The Human Condition

From banal and bizarre to strange and sad

Los Angeles-based artist Joe Biel's drawings display a wry sense of humor; his characters are reminiscent of the neighborhood geek reliable for a laugh.

Whip, a large graphite-on-paper drawing, evokes a sense of Harmony Korine's film Gummo. The piece exudes a trailer-trash aesthetic and features a rabbit-eared boy peeking out of a packing box while holding a bullwhip in his left hand.

One can imagine the dolt yelling, "Happy birthday, Granny," while spanking his monkey inside the carton.

Andrew Reach's Meeting of the Spines
Andrew Reach's Meeting of the Spines

Details

Through November 11. Tip Freeman's Paintings and Art Gallery, 738 NE 79th St, Miami; 305-754-8221. Open Monday through Saturday 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

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Another work, Sun King, depicts the village idiot waste deep in a rippling pool. The mook sports a stubbly crewcut and a toothy, Civil War tombstone grin. He endears himself to the spectator by jabbing two pencils into his eyes.

Seattle's Dan Webb makes work that reads like a hybrid of the before and after pictures one might find in a plastic surgeon's office.

Synopsis is an electroplated nickel sculpture that Ozzy Osbourne's family would love on their mantle. The chrome statue depicts a naked middle-age man's body crowned with a Gerber baby's head and wearing bathroom slippers. The figure, who shuffles with a walker, is frozen in midstride.

Check out Miami transplant A.A. Rucci's exquisite black-on-black acrylic-on-canvas tondo, As the evening commuters whizzed by, Nicola and her new Austrian friends frolicked in the warm dew settling in the grass of the Clearwater Beach roundabout.

Reading the work's title, I wondered if the curator had named the paintings herself. Off to a side of the piece, tiny decapitated female figures arranged in a grouping, reminiscent of Japanese netsuke, are locked in a catfight. One wears a green thong, another an orange halter-top.

Miami's Raul J. Mendez weighs in with an installation and a couple of paintings that set the curator off on a rant about "Borgesian distortions of logic and time."

One's not sure what Trista Dix means, so I asked Mendez, who commented that "the most creative place to be is confused." Maybe Ambrosino should check his place for asbestos.

Permanent Condition, one of Mendez's provocative mixed-media-on-panel pieces, is full of imagery that left me nostalgic for Little Havana on payday.

In the middle of the work, a yawning hole appears as what the artist calls an allegory of Plato's cave. A cast of Felliniesque characters encircles the imaginary crater. Toward the bottom, five naked floozies are bent over doggy-style with their orifices agape. Near their right, a flip-flop-wearing derelict is setting a house on fire. To the left of the nude quintet a boy in short pants flails away at a fiddle. Above him a pair of lovers embrace. To the far lower right, a balding man straddling a scissor ladder holds a flashlight over a globe. His shadow creates the illusion of the pit around which the other figures are gathered. At the top of the cavity, a weathered hag smokes a cigarette amid reams of paper rain. The old woman is the only one in the composition who gazes at the viewer.

This show has few hiccups. The works, which blend seamlessly to project a sense of America's down-at-the-heels grandeur, are well worth a gander.

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