Phillip Estlund: Modern Nature | Artbeat | South Florida | Broward Palm Beach New Times | The Leading Independent News Source in Broward-Palm Beach, Florida

Phillip Estlund: Modern Nature

It's an ugly world out there, full of invasion, erosion, corrosion, distress, and decay. But "Phillip Estlund: Modern Nature" creates from such destruction, finding beauty and meaning there. Using discarded reference books, field guides, trade catalogs, and salvaged materials, the Lake Worth artist creates collages that juxtapose the natural environment with our constructed ones, creating narratives in surreal combinations of the two. In Frigid Return, for instance, the honeycomb tile of a tidy living room gives way to an icy mountain cliff beneath it; climbers ascend the frozen terrain for the comfort of home. Estlund also depicts human impact on the environment and nature's reclamation of its turf. In his Home Invasion Series, the artist uses scale to make nature's invasions both whimsical and ominous. Sea anemone tentacles reach out of a living room fireplace; monster-sized fungi dwarf both home and island. By placing a diminutive tribe of children or a few tiny explorers in images of model homes, Adventures in Interior Design imbues model homes with grandeur — the sort we experience when we're dwarfed by a mountain or a giant redwood. Mounted on corroded metal or distressed wood, some works use image and media to break down the boundaries between natural and human-made worlds. Also displayed are three sculptures (the largest of the three, Ground Swell, is a couple of blocks away in the former Tribby Gallery), each a temporary housing structure in various states of distress and decay. The subtleties of their composition force us to consider beauty, not just those expensive and artificial constructs that we maintain so rigorously. (Through January 5 at Gavlak, 3300 S. Dixie Hwy., Ste. 4, West Palm Beach. Call 561-833-0583.)

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Marya Summers

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