A new art gallery in the area is always cause for celebration, and the Painted Easel is no exception – even if it is on the far side of the known world, Broward County division. This spiffy mother-daughter operation opened with little fanfare in March in the Weston Town Center, showcasing the work of the mother, Jan Lower, and the daughter, Deborah Fletcher, who are both talented artists: Lower paints South Florida landscapes, especially palm trees, with extraordinary flair, and Fletcher has a knack for formal interiors. Now the gallery is hosting its first full-fledged group exhibition, "Extraordinary Visions,"and it's a winner. The show features photography by Jeremiah Jenner and Isaac Allen Sandy, paintings by JoAnn Nava, and mixed-media works by Rod Appleton, with each artist receiving a generous selection. Jenner weighs in with some of his vivid color photography, even though some of the works are a little too familiar from exposure in other shows elsewhere. Nava, whose website invokes Grandma Moses, contributes a handful of neo-primitive pieces in her medium of choice, house paint, most from her Chinatownseries, inspired by her childhood in 1950s New York. And Appleton is represented mostly by the earthy, elemental grid-based works for which he's known, with the grids standing for the human impulse to impose order on the messy chaos of the natural world. But the real find here is Sandy, a Coconut Creek-based photographer who uncovers exceptional beauty in that same natural world. I had no sooner fallen for the super-saturated hues of his color work than I noticed he has an even finer feel for the possibilities of black-and-white imagery, especially when it involves rustic buildings set in landscapes that seem ready to swallow them up. The ten photos here left me hungry for more.
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