Capsule reviews of current area art exhibitions.
A golden Buddha reverently holds a giant phallus before him like a censer of incense. It's the central image of Los Angeles artist Jamie Adams' triptych (each a 12-inch encaustic oil on linen) Big Sur. With a playful juxtaposition, Adams' work not only holds the penis in high regard but puts it at the center of things the flanking images are a seascape and skyscape, to the left and right, respectively. The first in a series of three summer exhibitions, Mulry Fine Art presents "A Group Show of Landscapes" featuring painting, sculpture, and photography from the gallery's stable of artists. For the show, gallery directors sisters Fecia and Meghan Mulry have interpreted the landscape theme as creatively as the artists have rendered them, so don't expect to see a bunch of realistic fields and meadows. Even the photographs have a painterly quality to them. Wheaton Mahoney's Sweet Pea, for instance, a giant, digitally manipulated close-up of a white-and-pink flower is reminiscent of one of Georgia O'Keeffe's blossoms. Likewise, Celia Pearson's photographs capture their subjects in larger-than-life close-ups; however, the artist's method is a traditional one as she explores light and depth within the image as they capture their subjects: Stem Leaf and Bromeliad. Others, like Robin Kahn's "State of the Art" series, take greater liberty with the theme. The New York artist uses a found image (perhaps originally a woodcut or linocut) of a forest-lined river as the backdrop for her cartoon of a woman balancing a man overhead with one arm. The cartoon woman performs a tight-wire act on a piece of string laid across the picture. These works (identical except for the positioning of the string and cartoons) focus more on female roles than they do on nature. Also on display are works by Isabel Bigelow (paintings and monoprints), Peter Burega (abstract paintings), Luis Castro (wood and stone sculpture), Cara Enteles (multimedia), and Marc Leuders (photography). (Through June 30 at Mulry Fine Art, 3300 S. Dixie Hwy., West Palm Beach. Call 561-228-1006.)
Now on Display
Mother Nature sometimes needs help expressing her feelings for Sky Father, so Dennis Oppenheim lends the goddess a helping hand in "Salutations to the Sky." The series of aerial photographs are fictive proposals to redirect the flow of the Sacramento River so it spells out such messages as Always and Forever and Faithfully Yours. There's even a Dear John version that spells out Adios in earth tones. Patches of colorful earth create geometric fields that surround the river's winding declarations. Oppenheim, known as an innovator in what's known as Earth Art for example, branding designs into fields is also an inventive sculptor in the more traditional sense. Two of his pieces are displayed in the Eaton sculpture garden, including Aerial Water Closets, which appear to be powder-coated metal and steel trees whose limbs bear strange fruit pastel toilets and sinks. Exhibited concurrently are the watercolors of Richard Frank, selected works commissioned by Northern Trust to capture local and historic landmarks so the artwork could be used for such things as corporate holiday cards. Some paintings capture their subjects for instance, the Norton Museum of Art Courtyard or the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse very literally, as if the artist rendered a watercolor version of a photograph. Others, like Celebratory which depicts the architecture, art, and gardens of Society of the Four Arts capture the many aspects of its subject in collage-like amalgam. (Through May 27 at Eaton Fine Art, 4325 Gardenia St., West Palm Beach. Call 561-833-3134.)
"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 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, Frank Zappa. 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 jean-clad hipsters, two female and one maleis 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 anti-war 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)
In school, colored pencil is a medium for those who've matured beyond crayon but aren't quite ready for paint. In the hands of experts, though, colored pencil can produce remarkable, diverse, and vivid results. With more than 1,600 members and the mission "to present the public with the highest aesthetic standards in fine art," the Colored Pencil 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.)
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 to 300 BC) figures were found in eight out 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. These ceremonies were practiced by many pre-Columbian cultures, based on beliefs that the gods needed human blood to maintain harmony and order on Earth and in the universe. (Through May 28 at the Norton Museum of Art, 1451 S. Olive Ave., West Palm Beach. Call 561-832-5196.)
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