The Other Half: Women Artists in the Collection

"The Other Half: Women Artists in the Collection" seeks to help balance the gender inequity, one supposes. Acknowledging that women's "contribution to society, arts, literature, and sciences has been overshadowed by their male counterparts," Boca Museum has selected works from its permanent collection by women who "have created important work in the last century." We're not sure which is worse, though: the suggestion that such an exhibit actually helps to narrow the gender divide or that the museum has relegated the show to the obscurity of its auditorium walls. What we do know is that the 14 artists represented here provide some excellent examples but a limited view of women's contributions to late-20th-century American art. Among the artists are forerunners like Louise Nevelson, whose 1977 soft ground etching, Essences #4, allows the feminine textures of cheesecloth, tulle, and lace to demonstrate what she meant when she said that "true strength is delicate." Miriam Schapiro's Heart in the Heart (1979) brings fabric collage and acrylic paint together to create a giant patchwork heart in a field of red velvet, a comment on the perception that women artists are mere crafty homemakers and holiday decorators. We were delighted to see the work of South Florida painter Janet Siegel Rogers, whose oil and encaustic Beyond (1988), examines the politics of color and light and who, like many others artists, has no agenda other than to just create damned good art. The same goes for Anne Tabachnick's 1983 View From Room 5, a cityscape with a scribbly sensibility to its lines that, with the layering of transparent colors, makes it feel dreamy and random until it seems to give way to the world beyond it. Also shown are works by Jennifer Bartlett, Emily Cheng, Leslie Dill, Deborah Kass, Elaine De Kooning, Joan Mitchell, Susan Rothenberg, Betye Saar, Ena Swansea, and Sandy Winters. (Through April 13 at Boca Museum, Mizner Park, 501 Plaza Real, Boca Raton. Call 561-392-2500.)

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Marya Summers