Boca did a fantastic show of Purvis’ work several years ago. The current show is, well, hard to understand.
The Bad - The first problem is the location. I know the floor plan of that museum like the back of my hand, but after walking the whole museum, both floors, I could not find any of Purvis’ work. Was the show over? I eventually had to ask the woman at the front desk for directions. They seemed to agree that the paintings were hard to find. Purvis' work is under the main stairway, kind of an after thought or overflow space.
more after the break
Another reason I did not think to look at that space was that the museum included Purvis into a bigger show, one in which he didn’t belong, taking up the main first floor gallery. Although the museum advertised in print and on the web that it was having an Purvis Young show the truth is they are having a large exhibition of works by artists involved with three art organizations that work with developmental disabilities called “Create” and they some how tacked Purvis onto the end. Or that’s sure how it looked. Maybe I am being overly sensitive but the positioning of Purvis’ work within the main exhibition of Create was a disservice to the importance of the Miami artist.
Now the Good – The Boca Museum of Art deserves credit for once again showing this important local artist's work. They are continuing to support local artists unlike other museums that have turned their back on the local art community. The paintings are from the museum's permanent collection, donated by Barry and Gigi Fitzmorris and the Rubell Family Collection. The selections were all of the highest quality, spanned several decades and included most of Purvis’ important icons. The gift shop was selling books from the first larger exhibition that took place a few years ago and the staff all knew about Purvis and were able to talk about his work.
All in all it’s worth the trip if you are a fan of Purvis. Anytime you get to see his work in a museum setting with proper lighting its a thrill. GL
Boca Raton Museum of Art website here