"Three Weeks in Cuba, 1933"
"Three Weeks in Cuba, 1933"

Capsule reviews of current area art exhibitions.

A lifelong friendship began on a three-week exploration of Cuba in 1933. The Boca Raton Museum of Art is showing a recently compiled exhibition of 50 images by American photography master Walker Evans and 20 of legendary Ernest Hemingway's photographs and artifacts. "Three Weeks in Cuba, 1933" examines a country in a time of political turmoil and two men in a time of personal and artistic growth and discovery. Evans was working on his first major assignment, illustrating the critical book The Crime of Cuba. Hemingway traveled to Havana to fish and work on novels. The two men were profoundly affected by their late-night conversations regarding the heavy political climate of Cuba. This nightly ritual inspired their individual artistic styles for the rest of their lives. Hemingway wrote To Have and Have Not while Evans produced his first great body of work, images that simultaneously exemplify the daily life and danger of Cuba during this time. "Three Weeks" displays Hemingway's weathered journal entries, photos of him fishing, and mementos of his stay, all found in Key West after his death. Evans' shots of everyday life capture the heart and soul of Cuba. From the crispness of Citizen of Havana, a photo of an elegant black man in a white suit standing in front of a shoeshine stand, to the graphic violence of crime scenes and the smoky skies of country landscapes, Evans depicts a country of tormented beauty. He takes the viewer on a gripping journey of Havana, past the street vendors and beggars, through the fruit market to the patchwork shacks of the Village of Havana Poor. This exhibition allows museum guests a glimpse into a friendship between two remarkable men -- and into a country in an era of upheaval. (Through November 20 at the Boca Raton Museum of Art, 501 Plaza Real, Mizner Park Boca Raton. Call 561-392-2500.)

Now on Display

It's an idea whose time has come: Art meets food. 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 darks smears of paint give a dark depth to the piece titled Absence of Mention. 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.)

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.)


"Three Weeks in Cuba, 1933"

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.)


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