/ by Ernesto Kunde

"Abracadabra" Brings Art Magic to Hollywood

Feb 20th 2015

Hosted every year around winter/spring, the Art and Culture Center’s “Abracadabra” exhibition is probably the area’s only nonprofit fundraiser with a two-month shelf life and state-of-the-art resonance. As always, dozens of local, regional and national artists—there are more than 125 this year—created or donated original works for “Abracadabra,” which runs for five weeks. The artworks are then are raffled off to lucky ticket-buyers at the exhibit’s close, on March 13.

 

Art and Culture Center Curator Jane Hart says that this year’s raffle tickets, which run $375 each, sold out faster than in any previous year. Scanning this year’s entries, it’s easy to see why: “Abracadabra” 2015 is one of the strongest group shows I’ve seen at this experimental, cutting-edge venue. Whether you’re a raffle ticketholder or not, “Abracadabra” is worth your time as a zeitgeisty survey of popular trends, themes and mediums.

With shows like this, it’s impossible to gather everything together under a unified narrative; the multiplicity of voices is vast, crowded, and full of heterogeneous outliers. But Hart’s precise curation of the works, which cluster together in similar color palettes, tones and textures, ensures that they have a conversation with each other. If there’s no major connecting theme, subthemes emerge upon close reflection. The video art, for instance, seems cut from a similar apocalyptic cloth, even though each video was shot by a different artist—from Barron Sherer’s epileptic presentation of shuddery images on the fritz, to an explosive, fractured and relentless montage from the TIM sisters, to Clifton Childree’s provocative, exciting and drolly funny homage to silent cinema. There’s an urgency to all of this work, even its message is inscrutable.

 

Elsewhere, there is compelling photography and abstract art, mixed-media assemblages and kitschy neon installations. Jessy Night’s retro throwback “Dream Boat” hangs above a neon-lit curtain rod from Alex Trimino, which hangs near Peter Symon’s three-dimensional cloud; all seem like they came from the same ‘70s lounge, or from the set of “Inherent Vice.” Judy Poistra’s so-real-you-want-to-taste-it wedding cake is topped by two pairs of grooms, making for a joyous and timely celebration of gay marriage, smartly presented in front of David Rohn’s mysterious portrait of a partially hidden bride.

 

There are also the customary pieces of art that question the definition of art: a framed miasma of pink cotton candy, a single eyelash under glass, a deceptively fake banana tree with real bananas. As for my favorite pieces, if I were a raffler I’d be holding out for Antonia Wright’s humorous and/or horrifying photograph of a hand that seems to be reaching out from inside a severed tree trunk; Wayne White’s witty word painting “I’m Lost on a Spaceship, Momma,” in which the titular words gradually shrink until they disappear into the cosmos; and Francesco LoCastro’s dazzling “World on a Wire” (pictured above), a mind-expanding, futuristic abstraction on fiberboard.

But the beauty of this diverse exhibit is that no matter when your raffle number is called, you’re going to walk away with a winner. This year’s “Abracadabra” is just that good.

 

When you visit the Art and Culture Center, be sure to spend some time in its Project Room gallery as well, so you can absorb “Intertwined,” a series of idiosyncratic nature paintings from Ernesto Kunde, a self-taught painter from a Brazilian farm family. Inspired by the Everglades and Miami’s vanishing enclaves of nature, “Intertwined” is a personalized document of root systems and mangrove estuaries, viewed from among the weeds.

The viewer becomes as lost in nature as Kunde seems to have been when he painted them. Yet it’s an unfamiliar sort of immersion in a familiar land. By draining some of his paintings completely of color and saturating others in bright, artificial hues, he finds subjective abstraction in an objective setting. This bold, striking series prompts you to look again, and anew, at our dying ecosystem.

“Abracadabra” and “Intertwined” run through March 13 at Art and Culture Center, 1650 Harrison St., Hollywood. “Tom Virgin: Open Book” and “Kubiat Nnamdie: Looking Glass” are on view as well. Admission is $7 adults and $4 students, seniors and children ages 4 to 17. Call 954/921-3274 or visit artandculturecenter.org.