New Wynwood shows: glitter vomit and pussy cats

From a lollipop-head puking gold glitter to a pussy-fixated Chinese artist, a pair of Wynwood galleries offer plenty of eye candy to entice visitors to the booming arts district after the Second Saturday culture crawl.

At her eponymous space on one of the southernmost arteries of the gritty nabe, Nina Torres, an international arts consultant who relocated here from New York last year, continues her mission of cultivating emerging South Florida talent.

During this month's gallery walk, Torres inaugurated "Helium Hum," Cristina Molina's first local solo-show featuring six short-length video works by the Florida International University (FIU) grad.

MS Mountain Sea. Nos. 1 & 2 by Guo Tiatian
MS Mountain Sea. Nos. 1 & 2 by Guo Tiatian

Details

"Helium Hum" Through January 29 at Nina Torres Fine Art, 2033 NW 1st Pl., Miami; 305-395-3599; ninatorresfineart.com. Monday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.


"Paper"Through February 26 at Butter Gallery, 2301 NW Second Ave., Miami; 305-303-6254; buttergallery.com. Tuesday through Saturday noon to 6 p.m.

According to a gallery handout, her exhibit "focuses on the mouth as a portal through which exchanges of desire, consumption, and excess are mediated."

One could argue that several of Molina's videos might serve as a metaphor for those who visit the neighborhood during the monthly hoedowns primarily for the free booze and cheese cubes rather than the art.

Scintillation, a video projection isolated on a large gallery wall, depicts a red lipstick-smeared gob spewing what appears to be a trickle of Goldshlager, the Swiss cinnamon schnapps that contains flakes of gold leaf.

On screen, an anonymous minx appears in extreme closeup regurgitating the golden liquid in a steady stream as if intoxicated by the spirit of Rumple-

stiltskin deprived of his loom. The video's saturated colors cast the surrounding space in an ambient amber glow.

It is a beautiful if oddly banal image. To achieve the effect, the artist had her subject gargle with gold glitter mixed with tap water, allowing the grainy mixture to sluice around her back teeth before letting it dribble down her dimpled chin.

It reminds one of the occasional inebriated arts connoisseur you stumble upon who's knocked back one too many shots of free hooch during the art walk and is heaving into a Wynwood gutter.

Red Velvet, a split-screen, dual-channel video work on a small monitor, depicts the artist rooting with her snoot like a pig at the trough, the richly frosted pink tarts spackled over with what appear to be the remnants of a broken strand of pearls.

As Molina doggedly rubs her face into the cake, she evokes references as various as eating disorders, Marie Antoinette, and early videos of shockmeister Paul McCarthy, who once smeared ketchup, mayonnaise, and shit on his face as part of his work.

Molina's imagery however, is of a far less transgressive nature, although it does contain some psychological tension that disarms.

Unlike McCarthy, who sought to test the emotional limits of viewers by smearing a classroom with ketchup, rolling around in the stuff, then sticking a Barbie doll up his ass and vomiting, Molina's imagery might strike viewers as all buttons and bows.

In fact the video from which her exhibit takes its title, Helium Hum, perfumes the gallery air with a syrupy melody from Cinderella, the animated 1950 Disney classic.

As the lyrics "My heart has wings and I can fly/I'll touch every star in the sky/So this is the miracle I've been dreaming of/So this is love," resonates across the space in a sticky sweet aural assault, a girl is seen on the screen holding a heart-shaped balloon she releases into the sky.

It's the type of work that many spectators might dismiss for a fizzy simplicity on the artist's part.

That's part of Molina's charm. Her works convey a notion of equal measures of youthful longing and hedonism. But they also exude an erotic undertow, and this work's allure is Molina's unspoken journey into an orifice through which we all communicate our dreams, passions, fears, and innermost secrets. What comes across loudly in her exhibit is that Molina is a young talent worth watching whose work isn't only lovely to look at — it makes you feel good.

Up the asphalt at Butter Gallery, Zheng Tianming brought to mind Tyler Weinman, the accused teenaged Palmetto Bay serial cat killer, but with a kooky, less menacing edge.

Tianming is one of four emerging artists from China in a group show called "Paper" that also includes works by Guo Tiantian, Qi Yuan, and Su Xianpan, all making their U.S. debut.

Curated by Inez Suen and sponsored by the International Fine Arts Council, the exhibit marks a departure for Butter where street photography and pop art works are more the norm.

The pussy-addled Tianming is represented by more than a dozen colorful, small-format mixed-media works on paper that depict a young man swinging a pair of cats by their tails, and scrawny nude women, legs parted akimbo, squeezing kittens out of their birth canals.

A mural painter by profession, Yuan produces works with ink on rice paper that are more delicate in nature without losing their edginess.

One of her images depicts a demon's head belching forth an anthropomorphic female creature with spindly spider-like legs.

Yet another features a pair of breasts rising from a desolate landscape, one with the nipple erupting like a volcano, while the other lifts a dreary forest clearing populated by an eerie, buzzard-beaked apparition, and a giant worm with branches poking from its head.

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