Pre-Portrait of an Artist

"Bert Rodriguez: A Pre-Career Retrospective"

An interesting work is What a Lovely Piece on the Wall, a pencil drawing on paper that recounts one of Rodriguez's school projects. It shows a section of a wall containing a fire hose and glass window. The caption reads: "During a school trip to Miami Art Museum all the students, including Rodriguez, were asked to make a drawing of their favorite artwork. Rodriguez chose to draw the only object in the museum which was not considered art."

Rodriguez is quite successful with succinctness, with words and objects working together. For example Modern Day Socrates, a pencil drawing on paper depicting a huge, 100-mg Prozac tablet donning an olive wreath, leaning against a tree trunk. It's fun and fresh. In Complementary Chess, the rules of the game have been altered on an arbitrarily redesigned board, the pieces reduced to pawns and towers. Untitled Toilet, a two-piece sequence, uses the top view of the toilet as a picture frame. It reads, "your picture here." And there's the minimal The Ties That Bind, a telephone wrapped in white linen.

A gallery looks back on a noncareer
Bert Rodriguez
A gallery looks back on a noncareer


On view through March 1. Call 305-237-3696.
MDCC Centre Gallery, 300 NE 2nd Ave, 3rd flr.

The show closes with a video of scenes from Rodriguez's private life, showing us the artist as a newborn in the hospital and as a toddler with his mom and dad. Next to it on a white wall is Rodriguez's bigger-than-life signature, in the ostentatious style of someone who is at the pinnacle of his career. The effect is strong and conflicting. In spite of the difficult subject involved (one's own life, which has the potential to be loaded with self-importance), Rodriguez's "A Pre-Career Retrospective" manages to pack humor, openness, and a sense of conceptual redemption into an accessible show.

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