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Art Beat: Local Art News.

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Fruit of the Vine

You don't have to go all the way to the Ufizzi to see a Caravaggio this week. William & Mary's Muscarelle Museum of Art is the first stop of "Natura Morta: Still-Life Painting and the Medici Collections," showing through Jan. 7.

If you like fruit bowls in dramatic lighting you're in business. The exhibit features 40 European Old Master works from painters of the Renaissance and Baroque periods of the 16th to early-18th centuries. The works normally live in Medici villas and various museums in Florence, but during this exhibit's U.S. tour, a new museum is being prepared for them in the village of Caiano outside Florence.

Special to the W&M portion of the tour is the addition of Caravaggio's sexually charged "Still Life with Fruit on a Stone Ledge." That's right, with the cloak of Catholicism in Italy in the 16th century, a squash spilling its seeds or the underside of a peach could represent a whole lot more. Don't say that gourd didn't turn you on.

Can We Get a Lift?

Gallery 5, that spunky kid sister of a gallery in the old Fire & Police Museum, is to the arts scene what YouTube is to the Internet. It gets a whole lot of traffic but hasn't yet figured out how to capitalize on it.

"We really want to let the community know we're not just a gallery … we're going to use [the facility] for the positive," says new marketing director Tiffany Beaver, a social worker by day.

Beaver says there are lots of ideas to expand programming, including art and dance classes, but the gallery's getting held up because it's not in compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act. That's holding it back from receiving grants.

The first order of business is a wheelchair lift, which will set the gallery back $30,000. A new fund-raising committee is in place to begin the plea. Any belated Santas out there?

Talking Art

Not content with simply making art, several local artists have produced art zines and presented them last month at the art fairs in Miami.

Four former VCU art students, including adjunct professor Tom Condon, helped put together Art Disk, a DVD magazine with short segments of video art and commentary from artists and curators. If you missed the screening at the Miami DIVA Digital Video Art Fair, you can find info about it at www.artdiskdvd.com and purchase the disk for $5 at photoeye.com/booklist.

John Henry Blatter and Derek Cote, two sound artists and sculptors, put out a zine called Daily Constitutional, which features artists taking back the forum and writing about art themselves. The third issue was distributed at the Scope Art Fair in Miami and can be found at www.dailyconstitutional.org.

Blatter and Cote also had two sound installations at Scope. One was a large crate visitors had to walk through to get to the fair. In that tunnel, the words New York were repeated over and over again until they became a jumble, appropriate commentary for the overwhelming experience of the fairs. S

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