Capsule reviews of current area art exhibitions.
Now on Display
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 the 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 his 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 in Cuba, 1933 displays Hemingway's antiqued journal entries, photos of him fishing, and mementos of his stay, all found in Key West after his death. Walker 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, Walker Evans depicts a country of tormented beauty. Evans 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 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)
Broward Art Guild's 55th Anniversary Exhibition at ArtServe is a juried show of the Guild's members, ranging from some whose work might never be displayed if not for their yearly dues to those whose skills could easily pay the bills. Daniel Garcia won "Best in Show" with his abstractly figurative piece, Rita, whose velvety black background allow bright, loose brushstrokes to pop and grab the viewer's attention. Greedy Supplicant by Stephanie Lowe makes an obvious but meaningful socio-political statement, with the easily recognizable subject matter of President Bush, with his hands in prayer position wearing an oil rig on his head like a stupid birthday hat. Dan W. McKinney placed second with Soft Sofia, a painting that pays homage to the legendary beauty, Sofia Loren; two expertly rendered, delicate portraits of the actress sit side by side with contrasting streaks of brown and thickly applied whites and yellows. Third place goes to the lesser of two works displayed by surrealist John Patrick Kelly, Chasing the Ghost. The bonded, ambiguous nude with a hint of breast and birds perched atop his/her open head has nothing on the pirates in the squash ship with the teacup look-out and sea monsters swimming by that inhabit Kelly' s Rub a Dub Dub. Several other works received "Judges Recognition," such as the clean, Dutch-like still life of Shoe Molds by Lee A. Bianco. A couple of paintings that hang unadorned with any awards deserve mentioning; Paige Hargrove's painterly nude, Portrait of a Woman, is simultaneously stern and supple, and Dagmar Crosby's Tababuia offers a lovely glimpse of daily life, featuring a dry cleaners highlighted by yellow blossoms and blue skies. (Through November 10 at ArtServe, 1350 East Sunrise Boulevard. Call 954-462-8190)
Three Weeks in Cuba, 1933
It's an idea whose time has come: Art meets food. Mark's at the Park restaurant in Boca Raton engagingly displays the multi-media 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 Elizabeth 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, 2005. Visit 344 Plaza Real, Mizner Park, Boca Raton. Call 561-395-0770)
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 East Las Olas Boulevard, Fort Lauderdale. Call 954.524.2100)
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