By John Thomason
By Benjy Caplan
By Artburst Miami
By Carlos Suarez De Jesus
By Daniel Reskin
Tales from the Far Side
Through August 28. Farside Gallery, 1305 SW 87th Ave., Miami; 305-264-3355
Twenty artists, including some of South Florida's top-drawer talent, are participating in this surprisingly clever show. It features videos, drawings, paintings, photography, sculptures, and installations, and is loosely based on the popular comic strip created by Gary Larson. Glexis Novoa's hilarious five-minute video, Honorary Guest, alone is worth a schlep to the burbs. In it, Novoa leads a Fidel Castro look-alike, wearing a red Adidas jogging suit, through a historical documentation of the Eighties-era Cuban avant-garde. Fidel raises a bony finger and begins to frame artists who protested his regime within the context of the revolution. When Novoa asks Fidel if he recollects the time when a pair of artists stormed the Cuban Artists and Writers Union in Havana disguised as a penis and vagina, the ailing gasbag is left speechless.
Through August 31. Artformz Alternative, 171 NW 23rd St., Miami; 305-572-0040, www.artformz.net
"Diverse Works" features pieces ranging from painting, drawing, fiber, and photography to constructed assemblage and installations. The exhibit, at the recently relocated Artformz Alternative, includes the work of Fabian De La Flor, Natasha Duwin, Donna Haynes, Anja Marais, Alejandro Mendoza, P.J. Mills, Ray Paul, Natalia Reparaz, Rosario Rivera-Bond, Chieko Tanemura, and Alette Simmons-Jimenez. This bunch reflects the top tier of the revamped Artformz stable. Mills turns heads with a pair of striking images. Bird Wing depicts a grisly uncooked chicken wing on a tabletop, almost suggesting a Radio City Rockette's goose-pimply stems, while Condom #3 captures a postcoital Trojan under the gleam of a spotlight. The exhibit is better curated and the work more polished than those previously staged at Artformz's earlier incarnations in the Design District.
Through August 31. Bernice Steinbaum Gallery, 3550 N. Miami Ave., Miami; 305-573-2700, www.bernicesteinbaumgallery.com
A mother-and-child reunion explores stories of family life through photography, video, and folk wisdom. "Progeny" pairs Deborah Willis and her son Hank Willis Thomas in their first official collaboration. The result is a seamless exhibit that gives the impression both artists have often worked together before. Willis is a photographer, educator, and curator. Thomas has become known for his stinging critique of advertising and its impact on contemporary life. Thomas, who admits much of his work is influenced by his mother, drives the point home in Sometimes I See Myself in You, a digital c-print framing his face on the left and his mother's on the right. In the middle, their images are fused in a nod of filial respect.
Sympathy for the Devil: Art and Rock and Roll Since 1967
A nearly pitch-perfect twanging of complementary chords, this exhibition explores the deep-rooted and primal alliances between rebellious spirits haunting both the sonic and visual realms. It features more than 100 paintings, drawings, installations, and videos by 56 artists and artist collectives. The show was organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, where it drew stadium-size crowds, and judging by the throngs attending opening night, MoCA's turnstile numbers will skyrocket as well. Although some knuckleheads will bitch about holes in the exhibition's version of rock history, you can't leave without thinking you have to give this devil his due.
Disappearances, Shadows & Illusions
This exhibit, which aspires to challenge traditional notions of how the public views art, features upward of 50 works by more than 20 artists. It boasts pieces from the Miami Art Museum's permanent collection, key loans from area collectors, and several installations commissioned from local artists, who ultimately pocket the show. These include Leyden Rodriguez-Casanova, Kerry Phillips, Matt Schreiber, and Tom Scicluna. The last delivers perhaps the single most cultivated device for absorbing the spirit of the show. Scicluna's amazing Shift is a freestanding wall that has been almost imperceptibly bent out of shape. He effectively subverts institutional authority by tinkering with the concept that museums themselves run the illusion game; with Shift, the artist has taken over.
Not your garden-variety tomb raider or occultist crackpot, Sir William Matthew Flinders Petrie became known as the father of Egyptian archaeology. Today his discoveries can be found in more than 120 museums across the globe. He made great breakthroughs in field excavation and invented a sequence-dating method that enabled reconstruction of history from ancient remains. After half a century unraveling the mysteries of Egypt, he was knighted in 1923 for his work. This exhibit at the Lowe captures Petrie's life and times and features 221 of the scholar's finds. The show includes a treasure trove of sculptures, jewelry, pottery, painted vessels, and mummy portraits, as well as objects used in everyday life. They offer a tantalizing window into the ancient Egyptians' level of sophistication. The exhibition sprawls across the development of Egyptian archaeology from its infancy in the 1880s to the present day, and covers dozens of the sites on which Petrie worked.