Culturebeat

Good things come in small packages. Or so goes the thinking behind "Small Stuff 2," a droll holiday-season show at Bear and Bird Boutique + Gallery in Lauderhill. Everything in the exhibition is no bigger than a sheet of notebook paper, and much of it is considerably smaller, the better to snatch up on the spot and take with you, either for yourself or, as the gallery suggests, to give as a gift. The scale is perfect for the delightfully quirky Bear and Bird, a pocket-sized gallery if ever there was one, and thanks to the emphasis on small-is-beautiful, the show is able to accommodate more than three dozen artists and well over a hundred individual works. Since it's a cash-and-carry exhibit, the contents will change from day to day based on what has been sold, but count on Bear and Bird's usual selection of the weird and the wonderful, from lowbrow renderings of kids and animals with oversized eyes to surprisingly sophisticated works, all virtually guaranteed to draw on elements of popular culture for inspiration. A recent visit, for instance, unearthed such treasures as Dave Whittemore's multilayered, comics-based collages; Jason Limon's acrylics of otherworldly, anthropomorphic robots; and the remarkably intricate doodlings of Mark Murphy, who works with a combination of watercolor, metallic pigment, ink, and graphite. Nearly half the artists are local, with another batch hailing from Texas and the West Coast and a smattering from abroad (Canada, Mexico, France, Australia, the Philippines). The concept behind the show, according to promotional materials, is that "original artwork makes an amazing and unique gift for the holidays," and so the works on display are priced accordingly, from as low as $30 or $40 to a few hundred dollars. (On display through January 10 at Bear and Bird Boutique + Gallery, 4566 N. University Dr., Lauderhill. Call 954-748-0181.) Michael MillsFor the "Nothing Moments Project," now at the Art and Culture Center of Hollywood, nearly a hundred writers, artists, and designers were invited to participate in "a collaborative project in art, literature and design." This strangely compelling exhibition collects the results: two dozen limited-edition books and more than 400 drawings. The drawings blanket the walls of the center's main gallery; the books are spread on a table in the middle of the space, with chairs so you can relax and have a look. Each book, we learn from an introduction, began with a writer who created a fiction text, then passed it on to an artist who responded to the material by creating drawings, which were then conveyed to a designer who married text and images. The relay-style technique, according to that intro, "offers an intriguing cross-pollination of the populist sensibility of a book fair with the rarified atmosphere of contemporary art." There's more, but you get the gist: art as a process, art as a collaboration that messes with the distinctions among disciplines, art as a transcending of individual personality. The books have teasing titles like Shipwrecks & Other Drownings and three boys pose for a camera none of them are looking into and Most Ridiculous and Least Respectable. The images and the designs incorporating them are often arresting on their own terms. The writing, based on bite-sized samplings, intrigues. There's just one big drawback: Who has time to sit down and read 24 books during a museum visit? (On display through January 4 at the Art and Culture Center of Hollywood, 1650 Harrison St., Hollywood; call 954-921-3274.) Michael MillsThe Seafarer is a memorable play in every way, but two things especially will stick in your mind long after you've left the theater: the realism and agility of The Seafarer's dialogue, and the scariness of actor Ken Clement. This is another spooky, booze-soaked, supernatural Irish play written by spooky, booze-soaked, supernatural Irishman Conor McPherson, and like a lot of his work, it is driven by the terror of a guilty conscience. Once, one of its characters beat an indigent to death for no reason at all, and now, on a Christmas Eve 25 years later, the Devil (Ken Clement) has come for his soul. Despite the dark premise, The Seafarer is not predominantly a dark drama. The interplay among the nondiabolical characters, played by Dennis Creaghan, Gregg Weiner, John Felix, and Christian Rockwell, is funny, beautiful, and effortless, brought off with the awkward rhythms of real speech and with the warmth of real fraternity. Creaghan and Weiner play aging brothers, alcoholics and failures both, and the worn-grain feel of their interaction imbues their relationship with such a sense of shared memory that you may honestly forget you're in a theater at all. (Through December 14 at the Mosaic Theatre, 12200 W. Broward Blvd., Plantation. Call 305-577-8343, or visit www.mosaictheatre.com.)
 
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