Miami art this week: DNA science experiments

"The Visionary Eye"

Through January 15 at O. Ascanio Gallery, 2600 NW Second Ave., Miami; 305-571-9036;

"The Visionary Eye" features the work of eight contemporary and modern masters, including Jesus Soto, Carlos Cruz Diez, Alejandro Otero, Victor Lucena, Francisco Salazar, Carlos Cabeza, Victor Vasarely, and Bernar Venet. With the exception of Vasarely, who is Hungarian, and Venet, who is French, all artists in the show are Venezuelan and represent some of that country's biggest international names. The gallery also features an homage to Alfredo Boulton, a photographer, historian, and art critic who was an iconic figure in Venezuela and mentor to many of his compatriots who are exhibiting here. A major exhibit at Frost Art Museum that focuses on Venezuelan op art and geometric abstraction has created buzz for his own show, Ascanio says. Some examples on view include Otero's refrigerator-sized Tablón 40 from 1987 confected from acrylic over Formica affixed to wood. The painted-tile mixed-media piece, with its bland blue, yellow, black, white, and brown hues resembles a Brady Bunch-era frumpy housewife's kitchen backsplash. More imposing is an early '60s dishtowel-sized work by Cruz Diez in which the artist covers the surface with bristling fissures and sundry nuts, bolts, and what appears to be a giant clothesline pin. His enigmatic Physichromie from 1961, which boasts a boiled-lobster-red fan jutting from its surface like a wild field of bamboo stalks, is far removed from the artist's more elegant and polished kinetic work of recent years.

"Dream Catcher"

Thursday through Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.Through January 6 at Black Square Gallery, 2248 NW First Pl., Miami; 305-424-5002;

"Dream Catcher" is an exhibit showcasing work by Black Square Gallery's stable of artists, including Pablo Lehmann. The Argentine artist creates delicate lace or tapestry-like, labor-intensive works in which he literally carves out entire passages from books by Kafka, Freud, Borges, and Ecco on paper using a razor blade. The seamlessly curated exhibit also features works by Switzerland's Comenius Roethlisberger and Admir Jahic; Ukraine's Nazar Bilyk, Volodymyr Kuznetsov, and Zhanna Kadyrova; and the U.S.'s Taro Hattori. At the entrance to the gallery, one of Hattori's giant airplane installations greets spectators in a scene reminiscent of the attack on the Twin Towers or the crash of the Hindenburg. Hattori created the small Cessna-sized skeletal armature of a plane on-site out of cardboard pieces, leaving what appears to be the remainder of the fuselage scattered in a pile below the imploding craft. Also seeking to defy gravity are a few small, eye-catching The Flying Saucer installations by Roethlisberger and Jahic, who rely on industrial magnets to pull off their sleight of hand. The pair has suspended mundane crockery above stacks of books, and the ceramic plates spin eerily, recalling the cheesy opening credits of a B-movie during the early atomic age.

"Moving in Place"

Tuesday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.Through March 6 at Miami Art Museum, 101 W. Flagler St., Miami; 305-375-3000;

Susan Rothenberg marks her South Florida debut by straddling the divide between the figural and abstract with enigmatic works depicting animals and humans rendered from odd perspectives, often in midstride. The artist's first museum exhibit in more than a decade features a compelling selection of 25 canvases spanning Rothenberg's 35-year career. They range from her early galloping wild horse paintings of the '70s to more recent works that explore how the artist reconstructs the world around her with an approach she calls "frozen motion." The exhibition explores the evolution of Rothenberg's spatial concepts from early paintings such as Cabin Fever (1976), which depicts the simple outline of a horse jumping into action, to spinning and turning figures in the 1980s and early 1990s such as in Folded Buddha (1987–88) and Pin Wheel (1988), both major works from MAM's permanent collection. The exhibition also includes action scenes that emerged shortly after she moved from New York to a ranch in New Mexico, such as Dogs Killing Rabbit (1991–92) and Accident #2 (1993–94), as well as her most recent series of disembodied hands and arms swinging around the space of paintings like dismembered marionettes.

"Bruce Weber: Haiti / Little Haiti"

Tuesday through Friday 10 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Saturday and Sunday noon to 5 p.m.Through February 13 at Museum of Contemporary Art, 770 NE 125th St., Miami; 305-893-6211;

Bruce Weber: Haiti / Little Haiti" features a suite of 75 of the iconic fashion photographer's arresting images documenting members of the local Haitian community, many of whom have faced incarceration or risked deportation after arriving here. Weber focused his lens on Miami's Haitian community in Liberty City, Little Haiti, and other immigrant enclaves to capture the plight of those who have risked their lives crossing the Florida Straits fleeing political oppression or economic despair. Organized by MOCA's executive director and chief curator, Bonnie Clearwater, the images were snapped by Weber between 2003 and 2010. The exhibit features stunning portraits of individuals, groups, and families, as well as Miami's rising Haitian leaders, politicians, artists, and entertainers who have also posed for Weber over the past several years. "In his fashion shoots he captures what he sees in the models — beauty, youth, and strength. This holds true as well for his Haitian photographs. These images convey what he sees and admires in the Haitian children and adults he photographs — their strength, pride, resilience, elegance and beauty," Clearwater says.


Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesday 1 to 9 p.m., Sunday noon to 5 p.m.Through January 2 at Frost Art Museum, 10975 SW 17th St., Miami; 305-348-2890;

Just like the Richard Attenborough character in Jurassic Park, Xavier Cortada is toying with DNA deposits as part of his work. But there is nothing primal to shriek about in "Sequentia," his weirdly clinical solo show at Frost Art Museum, where he plans to create a live DNA strand in a petri dish with the public's aid. The exhibit features four large canvases depicting portraits of adenine, cytosine, guanine, and thymine. These are the nucleotides that comprise the four bases of a DNA strand. Part of the modest science project-like display includes a station with postcard reproductions of his abstract renditions of the nucleotides. Visitors can select one randomly, leaving their thumbprint and DNA on the card. The premise is for them to swap their card for an original Cortada drawing hanging in a plastic baggie grid arranged on the wall, thereby exchanging their genetic coding for a piece of art. As strangers add their DNA to Cortada's random sequence of cards, microbiologists clone the collected specimens in a lab as part of the show. It's one of those strange offerings where, unless you're a science geek, the artist may give you plenty to think about but, unlike the blockbuster dinosaur movie, little to look at.