Current Art Shows
De Ida y Vuelta: This show presents eleven artists of Cuban descent who traveled to and worked in Spain before settling in Miami. According to the curator, two themes differentiate the works: humor and the sheer diversity of themes. Yovani Bauta, Julio Antonio, and Arturo Rodriguez have in common their Expressionist language against the background of our human existence. Néstor Arena's surrealistic and ecological photomontages make me wonder whether animals deserve better treatment in our world. Imagine tiny people who spend their lives confronting gigantic insects, when insects are Arena's protagonists. Ramón Alejandro's works on paper are simply exquisite, exalting the pleasures of the flesh. Gustavo Acosta is as skillful with the pencil or crayon as he is with the brush. Florencio Gelabert and Baruj Salinas offer more abstract visions. Angel Ramirez's aquatints are small, carefully unpretentious, and poetically cryptic. -- Alfredo Triff Through November 19. Centro Cultural Español, 800 Douglas Rd., Suite 170, Coral Gables. 305-448-9677, www.ccemiami.org.
Dust: Artist Mark Fox aptly describes his "Dust" as a "meditation on ownership." Delicately pinned (in layers) to both sides of a fake wall -- built at a skewed angle to the gallery's walls and ceiling -- are more than 2000 cutouts ranging from one inch to twelve feet, their backs painted fluorescent green. Fox's constellation calls to mind a mid-twentieth-century Sears, Roebuck and Co. inventory of furniture, collectibles, hardware, music instruments, china, and appliances. He's obsessive with detail; each piece is drawn, cut, black-painted, and then carefully shaded in white for volume and textural effect. It's a trip, and it works. -- Alfredo Triff Through October 29. Kevin Bruk Gallery, 3900-B NE First Ave., Miami. 305-576-2000.
Graphic Novel: Cinematographers of the printed page, graphic novel artists integrate the literary and the visual to produce works with broad popular appeal. Sponsored by the Florida Center for the Literary Arts and scheduled in conjunction with this year's Miami Book Fair International, the artists exhibiting in "Graphic Novel" are published by Pantheon. Art Spiegelman, publisher of RAW magazine, a forum for sophisticated sequential comic art, pulled out all the stops in his purgative work on holocaust survival, Maus. Charles Burns's Big Baby series is a black-and-white retro-noir pastiche mimicking early newspaper engraving techniques. Inkjet prints and original ink drawings are on view by artists such as Iranian Marjane Satrapi, who chronicles her experiences as a guileless student abroad in Europe in Persepolis. The deadpan anomie of Ben Katchor's low-self-esteem everyman Julius Knipl entertains at street level, while the sheer virtuosic draftsmanship and page design of Chris Ware's Jimmy Corrigan transports readers to an eternal and mythical Chicago. -- Michelle Weinberg Through November 14. Centre Gallery, Miami-Dade Community College, Wolfson Campus, Bldg. 1, 300 NE Second Ave., Room 1365, Miami. 305-237-3696.
House and Garden: A Dip in the Deep End of Domesticity: Chad Abel, an artist and photographer with a taste for parody, revulsion, and the grotesque, works with surfaces, paint and glaze, reassembled plastic toys, and makeshift furniture to set up bizarre sculptures. He is also a good painter. Interact with his troupe of the misshapen: hopping duck-feet dildos, shit-mound figures on the floor comically attending a talking-dog sermon. The bulbous cocoons from which these creatures would surface literally take over the gallery, their colorful tentacles reaching ceiling and walls. It's an inventive display of pulp and biting cultural satire. Abel's paintings are less overt, conveying a more intricate vision. Some are very busy in a psychedelic kind of way. Others (my favorites) are more laid-back, radiating a lingering though not objectionable graphic-processed aftertaste. -- Alfredo Triff Through October 25. OBJEX Artspace, 203 NW 36th St., Miami. 305-573-4400.
Jewels on Paper: An exhibition of 60 works from some 26 Cuban masters, among them Esteban Chartrand, Wifredo Lam, Amelia Peláez, Carlos Enríquez, Nicolás Guillén, and Tomás Sánchez. Víctor Manuel pieces from the Fifties are unsurpassable renditions of the Cuban mulata's face -- beautiful, sincere, smart, and not anything like the received stereotypes. Carlos Enríquez's little gouache Las Comadritas is a masterpiece. I also loved Antonio Gattorno's works from the Forties, Raúl Milián's 1954 Flower, and Tomás Sánchez's esperpentos from the early Seventies. -- Alfredo Triff Through October 23. Cernuda Arte, 3155 Ponce de Leon Blvd., Coral Gables. 305-461-1050, www.cernudaarte.com.
Let's go!: Ada Ruilova's video Countdowns supposedly builds upon post-apocalyptic films of the Seventies and Eighties. Two different videos play side-by-side on adjacent walls, forming a 90-degree angle. The imagery evokes a sort of countdown using disconnected characters amid barren urban landscapes. I found the work fast and repetitive. -- Alfredo Triff Through November 1 (open Friday, Saturday, and by appointment). The Moore Space, second floor, 4040 NE Second Ave., Miami. 305-438-1163.
Momentos: Felipe Cuevas has a competent eye. I haven't any doubt. But that is not everything. While his show "Momentos" has some strong pictures with Cuevas's lens probing the essence of the Latin American common folk, the problem is the disparate selection of themes and formats. Black and white sits alongside color photography; a casual snapshot next to a striking moment. A realized picture of a group of people walking on a crest of sand in a desert (in perspective) is placed next to a different shot of the same group from a viewpoint that defeats the previous effect. Art staging requires occasionally sacrificing quantity for overall consistency. -- Alfredo Triff Through November 2. Liquid Blue Gallery, 3438 N. Miami Ave., Miami. 305-323-4800.
NY NY (Not Your New York): As Ortega y Gasset notes in Meditations on the Frame, if you reflect on the paintings you know best, you will probably not be able to recall the frames in which they've been set. Argentinean photographer Pablo Garber turns the notion upside-down. Frames always presuppose the images they may or may not enclose. In "NY NY (Not Your New York)" Garber probes the idea of processing a digital series of images containing other (already framed) images of day-to-day New York cityscapes. He makes us aware of moments folding onto themselves in ineluctable sequences -- from different perspectives. Is Garber suggesting that all points of view are equally valid? -- Alfredo Triff Through November 18. Marina Kessler Gallery, 2628 NW Second Ave., Miami. 305-573-6006, www.marinakessler.com.
The Pattern Playback: This show is named after a machine, developed in the late Forties, that converted the patterns of voice prints into actual sounds. Crowding together thirteen artists under one thematic umbrella may be justified by the tenuous link between this machine, John Cage's idea of chance, plus different art disciplines and audience interactivity. Though plausible, I find some of the connections between the artists' works trivial. Yet curator Sylvia Karman Cubiña is able to pull it off because the show does not pretend to offer anything more than "come see and have some fun." Along with some locals, there are several big international names, such as Cory Arcangel, Atelier Van Lieshout, Bjorn Copeland, Christian Jankowski and Mike Kelley, among others. My favorite work was Cristina Lei Rodriguez's black-magic room of dropping crystal tears and a plant arrangement that sweats pink, green, bluish opalescent icy juice. She is without doubt one of Miami's rising stars. -- Alfredo Triff Through November 1 (open Friday, Saturday, and by appointment). The Moore Space, second floor, 4040 NE Second Ave., Miami. 305-438-1163.
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