Through October 4. Fredric Snitzer Gallery, 2247 NW First Pl., Miami; 305-573-5810, www.snitzer.com
Loriel Beltran's "Process/Processed" is a dendrochronologist's wet dream. These folks are scientists devoted to "the study of tree time." Beltran's solo debut at Snitzer includes several acrylic and enamel paint, tree bark, and plywood pieces that exude a Paul Bunyan-esque vibe and mush the eye sockets into creamed corn. As implied by the show's title, Beltran's work is as much about the process as the paint. He headlocks the viewer into considering the evolution of the work as much as the finished product. 386 Years of Belief mimics natural wood grains so deftly it could give a woodpecker fits. The redwood-tree-trunk-wide piece is coated in moss-green, ochre, and creamy bone swirls typical of prehistoric growth patterns and appears to have been applied by the artist like sedimentary layers of accretion over an expanse of years. He reduces raw materials into spare descriptions of nature that nearly fill the gallery with the scent of the Northwest.
In her solo show, "Mimicry," Maria Fernanda Cardozo, a Colombian artist who lives down under, adopted the emu, Australia's national emblem, as a metaphor for exploring that nation's landscape and modes of survival. The emu alters its feather colors to survive in the outback, and the artist has used its plumes to create head-turning outfits as a commentary on how humans employ fashion to blend in as well as stand out in contemporary society. During her opening, four models paraded around wearing her jawbone-dropping Emu Wear gowns. The must-see exhibit contains videos, photographs, and emu feather sculptures riffing on humankind's complex relationships with the natural world. A Garden of Insects That Looks Like Plants, housed in museum display cases, contain a variety of dead insects with a knack for camouflaging themselves from predators.
One has to tip the chapeau to Anthony Spinello. The spunky young dealer transforms his modest gallery about as often as his competitors change their underwear. "Emotional Response Can Be Deconditioned" marks Federico Nessi's first solo exhibit at Spinello. The 26-year-old artist has succeeded in conveying the sense of someone undergoing a Skinnerian douche following the wreckage of a tormented relationship. Entering the space, visitors are assailed by a wall of white noise. Nessi reconfigured the gallery's interior, creating an enclosure in which dueling video monitors pin the viewer in an eerie dialogue between two figures that never utter a word. He Is He and He Is You Too is a looped 10-minute two-channel video featuring the artist and his gallerist on opposing screens. Their faces bob and weave under the glare of light beams as if they were each undergoing the third degree. As the film progresses, it appears the men are searching for each other with flashlights as if they were trapped in opposite ends of a mineshaft. The tug-of-war vibe is reminiscent of how people struggle to get closer to each other while invariably pulling away. There is something deeply evocative about the work, which provokes a gut-check about the obsessive side of love and the complexity of human interactions.
Andrew Mowbry 's solo show "Tempest Prognosticator" riffs on man's relationship with natural forces and how the weather can have a volatile impact on our daily lives. The artist appears in a video isolated in a rear room. It shows a barefoot Mowbry in a business suit atop a downtown Miami building. He is trussed in a handcrafted polyethylene contraption that has turned him into a human weather vane. Birds twitter loudly and traffic zooms by as the wind spins the dart-shaped gizmo teetering over his head. Nearby, Parachute is a sculpture created from found umbrellas, cord, foam, vinyl, and aluminum that sprawls in a bright multipatterned spill across the gallery floor. On an opposing wall, a C-print with the same title depicts Mowbry ready to become blown into the air above Bicentennial Park. The artist also built Drawing Table, which harnesses the elements to create art. Mowbry's engaging exhibit references a 19th-century invention by George Merryweather that used a bottle of leeches that would become agitated during an approaching storm. In the wake of Hurricane Ike's devastation throughout the Caribbean and Texas, the exhibit packs a timely wallop.
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. 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.