Sometimes art turns up in the most unexpected places. Take, for example, "Into the Light: A Group Showing." This miniature exhibit of sorts -- the word exhibition seems too grand -- features works by a baker's dozen photographers, and it's on display at a photo lab in Oakland Park. A snazzy invitation to a reception describes the venue as "The Exhibit Space at Chromatek Imaging," which is just a fancy way of characterizing the area around the front counter. (The invitation was designed by Justin Bordeaux and features an image by Fernando Cruz, both of whom are represented in the show.) Given this unusual setup, it's not surprising that the curator, Terry Davis, and his 13 artists are all Chromatek employees. Gimmicky? Yes, but also quite clever. Davis even provides a curator's statement in which he says his task was to take these often-unheralded people out of the darkroom and "into the light." As he explains: "Most technicians study photography for years before ever working in a laboratory. Many have degrees in photography and the arts. Almost always, they are themselves working photographers." Davis is no different -- he was once a darkroom assistant for Richard Avedon. Brief biographical information is provided for most of the photographers, although with so much vying for your attention in such a small space, it's sometimes difficult to tell whether an item is part of the exhibit or a promotional piece. Standouts include Tim Adler's high-resolution shot of the eerily unpopulated front of the U.S. Department of Justice; Bryan Bogater's dreamy soft-focus capture of a view looking out to sea from beneath a concrete pier; and J.J. Walker's available-light image of the Roman Coliseum at night, luminous with a golden light from within. And Laura K. Morales reminds us not to take things too seriously with her black-and-white pic of a 4-year-old boy (her son) playing photographer-and-model with a cute little girl posing for him. "Into the Light" is a fun experiment. Artbeat hopes Chromatek repeats it. (Through July 31 at the Exhibit Space at Chromatek Imaging, 3400 S. Powerline Rd., Oakland Park, 954-566-1082.)
Now on Display
Imagine the best vintage clothing store on the planet, filled with the top gets on any thrift-store connoisseur's list -- Pucci, Chanel, and Blass. At the Museum of Lifestyle and Fashion History in Delray Beach, you can't buy or touch any of the many outfits currently on display from the permanent collection. While vintage clothes horses might experience a painful envy, the museum's mix of cool clothes from the late 19th Century to the mod '60s is a great attraction. Accompanying the clothes are several time lines and essays that fit fashion into historical context. Who knew (or knew they wanted to know) that the right to wear red sparked a 16th-century peasant revolt in Germany? Or that Nancy Reagan's fondness for the color coined a new shade -- Reagan Red? (Eeeew. Yuck.) Or that World War II sparked a move toward casual clothes for men and the ultrafeminine "New Look" for women as a reaction to wartime severity? There is an almost too-obvious tribute to the fashions of Jackie Kennedy Onassis, though it would be nearly impossible to have even the most cursory reviews of American fashion without her. Also, in the '50s section, there's an unfortunate choice of kitsch over clothes, with a full-skirted, June Cleaver-esque dress displayed alongside a kitchen set. A small exhibit in the corner does the most to bring the show's point down like a hammer -- a display of what tragedy does to fashion. In two small glass cases are purses inspired by 9/11, one by Charleston, South Carolina, artist Mary Norton titled After the Tragedy and one bedazzled in the ubiquitous red, white, and blue that emerged right after the attacks. It's good stuff, and did we mention the Pucci shift dresses? (Through summer at the Museum of Lifestyle and Fashion History, 322 NE Second Ave., Delray Beach. Call 561-243-2662.)
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Magdalena Abakanowicz's 95 Figures stand in diagonal rows, like bronze sentinels, on the second floor of the Museum of Art in Fort Lauderdale. The human-sized sculptures provoke a heavy sense of foreboding. Some take a step; others are static; they're all headless and armless. The work is easy to appreciate for its size, the precision of the figures' placement, and its ability to draw a visceral reaction. The urge to climb in and stand among the figures, to be amid the crowd and absorb the mob's purpose, is almost irresistible. At the same time, the work provides no pleasure or enjoyment. There are five other pieces displayed with the figures. One at the end of the hall leading to the exhibit, The Second Never Seen Figure on Beam with Wheels, is looming and unique, a perfect counterpoint to the crowd. (Through October 30 at the Museum of Art, One E. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-525-5500.)
"At This Time, 10 Miami Artists": Donald and Mera Rubell's newly refurbished warehouse and legendary art holdings make the Rubell Family Collection one of America's best privately owned contemporary venues. Its current exhibit suggests Miami artists are internationally respected. Curator Mark Coetzee created a dynamic interaction among the pieces by not hanging each artist's works separately, thereby allowing viewers to move from the awe-inspiring -- José Bedia's raft installation -- to the bizarre -- Cooper's cryptic and angst-ridden Our American Cousin assemblage. Naomi Fisher offers some of her color-saturated and visually enticing Assy Flora series, while Jiae Hwang showcases I'm the Real Princess of the Magical Land, a witty and delicate collection of pencil drawings. Miami and its art scene are relatively young, and with an eye on the future, one easily understands why shows like this are needed: They bring to light historic points of reference for tomorrow's artists and historians. (Through October 30 at the Rubell Family Collection, 95 NW 29th St., Miami. Call 305-573-6090.)
Aquarian Age in Boca Raton smells incredible, with a light incense infusing the air. The shop, part boutique and part art gallery with a spiritual theme, opened April 1 in a storefront inside a bright-yellow, upscale minimall on just another unremarkable stretch of Federal Highway. Paintings, glasswork, and pottery from local and far-flung artists are propped up along the floors, mounted on the walls, and placed on the shelves amid books and bundles of sage. Much of it is good; all of it is worth a look. Particular standouts include a half-dozen watercolors by Coral Springs resident Lynne Kroll. Her work is far from the tepid landscapes of crafts-fair watercolorists. The work has depth, rich color, and an abstract quality that appeals to women, according to the shop's co-owner, Julia George. This is Florida, however, and much of Kroll's work contains the flora and fauna seen in so much local art. But it's far from chirpy and tropical. Harlan Whitman, a design student at the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale, has two eye-catching industrial-art pieces on display. His Balance of Time clock, made of stone, wood, copper, and metal bolts, is irresistible, like something you once saw in a weird dream. You can't resist touching the base and the clock hands or getting up close to see (ouch, can't help it) what makes it tick. Aquarian Age is not for those who are befuddled by a lack of boundaries between the books and incense for sale and an exhibit space, as everything in the store occupies every available surface. It isn't, however, cluttered. As soon as the shop owners find an artist with enough work to display, they plan on featuring an artist for a gallery show -- right next to the wind chimes and hand-painted glass. (Aquarian Age, 2884 N. Federal Hwy., Boca Raton. Exhibits ongoing. Call 561-750-9292.)
As part of the fascinating mishmash that is Boca Raton's Gallery Center in the summer, Rosenbaum Contemporary (one of seven smaller galleries under one giant golf-umbrella of an arts center) is displaying works culled from many of last season's shows. It will make you sorry you missed them. Anchoring the front wall is the fantastic "Forest and Houses" by Jennifer Bartlett. A deviation from her normal grid-like painted panels, the piece is done in the style of Chuck Close. It looks abstract up close, and the image comes together from a distance. For Close fans, his portrait of sculptor John Chamberlain, who incidentally also has a piece in the gallery, hangs in the Center's common hallway. A word about the gallery itself -- it's open and well-lit like galleries in New York, but it's small. Each show contains about 20 pieces. But the space is perfect for showcasing quality, which the gallery has in spades. Pieces from Rosenbaum's December Pop Art show aren't on the main walls, but worth seeking out. Jim Dine's "Yolk," three red hearts varying from lifelike to the one we all learn to make in grade school, haunts an adjoining office, along with a few of Tom Wesselman's nudes. Waiting in the main space are prints by Matisse and Picasso, as well as a selection of pottery Picasso created while in Vallauris, France. Throw in prints by abstract expressionist Robert Motherwell and a spectacular, splashy painting, "Monkey Rope" by minimalist Frank Stella that's part of a Moby Dick series, and you've got a gallery that makes you seethe with envy and beg to sign the guestbook. So you won't miss the shows next time. (Rosenbaum Contemporary, Gallery Center, 608 Banyan Trl., Boca Raton. Call 561-994-9180, or see www.rosenbaum-contemporary.com.)