"Leo Stitsky: Arte Facts"

Coming upon "Leo Stitsky: Arte Facts," a small installation tucked away in a back corner of the Coral Springs Museum of Art, is sort of like stumbling unexpectedly across a natural-history exhibit. The items on display have the fascinating feel of ancient objects retrieved from an archaeological dig. The Miami-born artist is quoted in a handout as saying, "The place I have created is a playful space. A place where seldom seen spirits create oddly animistic objects for use in arcane ceremonies." A spooky space is more like it. Stitsky's artificially aged artifacts seem oddly out of place here, as if they had been wrenched from their original context and pressed into service as art. Four freestanding sculptures take the form of tall, thin staffs, elegantly fashioned from copper and found pieces of what is evocatively described on the labels as "hurricane wood." Nearby is an array of amulets, pendants, and armbands and headbands, along with a shorter staff sealed away in a display case. Stitsky now lives and works in Chokoloskee, a little island town off the southwest coast of Florida in the Ten Thousand Islands, and he cites the area's previous residents, the Calusa Indians of many years ago, as his muses. With these few strange objects (there are only 15 of them here), Stitsky effectively summons up forgotten rituals and secret histories we can only speculate about — which is fine with the artist, who approvingly quotes Marcel Duchamp: "All in all, the creative act is not performed by the artist alone; the spectator brings the work in contact with the external world by deciphering and interpreting its inner qualifications and thus adds his contribution to the creative act." (On display through February 21 at the Coral Springs Museum of Art, 2855 Coral Springs Dr., Coral Springs. Call 954-340-5000.)
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Michael Mills