For the past five years that she has lived in South Florida, Carol Prusa has been quietly going about her business. And that business is turning out some of the area's most distinctive art. Prusa, who teaches painting at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, specializes in imagery that looks as if it's from some sort of alien anatomy textbook: pale, ethereal forms that suggest both plants and animals, rendered in a near-monochromatic palette that includes such ingredients as gesso, sulfur, graphite, and silver. Fittingly, she studied biocommunication arts and medical illustration at the University of Illinois before going on to earn an MFA in painting with a minor in drawing at Drake University in Iowa. Since arriving in Florida, Prusa has accumulated an impressive array of awards for her work, from the Art and Culture Center of Hollywood and the Boca Raton Museum of Art, most notably. Her solo shows have been at Palm Beach Community College's Eissey campus, Broward Community College's Pembroke Pines campus, and the Coral Springs Art Museum.
There are installations, and then there are installations. And then there is Pamela Joseph's take on the art form that people either love or love to hate. Joseph swept into town in February 2003 with "The Sideshow of the Absurd," which converted the first floor of the Art and Culture Center of Hollywood into a series of interconnected installations and supplementary materials such as banners, sketches, and spotlights casting carny come-ons onto the walls. The Colorado-based artist draws on carnival culture and freak shows for her subject matter, which she then transforms into sly commentaries on contemporary American pop culture, usually with a feminist slant tempered with a sense of humor. Many of the "pieces" are interactive, not to mention wired for sound. Even the exhibition's catalog is outrageously over-the-top, a garish volume filled with photographs, drawings, essays, an interview with the artist, and an introduction by artist Larry Rivers, who died not long after contributing to this traveling show. The catalog also includes an interactive CD and a batch of temporary tattoos that play off the show's themes. What better way to celebrate the innate sideshow-like character of South Florida?