ArtCentric

Miami’s Accelerating Caribbean Connections

Miami is becoming a hub for contemporary Caribbean art. The city is in a geographically perfect location for this role, especially when Art Basel Miami Beach and its satellite fairs come to town.

At a planning session for Miami ArtTable meetings at Books & Books in Coral Gables that I held this summer, we talked about having a program devoted to this community's accelerating Caribbean connections.

A number of contemporary artists working in Miami have strong ties not only to Cuba but also to islands throughout the Caribbean, and Caribbean artists exhibit increasingly lively contemporary art in Miami.

Think of the recently published book, Miami Contemporary Artists by Paul Clemence and Julie Davidow. This beautiful book features over 100 artists connected to the city's diverse art scene, with ties to the Americas, Europe, and Asia. Many artists in the book do possess a strong Caribbean connection. Can you believe it--artists in the book hail from Haiti, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Cuba and the Dominican Republic!

The match between Miami and the Caribbean is MUCH more than one of convenience. Consider parallels between the city and these nearby islands. DREADFUL tropical storms batter both places. Both are places of BEAUTY and BRUTALITY.

Miami's cultural identity is diverse and evolving. Crime and culture are front-page stories here. Located in rough and lovely waters, islands of the Caribbean are also diverse: hard to count and even harder to define. They number about 27 island nations. Major languages are English, Spanish, French, and Dutch. Others are uniquely Caribbean, like Creole in Haiti.

Don't forget that some of these languages are spoken DAILY on Miami streets. And there are more parallels of brutality and beauty. Look on Caribbean streets and you will see distressing reminders of crowded slave ships in the past and glamorous cruise ships in the present.

Another reason why Miami plays an increasingly important role as a cultural hub for the region is that it's difficult for contemporary Caribbean culture to flourish and grow in a central place. Some islands are vexingly remote. Multiple strands of Caribbean art mesh in Miami.

You can encounter exhibits in Miami by artists with ties to contemporary Caribbean art at art fairs, Chelsea Galleria http://www.chelseagalleria.com/ , David Castillo Gallery http://www.davidcastillogallery.com/, Diaspora Vibe Gallery http://www.diasporavibe.net/, Edge Zones http://www.edgezones.org/, Farside Gallery (for info e-mail:farsidegallery@bellsouth.net) and Yeelen Art Gallery http://www.yeleenart.com/

There are MORE places in Miami to find arresting artwork by artists with ties to the Caribbean.
I want Artcentric readers of my blog about the Caribbean to post ideas about these places by responding to this blog. And I want directors of the galleries and non-profit spaces I just listed to respond to this blog by posting exciting news about what they and their artists are doing!

OF COURSE contemporary artists with ties to the Caribbean can respond too!

The time is now, so let's get started! We all know that forces of the contemporary Caribbean are converging in Miami!

2 responses to “Miami’s Accelerating Caribbean Connections”

  1. Stephanie Clayton says:

    This post hits home. I'm an American artist, living and working in the British Virgin Islands for the past 12 years. I guess you could say I have ties to Miami–I have property there, so I travel to the area frequently, where I've exhibited my work in the past. I attend as many art openings, exhibitions (including Art Basel and satellite fairs), lectures, etc. as possible during these trips.

    The more I visit this vibrant city, the more these Miami-West Indies connections become apparent. We will only see more of this as the Miami art "scene" expands, for there are few exhibition opportunities here in the Caribbean; and on my island, no actual galleries.

    Thanks for this interesting post.

  2. painttwits says:

    I'm all in favor of connecting artist directly to their fans Caribbean or otherwise. I'm building a website that aims to do this at http://www.painttwits.com. A full description of how this business model works can be found at the above website. The company profile can be viewed at http://www.crunchbase.com/company/painttwits

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