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Culture 2 Go

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Gloomy Bear - Jon-Paul Douglass' "Rain Bear," part of Snap Orlando's "Homegrown," at OMA through May 22

Orlando's art scene is always proving people wrong. No sooner do you think you have a handle on a given show - in this case, Snap Orlando's slick four-day "celebration of photography," which ended May 8 - than a hidden facet emerges to subvert your preconceptions.

Snap's "Homegrown," for instance: The small locals-only show hanging at Orlando Museum of Art through May 22 eschews the sharp edges of the larger Snap exhibits and events. (The main show, at Craig Ustler's GAI building, was an impressive collection of internationally established photographers.) This group of Central Florida artists offers images that are not all quite so polished, but certainly as lively.

The best pictures in this show (curated by Stephanie Latscu and Heather Comparetto) are grounded in a recognizable sense of place - indeed, befitting a show of Floridians, the strongest images involve water. The first photo, Comparetto's lushly hued "Medusa," is an underwater portrait, and a nicely cohesive group at the far end of the gallery (including John Deeb's "Naegleria Fowleri," Jon-Paul Douglass' "Rain Bear," Patricia Lois Nuss' "Venus in Waves" and Lesley Silva's "Once - Deluge") all place their subjects in water of one kind or another: a pool, a reed-choked stream, ocean waves or raindrops. Jennifer O'Malley's tough "Pygmalion's Garden," somehow vivid and faded at the same time, punctuates all that liquid with Floridian flowers, and Chase Heavener's "The Fourth, 2010" implies it, set on a dark beach with the ocean just out of frame.

At other points "Homegrown" moves into photojournalism, fashion editorial, digitally manipulated images and prints on canvas or wax. The inevitable flaw of group shows is that they're all over the place. Latscu and Comparetto meet their stated goals; the show is all photographs, all Central Floridian artists, and all the images speak to "perception and reality," Snap's 2011 theme. Yet these parameters aren't strict enough to forestall the slight jumble-sale effect of so many different styles crowding each other. This isn't a criticism of any of the images - I look forward to seeing solo shows from all of these artists, and indeed future shows curated by Latscu and/or Comparetto.

Big, glitzy fêtes and pick-uppy art parties are normal, even necessary parts of the local artosphere, but sometimes the work and the curatorial intent gets lost in all of the social networking. I'd rather visit a tiny white cube or brick-walled space: fewer hors d'oeuvres, fewer images crammed onto the wall, more thought and intention. Shows like "Homegrown" make it clear that we have the talent to support it.

- Jessica Bryce Young

In the arts world, the word "influence" is used most often to refer to ways that artists naturally impact the work of their peers. But two prominent members of Orlando's arts community are now ready to extend their influence on state artists in quite a different way. Last month, House Speaker Dean Cannon appointed Margot H. Knight and Chip Weston to the Florida Council on Arts and Culture, where they will serve as advisers to Florida's secretary of state for two-year terms on matters regarding grant funding, arts education and other cultural concerns.

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