Through October 4. Fredric Snitzer Gallery, 2247 NW First Pl., Miami; 305-573-5810, www.snitzer.com
Loriel Beltran's "Process/Processed" is a dendrochronologist's wet dream. These folks are scientists devoted to "the study of tree time." Beltran's solo debut at Snitzer includes several acrylic and enamel paint, tree bark, and plywood pieces that exude a Paul Bunyan-esque vibe and mush the eye sockets into creamed corn. As implied by the show's title, Beltran's work is as much about the process as the paint. He headlocks the viewer into considering the evolution of the work as much as the finished product. 386 Years of Belief mimics natural wood grains so deftly it could give a woodpecker fits. The redwood-tree-trunk-wide piece is coated in moss-green, ochre, and creamy bone swirls typical of prehistoric growth patterns and appears to have been applied by the artist like sedimentary layers of accretion over an expanse of years. He reduces raw materials into spare descriptions of nature that nearly fill the gallery with the scent of the Northwest.
Through October 4. Bernice Steinbaum Gallery, 3550 N. Miami Ave., Miami; 305-573-2700, www.bernicesteinbaumgallery.com
In her solo show, "Mimicry," Maria Fernanda Cardozo, a Colombian artist who lives down under, adopted the emu, Australia's national emblem, as a metaphor for exploring that nation's landscape and modes of survival. The emu alters its feather colors to survive in the outback, and the artist has used its plumes to create head-turning outfits as a commentary on how humans employ fashion to blend in as well as stand out in contemporary society. During her opening, four models paraded around wearing her jawbone-dropping Emu Wear gowns. The must-see exhibit contains videos, photographs, and emu feather sculptures riffing on humankind's complex relationships with the natural world. A Garden of Insects That Looks Like Plants, housed in museum display cases, contain a variety of dead insects with a knack for camouflaging themselves from predators.
Emotional Response Can Be Deconditioned
Through October 4. Spinello Gallery, 2294 NW Second Ave., Miami; 786-271-4223, www.spinellogallery.com
One has to tip the chapeau to Anthony Spinello. The spunky young dealer transforms his modest gallery about as often as his competitors change their underwear. "Emotional Response Can Be Deconditioned" marks Federico Nessi's first solo exhibit at Spinello. The 26-year-old artist has succeeded in conveying the sense of someone undergoing a Skinnerian douche following the wreckage of a tormented relationship. Entering the space, visitors are assailed by a wall of white noise. Nessi reconfigured the gallery's interior, creating an enclosure in which dueling video monitors pin the viewer in an eerie dialogue between two figures that never utter a word. He Is He and He Is You Too is a looped 10-minute two-channel video featuring the artist and his gallerist on opposing screens. Their faces bob and weave under the glare of light beams as if they were each undergoing the third degree. As the film progresses, it appears the men are searching for each other with flashlights as if they were trapped in opposite ends of a mineshaft. The tug-of-war vibe is reminiscent of how people struggle to get closer to each other while invariably pulling away. There is something deeply evocative about the work, which provokes a gut-check about the obsessive side of love and the complexity of human interactions.
Tempest PrognosticatorThrough October 4. Gallery Diet, 171 NW 23rd St., Miami; 305-571-2288, www.gallerydiet.com
Andrew Mowbry 's solo show "Tempest Prognosticator" riffs on man's relationship with natural forces and how the weather can have a volatile impact on our daily lives. The artist appears in a video isolated in a rear room. It shows a barefoot Mowbry in a business suit atop a downtown Miami building. He is trussed in a handcrafted polyethylene contraption that has turned him into a human weather vane. Birds twitter loudly and traffic zooms by as the wind spins the dart-shaped gizmo teetering over his head. Nearby, Parachute is a sculpture created from found umbrellas, cord, foam, vinyl, and aluminum that sprawls in a bright multipatterned spill across the gallery floor. On an opposing wall, a C-print with the same title depicts Mowbry ready to become blown into the air above Bicentennial Park. The artist also built Drawing Table, which harnesses the elements to create art. Mowbry's engaging exhibit references a 19th-century invention by George Merryweather that used a bottle of leeches that would become agitated during an approaching storm. In the wake of Hurricane Ike's devastation throughout the Caribbean and Texas, the exhibit packs a timely wallop.
Excavating Egypt: Great Discoveries from the Petrie Museum
Through November 2. Lowe Art Museum, 1301 Stanford Dr., Coral Gables; 305-284-3535, www.lowemuseum.org
Not your garden-variety tomb raider or occultist crackpot, Sir William Matthew Flinders Petrie became known as the father of Egyptian archaeology. Today his discoveries can be found in more than 120 museums across the globe. He made great breakthroughs in field excavation and invented a sequence-dating method that enabled reconstruction of history from ancient remains. This exhibit at the Lowe captures Petrie's life and times and features 221 of the scholar's finds. The show includes a treasure trove of sculptures, jewelry, pottery, painted vessels, and mummy portraits, as well as objects used in everyday life. They offer a tantalizing window into the ancient Egyptians' level of sophistication. The exhibition sprawls across the development of Egyptian archaeology from its infancy in the 1880s to the present day, and covers dozens of the sites on which Petrie worked.
20th-Century Works on Paper from the Fundación Mapfre Collection: Picasso, Tàpies, Miró, and Others
Through November 2. Bass Museum of Art, 2121 Park Ave., Miami Beach; 305-673-7530, www.bassmuseum.org
From expressive figurative illustrations to abstract geometrics and surrealist musings, this show boasts 80 works by Spain's renowned masters and artists from other countries whose careers were affected by that nation. The sprawling exhibit is an introduction to some of Spain's lesser-known talent, as well as a primer on the brighter lights who soared to international stature during an era when the tension between figuration and abstraction ruled the course of art. It Could Occur at Any Moment, a mystifying surrealist work by José Caballero, suggests Spain's hidden history of religious corruption. The spooky drawing is one of the most compelling on exhibit and a strong argument for catching amazing works by artists seldom on view. More often than not, it's the obscure names rather than the headliners who steal this show.
Through November 11. Kevin Bruk Gallery, 2249 NW First Pl., Miami; 305-576-2000, www.kevinbrukgallery.com
Christian Curiel's paintings, drawings, and sculptures in "Collapsing Inwards" bring to mind the creepy old drive-in movie monster from The Blob. The youngsters in his work interact with a Pepto-Bismol-pink bloblike presence, hinting at unspoken adolescent conflicts. The slick, bright surfaces of the painted scenes belie their quixotic imagery, allowing them to worm deeply into the viewer's skull. Rather than implying a narrative, Curiel's moody passages seem disparate, vaguely connected by a fuzzy, self-reflective trawl of memories or cryptic fragments of childhood. The results are riveting in an oddly discomfiting way. The Procession, a large oil-on-canvas piece, depicts a group of boys on a frozen pond carrying a Kraken-like mass of entrails as several girls shimmy in a conga line in the background. The enigmatic nuance of Curiel's figures and his beguiling mix of curiosity, innocence, and aching exude an unmistakable sense of loss.