Dolls of War

No Tinky Winkies here

TUE 12/21

Oh, how cute -- a Japanese doll collection! It must be full of cuddly little animals like the ones on those adorable Pokémon cards. Er... not exactly. The dolls in the exhibit "Ningyo: Antique Japanese Dolls" are even older than those in your grandma's collection (Prohibition Barbie?), and the subjects span nearly a millennium. That means warrior dolls like the none-too-happy-looking brothers in Soga Pair 2300, portrayed in action while trying to get some 12th-century payback for their murdered father. It's a perfect match for the exhibit "Japanese Armor of the 16th and 17th Centuries." Both exhibits open Tuesday at the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens (4000 Morikami Park Rd., Delray Beach).

While the "Ningyo" exhibit features many a sword-wielding samurai, not all the dolls are in combat mode; some are gosho or palace dolls in the form of portly toddlers, while others are hina dolls that represent imperial couples and their court. It's aesthetically enticing and, yes, educational too. Similarly instructive but without the idyllic pleasantries of upper-class palace life, the "Japanese Armor" exhibit focuses on the period when firearms first made their way eastward. While the archaic helmets and body armor couldn't withstand five seconds of modern warfare, they certainly make for better art pieces than fatigues and gas masks. The exhibits run through March 13. Call 561-495-0233. -- Jason Budjinski

Walled In

And boxed out

SAT 12/18

Some say the purpose of art is to "tear down the walls," typically those of conventional thinking. Others, like the late Louise Nevelson, were more into building them -- and making 'em look damned interesting to boot. Nevelson took anything from cast metal to pieces of discarded wood and other found objects and crafted them into giant walls, columns, or multifaceted boxed compositions, solidifying her status as one of the top sculptors of 20th-century American modernism. An exhibit featuring 37 of Nevelson's works from New York City's Farnsworth Art Museum opens Saturday at the Art and Culture Center of Hollywood (1650 Harrison St., Hollywood). The exhibit, which runs through February 13, includes works from her art school days right through her time as a national figure. Call 954-921-3274. -- Jason Budjinski

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Jason Budjinski