Current Art Shows

Anne Chu: This exhibition begins with a wide tabletop full of short human figures based on funerary guardians from China's T'ang Dynasty. Carved roughly from wood, the figures are then painted with casein in a style that seems to draw from Impressionist watercolors. Indeed Chu's nearby watercolor studies, executed with admirable economy and freshness, clearly informed the carved works. Despite all the references to historical art sources, however, Chu's work has its own distinct personality. The stars of this show are her life-size marionettes, which dominate with their sizable physical and psychological presence. Long strands of rope suspend the heads and hands; many of them could be made to work, given a team of strong puppeteers at a high elevation. Chu's watercolor studies for them reflect the best traditions of both the Eastern and Western worlds. This dual-worldly existence that seems to transcend time animates her work with a courageous energy -- energy which makes this exhibit a tour de force. -- Franklin Einspruch Through July 3. Museum of Contemporary Art, 770 NE 125th St., North Miami; 305-893-6211.

The Artist's Studio: Paintings, Photographs, and Sculptures by Joe Fig: Fig's miniature constructions of artists' studios encourage voyeurism. Viewers are invited to peek inside the cloistered areas where artists struggle with creativity in isolation, a kind of sacred atelier immune to the outside art world. Fig manages to respect his real-life subjects by crafting delicate and tremendously detailed compositions that don't necessarily infringe on the artists' privacy. Rather they celebrate their talent and the setting in which they create most of their work. Glance into painter Chuck Close's studio, which, like Close's work, is realistic down to the smallest detail (there are even specific art magazines scattered across his desk). In Jackson Pollock's Long Island sanctum we see the artist pondering one of his action paintings laid out on the floor. -- Omar Sommereyns Through July 11. Bass Museum of Art, 2121 Park Ave., Miami Beach; 305-673-7530.

Good Titles from Bad Books: Walk by, lounge, chat, see and be seen. It's all part of the aesthetic experience. The Kevin Bruk Gallery, recently moved to a huge and handsome space in the heart of Wynwood, opened with a big two-exhibit splash. Among the many works (organized by Mathew Brannon) was Michael Phelan's Sunshine Daydream, suspended silver Mylar strips bunched together like plant tops; Carol Bove's What the Trees Said, an installation of an Eames shelf filled with books and objects (Nietzsche among them); Peter Coffin's Untitled (Orgy Photo, Diagram Colex), a clashing of magazines fun and serious; and a huge red banner by David Noonan. Liam Gillick added luster to the gallery floor with plenty of silvery glitter. The music touch was just right. -- Alfredo Triff Through June 11. Kevin Bruk Gallery, 2249 NW First Pl., Miami; 305-576-2000.

Robert Rauschenberg: Considered a central figure in late-twentieth-century art, Rauschenberg is also a long-time resident of Captiva Island, Florida. His recent work has begun to reflect distinctively local input: gators, punchy shadows, pink and green. His move to water-based media, inspired by safety and environmental concerns, forced his palette into a gentler range of intensity. This makes his new works more pleasant to look at than the saturated images he became known for, but the oomph has gone out of them as well. They're fun and lighthearted (the man is famous for being the same), but they seem to want for more resolution and gravitas. -- Franklin Einspruch Through July 3. Miami Art Museum, 101 W. Flagler St., Miami; 305-375-3000.

True North: The works of ten artists from upstate New York are wayward, pale-skinned travelers to sun-drenched Miami. The subtropical sun obliterates details and flattens forms in a wash of light, while the northern brand of winter sunlight meekly trickles through sealed windows at oblique angles to throw crevices, folds, moldings, and other crannies into relief. Drawings are delicately rendered on finery scrounged from thrift shops or the local historical society. Assemblage sculptures don't completely abandon their utilitarian origins. Hand-wrought crafts such as lace and ironwork are reverently appropriated. Bathroom mirrors printed with photographic portraits are nostalgic and precious. Overall the gentle observations offered by these artists are confined to a narrow range from the whimsical to the elegiac, nothing too flamboyant, but rather pensive, self-contained, even dour. Visit the gallery, located in Concourse E, just past the security checkpoint, and remember to phone ahead to obtain a pass. -- Michelle Weinberg Through May 8. mia Gallery, Miami International Airport, Concourse E; 305-876-0749.

Vernacular Secrets: In this new space for photo exhibitions, curator Julian Navarro presents California artist Dana Landau, whose work explores identity stereotypes and female self-perception. Landau's self-aware young female characters go out of their way to make us look at them. And so we assume they're posing, even when they pretend not to. These women go about their daily domestic chores inside claustrophobic spaces while coping with their obsessions of cellulite and a few extra pounds. -- Alfredo Triff Through May 14. Camera Obscura at Fabrikarte, 1165 SW Sixth St., Miami; 786-262-7853.

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