There's a running joke that FAU stands for "Find Another University," not Florida Atlantic University. But it would be hard to find another university -- in these parts, anyhow -- that's so bent on proving its dedication to the arts. Its league may not be ivy; its halls may not be hallowed; its parking lots may take up more space than its dormitories -- but FAU currently has four thought-provoking exhibits spread across its campuses. So what if most of the work is hung in the library?
Surely you recognize the stars of the first exhibit. They're omnipresent on greeting cards, posters, and coffee cups. The famous Weimaraners named Man-Ray and Fay Ray, and their broods, are the world's best-known living props. "It's A Dog's Life: Photographs by William Wegman from the Polaroid Collection" runs from Friday through November 12 at the Ritter Art Gallery (Florida Atlantic University, 777 Glades Rd., Boca Raton). The prints are shown alongside some of Wegman's lesser-known early video works. Also on display in Boca -- in the Wimberly Library, through September 30 -- is "Healing Thru Arts," 75 drawings and collages by inmates in the Broward County Women's Correctional Facility. Every week, numerous women have voluntarily taken part in art workshops; the result is a varied display of colorful pieces that convey emotions from pain and shame to rage and whimsy. For details, call 561-297-2966.
At FAU's John D. MacArthur campus library (5353 Parkside Dr., Jupiter), you can see two other collections: "Around the Block -- Around the World," 21 photos by Katie Deits; and a book exhibit by RoseMarie Chiarlone. Deits is a Palm Beach County native who has taught at Palm Beach Community College and Barry University; her portraits from Italy have an intimate and timeless quality. Chiarlone's "books" look more like delicate cardboard dollhouses that have been written on, or collages with overlaid photos and scribbled notes. She has said she juxtaposes "nontraditional materials, text, and imagery in ways that redefine the techniques and traditions of bookmaking." Both exhibits will be on display through October 8. Call 561-799-8530. -- Deirdra Funcheon
Art Up Close
Rodriguez Helps you Face Reality
Mexican-born artist Victor Rodriguez is a bit of a magician. At first glance, his paintings could double as photographs. However, get a little closer and you'll notice something else. Critics and fans alike call his work an exercise in hyperrealism -- a too-real-to-be-true treatment that takes elements (and sometimes direct copies) of photography to produce acrylic paintings whose subjects almost come off the wall and tap the viewer on the shoulder. While hyperrealism, which philosopher Umberto Eco refers to as the "authentic fake," was largely recognized in the '70s, it benefits from a revival of sorts with Rodriguez's works. His subjects are often friends, lovers, family members, and even himself presented in intimate detail. Rodriguez's artworks have shown extensively in the States as well as in Mexico, France, and Spain, garnering awards like first prize in the XI Rufino Tamayo Biennial in Mexico City. "New Paintings by Victor Rodriguez" is on display now through October 9 at the Boca Museum of Art (501 Plaza Real, Mizner Park, Boca Raton). Admission costs $8 for adults and $4 for students. Call 561-392-2500, or visit www.bocamuseum.org. -- Terra Sullivan
Art with Heart
Listening to Leistner
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Timothy Leistner is one of the busiest artists in Broward County. It's been non-stop since first grade, when Leistner's teacher pulled his folks aside to say they had a mini-Monet on their hands. He teaches Children's Literature at FAU and painting to adults and children. His works have hung inside the walls of the Old Davie Schoolhouse Museum and been painted directly on the outside walls of the Beach Community Center in Fort Lauderdale. For years, Leistner has worked with ArtsUnited to present positive portrayals of the gay and lesbian community. "We get a lot of negative images these days about different lifestyles," Leistner says. "Art helps people open up to new, creative ideas." Leistner's work, which he describes as subjective realism, focuses on watercolor paintings that get sliced up and reworked with other materials into impressionistic Frankenstein collages -- but in a good way. Leistner's exhibit is open now though September 30 at the Stonewall Library and Archives (1717 N. Andrews Ave., Fort Lauderdale). Admission is free. Call 954-530-2723. -- Jake Smith
Cut It Out!
As a fiercely minimalist art exhibit, "Reduced" cuts the conceptual fat, so to speak. The literal fat, well, that's still here -- in the form of bacon grease. Yep, you read that right. In response to the Darwinian question of natural selection (who's fittest?), Frank Wick uses pig fat to spell out the answer and the title of his piece, Winner. Wick is one of the four artists featured in "Reduced," which opens Friday at the Art and Culture Center of Hollywood (1650 Harrison St., Hollywood). Less tongue-in-cheek but equally abstract are works by Frances Trombly and Tom Scicluna. Of special interest is I Am Making Art, a video by John Baldessari that mocks all those self-conscious art films from the 1960s. Art imitates art -- and has a little fun at its expense. The exhibit runs through November 6. Call 954-921-3274. -- Jason Budjinski