Photographer Larry Colby was browsing a street market last November in Cartagena, Colombia, when he spotted an elderly tourist wearing a cowboy hat and a canary-yellow shirt. The man, presumably bored, would toss up his hat with a neat flick and catch it on the descent. On the second throw, Colby snapped a picture.
"I followed his eyes and literally shot straight from the hip. It was that spontaneous. I got lucky," recalls the Boynton Beach artist, whose black-and-white image of the tourist, titled "Passing Time," captures the cowboy hat suspended like a halo above the traveler. "He could have looked like a child bouncing a ball off the wall. It was un-adult-like. I don't know what he was thinking, but I just saw the intense focus in his eyes."
If Colby counts himself fortunate to capture the image at all, the 40-year photographer was equally thrilled to have it accepted in the prestigious "All Florida Juried Competition and Exhibition" at the Boca Raton Museum of Art. The 62nd edition of Florida's longest-running juried show, which opened Wednesday and will close July 14, has 149 mixed-media works from 122 artists. This year's independent juror, Mark Scala, chief curator of the Frist Center for the Visual Arts in Nashville, says the works he vetted share little in common, save a rich affection for Florida's "cosmopolitan traditions."
"I saw a strong sense of the importance of family, an appreciation for nature and land and narratives about the immigrant experience," says Scala, who compiled the show from a crowded field of 1,600 submissions and 550 artists. "Next to the exhibit entrance, I placed this photograph of a woman with a suitcase, and that is a perfect symbol of the migratory nature of South Florida."
Scala split the works into seven sections, each stamped with an eye for whimsy, surrealism and perhaps a little perversity. There is the woman hovering in a sunlit window-frame overlooking the ocean in the photo "Le Cachou," from Weston artist Irina Dakhnovskaia-Lawton. The woman holds a photograph of a relative to her chest with one hand and a dog's leash in the other. The leash's collar rests on the ground next to the photograph of her dog and an open photo album.
"Mixed Memories," from Plantation's Judy Polstra, is a collage of unsettling childhood objects attached to the sculpture of a female, including frilly dresses and a pile of belts used to abuse the artist as a youth. In Gabrielle Wood's video installation "Disrupted Pleasure: Sweet," the Miami artist stands next to a birthday cake and begins unbuttoning her shirt to erotic music, revealing a lacy black bra and … a grotesque goiter protruding from her abdomen. Wood, biting her lip seductively, proceeds to feed mouthfuls of cake directly into the goiter, a statement she says, "confuses erotic pleasures and the stereotype of female objectification."
"It has a bit of shock value, I'll admit," says the 31-year-old artist, who has a companion video involving popcorn, titled "Disrupted Pleasure: Savory," in the show. "When people watch it, sometimes I just get puzzled looks and 'Oh, my Gods!' And sometimes, I get uncomfortable laughter, which is good because it is an uncomfortable subject."
All Florida Juried Competition and Exhibition
When: Through July 14
Where: Boca Raton Museum of Art, 501 Plaza Real
Contact: 561-392-2500 or BocaMuseum.org