Nela Ochoa: Genetic Portraits
Through August 27. Frost Art Museum, 10975 SW 17th St., Miami; 305-348-2890; frostartmuseum.org. Tuesday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday noon to 5 p.m.
"Nela Ochoa: Genetic Portraits" features an intriguing collection of complex pieces referencing the genetic code of human and plant life. The Venezuelan artist's work embraces the intersection of art and science in bold, imaginative ways, creating provocative installations and sculptures that unravel the mysteries of DNA. Outside the museum, one of her sprawling, serpentine sculptures resembles a giant centipede squirming across the lawn. Buccaneer Helix alludes to the DNA of an endangered species of a Florida palm tree. It was crafted from 868 sawed-off plastic baseball bats that stretch more than 50 feet across the ground. The stubby bats have been encased like sausages in hot pink, turquoise, cobalt, and black Lycra skins. Each of the corresponding colors symbolizes one of the nucleotides in the sequence of the palm's DNA structure. For her intriguing pieces, Ochoa typically selects four colors, evoking the four nucleotides, A, C, G, and T — adenine, cytosine, guanine, and thymine — in the DNA molecule. Genes, which determine heredity information, are made up of specific sequences of nucleotides.
Through the Lens: Photography from the Permanent Collection
Arnold Newman: Photographic Legacy
Through October 4. Lowe Art Museum, 1301 Stanford Dr., Coral Gables; 305-284-3535; lowemuseum.org. Tuesday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday noon to 4 p.m.
A new exhibit at the Lowe highlights a rare image of the Taj Mahal photographed in 1855 by John Murray. The physician produced the 19th Century's finest visual record of historic sites around Agra. Murray's picture is part of "Through the Lens: Photography from the Permanent Collection," displaying 100 photos from more than a thousand of the Lowe's photographic holdings. The stunning collection spans the development of the art form from its earliest inception in the mid-1800s to the present day. The museum's greatest-hits parade continues in the contemporary section of the exhibit, spinning with works by Vito Acconci, Sol LeWitt, William Wegman, Cindy Sherman, John Baldessari, and Gordon Matta-Clark — among the best-known figures of the late 20th Century. Also on display, in the rear of the museum, is "Arnold Newman: Photographic Legacy." Newman, considered one of the greatest portrait photographers of his age, has created incredible studies of artists such as Joan Miró, Pablo Picasso, Louise Nevelson, Isamu Noguchi, and Jasper Johns at work. It's an impressive complement to the Lowe's sweeping history-of-photography exhibition.
Through September 25. ArtSpace/Virginia Miller Galleries, 169 Madeira Ave., Coral Gables; 305-444-4493; virginiamiller.com. Monday through Friday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday by appointment
Where most dealers wouldn't dare exhibit the work of masters alongside that of relative unknowns, Virginia Miller welcomes the risk with aplomb in "Joyas Latinoamericanas," a show including paintings by titans Wifredo Lam and José Clemente Orozco smack next to whippersnappers such as Marco Tulio and Sergio Garval. The exhibit features artworks by more than a dozen Latin American artists, spanning nearly 80 years. Miller says that because of the recession, private owners are offloading long-cherished works, in some cases masterpieces, offering the general public a chance to see art previously off-limits. Among the highlights is a 1930 oil-on-canvas titled Dama Sofisticada (Sophisticated Dame), created with rough, slashing strokes by the late Mexican muralist Orozco. Also on view is a handful of Lam paintings, including an unusual early gouache-on-cardboard from 1942.
Through September 13. Museum of Contemporary Art, 770 NE 125th St., North Miami; 305-893-6211; mocanomi.org. Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Wednesday 1 to 9 p.m.; Sunday noon to 5 p.m.
"Convention" is an ingenious group show at MoCA that includes a series of workshops, video projects, installations, and performances. The exhibition — designed by MoCA's assistant curator, Ruba Katrib — explores the effects and roles of conventions, festivals, and other social and professional gatherings on our community. "'Convention' examines forms of gathering in our society," Katrib says. "Every artist in the exhibition is examining this phenomenon from a different perspective." She adds that the museum is "acting as a launching pad for several of the artists by creating an opportunity for them to experiment." The majority of works on display were created for the exhibition, which seeks to engage the community while challenging the format of a traditional museum show. There's lots of international and local talent, including Julieta Aranda, Fia Backström, Xavier Cha, Anne Daems and Kenneth Andrew Mroczek, Jim Drain, Fritz Haeg, Corey McCorkle, Gean Moreno, My Barbarian, Christodoulos Panayiotou, Sean Raspet, Bert Rodriguez, and Superflex and Jens Haaning.
NeoHooDoo: Art for a Forgotten Faith
Through September 13. Miami Art Museum, 101 W. Flagler St., Miami; 305-375-3000; miamiartmuseum.org. Tuesday through Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday noon to 5 p.m.
"NeoHooDoo: Art for a Forgotten Faith" is freighted with the religious beliefs of those who have migrated here. The sprawling show corrals 50 works by 33 artists in an arresting variety of media ranging from sculpture to photography, assemblage, video, and performance. The exhibition was inspired by the African-American writer Ishmael Reed's Neo-HooDoo Manifesto, which explores the role of spirituality outside organized religion. Adding some wit and humor to the mix is Brian Jungen, who has stacked golf bags floor to ceiling to create two colossal columns reminiscent of totem poles. He does so as a critique of the commodification of native imagery. In his Beer Cooler, Jungen — who is of mixed European and Native American ancestry — carved skulls, flames, an eagle, and a dreamcatcher into the sides of a plastic cooler. By placing beer cans in the cooler and the cooler in a museum, Jungen has stated he is "giving alcohol back to the Europeans." "NeoHooDoo" includes a mind-jarring range of depictions of spirituality that will bring visitors back again and again to plumb its enigmatic depths.
Because I Say So
Through August 16. Frost Art Museum, 10975 SW 17th St., Miami; 305-348-2890; thefrost.fiu.edu. Tuesday through Saturday 10 a.m. to p.m. and Sunday noon to 5 p.m.
"Because I Say So" features selections from the collection of Debra and Dennis Scholl that challenge the notion of what art is. The works on display are remarkable not only for the range of materials — which include twigs, strips of fabric, hairpins, and even LPs — but also for tiptoeing around the tradition of sculpture while subverting it in arresting ways. The Scholls, who are major collectors (he was just named the Knight Foundation's Miami director), have offered the Frost often-unseen sculptures and installations from their impressive contemporary art trove. According to a museum handout, they look for "work that succeeds both on and below the surface, evoking a strong response, and not necessarily a positive one... So long as a viewer is engaged enough to give a reaction, either one of pleasure or discomfort, we feel that the work has succeeded." The reactions are strong and tantalizing at the Frost. The Scholls' plucky eye for talent is on display even before visitors enter the gorgeous second-floor gallery, where their quirky treasures are amassed.