Florida Artists Series: Tori Arpad and Kate Kretz: The Frost Museum's current exhibition showcases two FIU associate art professors' works combined to create an aesthetically and emotionally dramatic tone. Through her paintings and mixed-media textile creations, Kretz confronts and embraces themes of anguish, vulnerability, and female intuition. Although what's described as her "psychological clothing" -- garments such as those displayed in Defense Mechanism Coat (whose porcupine exterior made from roofing nails protects a red-velvet, veined interior) -- teeters on maudlin, Kretz's hyper-real, color-saturated works are skillful. An adjacent room houses Arpad's multimedia installation that consists of 8000 cups of water covering the floor, eight vertically paneled video cameras projecting their shakily filmed footage onto a far wall -- whose swaying notion distorts images of air, water, and land -- and a languid cello soundtrack playing in the background. Fragile yet grandiose, Arpad's work prompts intense contemplation but incites less the artist's desired reaction -- to stimulate a connection with nature -- and more a fleeting impulse to destroy. -- K. Lee Sohn Through July 31. The Frost Art Museum at Florida International University, University Park Campus, PC 110, SW 107th Avenue and SW Eighth Street, Miami; 305-348-2890.
What's New?: This group exhibition concentrates on new developments in photographic work by local artists. Assessing the female nude is consistently a powerful attractor in art, as in life, but contrary to the exhibition title, no new discoveries are revealed here. Cecilia Paredes works in a recognizable vein, posing the female figure as a sacrificial object ambiguously affected by birds. Vicenta Casañ's Ice Box, featuring a nubile girl in multiple postures framed by a fridge and its everyday contents, lacks a subversive element that could distance it from contemporary chic advertising photos. Carlos Betancourt's heavy-handed, high-gloss Neo-Primitivism is familiar. Michael Flomen's large gelatin silver prints are hypnotic and dense, and refreshingly abstract. Wendy Wischer's Sunspot Diaries actually elucidate the word photography, for they are drawings literally made by sunlight that has burned holes into two leaves of paper arranged like an open book. These works are succinct meditations on the phenomenon of summer heat and the source from which it emanates. -- Michelle Weinberg Through July 31. Diana Lowenstein Fine Arts, 3080 SW 38th Ct., Miami; 305-774-5969, www.dlfinearts.com.
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