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Bubbles of imagination in Pembroke Pines

The centerpiece of the new exhibit "The Sincerity Project: Home" is a 20-foot-long wooden house clogging up the foyer of Pembroke Pines' Studio 18. It's a monument to how local artists — and their imitators — interpret the comfort and conflicts of home. The house is constructed from 18 wooden panels painted by Miami's David "Lebo" Le Batard, Weston's Ruben Ubiera, Fort Lauderdale's Henning Haupt and other professional artists. Nearby gallery walls flanking the house, meanwhile, carry artistic interpretations of the same works by members of the special-needs community.

One panel, titled "My Head in the Clouds," belongs to North Miami's Monique Lassooij, who mounts a self-portrait set during her childhood in the Netherlands. The bottom third of the 8-foot-tall panel is a black-and-white depiction of Lassooij in her youth, seated next to schoolbooks and a teddy bear. The rest of the panel, hollowed out in the center to accommodate a window, offers a colorful contrast filled with peach skies, pink clouds, flying zeppelins and re-creations of works by Pablo Picasso ("Dora Maar With Cat") and Willem de Kooning ("Seated Woman").

"The panel represents my fantasy, my bubble of imagination and a very personal collage of memories as a young girl at home," Lassooij, 62, says. "Father was a bully, and life was clean, innocent, boring, very cloistered. But my mind was very vivid, and filled with Picasso and de Kooning and those zeppelins. My grandfather would smoke these fat cigars, and joked that the Germans stole his cigar model to invent the zeppelin because they didn't have imaginations of their own."

Home is the prevailing theme of the third annual "Sincerity Project," and proceeds of artworks sold during the May 30 opening reception will benefit the Pembroke Pines foster home Children's Harbor. About 65 amateur artists from seven special-needs groups, including students from Independence High School and Artists With Autism, have spent the past month re-creating the panels on framed canvasses and on sculptures that resemble dollhouses sliced in half, curator Jill Slaughter says.

"I really wanted to put a focus on foster children who age out of homes at 18," Slaughter says. "A lot of the established artists here are responding to home as a place where, maybe, they didn't always have a stable income. It's about how everyone deserves a home, no matter if you have a family or you're fostered. I think being an artist is an isolating experience, so having your work interpreted by a special-needs artist creates a special bond between them."

Diana Contreras' gritty-looking panel is an acrylic portrait of herself in the embrace of a man, whose head appears to be cloaked in shadow. In her accompanying artist statement, she writes: "I wasn't in a relationship when I started, so the male figure doesn't have a face. By the time it was completed, I was in love."

John DeFaro's "Home Tree Home" depicts a house nestled in the branches of an evergreen tree. Nearby, the painting is interpreted by special-needs artist Michael Hirsh, who zooms in on the house.

"They showed just the tree's heart and did a great job. I'm flattered beyond belief, and a little intimidated, actually," DeFaro says with a laugh. "They clearly enjoyed the movement in the artwork, and that speaks loudly."

The Sincerity Project: Home

When: Friday, May 30, through July 10 (opening reception: 7-10 p.m. May 30)

Where: Studio 18, 1101 Poinciana Drive, Pembroke Pines

Cost: Free

Contact: 954-961-6067 or Ppines.com/artsforcommunityengagement

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