Rick Newton: New Paintings

His sculptures of dirigible pool toys, lawn sprinkler supplies, satellite dishes, and models of H2O molecules comment on the artifice of suburban life. On the strength of these unique and playful critiques of artifice, the South Florida artist has developed a reputation. Now, "Rick Newton: New Paintings" develops the artist¹s oeuvre by downsizing from three dimensions to two. The exhibit demonstrates the artist is not only conceptually equipped but also technically skilled. Taking his stylistic inspiration from textbook illustrations, Newton works in oil and graphite to depict aquatic animals, cross sections of land, and those ubiquitous molecules. Whereas his sculptures were lighter (and not just because they were inflatable) fare, the paintings diagram a sinister threat — an environment that humans have artificially manipulated. Hello, global warming! The works may feel like whimsical science fiction, thanks to the flying octopi, but these creatures are symbolic of what Newton hopes will be our resilience to Mother Nature¹s deadly forces. Curated by Showtel creator Kara Walker-Tomjavascript:passCharacter('233'), the modest exhibit reads left to right beginning with a transitional work (the exhibit¹s most sculptural) that includes plexiglass model homes, one covered by a wave and another with a model octopus hovering overhead. Following six works that are strictly paintings, the exhibit ends with the least exacting of the collection, its comparative looseness allowing for some emotional expression, and incorporates Newton¹s sculptural background with plastic satellite dishes fastened at its top corner. It¹s a slender exhibit of strong, new work that begs the artist to be more prolific. (Through May 26 at the Gallery at the Flamingo Building, 433 Flamingo Dr., West Palm Beach. Call 561-832-5255.) — Marya Summers

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