Capsule reviews of current area art exhibitions. | New Times Broward-Palm Beach

Capsule reviews of current area art exhibitions.

Visitors to the Boca Raton Museum will find themselves pulled through its grand hall, past the photography exhibits, into "Graham Nickson: From Private Collections." There's a magnetic attraction to Nickson's painting Tracks: Green Sky at the end of a corridor, with the lines of the cantaloupe-hued and purple-blue bruise tracks narrowing like a funnel toward the horizon, seeming to send viewers vaulting into its lime-colored sky. What is initially striking about the entire exhibit, which includes acrylic paintings on canvas and charcoal on paper, is the vibrancy of the acrylic paintings, made even more powerful by the sheer enormity of the works, some more than 12 feet wide. The British-born painter's palette holds colors one would normally experience under black lights: vivid fluorescents pop off the canvases, saturating viewers' retinas with fantastic color. Nickson's subjects are just as compelling: bodies — some of which are life-sized — frozen in a moment of muscular tension. His paintings are populated with figures in various poses on beaches or in back yards, places where these bodies — most in bathing suits and some nude — would seem natural. The subjects lift shirts overhead, bend to open a lounge chair or umbrella, climb a lifeguard stand, and raise a leg to dry a foot. Some works, like Rainbathers, contain so many bodies in various poses that the painting begins to feel as though it has captured a troupe of choreographed, modern dancers. However, the bodies of Nickson's paintings, while healthy, aren't entirely perfect — many sag and bulge. And in rendering them so beautifully, the artist honors the human form rather than exploiting or idealizing it. There is a subtle poetry in the juxtapositions within these paintings and drawings — one that communicates a contemplative serenity through the seemingly antithetical tension and intensity. (Through June 18 at the Boca Raton Museum of Art, 501 Plaza Real, Mizner Park, Boca Raton. Call 561-392-2500.)

Now on Display

A golden Buddha reverently holds a giant phallus before him like a censer of incense. It's the central image of Los Angeles artist Jamie Adams' triptych (each a 12-inch encaustic oil on linen) Big Sur. With a playful juxtaposition, Adams' work not only holds the penis in high regard but puts it at the center of things — the flanking images are a seascape and skyscape, to the left and right, respectively. The first in a series of three summer exhibitions, Mulry Fine Art presents "A Group Show of Landscapes" featuring painting, sculpture, and photography from the gallery's stable of artists. For the show, gallery directors — sisters Fecia and Meghan Mulry — have interpreted the landscape theme as creatively as the artists have rendered them, so don't expect to see a bunch of realistic fields and meadows. Even the photographs have a painterly quality to them. Wheaton Mahoney's Sweet Pea, for instance, a giant, digitally manipulated close-up of a white-and-pink flower, is reminiscent of one of Georgia O'Keeffe's blossoms. Likewise, Celia Pearson's photographs capture their subjects in larger-than-life close-ups; however, the artist's method is a traditional one as she explores light and depth within the image as they capture their subjects: Stem Leaf and Bromeliad. Others, like Robin Kahn's "State of the Art" series, take greater liberty with the theme. The New York artist uses a found image (perhaps originally a woodcut or linocut) of a forest-lined river as the backdrop for her cartoon of a woman balancing a man overhead with one arm. The cartoon woman performs a tight-wire act on a piece of string laid across the picture. These works (identical except for the positioning of the string and cartoons) focus more on female roles than they do on nature. Also on display are works by Isabel Bigelow (paintings and monoprints), Peter Burega (abstract paintings), Luis Castro (wood and stone sculpture), Cara Enteles (multimedia), and Marc Leuders (photography). (Through June 30 at Mulry Fine Art, 3300 S. Dixie Hwy., West Palm Beach. Call 561-228-1006.)

"Elliot Landy's Woodstock Vision: The Spirit of a Generation" captures photographic images of a rock 'n' roll era before the profession was a commercially viable one, let alone a glamorous one. As a result, Landy's work reflects virtually unlimited photographic access to many musical icons of the '60s. Capturing his subjects both candidly and posed for magazine stories and album covers, the exhibit guides visitors with the photographer's written reflections on the era and observations on his subjects. These wall-mounted notes include anecdotes of his friendships with legends such as Bob Dylan and Janis Joplin. Other subjects include Jim Morrison, The Band, Joan Baez, Van Morrison, Laura Nyro, Albert Ayler, Frank Zappa. Panoramic photographs of the 1968 Woodstock concert include perspectives from both the stage and from the audience. For instance, "Two Navels and a Vest" — an image of the torsos of three jean-clad hipsters, two female and one male—is strikingly similar to the fashion of youth culture today. Maybe times have not changed as much as Dylan predicted, because a photo of young men climbing the sound towers at Woodstock definitely captures the same spirit — a celebration of the beauty of individuality and the power of community — still alive in today's indie rock movement. The photographs also capture the political concerns of the times, whose climate parallels today's, including the pro- and anti-war protesters and the pro-choice campaigns. With an astute eye for what is important — socially and artistically — Landy has captured images as poetic as they are nostalgic. (Through June 3 at Palm Beach Photographic Centre, 55 NE Second Ave., Delray Beach. Call 561-276-9797)

In school, colored pencil is a medium for those who've matured beyond crayon but aren't quite ready for paint. In the hands of experts, though, colored pencil can produce remarkable, diverse, and vivid results. With more than 1,600 members and the mission "to present the public with the highest aesthetic standards in fine art," the Colored Pencil Society of America has selected its finest 105 for its "Signature Showcase," an exhibition that includes winners from the society's competitive international exhibit. Displayed at the Cornell Museum, the works are exhibited in loose thematic groups so that you'll find fruits, veggies, and flowers in one room and animals, landscapes, and architecture in another. The styles are as varied as the colors: realism, photo-realism, impressionism, cubism, and abstraction among them. Some are predictable in their subject matter — for instance, Peppers IV, a serial study by Arizona's Bill Cupit — though expertly executed. Several, like Seattle-resident Laura Ospanik's Shadow Lights, study the play of light through transparent objects. Others are striking in their creativity: Lula Mae Blocton from Connecticut uses a bold, geometric pattern (presumably African) to dominate the foreground of Amistad Mende while an image of the historical slave ship repeats in the background. (Through June 3 at Cornell Museum at Old School Square, 51 N. Swinton Ave., Delray Beach. Call 561-243-7922.)