For painter Chuanwen "John" Wang, Fort Lauderdale offers a rich cache of subject matter. Although born in China, Wang has the eye of a native Floridian, colorfully emphasizing our area's subtropical tone with vibrant images of waterfront and metropolitan landscapes. In his exhibit "Life in Paradise," Wang's expressionistic choice of colors offers more detail than could any brush stroke. With reds brighter than a paddled schoolboy and more greens than a party full of UCB students, the luscious, tree-filled scene in Riverwalk dwarfs the leisurely couple strolling along its shaded pathway. Wang's use of contrasting colors is most evident in Beach Air-Sea Show. The dark bronze bodies stand in contrast to the light-golden sand and the still blue ocean (though the flatness of the blues detracts from the painting's depth). What the image lacks in linear detail, it makes up for in form and mood; you really get that feeling of dead time from a day at the beach. Wang's palette is most minimal in Band, a mix of Baroque highlights and fauvist color choices. And with roughly 90 percent of the painting covered in different shades of blue, the viewer can probably infer what type of music the band plays. Contrasting Band's lack of complexities is the highly detailed Night at Las Olas, which portrays life after dark at one of the area's intersections. Wang is heavy on detail, neglecting nary a street light and capturing the movement of the passersby. It's a near-perfect glimpse of the street -- even if the orderly traffic pattern and pedestrian use of the crosswalks are more fantasy than reality. (Through November 20 at the Sunrise Civic Center Gallery, 10610 W. Oakland Park Blvd., Sunrise, 954-747-4661.) -- Jason Budjinski
NOW ON DISPLAY
"Sequined Surfaces: Haitian Vodou Flags" -- Along the way from Haiti to Hollywood, vodou became voodoo and the island nation's rich religious stew of Roman Catholic, West African, Carib, and Freemason traditions was boiled down to B-movie zombies and not much else. This show goes a long way toward correcting that misperception. The exhibition, drawn from the collection of Plantation-based writer and Haitian art dealer Candice Russell, is a lively look at one of the Western Hemisphere's most fascinating indigenous folk arts. As the show's curator, Candice Russell provides a wealth of context for the colorful, symbol-laden flags, which are used in religious rituals. Working primarily with sequins and glass beads sewn onto panels of fabrics ranging from cotton to satin, flag artists portray loas, the vodou pantheon of spirits as varied as Catholic saints. The female loa Erzulie, for example, is a Virgin Mary variant partial to perfume, alcohol, cake, silk, and lace, while the agricultural deity Cousin Zaka is associated with bread, tobacco, and raw rum. (Through November 7 at the Boca Raton Museum of Art, 501 Plaza Real, Mizner Park, Boca Raton, 561-392-2500.)
"Colors of the Heart, Mind, and Soul" -- Pamela Larkin Caruso's minimalist oil paintings and idiosyncratic portraits prove that small differences in color, form, and composition can express vastly different emotions. Caruso's emphasis on subtlety is best exemplified in her "Hearts" series, in which each piece portrays similar subject matter from a close perspective, accentuating minute variations through the smallest details. The difference between the feelings exuded in her paintings Slight and Intuition lies mostly in Caruso's color choices. The light-brownish tint of the former, as if drained of its natural crimson red, offers far less emotion than the latter's mix of blue, white, and mauve. The figures in Caruso's portrait series, however, are as individual as a fingerprint, from the plaintive, middle-aged woman in Anchors Away to the tense, teeth-chattering subject in Chocolate Truffles. (Through November 19 at the Palm Beach Community College Eissey Campus, 3160 PGA Blvd., Palm Beach Gardens, 561-207-5015.)
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