Meeks Inherits

A historic site in Little Havana cuts out a place for some new masters

Davila incorporates the raw technology of primitive pinhole cameras to create wonderfully atmospheric abstract images of the Florida landscape. One of his works captures a rundown clapboard shack with broken window panes and a roof overrun with clinging vines. Another work, bathed in glowing antifreeze greens, appears to be a shot of a toxic mudflat taken from overhead through a leafy canopy. An ant's-eye-view of a mangrove crops up in yet another of Davila's pictures, which remain evocative despite their simplicity.

Holzman's self-styled identity-reclamation project flat-lines by comparison. The artist gambols through a gamut of emotions in her slow-exposure digital prints in which she seeks to capture herself at her most vulnerable.

Green features the nude artist in 28 poses laid out in a grid. She squats, bends, sits, washes, and towels herself in a shower. For Blue, 20 pics also laid out in a grid, she claws at her face and then mugs for the camera. She fares slightly better in Warm Black, another 20-snap grid notable for its chiaroscuro effect and effusive lighting — Holzman appears flapping her wings, sticking her tongue out, and eating a daisy. Rather than bushwhacking the spectator with a refined sense of insight, the works are fragmented and puzzling, unraveling in a blur.

Helwig's Collected Works of Chekov: The pear flies the coop
Helwig's Collected Works of Chekov: The pear flies the coop
Endara as Eve: A little light reading
Endara as Eve: A little light reading

Sredni's color photographs of French hotel rooms show some promise. There is a varnish of mystery in her pictures. Her images are subtle, mostly devoid of narrative, and imbued with low-level tension.

Paris Room #2 (Hotel Nouvel Opera) depicts a lifeless room where a pair of jeans and a fashion magazine lie atop a made bed while an accordion door in the background folds into a bathroom. "Where or who are the occupants?" she teases. Another photo reveals an empty bathroom, shot from above, in which a towel and slippers have been carelessly dropped on the floor.

Total absence is the subject of one of Sredni's more unusual works. She offers a closeup of what appears to be a room's gray carpet. She seems to be tweaking a sense of dislocation in the viewer, forcing one to fumble with a moment before losing it.

By far the most polished work on exhibit comes from the Egyptian-born Endara, whose huge carbon-print-on-clear-film photographs yank the neck around.

Self-Portrait as Eve features the artist nude with her arms freighted under the canon of religious history. The brunet's lips are carved into a rictus as she wearily locks eyes with the viewer. Not unlike the Tower of Babel, a stack of books — including the Kabala, the Bible, the Torah, and other tomes ranging in topics from jihad to Jesus — rises from the ground in front of her feet, impeding her movement.

In Educated, another powerful piece, the brainy Endara stands ramrod-stiff, burdened equally by books on art history and titles like The Vagina Monologues.

Meeks says he couldn't be more tickled by the bumper crop of talent emerging locally, as evidenced by the six-pack of photographers in his current show. "I have a passion for photography and have been collecting it for 30 years. I don't understand a lot of contemporary art," he cracks. Let's hope his gumption will take root and endure.

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