Capsule reviews of current area art exhibitions.
Like a flashback, "Elliot Landy's Woodstock Vision: The Spirit of a Generation" captures photographic images of a rock 'n' roll era before the profession was a commercially viable one, let alone a glamorous one. As a result, Landy's work reflects virtually unlimited photographic access to many musical icons of the '60s. Capturing his subjects both candidly in performance, in social moments, and in their domestic lives and posed for magazine stories and album covers, the exhibit guides visitors with the photographer's written reflections on the era and observations on his subjects. These wall-mounted notes include anecdotes of his friendships with legends such as Bob Dylan and Janis Joplin. Other subjects include Jim Morrison, the Band, Joan Baez, Van Morrison, Laura Nyro, Albert Ayler, and Frank Zappa. Also notable are shots of Max Yasgur and young Martin Scorsese exchanging peace signs and of performances during the famous psychedelic Joshua Light Show. Panoramic photographs of the 1968 Woodstock concert include perspectives from both the stage and from the audience. For instance, Two Navels and a Vest an image of the torsos of three jeans-clad hipsters, two female and one male is strikingly similar to the fashion of youth culture today. Maybe times have not changed as much as Dylan predicted, because a photo of young men climbing the sound towers at Woodstock definitely captures the same spirit a celebration of the beauty of individuality and the power of community still alive in today's indie-rock movement. The photographs also capture the political concerns of the times, whose climate parallels today's, including the pro- and antiwar protesters and the pro-choice campaigns. With an astute eye for what is important socially and artistically Landy has captured images as poetic as they are nostalgic. (Through June 3 at Palm Beach Photographic Centre, 55 NE Second Ave., Delray Beach. Call 561-276-9797.)
Now on Display
"Everything I touch turns to $old" boast five sweaters, knitted appropriately in cash green- and Midas gold-hued fibers. With these as the sole display in the windows of its Dixie Highway storefront, Gavlak gallery might easily be mistaken for a real estate office. That notion would not be entirely dispelled either inside the gallery, where a series of large format photographs titled "Small Businesses" feature quirky free-standing structures as if they were real estate properties available for investors. In fact, both sweaters and photos are the creation of Lisa Anne Auerbach, who uses the media for social commentary on capitalism. The sweaters are part of Auerbach's knitting project "Steal This Sweater" (a nod to '70s social revolutionary Abbie Hoffman's Steal This Book), where her messages are literally knit into a cultural fabric. "Buy this sweater off my back" is knitted into the fabric of some sweaters, along with prices that range from $5,000 to $25,000, all supposedly based on how much gold is used in each design. Auerbach's big pictures (30 by 40 inches) of small businesses capture their personalities and moods, each a portrait of a unique face of the American Dream. Signage is a constant that clutters these portraitures, and the photographs take their titles from the products being sold (Ice) or from the businesses' names (Desirables). The photos serve as a reminder of the contrast between the local retailers who contribute to the characters of their communities and retail giants who offer nothing but slickly presented homogeneity. (Through May 24 at Gavlak Studios, 3300 S. Dixie Hwy, Ste. 4, West Palm Beach. Call 561-833-0583.)
"Elliot Landy's Woodstock Vision: The Spirit of a Generation"
With more than 1,600 members and the mission "to present the public with the highest aesthetic standards in fine art," the Colored Pencil of Society of America has selected its finest 105 for its "Signature Showcase," an exhibition that includes winners from the society's competitive international exhibit. Displayed at the Cornell Museum, the works are exhibited in loose thematic groups so that you'll find fruits, veggies, and flowers in one room and animals, landscapes, and architecture in another. The styles are as varied as the colors: realism, photo-realism, impressionism, cubism, and abstraction among them. Some are predictable in their subject matter for instance, Peppers IV, a serial study by Arizona's Bill Cupit though expertly executed. Several, like Seattle-resident Laura Ospanik's Shadow Lights, study the play of light through transparent objects. Others are striking in their creativity: Lula Mae Blocton from Connecticut uses a bold, geometric pattern (presumably African) to dominate the foreground of Amistad Mende while an image of the historical slave ship repeats in the background. (Through June 3 at Cornell Museum at Old School Square, 51 N. Swinton Ave., Delray Beach. Call 561-243-7922.)
You'll find an artistic Zen and natural reverence in "Isabel Bigelow: Paintings & Monoprints and Luis Castro: Sculpture." The wife-and-husband show demonstrates the balance necessary to make relationships work, whether personal or aesthetic, two-dimensional or three-. Like the Japanese shoji (translucent, decorative screens) that inspire her, Bigelow's art is as much about the media as it is about subjects, most of which are naturally inspired vines, trees, and landscapes. Brush strokes and wood grain provide texture and dimension that seep from otherwise flat forms, reducing the terrain to its most essential. Bigelow keeps even her palette simple. For instance, Field 28 captures like most of her work the undulations of its landscape in different shades of a single hue. Castro's sculpture, which the Venezuelan-born artist has designed to be touched, is similarly organic, in material and in form. The smooth stone, wood, and marble sculptures explore color, density, and textures of its materials. (Through April 29 at Mulry Fine Art, 3300 S. Dixie Hwy., West Palm Beach. Call 561-228-1006.)
There's a sculptural surprise in the lobby of the Broward County Library: the colorful, mixed-media animals and figures of Felix D. Gonzalez. Past the gift shop sits the Angler Fish, Gonzalez's most abstracted and unusual piece, composed of found objects ranging from jagged pieces of metal, bicycle lights and pedals, spark plugs, cables, wires, and, as the lure on top of its head, a satellite dish. Bike tires make up the grotesque, crescent-shaped mouth, complete with voracious underbite. The piece captures the essence and ugliness of the anglerfish in a very attractive way. A more naturalistic, whimsical Giraffe, made of wood, steel, copper, and brass, stands near the shallow indoor pool. Two sculptures have wooden posts for bases, with branches gently carved into the knobs of a coat rack; a parrot perches on one, and a cutesy owl wearing a bow tie is perched on the other. One piece of wood flows into an elegantly carved fish with brightly colored fins and gold detail. The works are kitschy, but at least two out of three are functional; any Florida resident will recognize and possibly resent how overdone fish, dolphins, and parrots are. Gonzalez's naturalistic and figurative piece titled Tsunami is interesting in approach, with blades of grass and flowers carved from mahogany, climbing from the ground into a torso with plexiglass wings and a quizzical face. The name, however, changes the perception of it from what seems to be a gentle force of nature to the devastating destruction of it. (Through April 30 at the Broward County Main Library, 100 S. Andrews Ave., Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-357-7444.)
The small collection of pre-Columbian and ancient Mexican ceramics and sculptures currently on display at the Norton Museum of Art is aesthetically magnificent and historically significant. "Earthen Images: Ceramics from Ancient America" features 17 objects from six South American civilizations that flourished thousands of years before the discovery of the Americas. Three highly ornamentalized cylindrical vases sit together in a glass case, reflecting skeletal figures and organic designs in natural, subtle hues of orange, red, and cream. A sleek "Coprador" style Maya funerary sculpture of a dog holding an ear of corn in its mouth casts an unsettling gaze at its audience. Even more disturbing is the fact that these iconographic dogs from Colima were actual hairless creatures bred as ceremonial food and companions for the afterlife. The late pre-Classic (100 BC-300 BC) figures were found in eight of every ten Mayan tombs. Another creepy but fascinating object is a ladle, used during the ritual of human sacrifice. It depicts the sacred ulluchu fruit, which was believed to have anticoagulant properties, shaped into a ladle to hold the blood of sacrificial victims. (Through May 28 at the Norton Museum of Art, 1451 S. Olive Ave., West Palm Beach. Call 561-832-5196.)
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