Young American artist Stephen Scott Young was born in Macon, Georgia, in 1958, and grew up in St. Augustine, Florida. His subject matter? Life in the Bahamas. Go figure. A selection of his work, called "A View from the Bahamas: Watercolors by Stephen Scott Young," is on display at the Museum of Art in Fort Lauderdale. These are not your parents¹ watercolors, however -- no pale florals or still lifes, no pastoral landscapes (although Young¹s bio says he has worked with such material in the past).
Young¹s technique is to overlay as many as 35 washes of pigment in a given work, and the effect often verges on photorealism, not something we usually associate with watercolor. So it¹s not surprising to learn that among his influences, Young includes such realists as Winslow Homer, Edward Hopper, and Andrew Wyeth. He also has an excellent eye for the interplay of light and shadow, as in Sun Wash Charleston (so much for the Bahamas), a street scene featuring a building with ornate columns, a street lamp, a garbage pail, and a young man hosing down the sidewalk.
Most of Young¹s Bahamas paintings are portraits of solitary figures, usually black girls or women, looking directly, often sullenly, at the artist (and hence at us). Despite his skill, Young can¹t disguise the sameness of so many of these pieces. A notable exception: the lovely Looking at the Kitten, a candid glimpse of a girl lying on a table outside a building, gazing at a kitten that seems oblivious to her presence. (Through May 10 at the Museum of Art, One E. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale, 954-525-5500.)
"Return to Realism: Contemporary Art from the UBS Collection" -- At 43 pieces by 30 artists, this exhibition at the Boca Raton Museum of Art is smaller than "Embracing the Present: The UBS PaineWebber Art Collection," which was on display a year ago at Fort Lauderdale's Museum of Art. But the Boca show is more balanced and much better organized, making it a strong case for corporate support of art. The UBS collection -- one of the largest corporate art collections in the world -- got a modest start in 1971 with some prints by such major talents as Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein, and Robert Rauschenberg. In the three-plus decades since, it has grown to more than 900 works, from paintings and works on paper to sculptures and photographs. The emphasis is on art from the last half-century. UBS (Union Bank of Switzerland) regularly sends selections from its vault on the road to museums, and specific pieces can be made available to institutions for specialized shows. Actually, much of the collection rests not in a vault but throughout the midtown Manhattan offices of UBS. Imagine going to work every day at a company that displays on its walls the works of such artists as Eric Fischl, Lucian Freud, Anselm Kiefer, Susan Rothenberg, Frank Stella, and Andy Warhol, to name just a few of the collection's best-known artists. Some of this art, fortunately for us, is featured in the Boca Museum show, including a handful of outstanding etchings by Freud, grandson of Sigmund and one of the titans of 20th-century art. (Through Sunday, March 28, at the Boca Raton Museum of Art, 501 Plaza Real, Mizner Park, Boca Raton, 561-392-2500.)
"Lunch Box History" -- The humble lunch box takes front and center in the Delray Beach gallery that recently showcased women's handbags. Can picnic coolers or laundry baskets be far behind? The new multimedia show follows the common sandwich and apple carrier from the kind of enclosed bucket Rosie the Riveter might have used to more modern examples. A nostalgia-inspiring 165 examples of the device, thermoses, baskets, film clips, and photos have been assembled. (Through June 7 at the Museum of Lifestyle & Fashion History, 322 NE 2nd Ave., Delray Beach, 561-243-2662.)
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