at length on the show's most bravura artists and works, but that's not to minimize the contributions of the remaining participants: Paul Aho's abstract paintings emphasizing ovoid forms; Michelle Weinberg's suite of crisp gouache drawings; Marie Mennes' 10-by-10-inch series of panels using acrylic and embroidery floss to create idyllic but also borderline disturbing images of childhood; and especially Jen Stark's exquisitely fashioned, wall-mounted cutouts, some in wood, some in paper. Even the heavy-handed sociopolitical commentary of Diane Arrieta's trio of illustrations and the enigmatic meanderings of David Pollitt's silent video The Final Run share with the rest of the works a high level of craft. As Carol Prusa opined when I saw her at the beginning of the show, such craftsmanship seems to be the common denominator of this year's consortium.

Having co-curated the 2005 South Florida Cultural Consortium exhibition, I can appreciate what a challenge it is to create a seamless show from works by artists who may have little or nothing in common. The artists, who receive $7,500 to $15,000 from the consortium, which consists of arts agencies from five South Florida counties, are winnowed from more than 350 competitors, first by a regional panel, then by a national one.

John Stark's Sedimentary: Everybody excels here.
John Stark's Sedimentary: Everybody excels here.

Details

"Thirteen/08: The South Florida Cultural Consortium Juried Exhibition." On display through October 6 at the Museum of Art/Fort Lauderdale, 1 E. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-525-5500.

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Having served on the regional panel that made the first round of recommendations in 2006, I can also attest that it is a rigorous task to look at so much art before narrowing the field. This year's panels did a first-rate job of homing in on a set of outstanding artists (five of whom, by the way, have previously won the competition). And the Museum of Art/Fort Lauderdale rose to the challenge of presenting them in a context that makes as much sense as possible given the disparate nature of the work on display. It's an enormously satisfying group exhibition.

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