By John Thomason
By Benjy Caplan
By Artburst Miami
By Carlos Suarez De Jesus
By Daniel Reskin
Collage Series: Matthew Rose offers the best work in this show of four collage artists. Using lithography, Rose combines images cut from ads from the Twenties and Thirties and transforms them into personae who would feel right at home in the creepy parlors of Max Ernst, particularly the Victorian Lady with the campfire for a head. In Christian Duran's work, silhouettes traipse through a forest of arteries, rendered on newspaper classified ads. Graphically pleasing in their grim way and much less intensely colored than his paintings, their supports come off as wordy distractions. Square-ish arrangements of paint and ephemera by Mathilde Denis and Christina Stahr look merely decorative. -- Franklin Einspruch Through February 26. Art Vitam, 3452 N. Miami Ave., Miami; 305-571-8342, www.artvitam.com.
Carla Fache: Many painters support themselves by making abstractions that suggest landscape and which split the rectangle into several horizontal bands. Fache's examples of this genre use high-key reds, oranges, and blues. A canny deployment of neutrals would help them, but would that impede sales to local sunburned sensibilities? The gallery is also displaying the paintings of Ricard Calanchini, who is doing surrealist riffs on still lifes, interiors, and architecture, weightless and floating into one another, using a paint application that looks pleasant but lacks verve. Fabia Nitti's brightly painted geometric metal constructions seem destined for an office park somewhere. High aesthetic adventure clearly doesn't call to everyone. -- Franklin Einspruch Through January 28. Fache Arts Gallery, 2300 N. Miami Ave., Miami; 305-975-6933, www.fachearts.com.
Jama: The Village of Merrick Park, a credulity-straining vision of conspicuous consumption, probably deserves an art review itself. Imagine a Bosch scene of heaven that's been run through an MBA program. Art+ Gallery lies secreted within its confines, and it is showing an artist who wouldn't look out of place in the pages of Juxtapoz. Jama, a self-taught painter who arrived here from Cuba a year ago, employs a thickly painted line to depict himself and his family. Figures come out as if rendered by aboriginal Australians who were high on drugs and trying to draw aliens. It sometimes works, most of all when the artist can manage a controlled burn instead of a combustion. -- Franklin Einspruch Through February 7, Art+ Gallery, Village of Merrick Park, 358 San Lorenzo Ave., Coral Gables; 786-497-1111, www.artplusgallery.com.
Just on Time: To develop a style is difficult, particularly in painting. Leonel Matheu's paintings have a stamp. They're simple (with recurring symbols), accessible, odd, inquisitive, and geometric. The execution is careful and clear, with earthy colors that elicit warmness. Paper boats, the face with a Pinocchio nose, the cricket, the bow tie, the letter, and the cartoon bubble hanging over people's heads with a question mark -- all this against weird city vistas make for the narrative. It's kind of humorous but very serious. Check Matheu's peculiar video and his installation of a huge white-feathered suit against a black wall, with long shackles and balls on the floor. In its simplicity, it is cryptic. -- Alfredo Triff Through February 20, Dot Fifty-One Gallery, 51 NW 36th St., Miami; 305-573-9994, www.dotfiftyone.com.
New Work: Kerry Ware is one serious painter. And you can see he's coming from different places outside art. There is his love of topography, which brings the abstraction. Then there is music (his Dionysian impulse for coloring). You might wish Ware would do more with color on those washed, peg-perforated surfaces. But he won't. His art is about that which may be overlooked, or seen and forgotten, or quitted right before a discovery (just as one cannot notice the beauty of a wall). Ware's art makes us think of something huge and banal: the miracle of coming across something meaningful only to take it for granted. -- Alfredo Triff Through February 12. Dorsch Gallery, 151 NW 24th St., Miami; 305-576-1278, www.dorschgallery.com.
Six Contemporary Photographers: Giselle Devera, Niko, Baldomero Fernandez, Claire Nitze, David Heinlein, and Darlene Pruess are exhibiting at Filtro, a recently opened and cool venue in Wynwood. Niko's homoerotic pictures need more than just pretty boys (in bed) being aware of the camera. Fernandez has craft, but his eye is doing too many things in this travelogue from Mexico to Cuba to Japan (leave the zoomed-in glossy surface to Uta Barth). But his luminous night landscapes in Baracoa, Cuba, are engaging, as are Devera's forbidden, wire-framed Polaroids. Nitze's colorful surfaces look a bit like Hans-Christian Schink, but her photos have elegance. Heinlein's odd scenes are his strength, though he may be too aware of viewers looking at them. -- Alfredo Triff Through January 31. Filtro, 2320-B N. Miami Ave., Miami; 305-571-9565, www.filtrofoto.com.
Neil Whitacre: Neil Whitacre's extremely careful drawings, on exhibit in Locust Projects' project room, take us through the artist's voyage and explorations as a resident of the Everglades for a year, during 2003. Part Robert Louis Stevenson, part William Gibson, part Cesar Romero, Whitacre's images are complex, bizarre, and filled with exquisite detail. See the bearded artist disguised either as a cowboy dandy, a Captain Morgan, or a scuba diver searching for a treasure chest. Whitacre's comics influence is palpable: a bit of Lee Elias, Weird Chills's Bernard Baily, and Creepy master José Ortiz. Whitacre's line, shading, dot, and cross work are simply superb. But the work is poorly hung, which is a pity. -- Alfredo Triff Through February 25. Locust Projects, 105 NW 23rd St., Miami; 305-576-8570, www.locustprojects.com.