Art Capsules

NeoHooDoo: Art for a Forgotten Faith

Through May 24. Miami Art Museum, 101 W Flagler St., Miami; 305-375-3000; miamiartmuseum.org. Tuesday through Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday noon to 5 p.m.

It's impossible to imagine a better city than ours as a host for the mojo-manic exhibit currently on view at the Miami Art Museum. Co-organized by the Menil Collection and P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center and curated by Franklin Sirmans, "NeoHooDoo: Art for a Forgotten Faith" packs a potent wallop and is freighted with many of the religious beliefs of those who have migrated here from distant shores. The sprawling show corrals 50 works by 33 artists in an arresting variety of media ranging from sculpture to photography, assemblage, video, and performance. The exhibition was inspired by the African-American writer Ishmael Reed's Neo-HooDoo Manifesto, which explores the role of spirituality outside organized religion.

Adding some wit and humor to the mix is Brian Jungen, who has stacked golf bags floor to ceiling to create two colossal columns reminiscent of totem poles. He does so as a critique of the commodification of native imagery. In his Beer Cooler, Jungen — who is of mixed European and Native American ancestry — carved skulls, flames, an eagle, and a dreamcatcher, into the sides of a plastic cooler. By placing beer cans in the cooler and the cooler in a museum, Jungen has stated he is "giving alcohol back to the Europeans." "NeoHooDoo" includes a mind-jarring range of depictions of spirituality that will bring visitors back again and again to plumb its enigmatic depths.


Bazaar

Through April 14. Dot Fiftyone Gallery, 51 NW 36th St., Miami; 305-573-9994; dotfiftyone.com. Monday through Friday 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Saturday 1 to 6 p.m.

Pancho Luna is no stranger to yanking perfection from the jaws of chaos. The artist often tinkers on multiple series of works at the same time, allowing his cranial crankshaft to intuitively fire the connective rods linking disparate elements of his art.

The result of his cerebral shenanigans is on display in "Bazaar" at Dot Fiftyone Gallery, where Luna's pristine installations and pieces combine to reveal a witty and inventive mind. Any of the series on exhibit would make a powerful statement if presented alone. Together they unveil elegant and innovative constructions brimming with a reservoir of personal meaning in a jolting way. At first blush, two large sunflower-yellow works add a burst of brightness to a wall. From a distance, they appear to be a pair of abstract, almost geometric paintings. As one approaches them, they reflect the viewer's image off of their sleek, glossy surfaces. Close up, one notices they are covered with subtle German, English, Hebrew, and Arabic texts. The mixed-media-on-canvas works are part of Luna's CD Series, in which the artist creates fictitious CD covers with differing themes.


Las Artes de México

Through April 5. Lowe Art Museum, 1301 Stanford Dr., Coral Gables; 305-284-3535; lowemuseum.org. Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Thursday noon to 7 p.m.; Sunday noon to 5 p.m.

A new exhibit at the Lowe Art Museum is a journey through 3,500 years of Mexican history — from sun-baked clay Mayan figurines taken from ancient burial tombs to a clay sculpture of brown-skinned apostles feasting on a last supper of tortillas and watermelon. "Las Artes de Mexico: From the Collection of the Gilcrease Museum" is a traveling exhibit of pottery, paintings, folk art, and prints that weaves a compelling tale of a nation's mysterious past and its lurching path to maturity. From the ancient world of the Mayans and Aztecs to the 20th-century works by Miguel Covarrubias and Diego Rivera, it's an eye-opening show with a story at every stop. At the gallery's entrance is Standing Tomb Guard — Nayarit, an earthenware sculpture dating from 300 BC to AD 200. The angular male figure, wearing what oddly appears to be an Oriental bamboo hat and wielding a cudgel, seems to have been scratched out of the sun-baked soil. Another stunning work is a skull-rattling Huichol masterpiece created from rainbow-hued yarn and beeswax. The late-20th-century door-size yarn painting brings to mind a Timothy Leary mind-fuck on steroids. Through the use of peyote, the Huichol create the elaborate designs used in their artwork. Spectators can lose themselves in the arresting piece here. At the top, a crucified Christ bleeds into the earth, where marigolds spring from the puddle. Near the bottom, an azure water goddess engulfs rabbits, sheep, and a crumbling building, sucking them into the whirling pool of her body. From the jagged rays of a blazing sun in a corner, winged deer descend as they march upright in the celestial void.


People, Places, and Things

Through April 4. Dina Mitrani Gallery, 2620 NW Second Ave., Miami; 786-486-7248; dinamitranigallery.com. Tuesday through Friday 1 to 5 p.m.

Peggy Levison Nolan's path from the projects to her first solo show at an art gallery went something like this: marriage, seven kids, dreams of becoming a photographer, shoplifting a lot of film. From there, the Miami local taught herself to shoot and print pictures, stole more film, moved out of the projects and returned to college, got divorced, got pierced up, graduated from Florida International University, and stole some more film. Today the kids have grown up and left home. Through it all, Nolan has never stopped shooting pictures. The result is a staggeringly impressive photography exhibit, "People, Places, and Things," showing at the Dina Mitrani Gallery in Wynwood. The exhibition is a compilation of many years of seeing and capturing everyday things in a manner that leaves an indelible impact on the senses.

 
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