By John Thomason
By Benjy Caplan
By Artburst Miami
By Carlos Suarez De Jesus
By Daniel Reskin
Asian Art from the Bass Museum Collection and Treasures from the Bass Museum of Art: With a bushel of blue-ribbon shows, the Bass has embarked on perhaps its busiest programming season. Deciding on which shows to see among the museum's expansive menu might be as slippery as handling a hog in a greased-pig contest. But that is bell-clanging news. The Bass is featuring everything from Renaissance altarpieces to embroidered silk robes from the Chinese Imperial court and, like a country fair, boasting something for everyone. Carlos Suarez De Jesus Ongoing. Bass Museum of Art, 2121 Park Ave., Miami Beach; 305-673-7530, www.bassmuseum.org.
I'm So Much Better than You: Magnus Sigurdarson's installation features four tons of Miami New Times papers interlocked like bricks to form a curving hip-high wall. It houses a DVD player and monitor where the artist is seen performing a puppet show in Xiamen, China. Sigurdarson, who was born in Iceland, filmed the performance during a three-month residency there last autumn. Ironically Sigurdarson's installation at Javogue's space, with its imposing mass and volume, evokes a sense of the wall erected to separate China from the rest of the world. The work shares a relevancy with plans for a wall cutting off the United States from its neighbors to the south. Carlos Suarez De Jesus Ongoing; by appointment only. Emmanuel Javogue Fine Arts, 123 NW 23rd St., Miami; 305-573-3904, www.ejfa.net.
True Stories: A big-nose profile. A closeup of breasts. A photo of a woman sporting a pig-snout mask while holding cutlery. These are just a few of Sophie Calle's photographic self-portraits. Above each 67-by-39-inch picture is a story about her life. Over the shnoz profile, Calle tells us that when she was fourteen, her grandparents suggested plastic surgery. She wasn't convinced about the alteration. But the doctor made the decision for her he died two days before the scheduled operation. These windows into Calle's life are angled, like her camera, to make us look twice. Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin sets the artist's exhibit, "True Stories," against Leandro Erlich's work, which is quite opposite. Full of semblance and deception, Erlich's pieces play with angles to create optical illusions. In light of Calle's truths, Erlich's illusions fall flat. His piece The Ring is a split boxing ring set up against a mirror. The viewer is meant to climb in and "experience the sphere of illusions, reversals, reflections," according to the gallery press release. Somehow a trick of the eye, no matter how masterful, seems weak in comparison with Calle's narratives of tousled beds, love letters, and nights spent atop the Eiffel Tower. Vanessa Garcia Through November 25. Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin, 194 NW 30th St., Miami; 305-573-2130, www.galerieperrotin.com.
Karel Appel: In Memoriam: Nothing like kicking the bucket to make others appreciate a person and this is doubly true for artists. In May the death of the Dutch abstract expressionist who helped found an art movement known as CoBrA (an acronym for the initial letters of the founders' cities of origin: Copenhagen, Brussels, and Amsterdam) inspired "Karel Appel: In Memoriam." As far as memorials go, this is an intimate one, composed of just eleven works from the museum's permanent collection. Despite its size, the exhibit not only honors the artist but also provides examples of his work in a variety of media. Though his work may be labeled abstract, it is not strictly so. Even in the ones that come the closest to being nonrepresentational, there is at least the hint of object. Using vivid colors applied in thick swipes and swirls, one untitled, undated oil painting (which is more nonspecific than abstract) might be construed as a portrait: Dark blue splotches suggest eyes; the rectangle at the bottom could be a mouth. Most works are abstract in the art term's original meaning the reduction of the subject to a simplified form. The works exhibited have a childlike quality in their simplicity, expressiveness, and playfulness. Marya Summers Through May 1. Museum of Art/Fort Lauderdale, 1 E. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale; 954-525-5500.
Spiritual Places: "We need to tend the garden of Mother Earth," photographer Barry Haynes urges in commentary that accompanies his "Spiritual Places" exhibit, which literally offers a mountaintop experience. The environmentalist photographer's images of mountains, lakes, sea, and sky are lovely (although the pocked, stained white bulletin boards on which the framed photos hang distract from their beauty). The pictures capture nature at its most glorious, sharing his reverence for it with others who might not have had the opportunity to experience these wonders firsthand. Bryce Stone Woman, for example, offers a view of the exquisite rock formations of Bryce Canyon; the photographer's title results from the central formation's figurative features. Some images show human interaction with nature. Cliff Place is such a work, offering a view of ancient cliff dwellings in Colorado's Mesa Verde National Park. Besides being inspirational, the exhibit is also educational, offering informative placards to accompany each photo. These let the viewer know a little more about the subject such as the canoe for which Skookum Kalitan is named that, like others of its kind, has a spirit as well as what sort of film, equipment, and digital manipulation the image received. Marya Summers Through November 11. Palm Beach Photographic Center, 55 NE Second Ave., Delray Beach; 561-276-9797.