Artbeat dawdled about going way out west to see "Joan Brechin Sonnenberg: Images Transcending the Mediums" at the Coral Springs Museum of Art. Don't make the same mistake. The show, which includes more than three dozen pieces, is uneven, but when Sonnenberg is good, she's really good. The South Florida-based artist, a Pennsylvania transplant, works in mixed media on a large, occasionally overwhelming scale. The breathtaking CitiScape, for example, is a massive acrylic triptych that transforms an anonymous urban street scene into pure, energized geometry. Hard-edged, crisply defined blocks and grids contrast with billowy, cloud-like forms lurking at the edges, subtly suggestive of both plumes of steam and ghostly traces of human presence. Sometimes Sonnenberg hits on a compositional element so richly evocative that she recycles it, as in the bare tree branch motif that anchors Apocalypse, Ice Needle, and Spring Board, three very different but equally impressive works on paper. She uncannily (and perhaps unknowingly) channels the spirit of Francis Bacon into the marine imagery of the triptychs Dock Chains and Shipyard Treasures, and technique and subject matter achieve near-perfect harmony in Unification I (Valve), a big canvas that commands its own sunny corner. Sonnenberg is less successful with portraiture. And most of her early intaglio prints look better from a distance than up close. Her penchant for clunky metaphysical titles is an especially glaring liability for these pieces, as well as for some of the paintings. Still, Sonnenberg's best work makes enduring such minor irritations worth the trip. While you're at the museum, don't miss the recently completed "The Everglades -- A Relief Ceramic Tile Wall Mural." The 54-by-17-foot, 7,000-tile piece -- a permanent installation on the southeast exterior wall of the Coral Springs Center for the Arts -- is the result of an artists-in-residence collaboration involving Jan Kolenda, John Foster, and a crew of volunteers. It joins the growing array of large-scale sculptures dotting the grounds just northeast of the building to make the Coral Springs Museum home to the best collection of outdoor art in Broward County. (Through June 19 at the Coral Springs Museum of Art, 2855 Coral Springs Dr., Coral Springs. Call 954-340-5000.) -- Michael Mills
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