"Purvis Young: The Angels Exhibition 2007"

The past few years have been good to Purvis Young. Last year he was named Best Local Artist by this paper. The year before he was the subject of both a career retrospective, "Purvis Young: Paintings From the Street," at the Boca Raton Museum of Art, and a documentary, Purvis of Overtown, that played at the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival. And he has continued to be the focus of his own little gallery near downtown Fort Lauderdale. About the only thing missing was a healthy kidney to replace the failing one that threatened his life. Now the Miami-born artist is back with a new kidney and another retrospective, "Purvis Young: The Angels Exhibition 2007," currently on view at Grace Gallery and Studios. The show, a much less formal affair than the Boca exhibition, sprawls through two floors of the Dania Beach complex, interspersed with antiques and works by other artists. It takes a ramshackle approach, with paintings propped against walls and hanging from stairway railings, that hardly clashes with Young's outsider-artist status. Granted, it's initially odd to see his canvases, with their makeshift frames incorporating discarded wood, carpet, and other construction detritus, hanging next to Chinese antiques. Then again, that elegant red-lacquered Chinese armoire will set you back a mere $2,500, while Purvis originals perched nearby fetch anywhere from $3,800 to $8,000, with paintings elsewhere in the gallery priced at thousands more. (Upstairs, a few unframed drawings and small paintings on paper go for $300 to $500.) The show includes 100 to 150 pieces, and along with angels, the subject matter includes Purvis perennials like funeral processions, horses, and trucks. The artist rarely dates his work, although the exhibition purports to span his long, prolific career. For anyone unfamiliar with him, it's a respectable overview. (On display through February 1 at Grace Gallery and Studios, 49 N. Federal Hwy., Dania Beach. Call 954-921-1231.)

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Michael Mills