Toys for Tyrants

A former artist turned ad man comes back, guns a-blazin'.

Some of his pieces smack of a purposely sugarcoated veneer. One of them, Foreign Soil, features a ballerina's pointe shoes tiptoeing over a thicket of knives while a toy soldier poises himself for combat.

The Mission is framed by battleships surrounding a minefield of thorns and mousetraps, against which the silhouette of a cowboy rides on a bucking bronco. It's a stab against gunboat diplomacy; it also suffers in comparison to Blanco's more visceral sculptural works.

Perhaps the most unusual piece in the show is a circular sculpture reminiscent of a dog chasing its tail. Titled Round, the piece is a washtub-size, doughnut-shape Miami-Dade school bus full of multiracial Barbie dolls. Blanco calls the work an exploration of the policy of public school integration during the Sixties.

Toy Tank: We surrender, already.
Toy Tank: We surrender, already.


"Violent Toys": Through January 29. Contemporánea Fine Art, 1550 SW 8th St, Miami; 305-642-3080.

It seems more an apt metaphor for Blanco's coming full cycle and returning to doing what he loves after ditching his suit and wingtips. "It's been liberating in the sense that I no longer have to worry about making presentations and can focus on making things that reflect how I feel. It's difficult for anybody living through these times to remain on the fence," he says and then pauses. "It seems clear to me that the issues we face are black-and-white and easy to see."

Addressing his resurrected art career, Blanco is quick to point out we should be careful what we wish for.

"I would call mine a cautionary tale for people who dream. Art is a business," he says. "You produce; then you have to find a way to show your work and to sell. I found myself shaking hands and slapping backs all over again."

Blanco remains encouraged, because he sold five pieces in his first public foray during Art Miami in 2006.

"I sold $22,000 worth of work, which is not bad for a fresh start out of the gate. But once I figured out the numbers and the time it took me to produce the work, it all came out to about 25 cents an hour," he peals.

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