"Monsters Under My Bed: Childhood Fears Group Art Mega-Show"
October 2 — November 13 at the Bear and Bird Boutique + Gallery, upstairs at Tate's Comics, 4566 N. University Drive, Lauderhill. Call 954-748-0181, or visit tatescomics.com/bearandbird.
Tate's Comics has a slick art gallery upstairs, Bird + Bear, where the young and hip congregate, and where a staggering 200 local artists — like Pac23 and Coma Girl — are showing off depictions of their childhood fears, from boogeymen to abandonment. Scott Hensel offers a cute comic of a giant cockroach destroying a city; Brandy Rumiez draws a mean bubble monster. The artists are a rich mix of professionals, like Seth Czaplewski, who's opening a gallery in New York, and amateur up-and-comers. So feast on the variety — and Japanese snacks, which Tate's sells in abundance.
"John Storrs: Machine-Age Modernist"
October 2 — January 2 at the Norton Museum of Art, 1451 S. Olive Ave., West Palm Beach. Call 561-832-5196, or visit norton.org.
In the early 1900s, John Storrs, a Chicago sculptor and painter who grew up among the world's first skyscrapers, traveled to Europe to study, and there fell in with the continent's avant-garde, befriending Marcel Duchamp and Ezra Pound. By the 1910s, he was making sculptures that, he said, like architecture, spurred "growth toward the sun and sky," and eerily prefigured art deco. Forms in Space, a sort of model skyscraper from 1927, looks in retrospect like an anticipation of the Empire State Building or the Rockefeller Center, which were built a few years later. Storrs spent WWII in France; his daughter joined the Resistance, and he suffered a grueling stint in Nazi prison. He resides now in the pantheon of American futurists, and the Norton exhibition of his works is the first in 20 years.
"Tom Wesselmann Draws"
October 2 — February 27 at the Museum of Art|Fort Lauderdale, 1 E. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-525-5500, or visit moaflnsu.org.
European Renaissance painters, at least on canvas, liked their naked women coy and sumptuous. If those artists were transported in time to the Tom Wesselmann exhibition at the Museum of Art|Fort Lauderdale, would they croak at the violently erotic pop art nudes? Or would they kick themselves and think: "Why didn't I paint nipples like that?" Wesselmann, a master of pop art and an equal of Warhol and Lichtenstein, made his name in the early 1960s with a series he called "The Great American Nude." His female models were rendered often without facial features — just lips, vaginas, and perky, pepperoni-slice nipples. MoA's exhibition is historic and singular, encompassing over a hundred of his drawings — his nudes, his vivid still-lifes of commodities, and much more — dating from 1959 to his death in 2004. When he died, in fact, Wesselmann was in the midst of preparing this very collection. The exhibition is especially dramatic for incorporating his works of aluminum, steel, fabric, and plastic; some are being seen outside his Greenwich Village studio for the first time.
October 12 — January 9 at the Boca Raton Museum of Art, 501 Plaza Real, Boca Raton. Call 561-392-2500, or visit bocamuseum.org.
Once you've taken in Tom Wesselmann's oeuvre at the Museum of Art|Fort Lauderdale, head over to the Boca Museum of Art to appreciate the French branch of pop art in the works of Valerio Adami. The world-famous Italian artist fuses the bold colors of a Warhol print with hints of futurism and expressionism and a cartoon style reminiscent of the Tintin comics. Whereas American pop art is often criticized, fairly or not, as lightweight, Adami's nouvelle figuration plunges deep into the social and political, depicting everyday life, wistful dream scenes, architecture, and great thinkers like Nietzsche and James Joyce. The Boca Museum is showing 23 of Adami's best paintings, and to complement the exhibition, it's publishing a 222-page book with writings by luminaries like Italo Calvino and Octavio Paz.
"Romanticism to Modernism: Graphic Masterpieces From Piranesi to Picasso"
October 12 — June 19 at the Boca Raton Museum of Art, 501 Plaza Real, Boca Raton. Call 561-392-2500, or visit bocamuseum.org.
Though we hate to employ hackneyed superlatives and exhortations, there's no other way to say that "Romanticism to Modernism" is a once-in-a-lifetime, must-see exhibit. When else are you going to see fine prints by Giovanni Piranesi, Francisco de Goya, James McNeil Whistler, and Pablo Picasso together at one location? The four artists form an arc from Romanticism to Modernism — and Goya is the keystone. Known as the last of the old masters and the first of the moderns, he smuggled surreal touches and political statements into his portraits of the Spanish monarchs, whom he described as looking like "the corner baker and his wife after they won the lottery." You can ponder Goya's "Disasters of War" — world-historic prints that stripped away Baroque pretensions about savage violence — alongside a wealth of drawings by Picasso, whom Goya directly inspired. Again: must-see, once-in-a-lifetime.