Culturebeat

"George Segal: Street Scenes." Through December 6 at the Norton Museum of Art, 1451 S. Olive Ave., West Palm Beach. Call 561-832-5196, or click here.

There are 13 life-sized plaster casts of the human figure in this mini-retrospective — sometimes alone, often in pairs or groups, usually in public places re-created using found objects. Such was the approach taken by Segal, who died in 2000 at age 75, since the early 1960s, when he began producing the sculptures on which he built his reputation. This marks the first time an exhibition has taken an in-depth look at the artist's preoccupation with urban scenarios, specifically those inspired by his native New York. The works are a thicket of paradoxes, set in public spaces where utterly private moments are revealed, as much defined by human absence as by human presence. Like contemporary Duane Hanson, whose work Segal's is sometimes compared with, he was ultimately a documenter of despair, as this exceptional little show adroitly demonstrates. Michael Mills


"Sheila Elias: Somewhere — Anywhere." Through December 12 at the Coral Springs Museum of Art, 2855 Coral Springs Dr., Coral Springs. Call 954-340-5000, or click here.

Elias, a Chicagoan who has also worked in New York, Los Angeles, and Miami, creates densely layered mixed-media works that flirt with abstraction. Her style is tough to characterize: On the one hand, she is fond of large-scale canvases with thickly congested surfaces that appear to have been heavily worked over; on the other, she seems equally drawn to small photo collages about the size of an index card that are minimally embellished. There's a strong whiff of Robert Rauschenberg's everything-but-the-kitchen-sink aesthetic in those larger, busier works, but Elias is more accessible via the pared-down simplicity she achieves in the smaller works. There's the sense that she is picking up on ideas, quickly working through them, and then moving on. Michael Mills


"Stan Slutsky: The Shape of Things." Through December 12 at the Coral Springs Museum of Art, 2855 Coral Springs Dr., Coral Springs. Call 954-340-5000, or click here.

Slutsky is that rare creature these days, a contemporary practitioner of op art, a style that enjoyed its heyday in the mid-'60s. Op art, short for optical art, traffics in illusion — the illusion of movement and of space as generated by the use of geometric forms and the precise manipulation of color. Slutsky, a Pittsburgh native who studied at Ohio's Youngstown University before settling in South Florida in the early 1980s, is a master at it, and it's not surprising to learn that as a child, he was fascinated with magicians and magic acts. His best work, like that of such well-known op artists as Hungarian Victor Vasarely and England's Bridget Riley, prompts a quizzical "How did he do that?" reaction. In his capable hands, a style that quickly came and went becomes a noble tradition well worth preserving. Michael Mills


"Kevin Arrow: Things are good, but can always be better"Through November 1 at the Art & Culture Center of Hollywood, 1650 Harrison St., Hollywood. Call 954-921-3274, or click here.

In addition to teaching himself painting, photography, and graphic design, Miami's Kevin Arrow spent a year in the Himalayas helping artists from Bhutan redecorate the shrines of ancient Buddhist monasteries. All those varied influences affect his work — which mixes hipster references, a dose of spirituality, humor, and nostalgia. A series of drawings made from red and blue ink on white vellum incorporate disparate pop-culture icons such as Snoopy, Dr. Seuss, and Jack Daniels. A set of more-colorful pieces looks like Chinese checkerboards designed during a psychedelic trip, with bursting kaleidoscope patterns and intense hues. Other works incorporate outdated boom boxes or color slides. One truth that applies to all of his pieces: The viewer who looks closely will be rewarded with delightful small surprises. Deirdra Funcheon

 
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