Best Art Gallery Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach 2002 - Schacknow Museum of Fine Art
OK, so it bills itself as a museum. But this West Broward institution is, in concept and execution, the work of one man. One man who owns, runs, and programs it without having to answer to anyone other than himself -- no pesky board of directors, no temperamental curators, no meddlesome partners. One man who has the chutzpah to stock much of his facility with 2000 or so of his own paintings and drawings. That, to us, translates to gallery more than museum. The man in question, of course, is Max Schacknow, the notorious millionaire artist who offered a $1.5 million museum endowment to the City of Coral Springs a few years ago, then opened his own private showcase in Plantation. Schacknow's critics continually take him to task for his obsession with numbers -- he boasts of his nearly 9000 square feet of display space, his shows of as many as 300 pieces by dozens of artists -- and for an approach to art that can be characterized as catholic, in the sense of comprehensive and all-embracing. But those qualities are exactly what make him an ideal gallery owner. Who else has so much space to show off his own work (much of which is admittedly ordinary but some of which is also quite respectable)? And who else has the temperament to embrace so much work by so many artists in so many highly varied styles? That a lot of the stuff -- both his own and others' pieces -- is mediocre is beside the point, because Schacknow inevitably stumbles onto some gems. So let's let him call his big building a museum, but let's hope he continues to run it more like a gallery.