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

Capsule reviews of current area art exhibitions.

Think of it as the kind of porn you can enjoy with the whole family. "Botanical Angels" captures 30 sexy orchids, their petals spread, lips inviting fertilization — you'll even find one that is bearded. Wowza! Whereas you might feel like a debauchee studying the beautifully rendered anatomy in an exhibit of human nudes, here you can leer at the curves and recesses without arousing anyone's suspicions that you are, indeed, a perv. It's no surprise that Tom Kuligowski began his career working with nudes. The same sensuality that he captured then — when he was working with black-and-white infrared film — he brings to these digitally enhanced, color images. This Pompano Beach photographer's approach results in images that have a painterly quality to them. Lavender Lip, a view straight up the lip and into the orchid's reproductive organs, for instance, has a smudgy effect that makes it appear as if it were created in oil pastels, its vivid purple, blue, and yellow blossom contrasting against the black background. Using macro photography, the images are life-sized or larger-than-life, providing a more intimate view of these flowers than you could get from burying your face in the blossoms. The exhibit is displayed in the American Orchid Society's main atrium on a series of panels set up in maze fashion; later, you can see many of these flowers in the flesh on a stroll through the gardens. (Through June 24 at the American Orchid Society, 16700 AOS Ln., Delray Beach. Call 561-404-2000.)

Now on Display

Manufacturing #17, Deda Chicken Processing Plant, Dehui City, Jilin Province, 2005 is not, as far as titles go, memorable or creative. But it is apropos for the image that depicts hundreds, possibly thousands, of nearly identically clad, masked workers in pink scrubs and blue aprons as they do the equally uninspiring work of cutting up chickens for mass consumption. The lengthy titles of the large-format photographs in "Edward Burtynsky: The China Series," like the subjects they depict, comment on conformity and on the anonymity that results from the demands of industrialization — specifically in modern China. With these behind-the-scenes scenes of manufacturing, Burtynsky confronts us with what our consumerism has wrought. The exhibit also includes images of recycling, urban renewal, and the controversial Three Gorges Dam project. The Canadian photographer's work, while documenting and commenting on social and environmental issues that arise under the banner of "progress," achieves its art in its visual rhythms (repetition) and its deviation from them. (Through June 18 at the Boca Raton Museum of Art, 501 Plaza Real, Mizner Park, Boca Raton. Call 561-392-2500.)

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. 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 in beaches or backyards, 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. (Through June 18 at the Boca Raton Museum of Art, 501 Plaza Real, Mizner Park, Boca Raton. Call 561-392-2500.)