When Lisa Rockford curates her shows, she doesn't show her own work. That would be too self-promoting for the tenured Broward College art professor. Rockford is one of Broward County's finest on the contemporary art scene, but the striking blond with avant-garde fashion sense would never say so.
Her latest show, "The Triumph of Detritus," a group exhibition featuring 33 local and national artists whose works boast a raw aesthetic, is on display now at 1310 Gallery — a three-level space inside the lofts where Rockford lives. There is a reception on Saturday, June 28, from 7 to 11 p.m. during Flagler Village Artwalk, and the show closes out with a reception on July 11.
"For this show, I was looking specifically for textures and things that are uncommon," Rockford says of the selection process. "I chose works that had a little bit of chaos — a rough aesthetic that plays with seduction and repulsion."
Rockford holds an MFA from the prestigious School of the Art Institute of Chicago and has no interest in leaving South Florida anytime soon. Instead, the Fort Lauderdale Sailboat Bend artist-loft resident seeks to enliven the burgeoning Broward contemporary art world.
"In Chicago, there are so many artists competing there, and New York is the kind of place that you have to already be established before moving there to make it as an artist," she observes. "I feel like this is the right time to be in South Florida."
Entering 1310 Gallery, viewers are greeted with industrial environments consisting of car parts: bumpers and hoods. An old street sign is chopped up and collaged back together. And Kb Bauhelm's installation of an old boat — 13 feet long by ten feet high — leans against a wall. It's the largest piece in the show.
The found boat brings a nostalgic feel, reflecting Florida's landscape, including the Everglades, with alligator skins made of neon rubber covering it and fluorescents lights illuminating it underneath. Photographs capturing urban life are mounted on the walls.
Under the stairwell sits an installation about ten feet long in a cornucopia-shaped space into which attendees can crawl for comfort.
From there, viewers can go up stairs or take the elevator, which was outfitted into a "crazy" room, according to Rockford; flowers made from a foam mattress cover the elevator walls as if it were a padded room in a madhouse.
The second floor brims with a rainbow of color. It's housed with small works with delicate details like a tiny unicorn and Michelle A.M. Miller's 12-inch paintings consisting of squirted textured paint with trees popping out. John Pack displays his ice-cream and burger sculpted towers. He admits he doesn't care for food that much, not even desserts, yet that's what he often builds — food sculptures out of reclaimed materials.
"I found this rock at a landscape retailer, and it looked just like Mr. Potato Head, with eyes intact and its finish is just like potato skin," Pack chuckles. He took the rock — he's always on the search for rocks — and baked it with dye and placed it on a platter.
Judy Polstra's Coming Into My Own 3-D piece features a female torso covered in brooches and buttons. "I inherited them from my mother and grandmothers," she says. "Her breasts are vintage carved Lucite doorknobs."
Up on the third floor, Rockford organized the space into works with metallic tones and crystallized textures. It's the smallest space of the gallery.
This floor is also the sexiest. On a wall, self-taught Miamian artist Andrea Nhuch allures us with her industrial bubble wrap. She contorts and shapes the plastic and treats it with resin and auto-grade spray paint, giving it a shine that's ever-so-sexy. The glossy finish appears like lipstick.
"Some people don't realize it's bubble wrap," says Nhuch. "I call it shapeable plastic, actually. Also, transforming this material into something beautiful tricks the eye."
That use of such unconventional supplies is a movement on the rise, says Rockford. "There's less contemporary artists today using traditional art materials like paint, clay, pencil, graphite," she says. "My shows focus on nontraditional and using new approaches to art rather than old approaches."
What that actually means is worth seeing.