By John Thomason
By Benjy Caplan
By Artburst Miami
By Carlos Suarez De Jesus
By Daniel Reskin
Love & Slavery in Miami: Willie Keddell is an artist who tills the fields of perception. The urban furrows of marginality are his seedbed of imagination. His work's soulful aesthetic is abundant with concrete decay, the graffiti of untrod spaces, and the plaintive lament of the dispossessed. With assistance from a crew of "at risk" teenage apprentices from the Troy Community Academy, Keddell has brought an artist's sensibility to the tangled history of two Miami landmarks -- the William English plantation slave house/Fort Dallas, and the Wagner homestead, now located in Lummus Park by the Miami River. "Love & Slavery in Miami" is a project exhibiting historical documentation and photography of the landmarks' pasts, as well as a performance piece based on the lives of the Wagner family. -- CSJ Ongoing. Tours every Thursday between 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m.; Saturdays by appointment. Lummus Park, 404 NW Second St. 305-638-7008 (Keddell at Troy Community Academy).
Micro.wave: Miscellaneous work, unconnected fragments, themes, and mediums. Is it art's apparent confusion (or beauty) as a reflection of life as we see it? Possibly, but Michelle Weinberg curates with an attitude. She deflects the hermeneutic role back to the observer. "Micro.wave" presents the work of a bunch of talented artists (mostly) from Miami and the result is one of the most engaging exhibits I've seen at Books & Books. The list of artists is too long to mention each of them, but their photos, drawings, installations, sculptures, and paintings are all nicely hung in a passageway connecting the children's book section and the patio. It is quite a narrow passageway, so be careful when you turn around to view the opposite wall. -- AT Through May 7. Books & Books, 265 Aragon Ave., Coral Gables. 305-442-4408.
New Paintings: Utilizing photography, magazines, and other source materials, painters have long employed overhead projectors to trace imagery onto canvas or paper for hyperreal impact. And although the images selected for this exhibition of Pedro Ruiz's work lack a unifying theme, their saving grace may be his attention to the application of paint and the brushwork, both of which he executes with skill. In the project room, Sarah Beddington's Goldspin, three looped videos transferred to DVD, isolate traces of common daily life in what appear to be restaurant and hotel settings. She treats the viewer to a meditative experience one might describe as yoga for the eyes. Curator Carolina Wonder's decision to drown out the sound in one of these videos works to heighten this effect. -- CSJ Through May 8. Casas Riegner Gallery, 25 NE 39th St. 305-573-8242.
Ravage: Jon Davis's photo-montage light boxes reflect traditional elements of Dada, but where the disparate meshed with wit and humor in the hands of a Man Ray, here they veer toward the meat-fisted. Working from photos found in a discarded box, Davis enlarges snapshots from an anonymous family's history, appearing to date from early last century, then overlaps them with transparencies of Fifties Irwin Klaw nudes, attaining a result more prurient than decadent. In Portrait of Those Beautiful Ladies, Davis cuts out the crotch of Grandma's dress and replaces it with a beaver shot, going on to give her relatives and friends a makeover as well. Looking at this body of work, which is flawlessly crafted, one almost comes away with a sense of good old Granny warning that although sex may sell in some cases, it might also come across in others as conceptually flaccid. -- CSJ Through April 24. Damien B. Contemporary Art Center, 282 NW 36th St. 305-573-4949.
Small Retrospective: In Buñuel's Viridiana, a hand crawls into the protagonist's chamber. It's not a dream. For the Cuban artist known as Gory (Rogelio López Marín), truth can accommodate magic, and his photographic images are impossible and bewildering. This art has craft and a sense of poetry. Gory's "Small Retrospective" is a show of works spanning two decades. See photos of horses running wildly in New York's streets, locomotives carrying weird mannequins on the sea, a priceless Picasso resting next to a fence in an abandoned parking lot, and doves witnessing our civilization. Gory employs a bit of pittura metafisica style, blended with technological gusto. Photographs and paintings often don't go together, as this show proves. -- AT Through May 8. Chelsea Gallery, 32 NE 39th St. 305-576-2950.
White Curtain: Inside Movement: Located in Wynwood and opened last October, Art Vitam impresses as one of those spaces that have mushroomed up from the compost of Art Basel, replete with a gallery attendant as enthusiastic and helpful as a perfume-counter sales clerk. Its current offering combines the work of two French artists, Bénédicte Blanc-Fontenille and Frédéric Lemoine, for a mixed-media clinic on movement. The effect is dizzying. Blanc-Fontenille's installation, spilling over with copious paintings and plaster sculptures celebrating human movement, is anchored by two undulating white-fabric sheets painted over with dancing figures and brought to motion by floor fans. In stark contrast, Lemoine's silk paper and slate mobiles, hanging like bug cocoons from twigs jutting from gallery walls, appear lifeless in static air. -- CSJ Through April 24. Art Vitam, 3452 N. Miami Ave. 305-571-8342.