Miami art this week: Witchcraft in the White House

"Selections From Anomie 1492-2006"

Through December 5 at the Frost Art Museum, 10975 SW 17th St., Miami; 305-348-2890; thefrost.fiu.edu. Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday noon to 5 p.m.

Selections From Anomie 1492-2006" features 15 of Arnold Mesches's large-format canvases, which tear the scabs off ancient and recent dreams of empire, world wars, political skullduggery, and contemporary society in the grips of moral decay. He references everything from the discovery of America, the Cold War, and the first Gulf War to witchcraft in the White House. Mesches combines surreal juxtapositions of disparate symbols, characters, and political and historical figures in dark, brooding landscapes that are often operatic and Grand Guignol. He typically makes drawings of the images he finds and later creates paintings based on the drawings to further remove the work from the original source. Anomie 1980: Nancy Reagan's Dream, a painting roughly the size of a garage door, reads like a downward-spiraling autopsy of the former first lady's aspirations to govern the nation by supernatural force.

"Sequentia"

Through January 2 at the Frost Art Museum, 10975 SW 17th St., Miami; 305-348-2890; thefrost.fiu.edu. Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday noon to 5 p.m.

Just like Richard Attenborough's character in Jurassic Park, Xavier Cortada toys with DNA deposits as part of his work. But there is nothing primal to shriek about in "Sequentia," his weirdly clinical solo show where he, with the public's aid, plans to create a live DNA strand in a petri dish. The exhibit features four large canvases depicting portraits of Adenine, Cytosine, Guanine, and Thymine, the nucleotides that compose the four bases of the DNA strand. Part of the modest science-project-like display includes a station with postcard reproductions of his abstract renditions of the nucleotides. Visitors can randomly select one and leave their thumbprint on the card. As strangers add their DNA to Cortada's random sequence of cards, microbiologists will clone the specimens in a lab as part of the show.

Egyptian Gallery

Ongoing at the Bass Museum of Art, 2121 Park Ave., Miami Beach; 305-673-7530; bassmuseum.org. Wednesday through Sunday noon to 5 p.m.

When the ancient working stiff was preparing for his journey into the afterlife, little did he know he would spend decades gathering dust in a musty Wynwood warehouse. But that's exactly where the Egyptian craftsman from the 25th or 26th Dynasty (808-518 B.C.) was found inside a polychrome wood inner sarcophagus. The liberated mummy is on view as part of the newly inaugurated Egyptian Gallery at the Bass, which also features a modest collection of rare artifacts in the permanent display that marks the only space of its kind in Florida. The exhibit also showcases the Bass mummy's outer sarcophagus, a child's sarcophagus, and several stellar examples of Egyptian statuary, canopic jars, stela fragments, and pottery. Unfortunately, some bling-craving pharaohphiles or Tut freaks might leave the Bass feeling a bit E-gypped after experiencing the modest exhibit. Don't expect sensational gold-covered coffins or regal masks of the ancient kings and queens of Egypt. Instead, these are the types of artifacts that continue inspiring the inner Indiana Jones or armchair archaeologist in most of us and have always fueled curiosity about an enigmatic lost culture. It's well worth a visit.

 
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