Palm Beach Institute of Contemporary Art
When philanthropists Robert and Mary Montgomery bought and restored a grand old art-deco movie house in Lake Worth nearly three years ago, it was a turning point for contemporary art in South Florida. The building had provided space for some adventurous work in its brief incarnation as the Museum of Contemporary Art, and during the 1980s, as the Lannan Museum, it had been home to the impressive collection of J. Patrick Lannan. But under the Montgomerys, it became the Palm Beach Institute of Contemporary Art and charted a course into even more ambitious territory. PBICA has quickly established itself as an institution willing to take enormous risks. Among the highlights: a New Media Lounge and two inaugural shows in 2000 -- a landmark examination of film and video as art and a provocative exhibition that wrenched design elements from their context and repositioned them as art; and last year's large group show of artists from Brooklyn. Oh, and did we mention it's in a really cool building?
When philanthropists Robert and Mary Montgomery bought and restored a grand old art-deco movie house in Lake Worth nearly three years ago, it was a turning point for contemporary art in South Florida. The building had provided space for some adventurous work in its brief incarnation as the Museum of Contemporary Art, and during the 1980s, as the Lannan Museum, it had been home to the impressive collection of J. Patrick Lannan. But under the Montgomerys, it became the Palm Beach Institute of Contemporary Art and charted a course into even more ambitious territory. PBICA has quickly established itself as an institution willing to take enormous risks. Among the highlights: a New Media Lounge and two inaugural shows in 2000 -- a landmark examination of film and video as art and a provocative exhibition that wrenched design elements from their context and repositioned them as art; and last year's large group show of artists from Brooklyn. Oh, and did we mention it's in a really cool building?
Schacknow Museum of Fine Art
OK, so it bills itself as a museum. But this West Broward institution is, in concept and execution, the work of one man. One man who owns, runs, and programs it without having to answer to anyone other than himself -- no pesky board of directors, no temperamental curators, no meddlesome partners. One man who has the chutzpah to stock much of his facility with 2000 or so of his own paintings and drawings. That, to us, translates to gallery more than museum. The man in question, of course, is Max Schacknow, the notorious millionaire artist who offered a $1.5 million museum endowment to the City of Coral Springs a few years ago, then opened his own private showcase in Plantation. Schacknow's critics continually take him to task for his obsession with numbers -- he boasts of his nearly 9000 square feet of display space, his shows of as many as 300 pieces by dozens of artists -- and for an approach to art that can be characterized as catholic, in the sense of comprehensive and all-embracing. But those qualities are exactly what make him an ideal gallery owner. Who else has so much space to show off his own work (much of which is admittedly ordinary but some of which is also quite respectable)? And who else has the temperament to embrace so much work by so many artists in so many highly varied styles? That a lot of the stuff -- both his own and others' pieces -- is mediocre is beside the point, because Schacknow inevitably stumbles onto some gems. So let's let him call his big building a museum, but let's hope he continues to run it more like a gallery.

OK, so it bills itself as a museum. But this West Broward institution is, in concept and execution, the work of one man. One man who owns, runs, and programs it without having to answer to anyone other than himself -- no pesky board of directors, no temperamental curators, no meddlesome partners. One man who has the chutzpah to stock much of his facility with 2000 or so of his own paintings and drawings. That, to us, translates to gallery more than museum. The man in question, of course, is Max Schacknow, the notorious millionaire artist who offered a $1.5 million museum endowment to the City of Coral Springs a few years ago, then opened his own private showcase in Plantation. Schacknow's critics continually take him to task for his obsession with numbers -- he boasts of his nearly 9000 square feet of display space, his shows of as many as 300 pieces by dozens of artists -- and for an approach to art that can be characterized as catholic, in the sense of comprehensive and all-embracing. But those qualities are exactly what make him an ideal gallery owner. Who else has so much space to show off his own work (much of which is admittedly ordinary but some of which is also quite respectable)? And who else has the temperament to embrace so much work by so many artists in so many highly varied styles? That a lot of the stuff -- both his own and others' pieces -- is mediocre is beside the point, because Schacknow inevitably stumbles onto some gems. So let's let him call his big building a museum, but let's hope he continues to run it more like a gallery.

Sure, every gallery and museum has little soirees when they introduce artwork to the public, but most of these consist of violin quartets and a bunch of people dressed in black talking about stuff you've never heard of. Lalush's exhibit openings we can understand. A variety of local bands, from the Livid Kittens to Cous Cous, have played at the gallery, and wine and beer are available by donation; that is not, however, an excuse to only drink for free, wise guy. Couple these advantages with the fact that Lalush features cutting-edge artists -- not the palm trees and sea gulls junk that dominates SoFla art -- and you have a great gallery that offers up some pretty wild times to boot.
Sure, every gallery and museum has little soirees when they introduce artwork to the public, but most of these consist of violin quartets and a bunch of people dressed in black talking about stuff you've never heard of. Lalush's exhibit openings we can understand. A variety of local bands, from the Livid Kittens to Cous Cous, have played at the gallery, and wine and beer are available by donation; that is not, however, an excuse to only drink for free, wise guy. Couple these advantages with the fact that Lalush features cutting-edge artists -- not the palm trees and sea gulls junk that dominates SoFla art -- and you have a great gallery that offers up some pretty wild times to boot.
The West Palm Beach-based Helander remains one of the foremost advocates and practitioners of collage, a mixed-media art form pioneered by Pablo Picasso nearly a century ago. His subtle, complex compositions continue to demonstrate that this widely misunderstood medium is far from exhausting its possibilities. Unlike some of the well-known figures who have dabbled in it and moved on -- including Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, David Hockney, and Larry Rivers -- Helander has been tenaciously devoted to collage for decades. And his efforts have paid off. His work has been featured in more than 100 solo and group shows over the past two decades, including two notable retrospectives in Broward County, one at Fort Lauderdale's Museum of Art in 1996 and another at the Coral Springs Museum of Art in 2000. Not surprisingly, he has pieces in the collections of such major institutions as the Guggenheim, New York's MoMA and Met, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, as well as in the private collections of other artists such as Rauschenberg, Rivers, James Rosenquist, and Dale Chihuly. He's also in constant demand as a designer of stage sets, murals, and posters, including, most recently, the official poster for the Palm Beach International Film Festival.
The West Palm Beach-based Helander remains one of the foremost advocates and practitioners of collage, a mixed-media art form pioneered by Pablo Picasso nearly a century ago. His subtle, complex compositions continue to demonstrate that this widely misunderstood medium is far from exhausting its possibilities. Unlike some of the well-known figures who have dabbled in it and moved on -- including Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, David Hockney, and Larry Rivers -- Helander has been tenaciously devoted to collage for decades. And his efforts have paid off. His work has been featured in more than 100 solo and group shows over the past two decades, including two notable retrospectives in Broward County, one at Fort Lauderdale's Museum of Art in 1996 and another at the Coral Springs Museum of Art in 2000. Not surprisingly, he has pieces in the collections of such major institutions as the Guggenheim, New York's MoMA and Met, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, as well as in the private collections of other artists such as Rauschenberg, Rivers, James Rosenquist, and Dale Chihuly. He's also in constant demand as a designer of stage sets, murals, and posters, including, most recently, the official poster for the Palm Beach International Film Festival.
In a town where crossing a busy street is more dangerous than the art scene, the loss of Master Jeffrey Holmes is significant. Last October, when Holmes finally made good on his threats to abandon Fort Lauderdale for New Orleans, the small outcast community he helped unite lost its strongest tether. Holmes's fascination with macabre and eerie images (tombstones, bloody roses, black cats, skeletons) manifested itself in some of the most intriguing and challenging art the town had to offer. His Sailboat Bend apartment/gallery, L'Art Noir, was even patronized by Jimmy Page during his convalescence here. But at least the Master went out with a bang at his going-away bash. Anytime a guy creates a life-size, nude self-portrait, sets it on fire, then skips town for good, we're the poorer for it.
In a town where crossing a busy street is more dangerous than the art scene, the loss of Master Jeffrey Holmes is significant. Last October, when Holmes finally made good on his threats to abandon Fort Lauderdale for New Orleans, the small outcast community he helped unite lost its strongest tether. Holmes's fascination with macabre and eerie images (tombstones, bloody roses, black cats, skeletons) manifested itself in some of the most intriguing and challenging art the town had to offer. His Sailboat Bend apartment/gallery, L'Art Noir, was even patronized by Jimmy Page during his convalescence here. But at least the Master went out with a bang at his going-away bash. Anytime a guy creates a life-size, nude self-portrait, sets it on fire, then skips town for good, we're the poorer for it.

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