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.
Graphic Novel: Cinematographers of the printed page, graphic novel artists integrate the literary and the visual to produce works 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 College, Wolfson Campus, Bldg. 1, 300 NE Second Ave., Room 1365, Miami. 305-237-3696.
Grass, Gas, or Ass: The title of Los Angeles artist Daniel Newman's first Miami solo exhibition is taken from the bumper sticker: "Grass, Gas, or Ass ... Nobody rides for free!" Newman's show reflects upon many of the unsuccessful attempts by members of his generation to co-opt Sixties culture while alluding to the dying art of the American road trip. While conceptually strong, the show includes so many seemingly disparate elements that it could be mistaken for a group show. Yet Newman is able to incorporate all these elements into a visually compelling body of work. -- Upahar Through November 20. Placemaker Gallery, 3852 N. Miami Ave., Miami. 305-576-6695.
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. 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. -- 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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