Art & Soul

Alice Rae Yelen, who curated the exhibition, chooses to use the more democratic phrase "self-taught artists" to describe those whose work she has included here. Recommended to anyone interested in the culture of this nation -- as well as to anyone interested in art A "Passionate Visions" is a meticulously researched and carefully mounted show whose significance is perhaps best expressed by the artists themselves:

I can't read and spell but I got a mind and I can speak with any man," says Thornton Dial, Sr., in one of the many artist's quotes included in the show's catalogue. "I might say something in my art that somebody ain't never heard before."

On Friday, October 13, the Museum of Contemporary Art in North Miami launched its new season with the fantastic Monster Mash, a costume party/fundraiser that followed the opening of the museum's "The Monster Show." A provocative selection of contemporary art that probes the frightening and grotesque, the show includes Paul Myoda's Styrofoam gargoyles; a disturbing digitally manipulated photograph of an eyeless, mouthless man by the artist team Aziz and Cucher; Qing-Min Meng's delicate, etchinglike drawings of monsters; and a pile of Milly Wilson's animal-print body parts.

The party boded very well for the future of MOCA, which is scheduled to open the doors of its new building in February. With any luck the staff will continue to offer parallel activities to its exhibitions that go beyond the standard academic conferences and black-tie balls (dare I say activities that are fun?). At this giddy event, master of ceremonies Mark Handforth, a Miami-based artist, presided over a costume contest in black tights and a fright wig while wielding a bone. An anonymous man, who cut out before the party's awards were announced, won the best costume prize for his nuclear fallout suit. But my vote went to MOCA director Lou Anne Colodny, who came artfully wound up in cotton as a spider web. Gallery owner Genaro Ambrosino, dressed as an executioner, supervised the decorating committee, and a pair of hit-and-miss DJs managed to please the crowd with a little music by Bohannan. But who was that guy dressed as a surgeon who grabbed Bass curator Alan Aiches by the tie and whirled him all around the dance floor?

Passionate Visions of the American South. Through January 14. Bass Museum, 2121 Park Ave, Miami Beach; 673-7530.

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