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Seeing 'Red' at ArtServe

When the annual lowbrow-art show "Red Eye" opens Saturday at ArtServe, the gallery will feature the event's usual showcase and celebration of underground street, graffiti and provocative art.

During a visit to ArtServe this past Monday, as dozens of artworks decorated the walls, one pen-and-ink piece, visible from the gallery's entrance, certainly falls into that provocative camp: Frank Papandrea's "God Is On My Side," depicting Jesus standing on the opposite side of a fence from a sword-wielding Middle-Eastern man, who is …

"The Prophet Muhammad," says Papandrea, 63, of Coconut Creek. "The fence is a boundary that divides people and breeds hatred, and those are the things that need to be knocked down."

When asked if he was aware that an on-display artwork depicted the prophet, or that such illustrations of the religious icon are considered to be sacrilegious by some Muslims, "Red Eye" founder Byron Swart says he didn't speak to Papandrea beforehand.

"A lot of religious pieces come through 'Red Eye,' and I don't want to censor the artist. But given the circumstances, it's a bit of a problem," says Swart, who declined to say if the artwork will remain on display because "we're moving things around, and we're not finished yet."

When Swart is finished, he says roughly 60 mixed-media artists and 110 works will be on display at "Red Eye," with a "People's Choice" winner to be decided by audience vote during the exhibition's July 20 opening reception. That event will feature an avant-garde fashion show from designer Sharon Ali; the short-film festival Red Shorts; a blank doodling wall for visitors titled "The Peep Show"; spoken-word performances from local poet Renda Writer and others; Cans to Canvas, a graffiti program for "troubled youths" to tag up canvasses on ArtServe's Sunrise Boulevard-facing lawn; and performances by the bands Future Dinosaur, Speaking Volumes and Corey James Bost.

Found inside the gallery, meanwhile, is the show's usual elbow-nudging at pop culture. "Red Eye" includes portraits of Lady Gaga donning a clown wig; Darth Vader and Queen Amidala; and a cigarette-smoking depiction of Lucy from "Peanuts," sporting a gun and an "I Hate Charlie Brown" tattoo. Sunrise graffiti artist Sergio Quinonez, who operates as "Surge," paid tribute to Run-DMC with his diptych "Sucka MCs," presents hip-hop pioneers D.M.C. and the Rev. Run against an American flag background.

"There's no deeper meaning to this other than I grew up listening to them," Surge says. "They ushered in and revolutionized the sound."

With her installation "Shadows of Suburbia," sculpture artist Torche aims to combine social commentary and art: Towers of rusted, recycled steel will depict her concerns with America's urban decay.

"I feel like there's a splintering of social and family infrastructures that represent urban decay," the Fort Lauderdale artist says of her project, to be unveiled at the opening reception. "I'm drawn to raw beauty, and my art is not in your face like a palm tree on a canvas. What I love about installation art is just the pure emotion."

Red Eye

When: Saturday through July 27

Where: ArtServe, 1350 E. Sunrise Blvd., Fort Lauderdale (opening reception is 6-10 p.m. July 20)

Cost: Free

Contact: 954-462-8190 or

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