Perceptual Alchemy

Artist Sharon Huff believes that everything happens for a reason and that we can see "beauty and perfection" even in the most tragic circumstances. Versace's murder, Princess Diana's fatal car crash, the devastation of 9/11 — these are all challenges for us to perceive the "beauty in something horrific." A frame shop near the beach may seem like an unlikely place to receive metaphysical guidance, but the artist and frame-shop owner is more than happy to explain both her process and inspiration for "Perceptual Alchemy." Using news photos of these events, the artist zooms in to find a new perspective, abstracting elements to depict in acrylic paintings. From the Versace crime scene ("his last design in his life's blood"), for instance, Huff focuses in on a portion of the steps where his blood has run; the patterns take on an architectural quality ("like ancient Italian ruins"), explored in a larger version in crimson and ochre and a smaller version in violet and aqua. The same process is applied to the burning World Trade Center tower, which, when abstracted and rendered in a wetter application of acrylic and pastel, looks like an impressionistic floral study. Also demonstrating that it's all in how you frame things — both literally and figuratively — Huff transforms beach litter into angelic art, which she showcases in expensive frames under museum-quality glass. Whether created of twisted metal and roofing paper or of cigarette butts and bottle caps, the angels serve as a suggestion that even garbage can be divine. (Through September 30 at Frame 'n Art Gallery, 263 Commercial Blvd., Lauderdale-by-the-Sea. Call 954-267-9202.)

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Marya Summers