|Copyright Times Publishing Co. Dec 7, 2001|
Two new shows at the Gulf Coast Museum of Art respond in radically different ways to nature. But taken together, they offer something for the poet, the color-hungry artist, the sculptor, the mathematician and the child in all of us.
The child surfaces in the exhibit "Outside the Box: Eleven artists of MADI International," featuring Carmelo Arden Quin and Volf Roitman.
The MADI artists play with shapes, color and space in two- and three-dimensional works that move beyond the traditional window of the rectangular canvas. The geometric art is rich in imagination, incorporating diverse materials, moving parts and lighting.
The exhibit "Andrew Morgan: Paintings of the '90s", uses the rectangle to frame landscapes and still lifes drawn in mouth- watering color with sticks of oil bar. The one-time poet and former teacher now finds poetry in the landscapes of the Everglades, New Mexico and the Oregon coast.
The exhibits opened with an introduction by the artists Nov. 30. The speakers included Morgan, MADI artists Roitman and Octavio Herrera and Shelley Goodman, Roitman's wife and the author of a biography on MADI founder Quin.
The MADI movement - the origin of the name is a mystery - started in Argentina in the 1940's and reaches beyond painting and sculpture into free-form theater, poetry, books, dance and music.
"I think this one looks like a small-time machine or an old- fashioned radio," said Kia Wray, 9, of Largo, standing in front of one piece in the "Outside the Box" exhibit.
Eying another work, James Kaufman, 9, of Largo, said, "I think it looks like a future musical instrument."
But MADI artists aren't trying to imitate anything.
"What you see is what you get," Roitman said. "We don't have to imitate nature; a photograph shows it much better."
They take the basic, geometric shapes underlying nature and combine them in inventive and playful ways.
"I don't take me seriously, but I take seriously what I do," Roitman said. "That helps to keep a young state of mind."
Andrew Morgan is living his dream, painting full time on location or in his studio since 1988.
The boy who got hit on the hands with a ruler for drawing birds in class eventually found his love of art, but at first studied poetry and history in college and graduate school.
With a master's degree in studio art, he soon settled into a teaching career and taught for 17 years at the University of Miami in Coral Gables.
After a few years as a painter, Morgan discovered oil bars in 1991 and has worked exclusively in the medium for 10 years, the years covered in the show. The crayon-like form of the paint appeals to Morgan's drawing bent and he likes the direct and tactile result.
Morgan works from nature but said the point is not to attempt to reproduce it.
"What it does is give you a metaphor, a shape, a celebration of the landscape you've been dealing with," he said.
In July, Morgan will be 80. He said Ken Rollins, the executive director of the Gulf Coast Museum of Art, has promised another 10- year retrospective of his work when he reaches 90.[Illustration]