Art capsules

Girls with Guns

Through October 30. Dot Fiftyone Gallery, 51 NW 36th St., Miami; 305-573-9994; Monday through Friday noon to 7 p.m.

Natalie Silva's solo show at Wynwood's Dot Fiftyone Gallery features 14 large paintings inspired by '60s and '70s cinema molls. With tongue-in-cheek titles such as The Day We Killed Them All and Killer Looks, Silva's pop-influenced paintings explode with color and depict solitary women leveling pistols or rifles and raking spectators with gunfire. Silva uses acrylic and fluorescent paint on raw canvas to enhance her work's edgy veneer and achieve a glow-in-the-dark effect. She tinkers with symbolism and humor in paintings such as Damn Flies, in which a fetching brunette sporting an eye patch blows an F-14 fighter jet out of the sky. She succeeds with aplomb at balancing desirable, glamorous vixens and menacing weapons. In Kitten, a painting recently exhibited in a summer group show at London's Royal Academy of the Arts, a chestnut-haired minx cocks her Saturday-night special with a Sarah Palin-esque wink and a nod at the viewer. Despite Silva's bubblegum palette choices and flatly rendered femme fatales, there is an innate psychological tension percolating under her images that keeps the paintings from feeling like the artist is firing one-note blanks.

Imperfect Archives

Through October 30. 801 Projects, 801 SW Third Ave., Miami; 305-266-6155. Weekdays 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. or by appointment. Exhibit closes with a book sale October 30.

This all-woman group show — including work by Amalia Caputo, Consuelo Castañeda, Liz Cerejido, Ana Albertina Delgado, Odalis Valdivieso, Eugenia Vargas Pereira, and Angela Valella — examines the use of archives through books. For these artists, the book remains a powerful catalyst that inspires fantasy, nostalgia, and considerations of earthly and political concerns. Another bond the participants share is that some of them recently lost their mothers, while others are coping with moms living with debilitating illnesses. The conceptual mishmash features installations, works on paper, photography, paintings, and video and sound pieces created during the past year. Especially compelling is an untitled work by Liz Cerejido, who for many years has documented her 77-year-old mother Helida's descent into the ravages of Alzheimer's. For her take on the imperfect archive, Cerejido covered a wall in slate gray and painted phrases in chalk over it, adding a sound element with a recording of her mother's voice. Although some of the works convey a deep sense of sorrow or nostalgia, none veers to the maudlin or morbid, which enhances the rhythm of the show.

Pivot Points, Part 3

Through November 8. Museum of Contemporary Art, 770 NE 125 St., North Miami; 305-893-6211; Tuesday and Thursday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesday 1 to 9 p.m., Sunday noon to 5 p.m.

Inside North Miami's Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), a flashy truck-size work by Paris-based collective Claire Fontaine beckons visitors to return often for more high-wattage displays. Titled Please Come Back, the dazzling piece spells out that exact phrase in fluorescent tubing in a darkened room. The piece is on view as part of "Pivot Points, Part 3" an exhibit curated by MOCA director Bonnie Clearwater that's designed to showcase the museum's approach to collecting since it opened in 1995. Since that time, MOCA's focus has been to acquire works by international contemporary artists that reflect seminal moments in their careers. The "Pivot Points" series of exhibitions is intended to mark the represented artists' evolution as well as turning points in contemporary art. The exhibit includes painting, sculpture, photography, mixed media, and video and light installations. Some of the works, such as Magdalena Abakanowicz's Head and Rita Ackerman's Firecrotch, are making their MOCA debut. Abakanowicz's unsightly noggin dates from 1974 and is one of the vaunted Polish artist's first pieces created from burlap. The huge sculpture resembles a giant's head with a Venus flytrap-like maw. Hungary's Ackerman presents an equally fierce image in her totemic mixed-media sculpture, which boasts a wolf's face inspired by her young daughter's drawings. The unsettling fiend appears to be a riff on man's brutish stereotypes, poking fun at violence in American pop culture.

Palley Pavilion for Contemporary Glass and Studio Arts

Ongoing. Lowe Art Museum, 1301 Stanford Dr., Coral Gables; 305-284-3535; Tuesday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday noon to 4 p.m.

Myrna and Sheldon Palley, who have collected glass for more than 30 years, gave the Lowe more than 150 pieces by 53 artists. Their gift is valued in excess of $3.5 million and is considered one of the nation's finest collections of studio glass. When the Palley Pavilion opened in May 2008, it marked the first expansion of the Lowe in more than a decade. The Palleys' comprehensive collection at the museum includes works by Howard Ben Tré, José Chardiet, Dale Chihuly, Dan Dailey, Michael Glancy, Harvey Littleton, Stephen Weinberg, Stanislav Labinsky, and Lino Tagliapietra, among others.

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Carlos Suarez De Jesus