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. In fact, 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 are captured and killed, so the exhibit offers handmade dishware featuring images of fish on which the creatures may be served post-mortem. You will also find fabrics clothes and bedcovers that pay tribute to the scaly creature's demise. The exhibit is a colorful variety of cultural and artistic artifacts from the skeletal remains of one creature used for people's auditory pleasure (i.e., Conch Shell Trumpet) to a fish-shaped Buddhist temple wooden "sounding board" on which visitors may announce their arrival which 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.)
Now on Display
It's a sure sign summer has arrived when museums begin delving into their permanent collections. Hence, Miami Art Museum's "Big Juicy Paintings (and More): Highlights from the Permanent Collection." The exhibition delivers on its provocative title with more than 50 items from the vault, along with ten loans, presumably works it hopes to acquire. As always with such grab-bags, there are clinkers, often from big names: a 1991 oil-on-wood abstract by Gerhard Richter that another artist dismissed as so much corporate décor; a surprisingly uninspired shaped canvas from 1971 by Frank Stella; even a small roomful of Joseph Cornell collages and boxes that, with one or two exceptions, fall flat. But there's plenty to compensate. Morris Louis' monumental 1958 acrylic Beth Shin is as captivating as ever, and Edouard Duval Carrié's Apotheosis of Erzulie Dantor is a delightful sprawl of mixed media. The show fares especially well with wall installations, from the shimmering acrylic cubes of Teresita Fernández's Eclipse to María Fernanda Cardoso's Cemeterio-jardín vertical (Cemetery-Vertical Garden), an assemblage of artificial white flowers wired to the wall in clusters. Most commanding of all is a loan Enrique Martínez Celaya's massive portrait of the late Leon Golub, which MAM should be so lucky to snag. (Through September 17 at Miami Art Museum, 101 W. Flagler St., Miami, 305-375-3000.)
"Fresh From the Sea: Tairyobata and the Culture of Fishing in Japan"
"Pretty as a picture" is a phrase that was inspired by images like Carmel Brantles' sepia-toned Paper Nautilus. The photograph of the spiral shell and the delicate shadows cast by its graceful swoops, swirls, and spires was awarded this year's Best in Show at "InFocus: 10th Annual Juried Exhibition," which displays the best work of the Palm Beach Photographic Center's InFocus members. Beauty is the common denominator in most of the works both photographic and digital in the exhibit. Take Wind, a lovely close-up of highly detailed, saffron-colored petals from a sunflower as they are blown horizontally. Some members use their cameras as an opportunity to find the beauty in repetition, such as the many bows and sterns of the blue boats nestled together in Out and About. Others club members, with deeper pockets, use their international travels to such places as Papua New Guinea to provide us glimpses of the beauty of other cultures, as PNG Youngster 2005 does. Because so many of the entries in the exhibition are so idyllically lovely, it is refreshing when someone finally captures the humor in things. Harassment at the Workplace, for instance, captures a comically cross-eyed hawk in flight, grasping a catfish in its talons, as it is dogged by a seagull. True to the name of the shutterbug club (made up of professionals and amateurs), all the images are, indeed, in focus. (Through August 5 at Palm Beach Photographic Centre, 55 NE Second Ave., Delray Beach. Call 561-276-9797.)
Presumptuous title aside, there really are some first-rate works in "Hortt 45: The Best of South Florida," now at ArtServe. Typically, however, they aren't the prize winners in this juried show, which has regained some of the ground it lost when the Museum of Art/Fort Lauderdale abandoned it several years ago. There's plenty of warmed-over abstraction and lots of mostly mundane photography. But there are also such pleasures as the straightforward realism of Alfred Phillips' acrylic painting Dark Pleasure and Daniel Garcia's provocative expression of contemporary angst in the mixed-media piece El Corazon Grande. Best of all, there is a pair of big, complementary, mixed-media paintings by Dennis Dezmain that have the vitality and spontaneity tempered with technique of early abstract expressionism. (Through July 5 at JM Family Enterprise Gallery, ArtServe, 1350 E. Sunrise Blvd., Fort Lauderdale.)
The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in North Miami continues its Trading Places program with "Metro Pictures," a partnership that pairs the museum with the Moore Space in Miami's Design District. Even for a group show, the two-part exhibition is wildly uneven, with MOCA getting shortchanged in the deal. Much of what's on display is so nondescript that the museum's cavernous, usually versatile display space seems to swallow everything up, while the cluster of small galleries at the Moore Space proves much better-suited to the more varied selection exhibited there. A few artists are represented at both venues, although only George Sánchez-Calderón's work large-scale installations that combine photo murals and mixed-media sculptures successfully straddles both portions of the show. (Through July 31 at the Moore Space, 4040 NE Second Ave., Second Floor, Miami, 305-438-1163; and through September 17 at MOCA, Joan Lehman Bldg., 770 NE 125th St., North Miami, 305-893-6211.)
More than a view through children's eyes, the photographs on display as part of Palm Beach Photographic Center's "Picture My World" program offer a look at our community both the people and the places. The exhibit is the result of the program's goal to use photography and digital imaging as means to develop self-esteem, non-violent expression, responsibility, and community in underprivileged and at-risk youth. For student photography, the exhibit is a strong one, particularly the "An All-American Town: Our Lake Worth" portion, where kids of Guatemalan Maya parents visually explore the neighborhood. The kids chose eclectic subjects for their photos. Of course, there are family members, but there are also shots of strangers: a man getting his hair cut at the vintage barber shop, a postman in front of the chocolate shop, ROTC members marching in a parade, an elderly couple holding hands ankle deep in the surf. Then there are the series like Madonna busts on an antique store shelf and a display of burritos for sale at a local market. Some kids even successfully experiment with foreground elements and reflected images. Deserving special note are the images of 10-year old Omar Andres, who has a natural talent for the art. In one photo, he captures the sun spilling through palm branches, the light shooting from the center so that its beams resemble the blades of the palms. In another, he shoots the interior of a market through its window so that the foreground elements become abstract, geometric squares. (Through August 5 at Palm Beach Photographic Centre, 555 NE Second Ave., Delray Beach. Call 561-276-9797.)
A golden Buddha reverently holds a giant phallus before him like a censer of incense. It's the central image of Los Angeles artist Jamie Adams' triptych (each a 12-inch encaustic oil on linen) Big Sur. With a playful juxtaposition, Adams' work not only holds the penis in high regard but puts it at the center of things the flanking images are a seascape and skyscape, to the left and right, respectively. The first in a series of three summer exhibitions, Mulry Fine Art presents "A Group Show of Landscapes" featuring painting, sculpture, and photography from the gallery's stable of artists. For the show, gallery directors sisters Fecia and Meghan Mulry have interpreted the landscape theme as creatively as the artists have rendered them, so don't expect to see a bunch of realistic fields and meadows. Even the photographs have a painterly quality to them. Wheaton Mahoney's Sweet Pea, for instance, a giant, digitally manipulated close-up of a white-and-pink flower, is reminiscent of one of Georgia O'Keeffe's blossoms. Likewise, Celia Pearson's photographs capture their subjects in larger-than-life close-ups; however, the artist's method is a traditional one as she explores light and depth within the image as they capture their subjects: Stem Leaf and Bromeliad. Others, like Robin Kahn's "State of the Art" series, take greater liberty with the theme. The New York artist uses a found image (perhaps originally a woodcut or linocut) of a forest-lined river as the backdrop for her cartoon of a woman balancing a man overhead with one arm. The cartoon woman performs a tight-wire act on a piece of string laid across the picture. These works (identical except for the positioning of the string and cartoons) focus more on female roles than they do on nature. Also on display are works by Isabel Bigelow (paintings and monoprints), Peter Burega (abstract paintings), Luis Castro (wood and stone sculpture), Cara Enteles (multimedia), and Marc Leuders (photography). (Through June 30 at Mulry Fine Art, 3300 S. Dixie Hwy., West Palm Beach. Call 561-228-1006.)
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