The underappreciated local artist ought to thank the Boca Raton Museum of Art for the 61st time. That’s how many times the museum has opened its doors to emerging talent through its annual All-Florida Juried Competition and Exhibition, the state’s oldest such exhibit.
The good news is there are plenty of artists in Florida. This year’s juror, Valerie Cassel Oliver, senior curator at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, had to sort through 1,500 submissions to select only 100 works by about 74 artists.
Most of the works on display came from Boca Raton, Miami and Delray Beach. (The bad news is there is only one week left before the show ends July 8.)
As in previous years, the museum has dedicated plenty of wall space in its ground floor for the show. Photography occupies most wall space, with only a few paintings and sculptures. Two video installations are also included.
Among the photographs, plenty are strikingly beautiful, computer-generated and digitally manipulated. Two women passing by noted the beauty of a particular shot, but also downgraded it because of its Photoshop perfection; I guess this is a dialogue that will keep coming up.
A woman’s left breast rests bare over cloudy white skin. The right breast has been surgically removed and replaced by a scar. The absence of the lost breast is emphasized by the size of the one present. This is not what you would call a beautiful shot, but there is beauty in its vulnerability. The piece, Survivorscape I (2012), is by Suzanne Khalil, a Boca Raton resident who is currently working on portrays of bodily disfigurement.
I walked past pretty shots of dancers, singers, amusement parks and beaches, and reached one digital photograph, Grand Central (2011), by Lemore Zausner of Delray Beach, that kept me busy for a few minutes.
I liked the little it gave or perhaps the fact that it gave little. There is a person, a man, standing on the platform of a train station. We only see waist down. His right hand holds a vintage-looking suitcase with a slight yellow tint. The man’s legs are perfectly aligned one next to the other forming a straight vertical line. He is not moving. Perhaps he is looking at a wall clock. All around him shoes and legs are seen rushing. The others have trains to catch. They are heading somewhere, which makes the man’s stillness a rare event. Is he waiting for his train? Has he changed his mind?
One of the most intriguing works is an installation consisting of laser-engraved calfskin vellum and music stands. Tampa-based artist Noelle Mason calls it Sonata (Nick Berg Beheading). Mason has taken the video footage of an Al-Qaeda beheading and stripped it of its visual content. The piece on display is a reinterpretation of this content as sheet music. Be sure to grab the headsets and play the audio.
Another installation worth some time is right at the beginning of the exhibit. Miami-based artist Alexandra Trimino likes to explore the gap between old things and new ways. In Binocular Disparity she has paired neon lights and plexiglas tubes with knitting and crochet. This is her way of forcing a connection between past and present.
The elements/materials clearly do not belong together and almost look uncomfortable, but if that point of discomfort can be overcome there is no reason why old and new technologies cannot coexist. At least here they do.
This was a show that was easy to like. If you enjoy pretty black-and-white photographs, you will have a nice time. But it was not a show that was easy to remember. Most pieces are easily forgotten because they remind you of something seen before and thus your brain does not work at retaining them. This was a show with no clear highlight. Nothing is truly new or daring, which is not to say the images do not speak of skill.
But keeping in mind that this is the show to feature Florida talent, it is impossible to walk out not feeling a little bit sad and somewhat disappointed. I, for one, left praying to the muses of Art that this is not all of it.
The 61st All-Florida Juried Competition and Exhibition runs through Sunday at the Boca Raton Museum of Art. Hours are 10 a.m. through 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday (closed Wednesday for Independence Day), and noon to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Admission is $8 for adults, $6 for seniors, and $4 for students. Call 392-2500 or visit www.bocamuseum.org for more information.