Transport yourself into the cultural takes and travels of painters Gustavo Llenas and Perez Lee at Taste in College Park, which is hosting an opening party for the dual exhibition. It's been six years since Llenas, raised in the Dominican Republic, participated in a 1st Thursdays event at Orlando Museum of Art, which helped to boost his profile in the art community. Back then, Llenas said of his paintings: "I go for the emotion of the lines, or for the shadows, or the shape." Those works were more strikingly dramatic than what will be on show here, the results of five years of travel, mostly to South America.
Using a softer palette now limited to three or four colors, Llenas says his newer works reflect more of a sense of peace than pain. By immersing himself in ancient cultures and realizing that differences of religion have caused war for thousands of years, Llenas says that he's come to accept that "he cannot change the world, but the world can change him."
African-American artist Lee, who comes by way of Chicago, will display his colorfully jazzy paintings, with music by the New Orleans Jazz Ensemble providing the soundscape. (7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 12, through Oct. 31, at Taste Restaurant; free; 407-835-0646)
— Lindy T. Shepherd
We all back up important records, but 20 copies of a child? That's the choice of a father, performed by Tom Nowicki, courtesy of a mysterious and unethical cloning process, in the production of A Number at Mad Cow Theatre.
Where the resultant multigängers grew up is a bit vague, but after 20 years, the clones come marching in, one by one, all played by Daniel Cooksley. The five stages of cloning are represented — Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. Clone 1 begins the dialog with a plaintive appeal to his father — "If you're not really my dad, that's OK, too." His next brother seethes with anger, hoping to murder any nieces or nephews he might have. By the end, we find mild-mannered clone Michael, a man with a boring but pleasant suburban lifestyle including 2.3 kids and a dog.
A Number finds a disturbing strength in the creepy and effective set design and direction of David Lee. Eerie, unmelodic music underlies the text, and clever lighting silhouettes the actors as they enter and leave the interview room. Nowicki's evasive manner and constant mea culpa point to a clumsily concealed truth never revealed, and Cooksley's honest earnestness reflects our longing for the truth about our roots.
Unlike the science-fiction metaphor used to scare the public about a new world it fears, these clones are not a bloodthirsty army set to obliterate society. They are orphans, linked only by a sequence of molecules and separated by the individual life experiences that mold them. Nurture or nature? What a stupid question. It's BOTH. (7:30 p.m. Thursday-Sunday, 2:30 p.m. Sunday, through Oct. 29; $20; 407-297-8788)
— Al Pergande
‘The Anatomy Theater' by Nadine Sabra Meyer (Harper Perennial)
This eerie debut volume ought to be the talk of the town among morticians. Drawing inspiration from the anatomy artists of the 16th century, New Jersey poet Nadine Sabra Meyer wanders from dermis to duodenum, meditating on our "soul's chrysalis." If the Romantics were squeamish, Meyer is just the opposite, peering into the thoracic cavity with unflinching curiosity.
‘'What secret will he withdraw next?" she asks in the title poem, inspired by an ancient anatomy text. "The veined/balloon of her bladder, the umber stalk/of the umbilicus, the fetus's tiny froglike foot?"
From poem to poem, Meyer sketches a series of grim still lifes of cadavers and corpses; her delicate language oddly beautiful. "You can open her like a locket," she writes in "Flap Anatomy," "spring the clasp at her side, spread/her tiny silver hinge."
What is the more macabre, these poems ask, our bodies or our fascination with them? In the book's second and third parts, Meyer writes of her own moments on the operating table. "Driving between doctors I carry my ovary in my purse," she writes in "The Paper House," a poem about a sonogram. "I carry my photographs like a prize,/taking it out at stoplights."
Remarkably, for a poet writing about corpses, Meyer manages to make the body's ephemeral nature anything but a foregone conclusion. "Now,/I know the body's vacant/as a jack-o-lantern," she writes in "Dancing at the Moulin Rouge," "a place for hollow promises,/a clown's baggy suit,/the empty space behind a carnival facade."
— John Freeman
‘Process and Perception,' a talk by Jerry Uelsmann
If you haven't visited the Mindscapes: Earth and Sky exhibition by Jerry Uelsmann at Cornell Fine Arts Museum (continuing through Dec. 31), this special program is highly recommended as an introduction. The nationally renowned photographer, who's in his 70s and lives in Florida, is making a second visit to Cornell (he was at the opening) to accompany his work, which is all hand-manipulated in the darkroom and not a product of newfangled digital tricks.
Those unfamiliar with the developing process will be shocked and awed by what Uelsmann creates with cameras and chemicals. Before the affable artist shares the benefit of his experience and artistic vision, there will be a screening of a new documentary, Outside In: The Transformative Vision of Jerry Uelsmann by Daniel Reeves.
After taking in the filmed insight and his personal perspective, the sight of Uelsmann's expansive black-and-white triumphs splendidly mounted in the main gallery of the new museum will take you into a breathtaking new dimension. (6:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 12 at Bush Auditorium, Rollins College, Winter Park; $5; 407-646-2526)
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