¨United and Proud¨
Every year, the gay art collective Arts United presents its ¨United and Proud¨ exhibition to coincide with gay and lesbian pride month in June. This year, someone hit on pairing the show with a historical exhibit organized by the Stonewall Library & Archives, and the idea is an inspired one. The two are in adjacent spaces in the Broward County Main Library´s Gallery Six, and they complement each other beautifully. Previous Arts United shows have often seemed carelessly organized and unfocused, since the artists included don´t have to address gay issues, even indirectly ¯¯ the artists were gay, but the art itself wasn´t necessarily ¨gay¨ in content, so to speak. That´s still the case here, but having the Stonewall show nearby anchors the Arts United exhibition in relevant history. ¨Days Without Sunshine: Anita Bryant´s Anti-Gay Crusade¨ is a concise, direct account of the all-American orange juice spokeswoman´s ruthless 1977 campaign to repeal a Dade County ordinance that sought to guarantee basic civil and human rights to gays and lesbians. The exhibit consists of nearly two dozen handsomely designed (by Raymond Rodriguez) panels combining words and images that tell the tale, along with two cases of archival documentation and a 17-minute video. (The panels can also be found on the Stonewall Library´s website.) It´s a powerful reminder of the whole nasty mess and an excellent history lesson for those who don´t remember. It also forms a backdrop for the adjacent art show, where there´s a text panel by ubiquitous gay photographer Dennis Dean: ¨Thirty years ago a gay exhibit at a public library would have been scandalous and picketed... now it´s not only accepted, it´s celebrated.¨ Some of Dean´s gorgeous black-and-white photos of gorgeous half-naked men are included, along with works in a wide variety of media by dozens of other gay and lesbian artists. The People´s Choice winner is, justifiably, Alfred Phillips´ Hanging Out, an acrylic portrait of a trio of shirtless young men sitting on a boardwalk, executed in the artist´s customary crisp realism. (On display through June 30 at Gallery Six, Broward County Main Library, 100 S. Andrews Ave., Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-763-8565.)
¨His work is so mature for an artist his age,¨ gallery owner and director Donna Tribby effused at the recent opening of ¨Matt Godwin: Spring Paintings.¨ Just a year after graduating from Dreyfoos School of the Arts in West Palm Beach in 2006, the 19-year-old artist calls Boston home, now that ¨a wise art investor traded for studio space there,¨ Tribby said. Artist´s age aside, the paintings attest to an active, unsettled, and cynical mind that is reflected in both style and subject. For instance, Acne Abstraction captures the ugliness and pain of the angry pustules, and the condition´s persistence is reflected in serial breakouts, three of which are displayed. Another series, Acidic Painting on Acid Free Paper, demonstrates the artist´s sardonic wit. Lucy´s Hard Work Paid Off, in fact, uses the Peanuts´ smug know-it-all to take a jab at the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art. Another of the series, simply titled Turkey, illustrates not only the artist´s intellect but also a style that is equal parts studied and spontaneous, deliberate yet sincere. While only 14 works are hung in the small Antique Row gallery space, almost as many more are on hand. If you want, you can get a preview at mattgodwin.org, where the talented, prolific, and savvy artist has cataloged images of all of his work. (Through July 4 at Donna Tribby Fine Art, 3506 S. Dixie Hwy., West Palm Beach. Call 561-833-4001.) -- Michael Mills
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