People Under the Stairs

"People Under the Stairs" and "Vacuuming Gave Me Carpal Tunnel": Locust Projects cobbled "People Under the Stairs" in a fortnight, and despite the rush, the show fires on all cylinders. A quartet of locals tinkered with illusions of depth in the gallery space, at times tilling the field of commonplace, the domestic, and the downright dull with snappy one-liners that linger like residue on the mind. Manny Prieres's wall-gobbling phantasmagoric figures allude to incestuous developers hacking their ways across the city's skyline like demented fiends from a slasher film. George Sanchez-Calderon's stark wallpaper mural subverts the spectator's sense of perception, cryptically suggesting one is stuck in a weird transitional space with little if any means of escape. For anyone who's ever banged the noggin against a sliding glass door on the way to the patio, Ali Prosch freshens the lump with Untitled (Beaded Doorway), forcing viewers to walk across the same tightrope. To wrap the skull around Jen Stark's A Piece of an Infinite Whole, imagine a tornado blasting a traffic cone headlong into a wall, its innards bleeding concentric rainbow hues in a sculpture hinting at an infinite swirl where the end point might meet the point of origin. In the Project Room, Kerry Phillips twangs the cord of the everyday with "Vacuuming Gave Me Carpal Tunnel," her quasi-ironic show riffing on notions of domesticity and the growing gulf between technology and old-fangled know-how. — Carlos Suarez De Jesus Through February 28. Locust Projects, 105 NW 23rd St., Miami; 305-576-8570,

Su-en Wong: At Kevin Bruk Gallery, Su-en Wong parodies and pulverizes preconceptions of Asian women in a show that's both brazen and brainy. Mining the muck of porn fantasy, Wong clones herself in paintings and drawings in which she often appears nude or draped in suggestive schoolgirl regalia, turning the tables on Western stereotypes of Asian women as submissive sex objects. Wong's exquisitely rendered works mostly depict multiple self-portraits of the artist interacting with her many selves in a squirrelly, adolescent fashion. Although her pieces, at first blush, might seem to be mirroring the clichés of Asian women that the artist appears to abhor, Wong recasts her doppelganger dumplings on a stage where they work out the kinks and lob back their own notions of identity, gender, and rebellion — with a sting. Forget the subservient China dolls haunting The World of Suzie Wong and The Joy Luck Club; this artist's cookie-cutter characters romp across the same court as Gogo Yubari, the lethally skilled schoolgirl assassin in Kill Bill: Vol. 1. — Carlos Suarez De Jesus Through March 3. Kevin Bruk Gallery, 2249 NW First Pl., Miami; 305-576-2000,

Asian Art from the Bass Museum Collection and Treasures from the Bass Museum of Art: With a bushel of blue-ribbon shows, the Bass has embarked on perhaps its busiest programming season. Deciding on which shows to see among the museum's expansive menu might be as slippery as handling a hog in a greased-pig contest. But that is bell-clanging news. The Bass is featuring everything from Renaissance altarpieces to embroidered silk robes from the Chinese Imperial court and, like a country fair, boasting something for everyone. — Carlos Suarez De Jesus Ongoing. Bass Museum of Art, 2121 Park Ave., Miami Beach; 305-673-7530,

I'm So Much Better than You: Magnus Sigurdarson's installation features four tons of Miami New Times papers interlocked like bricks to form a curving hip-high wall. It houses a DVD player and monitor where the artist is seen performing a puppet show in Xiamen, China. Sigurdarson, who was born in Iceland, filmed the performance during a three-month residency there last autumn. Ironically Sigurdarson's installation at Javogue's space, with its imposing mass and volume, evokes a sense of the wall erected to separate China from the rest of the world. The work shares a relevancy with plans for a wall cutting off the United States from its neighbors to the south. — Carlos Suarez De Jesus Ongoing; by appointment only. Emmanuel Javogue Fine Arts, 123 NW 23rd St., Miami; 305-573-3904,

Karel Appel: In Memoriam: Nothing like kicking the bucket to make others appreciate a person — and this is doubly true for artists. In May the death of the Dutch abstract expressionist who helped found an art movement known as CoBrA (an acronym for the initial letters of the founders' cities of origin: Copenhagen, Brussels, and Amsterdam) inspired "Karel Appel: In Memoriam." As far as memorials go, this is an intimate one, composed of just eleven works from the museum's permanent collection. Despite its size, the exhibit not only honors the artist but also provides examples of his work in a variety of media. Though his work may be labeled abstract, it is not strictly so. Even in the pieces that come the closest to being nonrepresentational, there is at least the hint of object. With vivid colors applied in thick swipes and swirls, one untitled, undated oil painting (which is more nonspecific than abstract) might be construed as a portrait: Dark blue splotches suggest eyes; the rectangle at the bottom could be a mouth. Most works are abstract in the art term's original meaning — the reduction of the subject to a simplified form. The works exhibited have a childlike quality in their simplicity, expressiveness, and playfulness. — Marya Summers Through May 1. Museum of Art|Fort Lauderdale, 1 E. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale; 954-525-5500,

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Carlos Suarez De Jesus
Marya Summers