By Ciara LaVelle
By Jose D. Duran
By Kat Bein
By Juan Barquin
By Ciara LaVelle
By George Martinez
By Kat Bein
By Ciara LaVelle
Absurd World: The world masterfully created by Mexican painter Armando Romero is not quite absurd, but definitely strange, a place where time seems to have casually folded upon itself. Rigid monk figures and cross-bearers solemnly inhabit landscape scenes alongside brightly colored, happy-go-lucky ice cream cones. Romero melds the imagery and technical elements of contemporary art and commercial culture with scenes from medieval Europe and early twentieth-century Mexico. Reverse and linear perspective coexist; a naturalistically painted man sits at a table beside a crudely sketched woman. Some works appear as though they were vandalized by a team of first-graders. Chalk graffiti adds pointed noses and Mickey Mouse ears to stoically seated figures, and painted Disney cartoon figures are randomly drawn in throughout. But the works are not simple cut-and-paste appropriation for novelty value. The conflict of style and emotion in Romero's jumbled timeline of popular visual imagery hints there is something very profound in this progression of culture. -- K. Lee Sohn Through July 15. Dot Fiftyone Gallery, 51 NW 36th St., Miami; 305-573-9994.
Florida Artists Series: Tori Arpad and Kate Kretz: The Frost Museum's current exhibition showcases two FIU associate art professors' works combined to create an aesthetically and emotionally dramatic tone. Through her paintings and mixed-media textile creations, Kretz confronts and embraces themes of anguish, vulnerability, and female intuition. Although what's described as her "psychological clothing" -- garments such as those displayed in Defense Mechanism Coat (whose porcupine exterior made from roofing nails protects a red-velvet, veined interior) -- teeters on maudlin, Kretz's hyper-real, color-saturated works are skillful. An adjacent room houses Arpad's multimedia installation that consists of 8000 cups of water covering the floor, eight vertically paneled video cameras projecting their shakily filmed footage onto a far wall -- whose swaying notion distorts images of air, water, and land -- and a languid cello soundtrack playing in the background. Fragile yet grandiose, Arpad's work prompts intense contemplation but incites less the artist's desired reaction -- to stimulate a connection with nature -- and more a fleeting impulse to destroy. -- K. Lee Sohn Through July 31. The Frost Art Museum at Florida International University, University Park Campus, PC 110, SW 107th Avenue and SW Eighth Street, Miami; 305-348-2890.
Kacamori: Recent FIU master's in fine arts graduates Erika Morales and Carlos Rigau employ inventive strategies in their collectively titled show. They piggyback themes of innocence, compound identity, and coming of age in various media. Morales's inkjet prints are pasted onto foam and suffer from their casual presentation, but her smaller framed inkjet prints channel the nostalgia of the faded-newsprint, elementary school workbook sheets on which they're displayed. Borrowed heavily from children's illustrated storybooks, Morales's solitary figures float in dreamscapes and pose with animals. Rigau's most effective piece is a video installation, comprising a pile of TV and video monitors in various stages of their technological evolution, with each monitor displaying a teenage actor as a talking head. Rigau's three wall-mounted shadow boxes have fisheye lenses through which viewers can study obscure scenes that muddle manhood and boyhood. -- Michelle Weinberg Through July 16. Leonard Tachmes Gallery, 817 NE 125th St., North Miami; 305-895-1030.
marking time: moving images: Science, technology, and the speed with which we communicate today have altered modern-day perception of reality. The world is so much more accessible nowadays that time has become a fluid medium flashing back and forth -- as if we were living inside a movie. Curated by Lorie Mertes, MAM's new show (of mostly videos) centers on internalized time and showcases the works of ten artists, including Janine Antoni, Miguel Angel Rios, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Dara Friedman, and Ann Hamilton. Take home a Gonzalez-Torres piece, talk into Ann Hamilton's installation, or simply enjoy Friedman's offbeat sequences of people making out. Don't miss Paul Pfieffer's metaphysical video concerned with light and color. It will make you feel -- if German poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was right about the power of art -- as though you're the sole survivor of a universal flood. -- Alfredo Triff Through September 11. Miami Art Museum, 101 W. Flagler St., Miami; 305-375-3000.
Pedro Vizcaíno: This native Cuban cut his teeth on street theater, elements of which are scattered throughout his art today. His new works on view are low reliefs made from crudely cut cardboard and a child's palette of colors. Vizcaíno's Tanks depict hybrid creatures -- part machine, part predatory insect -- with exaggerated humanoid features: bulging eyeballs, hands grasping at cell phones, limbs thrusting to attack, cannons aimed like erect phalluses. The shock-and-awe potential of Vizcaíno's work could be seriously ramped up, to borrow some of the military's own language. The tanks are undeniably unruly, but the artist may have to grab a bigger paintbrush to make them really gruesome. These tanks, magnified even five times in scale, perhaps even more assertively displayed three-dimensionally, would have a greater impact. Instead of each one hung on the wall in the deferential manner of an easel painting, a larger wall and a more aggressive battalion formation would improve the installation tremendously. -- Michelle Weinberg Through August 8. Frances Wolfson Gallery, MDC Wolfson Campus, 300 NE Second Ave., Fifth Floor, Miami; 305-237-3696.