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Capsule reviews of current area art exhibitions.

Colby Katz

It's obviously an idea whose time has come: Art meets food. Case in point: Mark's at the Park restaurant in Boca Raton engagingly displays the multimedia works of longtime local artist Elizabeth Chapman. Diners get the opportunity to digest this earthy yet ethereal exhibition as they indulge in Chef Mark Militello's home-style meatballs or pan-seared scallops. Hidden Emotions, which sneaks a discreet nude into the corner of its rich, layered paint on stacked canvas, will capture the gaze of whoever has the fortune of sitting at one particular table, and Helene's Gift, a patchy, organic work that boldly incorporates fleshy nudes and slate grays, will undoubtedly catch the eye of diners on their way to the restrooms. Chapman's innovative use of Masonite and canvas, held together invisibly in one piece and with heavy metal clamps in another, gives a quiet but intense balance to the abstracted blocks of color and thick textures, chalky squiggles, shadowy hands, and modest nudes that appear in many of her paintings. Floating Canvas is exactly that. It's not a stretched canvas; instead, it hangs loosely, suspended from a metal rod that reinforces the rawness of the dark patches of glazed, layered colors and the mystery of the shadow of a hand that materializes again. Near the entrance to the restaurant, organic materials, rusty metal hinges, tarpaper, and dark smears of paint give a dark depth to the piece titled Absence of Mention. Narrow panels embellish two columns with rich red paint and fluid gold swirls that complement a delicate drawing of leaves and a sleeping female form enveloped in a calla lily in Sienna Slumber I and II. An almost tangible harmony is at play throughout the restaurant, showing that Chapman was a good choice as one of two artists to provide the artistic image for the restaurant (sculptor Sid Walesh is the other). (Through November 30 at 344 Plaza Real, Mizner Park, Boca Raton. Call 561-395-0770, or visit elizabethchapman.net.)

Now on Display

Don Quixote's universal appeal lies in his pursuit of unrealistic dreams. The rich fantasy world of the eccentric Spanish knight makes him an inviting topic for Salvador Dalí, who created numerous illustrations for Cervantes' text. A handful of these are on view at the North Regional Broward Community College Library, on loan from the private collection of Rik Pavlescak, a South Florida resident and fan of Dalí's work. The exhibit commemorates both Hispanic Heritage Month and the 400th anniversary of the publication of Don Quixote (the first part was actually published in 1605, the second part in 1615), which quickly became Spain's literary masterpiece. Dalí's images are displayed in two glass cases, which hold eight books, a framed lithograph, and a record of Strauss' composition with liner notes featuring illustrations by Dalí. The frail figure of Don Quixote finds an apt counterpart in the gaunt horse he rides: Bones and musculature show through the animal's coat. Dalí's wide variety of approaches -- from realist to illusionist -- makes it hard to believe that one man produced all these images. At times, they bear more resemblance to Norman Rockwell than to the surrealist genius who said, "What is important is to spread confusion, not eliminate it." (Through October 31 at the North Regional BCC Library, 1100 Coconut Creek Blvd., Coconut Creek. Call 954-201-2600.)

The Art and Culture Center of Hollywood's "Reduced" includes four contemporary artists, the heirs of minimalism, which flourished in the 1960s and 1970s, in part as a response to the perceived excesses of 1950s abstract expressionism. It's tempting to declare that everything there is to say about minimalism has already been said. But based on the works included here, it would clearly be a mistake to dismiss it entirely. Just as "Fat Painting" reasserted the vitality of the ideas underlying abstract expressionism, "Reduced" demonstrates that some of the basics of minimalism are surprisingly enduring and versatile. The show is about as spartan as they come. It focuses primarily on a trio of South Florida-based artists, although it also includes a seminal 1971 video by John Baldessari. There are fewer than a dozen works by the three local artists -- five by Frances Trombly, four by Frank Wick, and two by Tom Scicluna -- all of which were created in the past three years. Trombly's work -- objects titled plywood or paper airplane and meticulously woven and stitched to create the uncanny illusion that they are actually fabricated from the materials they mimic -- is the show's strongest statement of minimalism's continuing influence, but it's not enough to carry the exhibition by itself. The work of Wick fleshes out the space without overwhelming it, both complementing and contrasting with Trombly's pieces. Wick is a sly, even grim, jokester. One wall bears his Winner, which consists of a large white panel with the title word stenciled in the center in a ghostly off-white, then painted over with bacon grease, which dribbles down from the letters and spatters the floor. The oblique joke is explained in the brochure by the curator, who says the piece "uses language to illustrate humans' ability to produce text as an advantage over animals and thus the right to eat them, rendering humans as the 'winner. '" (Through November 6 at the Art and Culture Center of Hollywood, 1650 Harrison St., Hollywood. Call 954-921-3274.)

William Wegman's name has become synonymous with photographs of Weimaraner dogs, which he captures making humorous and humanesque poses. The images are available in books at Target and on notecards virtually everywhere. But another side of the artist emerges in "It's a Dog's Life: Photographs by William Wegman from the Polaroid Collection" at Florida Atlantic University's Ritter Art Gallery. Two small televisions show Wegman's experimental films. Coupling the films and photographs indicates that Wegman embraces both subversive edge and commercial appeal. Through film -- some without dogs -- Wegman plays with typical settings, like a magic trick or a cinnamon toast commercial -- in unusual ways. In one short, a man (Wegman?) drools milk on the floor in a linear puddle. The films are witty, disturbing, and at times inexplicable. The photographs, on the other hand, have a widespread attraction. Massive -- 24 inches by 20 inches -- the prints showcase the dogs' soulful eyes and silky fur. Some of them are a little more unexpected, with Wegman's subjects blending elegantly into their surroundings. In Sad Film, a single Weimaraner sits in an otherwise empty film auditorium, as if watching the movie that's coming from the projector behind. The dog's expression is inquisitive and forlorn. Stud 2000 features a Weimaraner sitting on a stationary bike, a towel draped around its neck. Mantle has two dogs lounging above a fireplace like floral decorations, almost blending with the massive stone chimney. While the photographs capture the animals' priceless expressions and the texture of their fur is scintillatingly reproduced, visitors who crave a little more risk with their art may find themselves drawn more to Wegman's films. (Through November 12 at the Ritter Art Gallery, Florida Atlantic University, 777 Glades Rd., Boca Raton. Call 561-297-2661, or visit www.fau.edu/galleries.)

California native William DeBilzan's mixed media, abstract expressionist pieces have gained popularity throughout the United States since the early 1990's. His visibility increased dramatically in the 1990's when popular prime-time television shows like Frasier and Just Shoot Me featured his paintings. New River Fine Art is currently displaying their recent acquisitions of DeBilzan's original, colorful works. His paintings of elongated, rectangular figures and brilliant hues are embellished by the appropriation of stenciled text and various found objects, such as corrugated cardboard and mesh. DeBilzan creates his own frames of rough, antique wood, adding a rustic quality to the paintings. Some of the frames still have a hinge or joint from their previous use, further enhancing the folksy appeal of the work. His canvases, saturated with colors that evoke New Orleans or the Caribbean, offer a bold backdrop to lines of highly representational houses, trees, or people. Once Again offers the viewer a vibrant shade of green painted on canvas layered with mesh and corrugated cardboard that serves as a background to two lovers holding hands with their heads tilted in affection toward each other. The clean whites of their shirts juxtaposed with the primary colors of his pants and her skirt create a sharp contrast to the muted tones of stenciled, spray-painted letters and the numbers of the floor they stand on. DeBilzan's subject matter never seems to reference anything other than the warm comfort and bright joys of daily life. That simplicity is the appeal of William DeBilzan's body of work. (Through November 5 at New River Fine Art, 914 E. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-524-2100.)


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