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The trouble with too many watercolor exhibitions is that they're so, well, nice. You know — oh-so-tasteful florals, kids and kittens, quaint landscapes. It's all so... expected. "Florida Focus: Gold Coast Watercolor Society," now on view in the gallery at ArtServe, has its share of the expected, especially in the form of those ubiquitous florals. But with nearly 90 works on display, it's also a full and well-rounded show that has its surprises. Among the most welcome is an abundance of abstracts. Many of these paintings are every bit as accomplished as their counterparts in oil or acrylic might be. They hold up under scrutiny and include works by Joanna Bratt, Geni Ferro, Susan Hanssen, Kari O'Connell, Babs Scott, Barbara de Turk, and Jane Collin, the society's current president. Once again, however, a show at ArtServe has the feel of something thrown together. What is it about this otherwise estimable organization — an artistic co-op of sorts — that makes other organizations think they can just come in, toss some art on the walls, and get away with ignoring the finer points of putting together a passable exhibit? The judge and juror is identified as Eydi Lampasona, a South Florida artist herself, but Gold Coast (an ArtServe member, by the way) hasn't bothered to post a statement by her or to put together a handout to provide even the most basic information about the show. The coup de grâce came after I noticed that one of the exhibition's best works, an untitled, icily beautiful abstract by Joyce Hamann, had been inadvertently hung upside down. When I called this aesthetic embarrassment to the attention of an ArtServe employee, she explained that Gold Coast was in charge of hanging the show and would have to be responsible for correcting the mistake. I walked away, having witnessed yet another occasion when the art at ArtServe was ill-served.

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Michael Mills

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