Take Me to the River

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Baptism has developed an association with four-tier cakes decorated with fluffy white angels, gushing parents, grandparents taking photos, and a baby who doesn't know what the heck is going on. But years ago, photographer Lou Bernstein captured the true spirit of the baptismal on the beaches of Brooklyn's Coney Island. "The Negro Baptismal" is a collection of Bernstein's photographs from the early 1960s baptismal events in the waters off Coney Island, but the tradition of African-American baptisms actually originated in the Louisiana Delta region. The practice of outdoor baptism was quite common among both African-American and white Protestant churches. Churches had indoor baptismal pools, but many found the outdoor setting in keeping with the spirit of purification and initiation. Soon, the tradition of baptism in nature moved north from the rivers of the South. That's when Bernstein began documenting what was going on in the waters of New York, developing a style of "picture within a picture": the full view of the baptismal ritual and his own personal interaction with the subjects. You can check out 70 of Bernstein's black-and-white photos as well as baptism artifacts from local churches at the Museum of Lifestyle and Fashion History (322 NE Second Ave., Delray Beach). The exhibit runs through April 25. Call 561-243-2662. -- Audra Schroeder

Frontier Art

How the West was filmed

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The Old West. The term conjures up images of stagecoach chases, cowboys, and Indians. But there is a romantic notion about the American frontier, as it was once a vast expanse of rolling green hills, majestic mountains, and endless sky. Now, much of it has been turned into minimalls in the middle of the desert, but you can catch a glimpse of what the Old West was really like during the Boca Raton Museum of Art's (501 Plaza Real, Boca Raton) Film and Video Series. Artists of the West shows the beauty of the West through the eyes of artists Frederic Remington, Charles Russell, and Tomas Moran and features footage shot on location from New York to New Mexico and narration by Joseph Campanella. The film starts at 3 p.m. and is free with museum admission. Call 561-392-2500. -- Audra Schroeder

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