As the inaugural artist-in-residence at Cornell Fine Arts Museum, Leigh-Ann Pahapill created Likewise, as technical experts, but not (at all) by way of culture specifically for and at the museum. Pahapill's practice is to investigate the framework of reality – how we see what we see, and how presentation influences perception. The site-specific installation was inspired by the ideas of Bertolt Brecht, whose intention was to turn passive playgoers into active participants (whether they liked or expected it or not); for Likewise, Pahapill incorporated replicas of props created for Brecht's plays into a multimedia environment in CFAM's McKean gallery that similarly blurs the lines between spectator and actor. Likewise is a fascinating and thought-provoking project that demands much of the viewer; more than one visit may be required to fully take on board all of Pahapill's intentions (or to derive your own). It's part of an altogether encouraging trend toward more conceptually challenging art in Orlando, one that I hope takes root. This show closes April 8; learn more at rollins.edu/cfam.
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Also part of that trend is the latest entry in Orlando Museum of Art's bimonthly contemporary art series: Traversing\Suburban: Michael Dax Iacovone & Billy Friebele. The Washington, D.C.-based duo are inspired by the Situationist concept of “the drift,” an attempt to analyze life by documenting one's random movement through space. Friebele and Iacovone use manipulated photographs, video and Google street mapping to interact with and respond to their environment. (In his artist's statement, Friebele points out the ambulatory parallels between shopping at a big-box store like Target and browsing the web.) Traversing\Suburban explores Walt Disney World and Celebration, two “real” spaces that are utterly artificial; the commingling of the digital and the actual, of virtual reality and built environments, is provocative and unnerving. Learn more at omart.org.
In the minds of those who don't make art, the artist's studio can loom as kind of a mythical place, a magic forge of creativity from which strange and wonderful ideas spring. In reality, it's often a cold, messy room full of half-empty coffee cups and dirty ashtrays, but strange and wonderful things do still manage to spring forth. Twice a year, the McRae Art Studios, a warehouse at 904 Railroad Ave. in Winter Park that houses 22 local artists, spruces up for a sale and open house; this Saturday, March 31, is your chance to peek behind the curtain. From 5 to 9 p.m., wander (and shop) the working space of artists including Dina Mack, Lynn Whipple, Donne Bitner, Victor Bokas and McRae founders George and Marty Whipple. Inspiration is free; artwork is priced to move. Learn more at mcraeartstudios.com.