Anne Chu melds historical models and art-making techniques with modern mediums reflecting medieval Europe to the Chinese T'ang Dynasty in her works. The New York City artist's first full-scale exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art (770 NE 125th St., North Miami) features a multifaceted selection of sculptures in bronze, wood, ceramic, cast paper, and embroidered fabric, as well as watercolor works on paper. Chu also incorporates marionettes into her work, such as Bestial, a monstrous creature with a fat belly, wooden head, and blank stare. But rather than functioning as animated puppets, these sculptures are merely lifeless beings in a persistent state of waiting, their Pinocchio dreams deferred. The exhibit opens today with a reception at 7:00 p.m. (admission is free for MoCA members, North Miami residents, and city employees; ten dollars for nonmembers) and runs through July 3.
Also on tap this weekend at MoCA is the annual Pop-In for Kids. This year's family day of fun will explore "Fantastic Creatures from Faraway Places" and includes a scavenger hunt to introduce participants to the Chu exhibit. Kids big and small can learn Chinese watercolor painting techniques, make mythical creature finger puppets, or sculpt colorful masks. Public relations manager Donna Fields expects several hundred kids and their families to attend the event. "It's perfect for all ages," says Fields. "Everyone will walk away with a creation they'll be proud of." And adults are welcome to take part in the craft-making as well. "At MoCa, we encourage parents, grandparents, and caregivers to work side-by-side with their little ones so that everyone learns something new," says Dr. Adrienne von Lates, the museum's curator of education. Gather the youngsters and pop over to the museum for an afternoon of artistic play Sunday, April 17, from 1:00 to 4:00. Admission is free for children under twelve. Adults can participate with paid museum admission, which is free for MoCA members and North Miami residents; $5 for nonmembers; $3 for seniors. Free parking is available. Registration is encouraged. Call 305-893-6211, or visit www.mocanomi.org. -- Lyssa Oberkreser
Reflections of War
It shouldn't come as a surprise that in a world increasingly inured to violent imagery, contemporary artists would strategically subvert beauty when mirroring the ugliness of war. "The Art of Aggression," opening tonight from 7:00 to 10:00 at the Moore Space (4040 NE Second Ave., Miami), features the work of many internationally known artists examining America's engagement in two Iraqi wars through an arsenal of diverse media. "Most of the work in the show is strikingly beautiful and not so much about protest and political sloganeering, but rather a more introspective approach to how war impacts the human condition," says Silvia Karmen Cubina, Moore Space director.
A highlight of the exhibit is "Drawing from Life: Steve Mumford in Iraq, 2003-2004." Tonight at 7:00 Mumford will discuss his ten-month stint in the war-torn region as an embedded journalist with U.S. military units. The work of Mumford, who chronicled his experiences in Iraq through written dispatches and hundreds of ink and watercolor drawings, offers a rare window into daily life in an embattled environment. "It reminds us that we are still fighting on three fronts," says Cubina. Call 305-438-1163, or visit www.themoorespace.org. -- Carlos Suarez de Jesus
Sixty-nine pieces to keep you talking
Painter Jonathan Riesco is not averse to chatting up strangers on the chance he might learn something about himself, or maybe experience a connection. Often these exchanges find their way into his art. "My work is almost a language of the experiences I share with others," he explains. "You can almost look at my paintings as being symbols of conversations between people."
Riesco is hoping to make some new friends with "The Benefits of Conversation," a series of 69 paintings he is unveiling tonight from 7:00 to midnight at his studio (4552 SW 71st Ave., Miami). The individual pieces are richly layered with multi-hued coats of paint thicker than biscuit batter and then brushed over with chalk-like outlines of human figures in various poses. Presented together in waffle grids, the paintings combine to create larger works where the figures appear knotted, as if tangled in a friendly game of Twister, perhaps reflecting that Riesco has a remarkable feel for his subject matter. Call 305-610-4910, or visit www.riescoart.com. -- Carlos Suarez de Jesus
Books for the Teenage
A local attorney turned young-adult author, Alex Flinn now faces the judgment of finicky teens. "I wasn't that passionate about being an attorney," says Flinn. "I like to answer to myself and be creative." She also enjoys traveling to schools and talking to students about her books. Fade to Black is Flinn's latest novel about an HIV-positive teenager who is the victim of a hate crime. The story is told through three different perspectives: the accused, the witness, and the victim.
Flinn's first novel, Breathing Underwater (which tackles domestic violence through the story of Nick and Caitlin's abusive relationship), has won numerous awards, including the American Library Association's Best Books for Young Adults. Flinn is currently working on the sequel, Diva, which follows Caitlin to a performing arts school. Flinn says she receives a lot of e-mail from readers who want Caitlin and Nick to get back together, "but that's not going to happen." Meet Flinn tonight at 7:00 at Borders, 9205 S. Dixie Hwy., Kendall. Call 305-665-8800, or visit www.alexflinn.com. -- Lyssa Oberkreser