MIAMI: Revolving door or doorways to opportunity? – Winter – 2015

MIAMI:
REVOLVING DOOR OR
DOORWAYS TO OPPORTUNITY?

While some call the city’s evolving identity a revolving door, museum directors see doorways to robust opportunity when describing their institutions’ identity and goals.


Dr. Jill Deupi, Beaux Arts Director and Chief Curator

LOWE ART MUSEUM, UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI
Dr. Jill Deupi, Beaux Arts Director and Chief Curator

 

“With a world-class collection comprising nearly 19,000 objects and spanning some 5,000 years of history, the Lowe is a vital resource in Miami and beyond. We’ll inject our holdings with new relevance by connecting our encyclopedic collection to contemporary art and culture--such as ‘1 + 2: Colección Jumex in Dialogue with the Lowe Art Museum.’

“I’m excited by engaging contemporary and emerging artists to create new works in response to our holdings. Harnessing technology to further our mission is another goal: incorporating digital technology in galleries to enhance learning and exploring art made via new technologies. We can engage audiences by creating crowd-sourced shows.

“It’s important to me that the Lowe not only reflect Miami’s art scene but also engage with it. This means fostering curatorial practice that engages with contemporary art and culture and partners with individuals and institutions--artistic, educational, or civic--throughout Miami and beyond.”


 

Dr. Jordana Pomeroy, Director

PATRICIA & PHILLIP FROST ART MUSEUM, FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL UNIVERSITY
Dr. Jordana Pomeroy, Director

“The original mission of the museum was to educate and expose audiences to art throughout time. We can show a much more encyclopedic view of art history. One of my favorite things is a conversation among artworks sparking new ideas, making connections globally and chronologically. You might have Old Master works next to contemporary art, so that you see a continuity.

“We have now on the radar 20th Century America, 19th Century Europe, and of course Latin America. I’m interested in working with FIU faculty and perhaps other institutions to create collaborations based on their disciplines. For example, some wonderful artists have explored issues pertaining to physics.

“I’ve always been interested in university museums because they can be laboratories for exploration that perhaps a larger municipal museum couldn’t. It’s wonderful to be in a stimulating city with a vibrant art community. This part of the country embraces new ideas. There’s an exciting fluidity you wouldn’t necessarily get in a bigger, older art scene.”


 

Jeremy Mikolajczak, Executive Director and Chief Curator

MIAMI DADE COLLEGE MUSEUM OF ART + DESIGN
Jeremy Mikolajczak, Executive Director and Chief Curator

“Our programs must engage students of Miami Dade College and New World School of the Arts and the public. You’ll see more creative partnerships with local and non-local institutions; programs on Design, including functional, experimental, graphic, architecture, fashion; and exhibitions connecting South Florida present and past.

“We plan to exhibit and expand our extensive collection. We’re stewards of one of Miami’s most iconic structures, The Freedom Tower. On the first floor are historical exhibits by artists of Cuban descent.

“The museum, with MDC and NWSA, reflects the larger Miami art scene. Our swing/SPACE/miami series supports talented alums who began here before moving on to extensive careers-- including William Cordova, Michael Vazquez, Tatiana Vahan, Domingo Castillo, Alma Leiva. Many gaps must be filled before Miami becomes a major player in the art world--but we’re fast on our way. I don’t think you can only talk about art currently produced in Miami without talking about what ‘was’ and how we got to where we are.

“The history of Miami’s arts community is fascinating. A major initiative supports long-standing artists in the community, including Robert Thiele and recently deceased Robert Huff, both MDC professors in their younger years and pioneers in building the 1970s and 1980s artist community.

“Our mission is forever tied to artists and designers who’ve attended MDC or NWSA. We work with artists, designers, collectives and curators--locally or internationally recognized--to adapt and grow with Miami’s vibrant community.”


 

Silvia Karman Cubiñá, Executive Director and Chief Curator

BASS MUSEUM OF ART
Silvia Karman Cubiñá, Executive Director and Chief Curator

“Our mission is to present contemporary art to excite, challenge and educate--and we interpret the definition of contemporary art widely by including design, architecture, fashion as well as contemporary art in all media.

“We’re so lucky to live in Miami now. Our ever-changing city offers big challenges and equally big opportunities! Museums are coming of age in our young city. For the Bass, it is a priority to exhibit artists from Miami. We continually work with artists for individual exhibitions, such as Bert Rodriguez, Frances Trombly, Leyden Rodriguez, Manny Prieres and Hernan Bas; projects in Collins Park with Jim Drain, Agustina Woodgate, Christy Gast and Emmett Moore or group exhibitions, such as GOLD, including Cristina Lei Rodriguez, Martin Oppel, Carlos Betancourt and Patty Hernandez. GOLD travels to Neuberger Museum, so we’re proud that artists from Miami are part of it!

“Artistic excellence is essential. I believe museums in Miami do a very good job working with artists here. However, there’s always room for improvement, so we’ll keep working hard at this.” Does the Bass plan increased attention to the Miami art scene? “Yes, is the short answer. In fall 2015, the Bass begins construction of our expansion and we are planning programs for this period, so stay tuned.

elisaturn@aol.com





Miami Beach, City of Design & Architecture, Celebrating 100th Anniversary / Fall 2014

Miami’s Waterfront Transformed by Art & Architecture

You can always find a new view of Miami’s waterfront, thanks to its art and architecture.

Hailed as the “billion dollar sandbar,” Miami Beach has weathered its share of Florida real estate cycles of boom and bust. But thanks to its reputation for superb design and architecture, the city can prevail over these changing tides. Now more than ever: in 2015 Miami Beach celebrates its Centennial.

It’s billion-dollar boom time for Miami Beach.  This high-end sandbar bedazzles residents and visitors with the current wave of internationally famed design and architecture.  An international roster of “starchitects” are building here or have recently built iconic structures, transforming the city’s skyline with 21st century “Only in Miami” glamour.

Consider:  Arata Isozaki is now designing an expansion to Bass Museum of Art, Frank Gehry designed New World Symphony concert hall, and Herzog & de Meuron transformed search for parking into an architectural adventure with the extraordinary 1111 Lincoln Road parking garage.  Currently underway is Faena Arts Center by Rem Koolhaas. Commissioned but not yet built is Zaha Hadid’s landmark parking structure for Collins Avenue.

Design + Architecture + Art + Music + Transportation becomes a sure-fire combination delivering unique cosmopolitan cachet.

The Wolfsonian/FIU museum, in Miami Beach’s Art Deco district, is a not-to-be missed partner to this cachet. Its peerless collection assembles approximately 120,000 objects from 1885 to 1945, exploring how design shapes and reflects the modern world. The ongoing “Art and Design in the Modern Age” exhibit presents distinctive objects from the museum’s collection, from architectural models and decorative arts to books and paintings. 

“Miami Beach has always been a city in search of design and through design its identity. A spit of sand separated by Biscayne Bay without history or narrative, Miami Beach was primed for imposed structure and ornamentation.  Its buildings, parks and even its beaches are a modern invention. First came an Hispano-Moorish style followed by an Art Deco/Moderne impulse. Morris Lapidus made his mark, and now new eyes with new narratives will continue the story,” says Wolfsonian museum founder Mitchell Wolfson, Jr. 

On Miami Beach, the fair Design Miami/ turns ten this year. It’s  the foremost fair for collectible design, coinciding with Art Basel Miami Beach in December and Art Basel in Switzerland in June.

“The revitalization of Miami Beach, which heralded a new and exciting era for all of Miami, our City’s renaissance, was contrary to most new development in the United States at the time. It was all about architecture, design, art and style. The beautiful Art Deco structures, when adaptively used for our time, were all developed in a boutique style. They were distinct from mainstream commercial projects. This South Beach movement laid a foundation for how our city is perceived as a center for discourse on design today,” says Craig Robins, Dacra President and Principal of Design Miami/, which he owns in partnership with Art Basel producers.

Robins was a leader in revitalizing the Art Deco District in the 1980s, which had dwindled into shadows of its former 1930s glory.  It’s widely considered that the genesis for today’s boom in architecture and design is rooted in that prescient move to preserve Art Deco.

“From the blocks of restored Deco buildings in South Beach to the incomparable Herzog & de Meuron parking garage on Lincoln Road,” says Design Miami/ Executive Director Rodman Primack, Miami Beach is a wonderful place to present a fair about architecture and design, given that both Miami Beach and Miami have “amazing examples of both in the built environment.” 

New this year to Design Miami/ is Design Visionary award, celebrating someone with lasting influence in the field. Inaugural Design Visionary is Peter Marino, renowned architect and designer, also collector of design, visual art, and decorative arts. 

In December, Bass Museum of Art presents “One Way: Peter Marino.”  Marino pioneers the nexus of art, architecture, fashion, and design, commissioning artists to create artworks for his projects. The Bass exhibit will include installations by Jean-Michel Othoniel and Erwin Wurm. There’ll also be contemporary art from Marino’s personal collection, with works by Keith Haring and Andy Warhol.

In May 2015, Miami Beach gets another international dose of design, with the arrival of Paris-based design trade show Maison&Objet, aiming to reach North and South America.

“We chose Miami Beach for Maison&Objet Americas not only for its strategic positioning with quick access to some very important geographic areas, but also for the vibrancy and energy of the city. The Art Deco architecture coexisting so beautifully with the numerous starchitect projects has created a dynamic environment in which these creative endeavors can thrive,” says Philippe Brocart, Managing Director of SAFI, which owns Maison&Objet.

There’s no end to bedazzling design on the Beach. Happy 100th Birthday, Miami Beach!

elisaturn@aol.com

Frank Gehry’s Hat Trick chairs at the New World Center. Courtesy of the New World Center

Frank Gehry’s Hat Trick chairs at the New World Center. Courtesy of the New World Center

Teapot, teacup, and saucer, before 1945 (designed 1930–34) Wilhelm Wagenfeld , designer. Courtesy of the Wolfsonian Museum / FIU

Teapot, teacup, and saucer, before 1945 (designed 1930–34)
Wilhelm Wagenfeld , designer. Courtesy of the Wolfsonian Museum / FIU

Jean-Michel Othoniel, Black Rosaries, 2014, (detail of Site-Specific  Commission For One Way). Photo courtesy of Bass Museum of Art

Jean-Michel Othoniel, Black Rosaries, 2014, (detail of Site-Specific
Commission For One Way). Photo courtesy of Bass Museum of Art





Miami’s Waterfront Transformed by Art & Architecture / Summer 2014

Miami’s Waterfront Transformed by Art & Architecture

You can always find a new view of Miami’s waterfront, thanks to its art and architecture.

There’s much to see from the water, from both Biscayne Bay and Atlantic Ocean lapping at Miami Beach. At PortMiami, it’s hard to miss newly installed, soaring blue geometric sculpture Je Souhaite by John Henry. That’s just the beginning of unique treasures enriching the Miami skyline when seen from the water, from boats large and small. Take in all the remarkable sights: from historic Stiltsville houses in Biscayne Bay to iconic and luminous lighthouse sculpture on Miami Beach, from Vizcaya’s lavishly fanciful Stone Barge to graffiti-embellished Miami Marine Stadium.

Je Souhaite by John Henry is one of the first Miami sights greeting annually some four million cruise ship passengers when they disembark. Commissioned by Arison Arts Foundation and now part of Pérez Art Museum Miami collection, it’s one of Henry’s most massive and complex sculptures to date, standing 80’ high and weighing almost 70,000 lbs. The title means “I wish” in French. Its PortMiami placement, the artist notes, “is all about scale and presence. The cruise ships themselves are mammoth moving objects that are sculptural statements in and of themselves.” Although such massive objects pose tough competition, “they do leave port and Je Souhaite stands alone waiting to beckon them home once again. The connection between the two is both symbolic and literal.”

Beckoning visitors for years, wooden Stiltsville houses, with their wraparound porches, perch on stilts in shallow sand flats of Biscayne Bay. In fact, they’re an architectural precedent for glamorous PAMM. Even before coming on board as this museum’s director, Thom Collins recalls seeing images of Stiltsville in early PAMM plans by architects Herzog & de Meuron. The museum’s shaded wrap-around patio amplifies the open-air allure of Stiltsville a thousand-fold.

Stiltsville is “one of a kind,” says historian Paul George. This collection of modest houses, legendary destinations for fishing and drinking, is a favorite on his Miami tours. “There are seven homes left on stilts. They’re high up above Biscayne Bay. It’s gorgeous and tranquil. A Miami institution going into its 85th year, it’s a great getaway. Quite a view.”

Also offering quite a view is playful and colorful obstinate lighthouse by internationally admired artist Tobias Rehberger. Discover it in South Pointe Park, Miami Beach, adjacent to Biscayne Bay, where it “greets all the visitors that pass through Government Cut by boat,” says Dennis Leyva, Miami Beach Art in Public Places Coordinator. “The sculpture is a 21st Century interpretation of a lighthouse. Its striking presence enhances the waterfront.”

Vizcaya is yet another artcentric gem enhancing the waterfront. Stirling Calder, father of celebrated modernist sculptor Alexander Calder, was commissioned to design statuary resembling a barge for its breakwater. It’s a magnificent, oh so Miami creation. “As seen from the waters, Vizcaya emerges out of a dense forest and is unaffected by the urban development that has ensued since its creation one hundred years ago. This view preserves the lost-in-time effect that was part of the original design intent,” observes Vizcaya Museum & Gardens curator Gina Wouters. “Both a functional breakwater and the estate’s grandest folly, the Stone Barge is surrounded by the waters of Biscayne Bay. Entirely carved out of native coral stone, the mythical sea creatures and oversized grotesques that adorn the structure were designed by A. Stirling Calder in 1916.”

The folly’s flamboyant spirit resurfaced in 1962, when architect Hilario Candela designed Miami Marine Stadium. For three decades until closing, it was a beloved venue. Now, despite years of neglect, this Miami icon shines with more promise. In 2012, the National Trust for Historic Preservation designated it a National Treasure. It’s the city’s “most iconic building, a space that represents everything our city is,” explains Rosa Lowinger, architectural conservator. “It’s on the waterfront—actually in the water itself—designed by a Cuban American architect in the modernist style, and expressing everything our city was for years: a boat racing capital, a concert venue, etc. For the past 20 years, it has been abandoned, but young people have taken it up and created a new sort of cultural space—unscripted, uncurated and entirely cutting edge. The restoration of this building will generate a public space that will be Miami’s only version of the High Line—a true waterfront cultural and athletic venue—where you can actually access the water and enjoy the spirit that makes our city what it is.”

 

Miami’s a young city. No wonder historic roots dating back a century or less are evolving, reinventing the city’s remarkable waterfront

John Henry, Je Souhaite, sculpture, steel, painted blue, 80 H x 30 L x 30 W in. Collection Pérez Art Museum Miami, museum purchase with funds from the Arison Arts Foundation. Photo credit: Sid Hoeltzell. “Commissioned by Arison Arts Founation, Henry’s sculpture belongs to PAMM’s permanent collection.” ET.

John Henry, Je Souhaite, sculpture, steel, painted blue, 80 H x 30 L x 30 W in. Collection Pérez Art Museum Miami, museum purchase with funds from the Arison Arts Foundation. Photo credit: Sid Hoeltzell. “Commissioned by Arison Arts Founation, Henry’s sculpture belongs to PAMM’s permanent collection.” ET.

The Barge, (detail) sculpted by Alexander Stirling Calder (1870–1945). Located in the water in front of the Main House, the Barge is a monumental breakwater shaped as a boat and decorated with carving representing mythical Caribbean creatures. Photo by Bill Sumner. “Calder’s Stone Barge at Vizcaya is a magnificent, oh so Miami creation.”ET

The Barge, (detail) sculpted by Alexander Stirling Calder (1870–1945). Located in the water in front of the Main House, the Barge is a monumental breakwater shaped as a boat and decorated with carving representing mythical Caribbean creatures. Photo by Bill Sumner. “Calder’s Stone Barge at Vizcaya is a magnificent, oh so Miami creation.”ET"

Miami Marine Stadium, Virginia Key,1963, designed by Cuban architect Hilario Candela, the first purpose-built venue for powerboat racing in the United States. Photograph of Graffiti by Edgar Velasquez, 2013.” Despite years of neglect, Candela’s Miami icon now shines more than ever.” ET

Miami Marine Stadium, Virginia Key,1963,designed by Cuban architect Hilario Candela, the first purpose-built venue for powerboat racing in the United States. Photograph of Graffiti by Edgar Velasquez, 2013.” Despite years of neglect, Candela’s Miami icon now shines more than ever.” ET





Magic in Miami: Culture Converges Downtown / Fall 2013

 

Magic in Miami:  Culture Converges Downtown

Downtown Miami, with its majestic view of Biscayne Bay, witnesses a convergence of culture suited to Miami’s global profile. This culture-friendly convergence transforms our legendary Magic City, so that Downtown Miami increasingly becomes a place to live, work, and play.  Major cultural institutions lead the way for more to follow.  Both art and architecture contribute to this transformation.

There’s Pérez Art Museum Miami and its neighbor Patricia & Phillip Frost Museum of Science in Museum Park.  Nearby is MDC Museum of Art + Design, housed in historic Freedom Tower.  Also National YoungArts Foundation, housed in Bacardi Building and its surrounding campus, with radiant stained-glass covered building called “The Jewel Box.”  A signature icon of Miami on Biscayne Boulevard, the Bacardi Building is famous for its graceful blue and white tile-clad exterior.  Architect and YoungArts Artistic Advisor Frank Gehry reconfigures its campus with facilities to nurture young artists gathering in Miami from around the country.  Nearby Wynwood Arts District and Design District comprise a notable extension of the city’s growing cultural nexus downtown.  Adding to the mix is Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts.

Truly in sync with Miami’s diversity is a recent donation of art by prominent African-American artists, including Faith Ringgold, to Pérez Art Museum Miami. This joins distinctive contemporary and Latin American art already in PAMM’s collection.  Such diversity is further reflected in its exhibits for 2013-2014 season, featuring Amelia Peláez, Edouard Duval-Carrié, Ai Wei, Christo, Alfredo Jaar, Beatriz Milhazes, Bernice Abbott, and others.

PAMM’s new building designed by Herzog & de Meuron, facing Biscayne Bay, is a dynamic addition to the city’s evolving urban core.  It invites visitors to explore not only the art inside but also in Museum Park, a welcome haven of green space among skyscrapers.  Says PAMM Director Thom Collins: “The incredible support that Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs and Downtown Development Authority have given to the arts community has allowed culture to flourish downtown. I definitely see more and more artists, galleries, and art spaces choosing to make downtown home.”

MDC Museum of Art + Design, established in 2012, makes a mark in the arts community via programs with roots all over the map, including Peru, Cuba, Haiti, India, and Miami.  It’s housed in iconic Freedom Tower, a National Historic Landmark.  Architecture is elegant example of Mediterranean Revival Style, modeled after Giralda Tower of Cathedral of Seville. The building itself is a significant part of Miami’s history, having first housed the Miami News in 1925 and later, in 1962, served as a processing center for Cuban refugees.

Today, as a museum, it’s reinventing itself as forward-minded cultural player in a city actively reinventing itself for the 21st Century.  Recently it organized a well-received, overdue survey of Cuban painter Antonia Eiriz (1929-1995).  Showing leadership worthy of its high-powered neighbors, this MDC museum inaugurates a new exhibition series to showcase exceptional Miami Dade College and New World School of the Arts alumni. That’s “swing/SPACE/miami,” with five solo or group exhibitions a year. This new series adds to the city-wide impulse to provide opportunities for young artists.  It’s also connecting these young artists with those who began their studies here, but whose careers have often taken them far beyond Miami.  Among those featured in 2014 are Tatiana Vahan and William Cordova.

“The MDC Museum of Art + Design serves as a bridge to the past while exemplifying renewed commitment to cultural frontiers and civic preservation,” says Executive Director & Chief Curator Jeremy Mikolajczak. “It serves as a catalyst to the growing arts community within Downtown Miami while producing structures to support emerging talents from within the local landscape.”

National YoungArts Foundation is another vital addition to cultural synergy transforming Downtown Miami.  It’s dedicated to discovering the nation’s next generation of visual, literary, and performing artists by enhancing their talent with innovative opportunities. Architect Frank Gehry transforms the foundation’s iconic Bacardi complex into a pioneering arts campus.  YoungArts enlivens an entire block on Biscayne Boulevard by establishing multi-disciplinary arts facilities. This includes performing arts space, gallery, café, lounge, and park equipped with state-of-the-art video projection facilities.  Plans call for interdisciplinary programming all year:  classical music, jazz and spoken word concerts, also film screenings, exhibits, dance and theater performances.

“We hope that by creating a home for the community and emerging artists while working together with our neighboring, as well as national, arts and cultural institutions we can become a beacon for all of the artistic disciplines we support,” says Paul T. Lehr, YoungArts President & CEO.

Downtown Miami itself becomes a bold beacon for culture burning ever brighter.

Pérez Art Museum Miami building, designed by Herzog & de Meuron, opening in December 2013.  Courtesy Pérez Art Museum Miami.

Pérez Art Museum Miami building, designed by Herzog & de Meuron, opening in December 2013. Courtesy Pérez Art Museum Miami.

Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science. Grimshaw Architects, 2012. Courtesy of  Miami Science Museum.

Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science. Grimshaw Architects, 2012. Courtesy of Miami Science Museum.

The Freedom Tower at Miami Dade College. Designed by Schultze and Weaver, 1925. Originally constructed as the home for The Miami News, MDC's Freedom Tower is a beautiful example of Mediterranean Revival Style with design elements borrowed from the Giralda Tower of the Cathedral of Seville. Courtesy of MDC Museum of Art + Design.

The Freedom Tower at Miami Dade College. Designed by Schultze and Weaver, 1925. Originally constructed as the home for The Miami News, MDC's Freedom Tower is a beautiful example of Mediterranean Revival Style with design elements borrowed from the Giralda Tower of the Cathedral of Seville. Courtesy of MDC Museum of Art + Design.

 The Jewel Box. Designed by Ignacio Carrera-Justiz of Coral Gables, Florida in 1975, stained glass “tapestries,” designed by S.E.A.R. under the direction of Gabriel and Jacques Loire of Chartres, France and based on an abstract painting by German artist Johannes Dietz. Courtesy of National YoungArts Foundation.


The Jewel Box. Designed by Ignacio Carrera-Justiz of Coral Gables, Florida in 1975, stained glass “tapestries,” designed by S.E.A.R. under the direction of Gabriel and Jacques Loire of Chartres, France and based on an abstract painting by German artist Johannes Dietz. Courtesy of National YoungArts Foundation.





Will Miami Finally Embrace Latin America? / Winter 2013

Will Miami Finally Embrace Latin America?

As a dynamic city at the tip of Florida’s warm peninsula, will Miami at last acknowledge its special cultural and geographical position?

For too long, the cultural momentum embracing Latin America has stalled. “Yes, we have missed opportunities,” admits Miami gallerist Francisco Arevalo. Museums here have been criticized for lacking vision and leadership. They now experience unprecedented changes. Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) (formerly Miami Art Museum) opens in December with its new name and location; longtime North Miami Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) Director Bonnie Clearwater now leads NSU Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale; longtime Lowe Art Museum Director Brian Dursum steps down in 2014.

Surely the city’s ready to override the status quo.  Bass Museum curator José Diaz, who returned this year after leaving in 2008, notices important developments: “Miami now offers a variety of artist residencies. These residencies allow artists to experience Miami in their own way and for us to meet emerging talent.”

Nevertheless, major international museum exhibits of Latin American artists bypass Miami. This fall, significant exhibits of Antonio Berni, Mira Schendel, and Waltercio Caldas aren’t traveling here.

Why does this keep happening? Independent curator Elizabeth Cerejido offers her opinion: “There are no public institutions in Miami that have committed to the study and exhibition of the artistic production in Latin America, both from a historical perspective and from the context of contemporary art.  I think it’s ironic that Miami is perceived as ‘the gateway to Latin America’ with regard to the arts because few public institutions, if any, actively cultivate working relationships or exchange initiatives with the myriad of cultural institutions in the region. There is reciprocity on a much more ‘grassroots’ level—artists come and go between Latin America and Miami, collectors, etc., but at the institutional level there is still a huge gap and missed opportunity to create a systematic program that articulates a long-term vision for the study and collection of Latin American art within their broader institutional mission.”

Nathan Timpano, University of Miami art history professor who curated “Pan American Modernism” for the Lowe, thinks that gap can be closed. He notes that often such traveling exhibitions “are arranged through intricate networks and connections within the museum world, so it is likely that Miami will begin to attract major exhibitions devoted to art from Latin America in the next few years as PAMM, MOCA, and other museums become globally recognized as institutions devoted to Latin American art.”

Timpano, who teaches theory and criticism in art history courses at UM, adds: “The increased attention on Latin American art in academia is focused on training future art historians, critics, curators and museum professionals in this arena.” He counsels patience while waiting “for the next generation to enact change in Miami’s cultural offerings.”

Roc Laseca, independent researcher with PhD in art theory and cultural prospective from University of La Laguna, has since 2007 divided his time between Miami and Canary Islands. He’s seen growing interest in cultural issues here but wants more. Thus he’s involved with seminar “Latin Off Latin: Collecting Latin American Art Outside Latin America” at Ideobox Artspace.  “Miami is in a key situation,” he says.

María Del Valle, director of ArtCenter/South Florida, thinks that in terms of museums showing major exhibitions of Latin American artists, Miami is “far behind” Houston or Los Angeles. While Miami is indeed “gateway to Latin America” for business, she says this moniker doesn’t fit for culture. Del Valle seeks stronger Latin American connections: “I’m very interested in Central America. Small countries with a tumultuous history of war, genocide, extreme poverty have given us an impressive number of good, young artists. This is something we are going to explore at the ArtCenter.”

PAMM curator Tobias Ostrander says that although Miami cultural institutions have exhibited Latin American art and continue to do so, such efforts “have often felt inconsistent.” PAMM also promises substantive change. “The current program that we are developing at Pérez Art Museum Miami,” Ostrander adds, “seeks to integrate research about South American, Central American and Caribbean art into all aspects of our exhibitions, commissioned projects, time-based arts and education initiatives. The presentation of our permanent collection for the next two years is organized under the title AMERICANA and mixes works from North America, South America, Central America, and the Caribbean within thematic galleries that seek to both highlight and propose conceptual and formal links between artists working in these contexts.”

Will Miami finally embrace its cultural ties to Latin America in addition to the Caribbean? Time will tell, but signs look excellent.

Waltercio Caldas, Installation views of The Nearest Air: A Survey of Works by Waltercio Caldas. Co-organized by Blanton Museum of Art and the Fundação Iberê Carmargo, Brazil. (10/27/13 - 01/19/14).Photographs by Mary Myers.Courtesy the Blanton Museum of Art.

Waltercio Caldas, Installation views of The Nearest Air: A Survey of Works by Waltercio Caldas. Co-organized by Blanton Museum of Art and the Fundação Iberê Carmargo, Brazil. (10/27/13 - 01/19/14).Photographs by Mary Myers.Courtesy the Blanton Museum of Art.

Antonio Berni, The Great Temptation, or The Great Illusion, 1962, oil, wood, burlap, canvas, paper, ornaments, iron, cardboard, plastic, glass, glue, lithographic image and feathers on plywood, Malba–Fundación Costantini, Buenos Aires. © José Antonio Berni. Courtesy of the Museum of Fine Arts (MFAH) 11/10/13 - 01/26/14).

Antonio Berni, The Great Temptation, or The Great Illusion, 1962, oil, wood, burlap, canvas, paper, ornaments, iron, cardboard, plastic, glass, glue, lithographic image and feathers on plywood, Malba–Fundación Costantini, Buenos Aires. © José Antonio Berni. Courtesy of the Museum of Fine Arts (MFAH) 11/10/13 - 01/26/14).

Mira Schendel (Zurique, 1919- Sao Paulo, 1988) Graphic Object, 1967. Coleccion Patricia Phelps de Cisneros © mira schendel estate.Tate Modern (09/25/13 - 01/19/14).Courtesy of the Coleccion Patricia Phelps de Cisneros.

Mira Schendel (Zurique, 1919- Sao Paulo, 1988) Graphic Object, 1967. Coleccion Patricia Phelps de Cisneros © mira schendel estate.Tate Modern (09/25/13 - 01/19/14).Courtesy of the Coleccion Patricia Phelps de Cisneros.





Miami Line Spans City with Art / Winter 2012

On clear nights, Miami transforms rose and indigo twilight into a monumental canvas of black velvet sky. Then look for radiant jewel tones of “The Miami Line,” a magnificent public art work by Rockne Krebs, spanning Miami River as it runs through downtown to create a brilliant, soaring line of colored light pulsing through the city’s heart, casting a magical shimmer of ever-changing color on the river.  Water, light, color, line:  what could be more magically Miami?Just as “Miami Line” captivates those encountering its inspiring presence, so contemporary artists exhibiting in Miami, including Karina Peisajovich and Jaime Gilli, recognize bracing appeals of art constructed primarily with color and line.

 

Alejandra von Hartz, directing her own Wynwood gallery, says contemporary artists she exhibits often reinvent visual language of geometric abstraction, including David E. Peterson, Arthur Lescher.  Time-honored visual language indeed:  From 1934 to 1973, geometric abstraction in Latin American art was especially vibrant.  It’s easy to find in Miami art by Carlos Cruz-Diez, Jesus Soto, other Latin American Masters known for geometric innovations.  Of course, artists of many eras have investigated compelling powers of color and line.

 

Wide-spread presence of this approach for artists now, von Hartz says, “is a never-ending experience.  I see artists creating and developing new ideas every day. ” She presented Peterson’s aggressively minimal and curiously three-dimensional work at New York’s VOLTA art fair. She also represents Matthew Deleget, featured in a luminous exhibit merging rectangular forms, architectural space, and color: “Pictures at an Exhibition” at Cress Gallery of Art, University of Tennessee. Curator Ruth Grover praised Deleget’s art as “reductive abstraction,” providing “its own rich sensory experience in response to the broad plurality of our 21st Century world.”

 

Certainly international popularity of art fairs and biennials enhances ongoing dialogue between art history of geometric abstraction and current ways to make this language new for 21st Century. The Internet, with vast search engines making art and culture a vivid 24/7 digital experience, surely contributes further.

 

Perhaps incessant information from sources too numerous to name across the globe contributes to the appeal of takes on what both Deleget and Grover call “reductive abstraction.” This art may announce a need to reduce constant clutter everywhere.  Adds von Hartz, the art represents, “strong dialogue with different artists in different places around the world.”  Her gallery is “a launching  point for exploring abstract art in Miami,” says Bryan Granger, Bass Museum Knight Curatorial Fellow.

Also in Miami:  Find more such contemporary artists at Arevalo Gallery.  Director Francisco Arevalo presents art in handsomely designed gallery, epitome of reductive elegance.  Painting and sculpture in various media including stainless steel, canvas, wood by Brazilian artist Macaparana enhance sleek spirit throughout.  There’s playful, architectural elegance to his art.  “He was mentored by important artists from the Neo-Concrete movement in Brazil,” says Arevalo, adding that this movement of the late 1950s ended in 1961. It emphasized a bolder, freer style, reacting to strictures of Concrete Art.  Long-revered values of color and line still exert power today.  Macaparana reinvents a celebrated Latin American geometric tradition, particularly extending from Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela.

 

Arevalo Gallery recently presented “Extending the Line,” an exquisite exhibit featuring six American and European artists organized by Kaufman Vardy Projects.  Historically resonant language of geometry—color, line, space—is paramount.   Yet as curators Fran Kaufman and Ilana Vardy write, these artists “are keeping the conversation fresh and alive.”

 

Use of diverse materials is key. Consider works on paper by Gordon Moore with ink and gouache on photo emulsion paper.  His imagery challenges viewers to wonder if they see a shadowy photograph, tensile drawing, reed-thin sculpture or magical mixture of all three.  Constructions by Nan Swid are elegant, shockingly simple.  She works with old sheets of rice paper and materials gleaned from aging books and ledgers.  “She’s in the design world,” says Vardy.  Although her background is not rooted in art history, Swid is “finding beauty in geometry,” Vardy adds.

 

Deleget, artist and co-founder of innovative Minus Space in Brookyn, explains: “You see a lot of divergence, artists doing really engaging work all over the globe.  Alejandra foregrounds artists from South America. We show a lot of work from Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and, of course the States. Compelling work is being made everywhere and for totally different reasons by different artists with different contexts and histories.  And we totally embrace that. Forty years ago, the conversation about the art and its development was very monolithic, very linear.”

 

Clearly, ramifications of The Miami Line are anything but linear.

Gordon Moore, Untitled I, 2006, Ink, acrylic on photo paper in artist steel frame, 10 x 8 in. Courtesy of Betty Cuningham GalleryGordon Moore employs diverse materials to challenge viewers’ perceptions of form and depth. ET

Gordon Moore, Untitled I, 2006, Ink, acrylic on photo paper in artist steel frame, 10 x 8 in. Courtesy of Betty Cuningham Gallery
Gordon Moore employs diverse materials to challenge viewers’ perceptions of form and depth. ET

Matthew Deleget, Color Vulture - Detail, 2012, 3 off the shelf white canvases, red, yellow, and blue spotlights, Dimensions variable, canvases 24 x 20 in. each. Courtesy of Alejandra von Hartz GalleryMatthew Deleget has drawn acclaim for merging rectangular forms, architectural space, and color. ET

Matthew Deleget, Color Vulture - Detail, 2012, 3 off the shelf white canvases, red, yellow, and blue spotlights, Dimensions variable, canvases 24 x 20 in. each. Courtesy of Alejandra von Hartz Gallery
Matthew Deleget has drawn acclaim for merging rectangular forms, architectural space, and color. ET

Carla Chaim, Sin título (díptico no. 01), 2012, Oil stick sobre papel milimetrado (on japanese paper), 29 x 82 cm. Courtesy of CIFO (Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation)Carla Chaim reconfigures spare geometric forms with disarming simplicity. ET

Carla Chaim, Sin título (díptico no. 01), 2012, Oil stick sobre papel milimetrado (on japanese paper), 29 x 82 cm. Courtesy of CIFO (Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation)
Carla Chaim reconfigures spare geometric forms with disarming simplicity. ET





MIAMI: Central Marketplace for Modernist Cuban Art / Fall 2012

Nurtured by sunlight from this city’s warm smile, the Modernist Cuban art market flourishes in Miami.  Consider how abundant artworks redolent with Cuban-born talent converge in Miami and South Florida public art, galleries, museums, private collections.“Since Art Basel Miami Beach came here, Cuban art has become a new, interesting frontier for collectors,” says Janda Wetherington of PanAmericanArtProjects in Miami’s Wynwood.  “I see a lot of interest in Cuban abstract art from the early 1950s to early 1970s, including paintings by Guido Llinas.“Unquestionably, Miami is the center of Cuban art,” says Miami veteran dealer Ramon Cernuda of Cernuda Arte.   “The collector base of the city is impressive,” he adds, noting its increased commitment to art historic quality.  “By the late 1960s we started seeing some families who had income to buy art.  A South Florida museum is now planning an exhibit of Amelia Peláez.  It’s a very serious project,” Cernuda says.  He’s positive that to obtain loans for this exhibition, the museum will not have to look for many major artworks beyond local private collections.

A woman ahead of her time, Amelia Peláez (1895-1968) was a pioneer.  Peláez, with Wifredo Lam and Carlos Enríquez, belongs to a significant group of artists who began the modernist Cuban art movement in the 1920s. Often called Vanguardia painters, they were born around the turn of the 20th Century and witnessed political turmoil engulfing Cuba as it sought to become a sovereign nation. They were pivotal members of a Cuban generation defining its identity.

Most Vanguardia painters studied in Europe before returning to Cuba to paint some of their most renowned works. They fused Modernist styles of such European masters as Matisse and Cézanne with imagery reflecting their homeland’s architectural and Afro-Caribbean cultural traditions, adding generous dollops of brilliant color and jazzy linear rhythms.  Old World Modernist movements such as constructivism and surrealism became part of this unique New World art historical mix.

Miami’s central role as a market for Cuban art reflects the financial and social growth of the city’s Cuban American community, says Alejandro Anreus, art history and Latin American studies professor of New Jersey’s William Paterson University.  Recently Anreus delivered packed lectures at Cernuda Arte on second generation Cuban modernists Mariano Rodríguez and René Portocarrero.

 

Miami is a must-see marketplace for Cuban art, he adds, thanks to “the work of curators and art historians and galleries.” Their combined efforts demonstrate that “Cuban modernist art is part of the larger story of modernism in the Western Hemisphere.”  Moreover, Latin American art, Anreus explains, “is no longer viewed as a step-child but as an integral part of modernism.”

 

A new wave of Cuban modernist artists currently catches attention with curators and collectors, dealers and auction houses.   They’re best known for geometric abstractions, exploring hard-edge, clearly defined or “concrete” forms. Generally, these artists do not exult in so-called “hot tropical colors” often pervading paintings by Peláez and Portocarrero.  “The concrete artists from the 1950s were totally forgotten,” says Cernuda, “until a recent museum exhibition in Madrid, called ‘Cold America.’ That movement has really taken off.  It is now being collected at the national level.”

Presented at Madrid’s Juan March Foundation in 2011, “Cold America” tells the story of Latin American geometric abstraction from 1934 to 1973. It brings together some 300 artworks by over 60 artists from Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, Uruguay, Venezuela.  They took cues from artists like Mondrian and Alexander Calder to refashion their own take on this elegant, pared-down aesthetic.  Representing Cuba in this show:  Sandu Darie, also women Lolo Soldevilla, Carmen Herrera.

Several years ago, Herrera was the focus of a superb exhibit in Miami. Once shamefully overlooked, art by both Herrera and Soldevilla gains impressive cachet. “We bought a painting by Soldevilla about four years ago for about $1,000. We now have one going to market at auction with an estimate of $20,000 to $25,000. It will probably sell at the high end,” says Cernuda.  Compared to five years ago, the demand for her art now, he says, is “enormous.

So it goes in the Miami marketplace for Cuban art.  New discoveries, prices, exhibits are ever imminent.  Second generation modernists Mariano and Mario Carreño make waves at auction.  Like Peláez, Carlos Enríquez is overdue for a major exhibition, Anreus says.

Cuba excels in the visual arts. “We can no longer go by conventional boundaries of conventional geography,” Anreus adds.  “Cuban art can be made in Miami, Cuba,  Mexico City, Madrid—anywhere there is a Cuban making art, it is Cuban art.”

Lolo Soldevilla, Construccion, 1956, Madera, 24 x 34 in. Courtesy of Maxoly / Latin Art Core. Modernist paintings by Cuban-born Lolo Soldevilla increase in art historic value thanks to recent, pioneering exhibit on geometric abstraction in Latin America. ET

Cundo Bermudez, Ways of Performing, 2006. Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County/Ziff Ballet Opera House. Courtesy of Miami-Dade County Public Art Collection. Cuban Modernist painter Cundo Bermudez, especially revered for his work in the 1940s and 1950s, created a spectacular public art work for Miami.ET

René Portocarrero, Vista de La Ciudad de La Habana, (View of the City of Havana), 1970, mixed media on heavy paper laid down on board, 19 ¾ x 26 in. Courtesy of Cernuda Arte. Cuban modernist painter René Portocarrero brought a tropical sense of the baroque to his dense portraits of Havana, replete with his signature cathedral domes and spires. ET

Guido Llinas, Pintura Roja, 1961, Oil on canvas, 55.50 x 58.75 inches. Courtesy of PanAmerican Art Projects. Guido Llinas earned acclaim in the early 1950s in Cuba for his adventurous take on Abstract Expressionism before leaving the island to live and work in Paris.ET





City of Treasures: Art Collections Make Magic in Miami / Fall 2011

Miami’s illustrious art collecting has roots in an outrageous vision: why not make magic from mosquito-filled mangrove swamps lining Biscayne Bay? In 1910, industrialist James Deering began work on designs for Vizcaya, now a Renaissance-styled bayfront mansion with gardens and National Historic Landmark. In 1917 famed artist John Singer Sargent portrayed Vizcaya in watercolor. Vizcaya now plays host to outstanding contemporary artists by commissioning new art. Today, many art collections in this Magic City enrich the city’s cultural choices. Art collectors themselves make essential contributions to Miami’s cultural infrastructure by providing wonderful exhibits, funding others at museums and schools. They champion art endlessly. Together with our city’s performing arts venues, art collections do indeed magnify Miami magic.

These “big four” maintain public hours and informative websites.

Rubell Family Collection has been active here since 1993. Transforming a DEA Agency warehouse in the once-unsung Wynwood, RFC not only generates exhibitions beyond Miami but provides the city with educational resources and changing opportunities to view its contemporary art collection. It features signature artists of our day: Jason Rhoades, Cindy Sherman and Andy Warhol.

Martin Z. Margulies established Margulies Collection at the Warehouse to showcase his legendary holdings in photography, painting, video, installation art, and sculpture. These include classic examples by Miro and Noguchi, as well art from such innovators as George Segal and Ernesto Neto. The Warehouse provides lectures and guided tours. Laudable feature: Admission fee supports Lotus House, a Miami shelter for women and children.

Another Wynwood treasure: World Class Boxing. Named for gym once housed in this building, WCB exhibits Debra and Dennis Scholl Collection, a varied gathering of contemporary painting, drawing, sculpture, and photography. It’s museum quality. You’ll find intriguing art selected by curators in Miami and beyond, as well as promising new art created for WCB.

Nearby in Design District is de la Cruz Collection Contemporary Art Space presenting collection of Rosa and Carlos de la Cruz. The building’s elegant, airy design enhances its bold contemporary art; this collection pays special attention to artists Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Jim Hodges and Ana Mendieta. Significant lectures are offered. Bonus bringing new energy here: It teams with New York’s SculptureCenter to create artist residency program in Miami.

As we know, magic has many manifestations. Some you see. Some you don’t. The following collections are infrequently seen by the public yet still magnify Miami’s cultural magic.

Also in Design District is Craig Robins Design Collection, filled with insightful connections between fine art and fine design. A distinguished urban treasure, it features historical and contemporary designers with unique and limited edition objects from 1940s to present day, including work by celebrated “starchitect” Zaha Hadid.

Dr. Arturo and Liza Mosquera Collection carries special resonance in Miami. Much of its art seeks to unravel or illuminate tangled ties linking the city to Cuba. With impressive historical reach, it includes work by Guido Llinás and Maria Brito. In a moving presentation, it was shown at Miami Dade College’s Freedom Tower. Ella Fontanals-Cisneros, of Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation (CIFO), is another collector making her mark downtown. The international character of her contemporary collection embraces photography and other media; it includes Latin American modernists Gego and Mira Schendel. Irma and Norman Braman Collection, one of the city’s most established, is famed for its Modern and contemporary art, especially by Americans. Also known for Modern and contemporary art: Aaron I. Fleischman Collection.

Diversity has always been a hallmark of Miami, and so too for its art.

Fascinating collectors Manita Brug-Chmielenska and Randy Burman is art constructed with found objects, whether or not artists are formally trained. Their diverse collection is international, with art by Liliana Porter and Robert Rauschenberg, achieving a Miami mystique with art by Edouard Duval-Carrié and Purvis Young. Jay and Jean Kislak Collections encompass many treasures. The Jay I. Kislak Collection, now in the Library of Congress, focuses on history and cultures of early Americas. The couple’s personal interest ranges from historic objects to painting by Frida Kahlo to sculpture by Alexander Calder to photography by Shirin Neshat. Jean Kislak’s own collection focuses on life and times of a long-ago British Empire beauty.

Vilma and Behrooz Garabaghi Collection embodies the collectors’ global love story traversing Iran, Africa, and Italy. Impressively diverse and museum quality, this collection mixes African masks with textiles from Central America and Africa. Stunning textiles have been shared with University of Florida Harn Museum. The Lowe Art Museum of University of Miami has borrowed many objects.

Collections in Miami clearly know no bounds. Why not start yours?

Jason Rhoades Untitled (Chandelier), 2004. Glass, wire, neon, Plexiglas, fabric and plastic. Variable dimensions. Courtesy of Rubell Family Collection. Rhoades rocks the status quo with glitzy sexuality.

George Segal Subway, 1968. Plaster, metal and glass. 7 ft. 4 in. x 9 ft. 5 in. x 50 1⁄2 in. Courtesy of Martin Z. Margulies Collection. Segal rescues poignant urban moments.

Carla Klein Untitled, 2005, 70 x 157 in. Courtesy of Debra and Dennis Scholl Collection. Klein may suggest a world of diminishing possibilities.

Ana Mendieta Untitled (Sandwoman Series), 1983. Sand and binder on wood 55 x 26 x 3 in. Courtesy of de la Cruz Collection. This reveals Mendieta’s enduring fascination with indigenous lore of Cuba.





Support Miami Art Schools: Sail with Genius / Winter 2011

Nurtured by sunlight from this city’s warm smile, the Modernist Cuban art market flourishes in Miami.  Consider how abundant artworks redolent with Cuban-born talent converge in Miami and South Florida public art, galleries, museums, private collections.“Since Art Basel Miami Beach came here, Cuban art has become a new, interesting frontier for collectors,” says Janda Wetherington of PanAmericanArtProjects in Miami’s Wynwood.  “I see a lot of interest in Cuban abstract art from the early 1950s to early 1970s, including paintings by Guido Llinas.”

“Unquestionably, Miami is the center of Cuban art,” says Miami veteran dealer Ramon Cernuda of Cernuda Arte.   “The collector base of the city is impressive,” he adds, noting its increased commitment to art historic quality.  “By the late 1960s we started seeing some families who had income to buy art.  A South Florida museum is now planning an exhibit of Amelia Peláez.  It’s a very serious project,” Cernuda says.  He’s positive that to obtain loans for this exhibition, the museum will not have to look for many major artworks beyond local private collections.

A woman ahead of her time, Amelia Peláez (1895-1968) was a pioneer.  Peláez, with Wifredo Lam and Carlos Enríquez, belongs to a significant group of artists who began the modernist Cuban art movement in the 1920s. Often called Vanguardia painters, they were born around the turn of the 20th Century and witnessed political turmoil engulfing Cuba as it sought to become a sovereign nation. They were pivotal members of a Cuban generation defining its identity.

Most Vanguardia painters studied in Europe before returning to Cuba to paint some of their most renowned works. They fused Modernist styles of such European masters as Matisse and Cézanne with imagery reflecting their homeland’s architectural and Afro-Caribbean cultural traditions, adding generous dollops of brilliant color and jazzy linear rhythms.  Old World Modernist movements such as constructivism and surrealism became part of this unique New World art historical mix.

Miami’s central role as a market for Cuban art reflects the financial and social growth of the city’s Cuban American community, says Alejandro Anreus, art history and Latin American studies professor of New Jersey’s William Paterson University.  Recently Anreus delivered packed lectures at Cernuda Arte on second generation Cuban modernists Mariano Rodríguez and René Portocarrero.

Miami is a must-see marketplace for Cuban art, he adds, thanks to “the work of curators and art historians and galleries.” Their combined efforts demonstrate that “Cuban modernist art is part of the larger story of modernism in the Western Hemisphere.”  Moreover, Latin American art, Anreus explains, “is no longer viewed as a step-child but as an integral part of modernism.”

A new wave of Cuban modernist artists currently catches attention with curators and collectors, dealers and auction houses.   They’re best known for geometric abstractions, exploring hard-edge, clearly defined or “concrete” forms. Generally, these artists do not exult in so-called “hot tropical colors” often pervading paintings by Peláez and Portocarrero.  “The concrete artists from the 1950s were totally forgotten,” says Cernuda, “until a recent museum exhibition in Madrid, called ‘Cold America.’ That movement has really taken off.  It is now being collected at the national level.”

Presented at Madrid’s Juan March Foundation in 2011, “Cold America” tells the story of Latin American geometric abstraction from 1934 to 1973. It brings together some 300 artworks by over 60 artists from Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, Uruguay, Venezuela.  They took cues from artists like Mondrian and Alexander Calder to refashion their own take on this elegant, pared-down aesthetic.  Representing Cuba in this show:  Sandu Darie, also women Lolo Soldevilla, Carmen Herrera.

Several years ago, Herrera was the focus of a superb exhibit in Miami. Once shamefully overlooked, art by both Herrera and Soldevilla gains impressive cachet. “We bought a painting by Soldevilla about four years ago for about $1,000. We now have one going to market at auction with an estimate of $20,000 to $25,000. It will probably sell at the high end,” says Cernuda.  Compared to five years ago, the demand for her art now, he says, is “enormous.”

So it goes in the Miami marketplace for Cuban art.  New discoveries, prices, exhibits are ever imminent.  Second generation modernists Mariano and Mario Carreño make waves at auction.  Like Peláez, Carlos Enríquez is overdue for a major exhibition, Anreus says.

Cuba excels in the visual arts. “We can no longer go by conventional boundaries of conventional geography,” Anreus adds.  “Cuban art can be made in Miami, Cuba,  Mexico City, Madrid—anywhere there is a Cuban making art, it is Cuban art.”

Guido Llinas, Pintura Roja, 1961, Oil on canvas, 55.50 x 58.75 inches. Courtesy of PanAmerican Art Projects. Guido Llinas earned acclaim in the early 1950s in Cuba for his adventurous take on Abstract Expressionism before leaving the island to live and work in Paris.ET

Lolo Soldevilla, Construccion, 1956, Madera, 24 x 34 in. Courtesy of Maxoly / Latin Art Core. Modernist paintings by Cuban-born Lolo Soldevilla increase in art historic value thanks to recent, pioneering exhibit on geometric abstraction in Latin America. ET

Cundo Bermudez, Ways of Performing, 2006. Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County/Ziff Ballet Opera House. Courtesy of Miami-Dade County Public Art Collection. Cuban Modernist painter Cundo Bermudez, especially revered for his work in the 1940s and 1950s, created a spectacular public art work for Miami.ET

René Portocarrero, Vista de La Ciudad de La Habana, (View of the City of Havana), 1970, mixed media on heavy paper laid down on board, 19 ¾ x 26 in. Courtesy of Cernuda Arte. Cuban modernist painter René Portocarrero brought a tropical sense of the baroque to his dense portraits of Havana, replete with his signature cathedral domes and spires. ET





Miami Curators Sparkle This Season / Winter 2010

Creative curators thrive in Miami. They create a compelling theme and story to pique the...

...interest of people looking at an art exhibit in a museum, gallery, private collection, or art fair. Creative curators thrive in Miami. They create a compelling theme and story to pique the interest of people looking at an art exhibit in a museum, gallery, private collection, or art fair. They select art and artists to illustrate related aspects of that story, in all its intriguing variety. Smart curators find stories to tell with art and imagery that linger in our minds.

By looking at exciting exhibits developed by Miami curators, we see it’s the season for culture to sparkle like stars on clear Miami nights. “We wanted to know who we were and how do we relate to each other,” reflects independent curator and artist Gean Moreno. He thinks exhibitions, especially those curated by Rene Morales and Ruba Katrib, answered those questions. “Now we want to know: how do we stand together in a globalized world?”

In Miami, Moreno investigates the local community and world at large, noting how they intermingle. There’s a grandly “glocal” spectrum of talent here. For Dennis and Debra Scholl collection, at World Class Boxing in Wynwood Arts District, he’s curated “Drawn and Quartered.” It offers an engaging look at photographs from this collection. Reflecting an international focus, artists range from Thomas Demand to Cindy Sherman.

Moreno draws inspiration from talent in Miami, as well as New York, Bogota, and London. For the MIA Art Fair www.mia-artfair.com he’s curated “Improvised Architectures,” placing Miami at the evolving nexus of an expanding art world network. No other city is as widely represented in his show as Miami. It includes artists Christy Gast, Adler Guerrier, Nicholas Lobo, Ernesto Oroza, and Viking Funeral. Caribbean culture, re-invented in Miami, is a rising global star: Oroza hails from Cuba and Guerrier from Haiti.

Miami curators create opportunities to shine online. Anthony Spinello of Spinello Gallery www.spinellogallery.com curates “Littlest Sister,” the smallest art fair in town, www.littlestsister.com, emphasizing Miami. Ilana Vardy curates “Arts for a Better World” www.artsforabetterworld.com . Both website and Wynwood Arts District exhibit, this project resolves to make a difference in our digital age. Vardy’s show unites artists from across the Americas, Europe and Africa, and includes painting, photography, sculpture, and video.

Yes, ‘tis the season for Wynwood Arts District to sparkle, especially for its private collections. Katherine Hinds curates shows for Margulies Collection at the Warehouse www.margulieswarehouse.com. Highlights: “Africa: Photography and Video,” with over 250 works, and “Michelangelo Pistoletto: Broken Mirror Paintings.”

ease the luster. At Alejandra von Hartz Gallery www.alejandravonhartz.net, von Hartz presents “New Paradigmes: Marta Chilindrón,” art inspired by geometry and games, and “Colagens: Henrique Oliveira,” paintings inspired by his work at the 29th Sao Paulo Biennial in 2010. Von Hartz challenges old-hat assumptions regarding Latin American art by placing sculptural, abstract work within a global context. Then there’s Nina Johnson of Gallery Diet www.gallerydiet.com . She’s curating a show of paintings, also sumi ink drawings, by Nathlie Provosty. See www.nathalieprovosty.com.

This season, curatorial energy transforms Museum of Contemporary Art www.mocanomi.org.

Consider “Bruce Weber: Haiti/Little Haiti,” part of the museum’s vaunted Knight Exhibition Series, curated by Bonnie Clearwater. Timely and tumultuous, it offers about 75 photographs of Miami’s Haitian community by Bruce Weber, recording immigration struggles. Though Weber’s famous for fashion shoots for Vogue, he’s earned cred as a street photographer. Also for MOCA, Ruba Katrib curates “Open Process,” featuring young Miami artists Autumn Casey, Domingo Castillo, Jessica Laurel Arias, and Tatiana Varhan.

At Bass Museum of Art www.bassmuseum.org, Silvia Karman Cubina curates “Fabric Workshop: Selections from the Collection,” bringing to Miami textures from the unique Philadelphia museum.

Curators here develop shows beyond Miami. Indeed, creative thinking from the “Magic City” could rock the world. Arthur Dunkelman, curator for Jay I. Kislak Foundation www.kislakfoundation.org, puts together “Enchantress: Emma, Lady Hamilton” for Grolier Club in New York. Culled from Jean Kislak collection, it shows how a beautiful woman played a pioneering role in English history. Independent curator Tami Katz-Freiman plans show for Nivi Alroy for 4th Fresh Paint Contemporary Art Fair in Tel Aviv www.freshpaint.co.il.

In this shining season for Miami curators, the crowning moment: independent curator Rina Carvajal belonged to the curatorial team for the 29th Sao Paulo Biennial. Presenting work by 159 artists from several countries, the exhibit suggests how art spurs thinking about our time and place in history. We cannot ignore vital connections between art and politics.

The Biennial’s haunting title: “There is always a cup of sea to sail in,” from Brazilian poet Jorge de Lima. In Miami, there are always new curatorial perspectives to salute.

Saludos, Artcentric Miami!

Mario Garcia Torres, The Variable Dimensions of Art,. Commissioned by the 29th Sao Paulo Biennial.Garcia Torres, admired for revisiting history, was commissioned to create this by the 29th Sao Paulo Biennial curatorial team, in which Rina Carvajal participated

Keren Love Francois, Miami, Florida, 2010 © Bruce Weber, Weber’s photography, discussed in catalogue essay by curator Bonnie Clearwater, reflects his awareness of ongoing struggles in Haiti.

 

Cindy Sherman, Untitled, 2002, 23 x 30 in. Debra and Dennis Scholl Collection. Selected by curator Gean Moreno, photography by Cindy Sherman has often questioned traditional roles of women.

Henrique Oliveira, The Origin of the Third World, 2010. 29th Bienal de São Paulo. Wood, PVC and metal, 16.07 x 147.63 x 16.40 ft. Curator Alejandra von Hartz presents this collaged, painterly installation by Oliveira, which offers a metaphor for urban fabric.





Public Art miami: Missing the Boat? / Winter 2009

How is it that boring and derivative artwork by the alarmingly prolific Romero Britto and others clutter public spaces in Miami?

How is it that artcentric cities in the Midwest like Chicago and Des Moines know how to invigorate urban spaces with an engaging mix of greenspace, art museums, architecture, and sculpture by noted contemporary artists?

Why is this not happening in Miami? It is exceptionally hard to understand, especially when we have spectacular public art in the collections of Miami Beach and Miami-Dade County. This paradoxical situation is even harder to understand when Art Basel Miami Beach and its satellite art fairs come to town. How can we truly think of our city as a significant art capital when, after these fairs depart, there is not enough civic awareness of these wonderful public art collections, and we still have too many uninspired public artworks cluttering our urban landscape?

This shortcoming is particularly noticeable in the winter months, when Miami’s already clogged expressways become even more hectic with visitors. Often they come here because they are charmed by our balmy winters. Yes, we are still the beguiling city by the bay “where summer spends the winter,” as a tourist brochure once claimed.

Yet Miami is a city of rampant urban sprawl and suburbs so distant from downtown that they encroach on the Everglades. It’s not uncommon to hear stories of alligators gobbling up small pets. Miami is a city aspiring to artful sophistication, yet it tragically lacks intelligent urban design.

Why don’t we have a network of pocket parks thoughtfully placed among the canyons of condos and office towers crowding downtown Miami? This would be a welcome use of greenspace for city dwellers, workers, and pedestrians. These pocket parks could be enriched by significant public art. Downtown Miami should also be graced by a substantially artful public park, engaging and open to all. If this happens in the Midwest, why not in Miami? I recently spoke to Dennis Leyva, Arts & Entertainment Liason for Miami Beach Tourism & Cultural Development, about the wonderful public art collections in Miami Beach and Miami-Dade County. We bemoaned the fact that all too often we see visitors to the Arsht Center downtown and travelers at Miami International Airport rush past astoundingly breathtaking works by Barbara Neijna and others. They are too busy trying to reach performances and planes on time to see the art. But in their haste they miss one of the most memorable and ongoing performances in all of Miami—public art. “It’s really an undervalued aspect of our community,” says Leyva. He would like to see “more community outreach making people aware of what is around them. It’s great public art.” A great idea would be to create a free application for iPhone and BlackBerry with information about public art in Miami, with an interactive map like the Google one and a brief description of each artwork. The user, local or visiting, would download the application and have access to the information in a fast, friendly and easy way. This could let more people learn about the art enlivening our streets, plazas, airport and cruise terminals. The application could be promoted online and at the airport and cruise terminal.

A truly “killer app” in this case would be if specially-commissioned made-in-Miami music accompanied the information about public art---not to interfere, but to enhance. Perhaps music students at New World School of the Arts could assist?

We are fortunate that our city is graced by public art by contemporary artists like Roberto M. Behar and Rosario Marquardt, Michele Oka Doner, and Wendy Wischer. We also boast the art historical treasure of “Cheval Majeur” by Raymond Duchamp-Villon, on a plaza just steps from two museums and the Main Library.

Each one of these artists is clearly far more talented than the ubiquitous Britto. All the living artists I just mentioned have worked in Miami, a magnet for creativity. Artists like these should be supported with more public art commissions throughout the city. This is a lasting benefit for everyone coming here to work and play.

These artists deserve more venues and funding for creating public art. Moreover, we must have sufficient funding to care for our outstanding public art, so that aging artwork doesn’t decay. Then we all can share and enjoy Miami’s artcentric wealth.

At last, we will be the art capital we have always wanted to be. We will not miss the boat on our own bonanza of public art.

Doner takes artful cues from beaches in Miami. Michele Oka Doner A Walk on the Beach, 1995 and 1999. Concourse A, Miami International Airport Miami-Dade County Public Art Collection .

Wischer seems inspired by Miami’s dazzling light and water. Liquid Measures. S.W. corner of Third Street & Washington Avenue, Miami Beach.To be installed by Spring 2010. Miami Beach Public Art Collection.

Behar and Marquardt mark the spot for made-in-Miami art. Roberto M. Behar and Rosario Marquardt, R & R Studios M, 1996. Riverwalk Metromover Station. Miami-Dade County Public Art Collection

This art historical treasure is near museums and the Main Library. Raymond Duchamp-Villon. Cheval Majeur, 1914. Painted Bronze Miami-Dade County Public Art Collection





Summer Smarts in Miami: Feel the Heat / Summer 2010

Summertime in Miami is more than a scalding stroll on South Beach with glamazons and guys.

For years the city has sung a siren call to forward-minded folks with visionary smarts. Looking at the world, they ask, “Why not?” Even when naysayers shriek, “You can’t do this because it’s never been done!” Over two decades ago Miami naysayers tried to block Christo and Jeanne-Claude from stretching 11 miles of pink fabric across Biscayne Bay to create the sparkling “Surrounded Islands.” Thankfully those visionary artists didn’t listen. Look at the legendary legacy they created for Miami in May 1983.

Recently I sat in the turquoise kitchen in the Little Haiti home of another visionary artist, the mercurial Miralda. We shared memories and laughs. It’s been some time since our paths have crossed for his shows with Miami Art Museum and Centro Cultural Espanol. Once again the forward-minded CCE exhibits his art.

We spoke about his summer show in Madrid, with the Reina Sofia at the Palacio Velazquez in the graciously green Retiro Park. It starts with the first audacious public projects he created in Paris to startle the status quo. From the beginning, his art has involved festivals, processions, and performances.

It incorporates some of his most recent art: the “imaginary museum,” as he calls the Food Cultura Museum, exhibited in Germany.

“Miami was the beginning of this project,” he tells me. It’s about trying to combine all the “wonderful diversity of Latino countries.” Like so much of his art, this encourages people to notice how food infiltrates ways we interact with language and popular culture found in jokes, poetry, religion, magic. “Miami was the very beginning of the whole thing,” he adds. “I really need to say Cesar Trasobares is part of that.”

The fabulous fusion you find in Miami fascinates him. “I moved here because of this cross-cultural situation,” says the Spanish-born artist. For him, Little Haiti is an endearing part of “the large urban fabric of Miami.”

Like Christo and Jeanne-Claude, this internationally celebrated artist has made a mark on urban fabric throughout Miami and the world.

A much younger artist in Miami is starting to do the same, garnering attention on opposite sides of the globe. Look at paintings by Diego Singh, an Argentine-born artist. Find them at Fredric Snitzer Gallery in Wynwood and Tomio Kayama Gallery in Japan. They mix geometry with hints of human figures. Though many think abstraction and figurative forms are poles apart, Singh boldly mixes the two types of painting in a single canvas, signaling his highly original gifts with eye-popping colors.

Robert Chambers has long rewarded Miami with his forward-minded, original talents. He’s used astonishing materials , ranging from abandoned machine parts to a helicopter, to fashion absolutely riveting installations that you can’t forget. This summer he’s making a mark on international waters—how very Miami of him! As Mariangela Capuzzo, artistic director for International Corporate Art in Miami, explains, his installation art “is one of the main features on board Eclipse, Celebrity Cruise’s next ship.” When you read this, it’s probably sailing far from England.

At Miami International Airport, lucky travelers explore the outstanding public art work “Foreverglades” by Barbara Neijna. Made over ten years, it was produced in elaborate facilities in four countries.

Walking through this vast artwork, you’ll see how Neijna forges a spectacular fusion of form and color with glass, stone and photography. It’s as unique as the Everglades, so near to our sprawling urban fabric. Like the book River of Grass by Marjorie Stoneman Douglas, a visionary crusader for the Everglades whose words weave through this public art, “Foreverglades” is a poetic gem.

More gems that sparkle, even scald like Miami summers: retablos by Nicario Jimenez in University of Miami office of Steven Stein. Stein thinks Jimenez suffuses this Peruvian folk tradition with outrage in art by Spanish master Goya. Shaping tiny figures partly made with potatoes, Jimenez describes horrific human rights abuses by Shining Path guerrillas in his native Peru. Having witnessed these atrocities, he came to Florida in the early 1990s, adapting this tradition to evoke problems suffered by undocumented immigrants in this country. The UM Wesley Art and Sciences Gallery and museums around the country have shown these retablos, says Stein, adding that the Smithsonian Institution owns them.

When anti-democratic forces explode everywhere, from power grabs by Chavez in Venezuela to Internet woes for Google in China, why don’t these Goya-esque retablos have a MUCH brighter pride of place here in Miami?

As a shrewd Miami Dade College student reminded me, you have to think.

Yes, I’m thinking, but remain clueless about why our crusading summer smarts STILL do not shine brighter in Miami.

That tradition REALLY smarts.

Robert Chambers, The Eclipse Pearl, 2010, Vessel: Celebrity Eclipse, inaugural April 2010, South Hampton, England 37 ft h X 37 ft w x 30 d Courtesy of R. Chambers. Installation art by Chambers amazes with its original ideas and striking materials.

Diego Singh “The assistance”, 2009-10 oil & acrylic on linen 96” x 72”, Courtesy of Fredric Snitzer Gallery in Wynwood. With sumptuous colors, Singh boldly mixes abstraction with the human figure.

Barbara Neijna, Foreverglades, 2007 Concourse J, Miami International Airport Miami-Dade County Public Art Collection Evoking the rare beauty of Florida’s Everglades, Neijna’s richly-textured public art is vast and very remarkable.





When the Chips Are Down, Miami Plays a Dynamite Hand / Fall 2009

Miami has always been a place alluring to folks who dare to dream on a grand scale and place equally grand bets that those dreams will come true. Think of America’s Gilded Age titan, Henry Flagler, who slapped the lust for living large into Miami, once a muddy swamp at the turn of the 20th Century. Undaunted by huge challenges, he brought his Florida East Coast Railway to Miami in 1896, paving the way for countless visitors and riches to follow.At the turn of the 21st Century, the heart of Miami is true to this spectacular tradition. Never mind the gloom and doom pervading the art world, with museums cutting budgets and staff and galleries closing everywhere you look. When the chips are down, leave it to Miami to play with a dynamite hand. As preparations around town gather speed for the arrival of Art Basel Miami Beach and its satellite art fairs, Miami art lovers and artcentric visitors can relish stunning offerings in their midst.

Stopping first in Miami is the traveling show “Guillermo Kuitca: Everything, Paintings and Works on Paper, 1980-2008.” Co-organized by the Miami Art Museum and other institutions, it promises to be a remarkable survey of the multi-tasking talents for which this outstanding Argentine artist is known.

Kuitca possesses a vibrant flair for melding music and mapmaking, theater and topography. Those of us in Miami merit a special treat: MAM is hosting “Guillermo Kuitca: Everything (else)” at Miami’s Freedom Tower. This features his recent art inspired by Wagnerian opera and the dramatic fusion of light, space, and image.

An exquisite architectural landmark, the Freedom Tower offers more art this season with two shows providing incisive looks at the metaphorical and truth-telling powers of photography. “Tetraology: Lies, Adaptation, Tracing and Duplicity as Identity” explores compelling photography recently created by Maria Martinez-Cañas. It is curated by Gean Moreno. As both artist and curator have long ties to Miami, the show reveals the city’s deeply-rooted talents.

Then there’s “Invasion 68 Prague.” Documentary street photography by Josef Koudelka explores the historic 1968 week in Prague when Soviets crushed cries for freedom animating Czechoslavakia and the world. With images never seen before, this exhibit is co-produced by Aperture Foundation, Magnum Photos, and the Art Galleries of Miami Dade College. “We found that combining two different forms of photography from Miami and Europe becomes a very interesting mixture during Art Basel,” says Jorge Gutierrez of Miami Dade College.

At the Bass Museum of Art is “Where Do We Go From Here? Selections from La Collección Jumex,” drawn from the famed Eugenio Lopez Alonso collection in Mexico. Iconic images by Andy Warhol and Swiss artists Peter Fischli and David Weiss mingle with internationally-known contemporary art. Co-organized by the Bass with Contemporary Arts Center of Cincinnati, this show is a further example of how the Basel season in Miami becomes a dynamite hand for our city’s artcentric natives and visitors. It is co-curated by Bass director Silvia Karman Cubiña. Of course, this much-anticipated show arrives here first.

But as superb art comes and goes from Miami museums in an era darkened by a historically battered economy, one exceptionally bright spot now gleams. This is the opening of the Carlos and Rosa de la Cruz Collection in the city’s Design District. Three floors of richly varied art promise to lure art lovers and students long after art fairs depart. Special attention goes to artists with profound ties to Miami: Ana Mendieta and Félix Gonzalez-Torres. This collection, along with its library, is open to the public for free.

It has all the hallmarks of an outstanding community resource, especially in Miami where museums don’t have space to show their permanent collections permanently. “I think people do like to look at a permanent collection,” says Rosa de la Cruz. “I do not want to do shows. There’s no curator here pushing any agenda. I think people are hungry to spend an afternoon looking at art just for the sake of looking at art,” she adds. “It is going to make a difference in Miami.”

Years pass, yet this is still the same eye-catching story: To make a difference sure to dazzle, people place spectacular bets on Miami.

Kuitca paints maps on beds to evoke restless dreams of nomads. Guillermo Kuitca, Untitled, 1992, acrylic on mattress with wood and bronze legs, 20 beds, each: 15 3/4 x 23 5/8 x 47 1/4 in. Courtesy of the Tate Collection.

 

Layers of poetic imagery mark photography by Martinez-Cañas. Maria Martinez-Cañas,'Tracing: Untitled [06

Warhol recalls a tragic moment in history. Andy Wharhol, Jackie (Smiling), 1964, Synthetic polymer paint and silkscreen ink on canvas, 69.8 x 59.7 x 6.3 cm. Courtesy of the Jumex Collection.

Timeless links to body and earth resonnate in art by Mendieta, Silueta Works In Iowa NO.GP 0421-7, 1976, Color Photograph. Documenting Earth/Body Work With Sand, Blood Executed in Iowa, 20 X 13-1/4, Courtesy of de la Cruz Collection Contemporary Art Space.





Surviving Dark Days: Cut to the Core of Art, Create New Friends / Spring 2009

As pundits bicker whether Obama’s stimulus package will rescue taxpayers or reward bad banks, art warriors ponder their next steps.Opportunities abound for creative souls who cut excess, see exciting avenues where others see dead-ends, and make new friends leading to new funding sources.

I asked artists, curators, art dealers, and collectors for their best advice about how artists, art galleries and other art venues can survive the global crisis. In e-mails and phone conversations, I received prudent and impassioned ideas for keeping art spirits shining during dark days.

What follows is a chorus of creativity. Some responses are edited for brevity. Others are so direct they dazzle.


Hans Ulrich Obrist, curator of Serpentine Gallery, London

My advice is to believe in art.

Steve Shane, collector, New York

Lower the prices. Art heals!!!! Wear comfortable shoes.

Wendy Wischer, artist, Miami

Be creative in how to make money to live on and grow with our art. Challenges encourage us to expand our ideas. It’s time for true avant-garde thinking.

Dennis Scholl, collector, Miami

Get back into your studio. No more knocking something out for an art fair because your dealer is bugging you. Now is an opportunity to think about what your practice is, where it is going and why.

Paul Clemence, artist and author, Miami

I see much movement toward the hospitality business, in hotels, cruise ships, and even hospitals. These businesses have art budgets. It’s time for artists to invest in their careers, develop their craft, and explore websites for selling and promoting their art, like www.20x2000.com

Ray Azcuy, artist, Miami

Artists can think cooperatively and share information about grants.

Bernice Steinbaum, dealer, Miami

It’s important to show what he or she thinks is important and will have a place in art history. Educating your constituents is as much a part of your job as selling art. Ways to cut back: extend an important show, send less pricey invitations.

Gen Watanabe, dealer,

Haunch of Venison, New York

The love of art brought us together, not the art market. Passion for art will help us through. For artists we are not doing as ambitious a production as we might have done in a different time.

Annie Wharton, artist, Los Angeles,

opened gallery The Company

I write art criticism and curate shows to make money and extend my studio practice. At The Company we added a “Flat Files” component on our website and in the space, where buyers find stunning works by artists who’ve exhibited internationally for less than $500.

Onajide Shabaka, artist,

www.miamiartexchange.com editor

I have to stop wasting my time by going to events I don’t really need to attend so I have more time for my art.

Alejandra von Hartz, dealer, Miami

Serious collectors are always going to be interested in serious art. Serious artists will keep producing serious art. Become more austere, but also more professional.

Fred Snitzer, dealer, Miami

Keep overhead low. We do art fairs when we can afford them to get our artists known beyond Miami, but that’s overhead we can either do or not do.

Burt Minkoff, collector, Palm Beach

Dealers can’t throw out artists they are known for, but they need to introduce other voices so they can bring people into the gallery and show them more affordable art.

 

Mireille Chancy Gonzalez, collector, Miami

Diversify. If you used to make big paintings, bring down the scale with smaller pieces that cost less to give opportunities to young people to start collecting.

Alyson Baker, director of Socrates Sculpture Park, New York

When you don’t want to cut programs or services for artists and visitors, collaborate with like-minded institutions. Consider organizations not in the arts but with a similar mission that want to expand their constituency. Pool resources more efficiently and help each other. We’re reaching out to certain developers. The demographic they want to reach is the one we’re attracting. People interested in design are also very interested in art. Consider design-oriented retail stores, magazines, high-end manufacturing facilities.

David Setford, director of The Hyde Collection, Glens Falls,

New York

Collaborate. Most arts organizations, particularly museums, are territorial, and don’t always hold hands with their neighbors. This must change. We have a major Edgar Degas show this summer. We inspired other organizations to put on their own related programs for our region, marketing together a grand “Season of Degas.”

Paul Laster, www.Artkrush.com editor, New York

Be innovative. Do whatever it takes. Better days are ahead!

Trombly surprises, weds needlework to industrial shapes. Frances Trombly Caution, 2008 Embroidery on hand dyed, hand woven lyocell 250 linear ft., dimensions variable Courtesy of Socrates Sculpture Park and David Castillo Gallery

This sensual portrait celebrates art and music. Robert Wilson Alan Cumming, Actor, 2004 Music by Michael Galasso Edition 1 / 2 66” x 36.4” Plasma Display Panel, Single Unit Stereo Speaker, and HD Media Player Courtesy of Bernice Steinbaum Gallery

Daring Gili mixes art, architecture. Jaime Gili Du Sautoy, 2008-2009 Acrylic on linen, 68.1” x 76” From Alejandra von Hartz Gallery Courtesy of Mariano Costa Peuser

 

This memorial to a racial activist honors Afro-Caribbean art. Onajide Shabaka Cecil B. Moore Memorial, 2007 72” x 32” x 32” Mixed media, commissioned by Village of Arts & Humanities, Philadelphia Courtesy of Onajide Shabaka





Latin American Art: From Ghetto to Global Stage Adios, ghetto! / Spring 2010

Latin American art is finally a prime-time player in the Brave New Digital World.

“We have passed through some kind of threshold culturally in which artists of Latin America or Latin origins are no longer reduced to as much homogenizing,” says Olga Viso, director of Walker Art Center, via e-mail. “More complex and nuanced interpretations…now seem to have more mainstream appeal.” But, she adds, “it feels like it has been a brutally long haul and that there is still a long way to go despite recent progress.

” The boldness of Latin American art was once crammed into a ghetto-like niche where people babbled about “art of the fantastic.” It was a North American and Euro-centric place. Art historians thought gringos knew best.

“This prejudiced and limited understanding of the art of the region wipes out most of the diverse and complex art production in the continent since the beginning of the 20th Century, including abstract geometry and conceptual art,” says Cecilia Fajardo-Hill, chief curator of Museum of Latin American Art , via e-mail.

Gringos missed symbols animating grids in forward-minded Constructivist paintings of Joaquín Torres-García (1874-1949). Born in Uruguay, he fused pre-Columbian art with major 20th Century forms: a brilliant synthesis of Old and New Worlds. In Miami ’s Wynwood Arts District, find his painting at Sammer Gallery. You can also see his art in “Constructive Spirit: Abstract Art in South and North America, 1920s -50s,” now at the Newark Museum. Though a recessionary sea change shrinks world economies and transforms journalism, pioneering artists and curators offer new perspectives. Latin American artists, curators, and scholars reveal diverse ways to interact with the 21st Century global stage.

Miami has a front-row seat to this performance. “America has become the first universal nation on this planet,” Robert Farris Thompson, noted scholar on the African diaspora, once told me. “Particularly in Miami. Miami is teaching the world what it will be like to live in the 21st Century.

”He cited diversity in art by José Bedia, one of Miami ’s famed artists. “Bedia’s right at the forefront of contemporary art and culture…José is teaching us how to move into this multi-ethnic situation. He is at the very least trilingual.

”Miami is more than the multilingual city vexing to the rest of the country for its flow of immigrants and proximity to troubled Caribbean, Central and South American countries . This is true despite corrupt politics—hence sly jokes about the city’s “Cuban mafia”—and vulnerable location during hurricane season.

This cultural mix—with vibrant ties to Latin America as well as the Caribbean —has much to show the world. Miami ’s cultural connections, in a word, rock!

“If you look at exhibitions that have dealt with Latin American artists, it’s as if the Caribbean is not part of Latin America,” says Elizabeth Cerejido, artist and curator from Miami who’s seen art in Cuba and Haiti. “We don’t hear a lot about artists who are coming out of Santo Domingo or Haiti, or even Jamaica. Or how the Caribbean affects countries in Latin America.” The Caribbean has often been ignored by art history, just as Latin America was. In Miami , their cultures converge.

In 2009, Cerejido left her home in Little Haiti for Texas. Now assistant curator of Latino and Latin American art at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, she told me, “I will be working very closely with Mari Carmen Ramírez, who has single-handedly built the Latin American collection there.” Ramírez has long defied those limiting, “fantastic” views of Latin American art.

In so many ways, the global promise of Latin American art can be clearly seen in Miami.

Miami Art Museum presents “Carlos Cruz Diéz: The Embodied Experience of Color.” Put together by MAM adjunct curator Rina Carvajal, the exhibition looks at Cruz Diéz with new eyes. At long last, this exhibit concentrates on the artist’s early experimentations with color and sensory environments. It highlights his contributions to interactive concerns so vital to artists today. One of Venezuela’s most revered artists, Cruz Diéz has long lived in Paris, and is best known in Europe and Latin America for his pioneering art in the 1960s and 1970s.

A curator for the São Paulo Biennial, Carvajal says, “I think we are in a very different moment.” In this game-changing moment, Latin American artists now show their work everywhere, part of a broad, international art network.

Will Miami soon play a much grander role in that network? Don’t hold your breath. Missed opportunities litter our landscape.

Joaquín Torres García, Ancora, llave y objetos, Oil on cardboard, 1935, 29.5 x 20.4 in. Courtesy of Sammer Gallery.

Elizabeth Cerejido, From the Standing Guard Series: Letting Go, 2008, color transparency on light box; 6’ x 3’. Courtesy of Bernice Steinbaum Gallery

 

Carlos Cruz Diéz Cromosaturación (Chromosaturation), 1965-2008 Three chromo-cubicles Site-specific environment (Florescent lights with blue, red and green filters) Courtesy of Americas Society Gallery, New York. Photo by: Arturo Sanchez





Open Studios Open conversation About Art / Summer 2008

Be prepared to enjoy one of the most interesting conversations ever when you visit an artist’s studio and talk about art. Open your eyes when you arrive. You may see the amiable clutter that signifies a creative mind working, but you could also spot something to spark an engaging dialogue.

As Frances Trombly, who’s shown intriguing art at David Castillo Gallery and the Museum of Contemporary Art in North Miami, recently told me, she welcomes opportunities to talk with people about her work. She’s not alone.

Talk to an artist’s dealer about prices and other business matters.

Talk to artists about art.

How do you begin the conversation?  As soon as you enter the studio, look around. Often artists have their own collection of objects that inspire them. The objects artists cherish and keep with them as they work are a good place to start a conversation.

The objects may surprise and startle you.  I recall wonderful conversations with artists about their favorite books, movies, poems, and objects they love collecting. Often those objects are amazing sources for art, somehow transformed by creative souls who see possibilities in items that most of us would hardly notice.
I’ve talked with artists about why they collect model cars and vintage projection devices, which spurred memories of my pathetic attempts to comprehend Algebra I via overhead projectors.

That’s a good place to start talking. It’s fascinating how an object may for you trigger unpleasant associations, but for an artist it triggers endless creative possibilities. Most of the artists I’ve met love to talk about what excites their imagination.

I’ve spoken with artists who collect fragments of coral, old maps, stuffed animals, plastic flowers, and Wonder Woman dolls. The artists and I often traded memories we have about these objects. In each case, our conversation about the collection has meandered into memorable discussions about art. I’ve walked away from studios with a broader understanding of ideas animating the art I’ve seen.

After conversations I’ve had with artists in their studios, their art usually—but not always—seems more complex and interesting than one might think at first glance.

There’s always the chance that a conversation in an artist’s studio may seem like a smooth sales pitch. Perhaps it is.

But if you’re sincerely interested in understanding why certain artists make art, and are really listening, you may move beyond the sales pitch to a moment of perception.

We all have our stories of why we live and work where we do. Miami is a magnet for artistic talent, with artists moving back to their hometown and with other artists making Miami their new hometown.

You might ask artists where they’re from and why they’re here. It’s a fascinating way to experience the migratory essence defining Miami.

I visited Magnus Sigurdarson in his studio at the ArtCenter/South Florida. Raised in Iceland, he came here after living and working as an artist in New York and New Jersey. “It was a culture shock. Big time,” he says. “I don’t speak Spanish. Miami isn’t America. Miami is the northern tip of Latin America. It’s not really what I thought.”
His riveting photos in the series “I’m the Stranger,” shown at Kevin Bruk Gallery, boldly evoke migratory Miami. They’re self-portraits in which he’s washed up on the beach looking intensely out of place. He’s hard to recognize, with frazzled hair, bizarre make-up and purple nail polish.

We talk about his Icelandic longing for travel. To this day, in his homeland traveling across the seas to find new places is called “going Viking.” Iceland is an island settled by Norwegian Vikings in the first millennium. A splendid literary tradition, the ancient Icelandic sagas, keeps that history alive. “I like long stories,” he says. “The sagas are part of my background. Literature is important in Iceland. It’s in your blood.”

Literature leads me to another lively talk in the Design District studio of COOPER, who shows darkly compelling sculpture at Fredric Snitzer Gallery. He grew up here, and now works in Miami and New Mexico. We talk about his kinship with the weird mysteries of 19th Century American writer Edgar Allan Poe. He loves Poe’s macabre tales that keep you guessing. He’s fascinated by “what you don’tknow, what happened in the house before you lived there, what’s under the grave.This kinship between artists and writers rewards travelers in Miami looking for art beyond studios. At the museum Wolfsonian-FIU, don’t miss the exceptional bookstore and radiant stained glass window by Harry Clarke, depicting scenes from Irish literature. At Main Library downtown, check out stunning paintings by Ed Ruscha ringing the rotunda at the entrance. They depict Miami skies with impossible-to-forget words from Shakespeare.

Artist: COOPER Show Title: Seven Years Bad Luck Fredric Snitzer Gallery TITLE: Black Lungs: Ever notice how all artists are super-sensitive, temperamental, selfish crybabies, and it only gets worse as they get older and continually more bitter. The long dark tea time of the soul right before death and then your taxes- now, imagine a world with two Elvis?s, twin brother performers. Best to die young and famous. In her hand, a faded Polaroid of her white Corvette totaled beyond repair. Materials: wood, paper, found objects, ink, concrete, paint, leather, stainless steel, plasterboard, tape, galvanized metal bucket, distillant, urethane, plastic, epoxy resin, charcoal. 2008 image courtesy of Fredric Snitzer Gallery

Magnus Sigurdarson, I’m the Stranger II, 2007. C-Print.30 x 40 in.Courtesy of Kevin Bruk Gallery

 

Ed Ruscha, Words Without Thoughts Never to Heaven Go,1985-89, Acrylic on Canvas. Courtesy of Miami-Dade Art in Public Places





Explore a World of Art in Wynwood:Who New? / Summer 2009

At this corner despair collides with dollars & dreams.On the weedy corner of NW 23rd St. and N. Miami Ct. is a sign for the monthly Salvation Army Auto Auction. This down-at-the-heels spot belies the fiery passions for art sparking the renaissance reshaping Wynwood.Just steps from this sign are galleries for artists who’ve recently shipped artworks to Italy, and another gallery that’s shown art from Germany. A short drive away is a gallery with art made in Argentina by an artist who works in Miami. International cross-currents multiply. Many artworks from this dramatically evolving world of Wynwood are exceptional.

Wynwood is a Broadway musical waiting to happen. .


“It’s a lively little neighborhood,” says Alette Simmons-Jimenez, director of Artformz, a collective of artists who show together, on NW 23rd St. Remarkable encounters happen all the time. She recalls coming to work and seeing a fashion shoot for an Italian magazine at a mechanic shop nearby. Models posed on top of cars with mechanics. Recently Donna Haynes of Artformz painted outside on the gallery walls. “People stopped to take a picture, and she got a sunburn,” laughs Alette. Sometimes the building’s owner allows Artformz to paint a panel outside on the gallery so, she explains, “our artists get to paint big-time street murals.”

Fine art takes to Miami streets while careening across the globe.

Alette recently sent her paintings on paper to Italy. An artist in Miami invited her to take part in an international project from Turin that may be part of the Beijing Biennale before heading to Europe. “There were 7 or 8 artists from the Miami area,” she says, “but there are other artists from all over the world.”

For several years Artformz was in the Design District before moving to far less chic Wynwood. People ask her how she likes the change.

“I love it,” Alette says. “Everyday we have people coming in. The best thing about it is that they are coming to see art. They come from everywhere—from California, Canada, Spain, Australia. People from Miami also come. It is really surprising because you get to share with people from all over the world.” She often gives them a map and advice about finding more galleries by walking or taking a cab. They would surely benefit from a taxi stand.

Julie Davidow, an artist represented by Diana Lowenstein Fine Arts in Wynwood, likes the scruffy streets, so inviting to risk-takers. She moved to a Wynwood studio after working for several years on the more posh Lincoln Road in Miami Beach. Wynwood reminds her of what Lincoln Road was like in the mid 1980s, with boarded-up buildings and packs of wild dogs. That area then attracted artists “because it was such a small community. It felt like there were a lot of possibilities.” Today Wynwood “has that same kind of vibe.”

Julie is one of many talented artists working here. Miami Art Museum curator Peter Boswell chose her for the “Juror’s Pick” in the 76th issue of New American Paintings, juried exhibitions-in-print.

Another artist working in Wynwood is Hernan Bas, represented by nearby Fredric Snitzer Gallery. Hernan’s art can be seen June through November at the 53rd Venice Biennale. His paintings will be part of a group show in the Nordic and Danish Pavilions. Rough streets aren’t an issue. “I try not to walk home at night,” he admits. “I have my bike. It’s not hard to outrun a crack head on a bicycle.”

Janda Wetherington, director of PanAmericanArtProjects on NW 2nd Ave in Wynwood, says the neighborhood doesn’t bother her. “One of my employees had their car window broken. That’s the only incident we’ve had.” She represents Pablo Soria, who works in Miami and traveled to Argentina to create distinctive paintings on paper with photographs.

“We’re putting together a proposal of events that we can do that would be beneficial to the Miami community to make the city more interested in helping us,” Janda says, a member of the Wynwood Arts District Association. “We want to do student days here when the gallerists are available to give tours of the shows, and do things that get more of the community involved in the neighborhood.”

Miami must heed the international excitement reshaping Wynwood. The art world clearly knows Wynwood. Now the city should claim the fame art has wrought.

Alette Simmons-Jimenez Mama Said Suspended object, woven wire, enamel, clay, 2008 Image courtesy of Alette Simmons-Jimenez from Artformz, on NW 23rd St

Julie Davidow New Strain # 11 (from Untitled 2001/Mehretu), 2009.74 Gesso, acrylic, latex enamel, enamel & chrome paint on canvas image courtesy of Diana Lowenstein Fine Arts on N. Miami Ave

Hernan Bas Hide Out, 2009 acrylic on linen over panel, 94” x 72” image courtesy of the Artist and Fredric Snitzer Gallery on NW 1st Pl.

Pablo Soria Viaducto #O23N7 Litex camera film print and acrylic on paper Image courtesy of Pan American Art Projects, on NW 2nd Ave.





Baselmania by the bay and beyond / Winter 2008

IIt’s easy to feel bewitched, bothered, and bewildered by BaselMania, when Art Basel Miami Beach and over 20 more art fairs come to Miami Beach and across the bay to Miami’s art districts of Wynwood and Midtown.So much art, so many art fairs, so little time to see it all. What’s a curious collector to do?

First of all, face the music. You can’t do it all. Don’t even try. Last year a savvy collector admitted to me that it wasn’t possible to see everything. As BaselMania grows, collectors must customize their experience, choosing art fairs and art events right for them.

Start with this simple strategy: Be true to your budget and passion for art. Decide what you can afford that has lasting value to you. Only you know if the art that you want to live with is painting, drawing, photography, video, sculpture--or even objects of design, now that art and design often merge for talented artists and museum curators.

Make a list of artists interesting to you or use my list and other Artcentric columns as a reference. That’s the evergreen beauty of the Art Circuits guide, in print and online so you can always find it. I’ve always hated trying to write top ten lists. Now I don’t have to be limited by a silly numbers game. After having coffee with my publisher Liana Perez, I wrote my own list of over 20 artists to look for during Basel and beyond.

Renowned Artists

Magdalena Abakanowicz, Romare Bearden, José Bedia, Bernd and Hilla Becher, Carol Brown, Robert Chambers, Lygia Clark, Michele Oka Doner, Gunther Gerszo, Mary Heilman, John Henry, Edward Hopper, Dorothea Lange, Jesus Rafael Soto, Miralda, Giorgio Morandi, Barbara Neijna, Betye Saar, August Sander, Joaquin Torres-Garcia.

Rising Stars

Luisa Basnuevo, Loriel Beltran, Christopher Carter, Susan Lee Chun, William Córdova, Ivan Toth Depeña, Lalla Essaydi, Naomi Fisher, Erman Gonález, Florencio Gelabert, Jiae Hwang, Beatriz Milhazes, Tatiana Parcero, Guerra de la Paz, Ralph Provisero, Robin Rhode, Tal Rickards, Samantha Salzinger, Hank Willis Thomas, Mette Tommerup, Frances Trombly.

Most of these artists you can find through Miami galleries or museums and institutions listed in this guide. That artwork by so many of these artists is connected to the Miami area is a clear sign of the increasing sophistication and international diversity of the visual arts here. With so many art fairs traveling to Miami, you’re likely to find works by these artists at galleries in the fairs, perhaps leading you to other exceptional artists to collect.

In this unsettling financial time, it can be especially important to do much looking before buying. Develop a relationship with a reputable dealer you like and trust. You should feel comfortable talking with this dealer about the artist’s career and museums that exhibit or collect the artwork.

If you’re curious about an artist’s material, ask. You should rarely feel pressured to buy something on the spot, especially when money is tight. You may find something to buy from this dealer after the fair ends. Finding the art you want to live with for a long time is almost like choosing a mate for life. If you wouldn’t get married on the spot, why collect art that way?

If an artist’s work you like is sold, ask if something else you can afford is available. Be open to work by another artist the dealer shows you. If you fall in love with art over your budget, consider negotiating payment in installments. When times are tough, dealers may be more receptive to this.

Remember that BaselMania isn’t solely about looking to buy. It offers art lovers the pure pleasure of looking. Pace yourself. As usual, exhibits at CIFO/Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation, Margulies Collection at the Warehouse, Miami Art Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art, Rubell Family Collection, and World Class Boxing aren’t to be missed by out-of-town art lovers. Find time to see artworks at the Sagamore Hotel on South Beach. Miami residents can take a breather and see these outstanding private collections and museums—inspirations for curious collectors—after the fairs depart.

And when you’re by the bay, look for “Giants in the City,” a promising spectacle of giant inflatable sculptures, at Bayfront Park. Details online at www.giantsinthecity.org

Then there’s the mega fair that started the mania: Art Basel Miami Beach. Whether or not you buy at Basel, see this fair. It provides a unique snapshot of that mighty colossus called The Art World

BERND and HILLA BECHER (German, 1931–2007, born 1934): The Concordia Mine, Oberhausen, Germany, 1967. Gelatin silver print, 15 15/16 x 12 in. (40.5 x 30.5 cm). Gift of Baroness Jeane von Oppenheim, 98.96 © Hilla Becher. Courtesy of Norton Museum of Art

Ivan Toth Depeña The Fallen Sky Chronicles: Experiments in Fictional Theory “Sketch 01, Horizon” site-specific, sculptural light installation, 2008. Courtesy of Art and Culture Center of Hollywood

Luisa Basnuevo Untitled 1, 2008 Oil on canvas. Courtesy of the artist and Frost Art Museum

 





Play your part for the art / Fall 2008

Activism rewards Miami’s growing art community. Like a jewel-toned garden, this community gleams brighter when more do their part.An arts community, like democracy, is not a spectator sport. There’s a role for everyone to play, encouraging others to participate.Find a niche of your own. Make it bloom. In our ebulliently fertile region, where the growing season is famously long, enough is never enough.

Consider examples set by a curator and collectors. Thanks to e-mail, their activism spurs a ripple effect through Miami and beyond. It creates more opportunities for artists to develop, more opportunities for everyone to converse about art.

Take part in Miami’s radical ripple effect. Click on the web addresses in my column. Find out about artist talks and other public events. Sign up to learn more via e-mail.

Recently I chatted with Rosie Gordon-Wallace, the effervescent director and curator of Diaspora Vibe Gallery, www.diasporavibe.net, in the Design District. She has done much to provide a forum for artists of Caribbean descent. “Art is politics,” she says. “Yes, the commercial art world is not necessarily looking at our region, but I think strong, innovative ideas are coming from that region.”

She introduces me to Hubert Neal, Jr., the current Diaspora Vibe artist-in-residence. Born in Belize, he’s an articulate artist educated at Cornell who left his job as a photojournalist in Belize to make art in Miami. “I came to Miami with a dollar and a dream,” he tells me.

The activist energy at Diaspora Vibe thrills Hubert. “You’re more than just an artist in a gallery,” he says, describing how he gets to exhibit his art, mount and dismantle shows, and run the website. “I’m essentially Rosie’s apprentice. I’m not content to just make art. I want to know how this whole operation works,” Hubert explains. “Art is my passion, but I can’t ignore the fact that there are a lot of people who don’t have opportunities, especially when you come from the Third World. You can’t get distracted and give up.”

In Miami’s Morningside district, I visit Kathryn Mikesell, who with husband Daniel began the Fountainhead Residency, www.fountainheadresidency.com, in March 2008. The residency is in a simple, sunny 1950’s house across the street from their stylishly renovated home of the same era. The couple’s home is graced with their lively international collection of contemporary art. Artworks by Michael Loveland and Louise Nevelson greet the eye.

As Kathryn describes Fountainhead, she sparkles with an activist spirit. For years she and her husband traveled for their telecommunication business. Now she’s taking a break from her career to raise their children and play her part for art.

“We wanted to bring artists in from around the world to live and work in Miami for a period of up to two months,” she says. “It’s not only about providing them with a place to work, but it’s getting them integrated into the community.” They hope these artists find a Miami gallery.

The Mikesells provide resident artists roundtrip flights to Miami. When Miami artist Brandon Opalka needed space to create art for his show at Dorsch Gallery, they let him turn the garage into his studio.

Not only do they provide residencies for artists they collect, they offer hospitality to artists exhibiting at Miami Art Museum, Locust Projects, and Museum of Contemporary Art. Kathryn shows me the room shared by Ida Ekblad of Oslo and her assistant, who were installing art for “Dark Continents” at MOCA. She introduces me to artists working there, Tucker from Los Angeles and Mike Swaney, a Canadian living in Barcelona. Both appreciate the chance to focus on making art, without distractions of daily life. “It’s super good to meet other artists and curators,” adds Swaney.

The Mikesells host shows open to the public for each resident. It’s for one night, but through the website collectors can arrange to see the show by appointment. “Miami has this phenomenal art scene,” she says. Using Fountainhead to network, “artists that have come have really taken advantage of all that Miami has to offer,” Kathryn beams.

Collectors Arturo and Liza Mosquera polish gems for Miami. Their art collection is a stimulating part of patients’ visits to Arturo’s orthodontist office. Several years ago they began “Art@Work” in his waiting room, with shows for Miami artists. In May 2007 they opened Farside Gallery next to his office, producing catalogs for artists, including Pedro Vizcaino, who’ve presented notable exhibits at Farside. Call 305-264-3355 to put your name on their e-mail list.

Why keep doing more for art and artists?

“We just feel it’s difficult for museums to do everything,” Arturo says, speaking like a true activist.

Hubert Neal, Jr. The Artist - Again, Acrylic On Canvas, 2008

Pedro Vizcaino , Taxi, 2004, ink, color pencil on paper, 41 x 25 in

Mike Swaney, For Sale, collage on watercolour paper, 2008. 23.2 x 19.7 in.

Ida Ekblad, i.e, Primitive, 2008. Mixed media installation; papier-mâché of National Geographic magazines, found sticks of wood and found cans. Dimensions variable. Courtesy the artist, Oslo





Falling Hard for Art in Miami: Brandishing the Baton / Fall 2010

Miami’s captivating cultural chorus leadsby example 

Bravo for museums and galleries! They belong to exciting initiatives raising high the baton for the culturally curious. A symphony of sights, sounds, and ideas overtakes the city. As I live and breathe, Miami is now a stimulating place for ideas to ferment in the outrageously varied cultural feast we find from South Beach to the streets of Little Havana to the city’s western reaches near Florida International University.It’s like another education-- even for those of us who have been there, done that with writing papers for college. These lively learning opportunities are free or cost just pennies compared to the cost of a college education. How can you resist?

Begin your fall with a bang by sprinting to see “Speed Limits” at the Wolfsonian-FIU. It’s an astounding exhibit with so much to see and talk about that you’ll want to plan a return trip. I’m already planning mine with my terrific ArtTable pals. This remarkably-designed show will make you actually feel the consequences of our ever-accelerating need for speed when drivers navigate extra-expressways constructed around the world. And it does more than that by helping us contemplate the currently contradictory desire to slow things down, to give our bodies a rest from fast food, life in the fast lane, and texting till we drop. No wonder “The Wolf” calls itself the museum of “thinkism.”See www.wolfsonian.org

Take part in how Miami is a nexus for new ideas, and your ideas will help this nexus grow. Continue your cultural education by taking in the talks at the very fab independent bookseller Books & Books, found in several locations here. See www.booksandbooks.org At the Coral Gables store, you might encounter intriguing ArtTable panel discussions by exceptional Miami people-in-the-know on a host of artcentric issues. See www.arttable.org

Explore unique treasures of Little Havana, such as the Tower Theater. Galleries there actively educate curiously artcentric folks who want to learn more about artists of today and the past. Cremata Gallery has devised engaging evening programs inspired by its exhibit devoted to the exquisite art of Lydia Rubio, who lives in Miami. See www.crematagallery.com and www.lydiarubio.com Visitors to Maxoly/Latin Art Core gallery can purchase a new book by Ramón Vazquez Diaz about Victor Manuel Garcia. He’s one of Cuba’s famed Vanguardia painters who transformed art history as it happened in Havana—also Paris and New York—in the first half of the 20th Century. See www.latinartcore.com

Spaces for seeing and thinking about art in Wynwood and the Design District continue to impress. Truly remarkable is the capacious Wynwood studio, Whale & Star, complete with its own library founded by multi-talented artist Enriquez Martinez Celaya, who brings notable speakers to town informing all of us. See www.whaleandstar.com Yet another Celaya coup: his paintings are on view this fall at Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in New York.

Don’t miss lectures offered a short drive away at the de la Cruz Collection Contemporary Art Space. See www.delacruzcollection.org Consider visiting artist studios and exhibits at Bakehouse Art Complex. It also offers lively programs: one recent event, inspired by an ArtTable panel discussion in May at Books & Books, was packed. See www.bacfl.org

The very western part of Miami, home to the main campus of FIU, differs dramatically from the reclaimed swamp it once was. Take, for instance, the spunky and adventurous Farside Gallery near FIU. Its wonderful talks and panel discussions will give you much to ponder. For info call 305-264-3120.

The Frost Museum at FIU deserves a standing ovation for truly brandishing the baton in Miami this fall. Opening in October is “Embracing Modernity: Venezuelan Geometric Abstraction.” It promises a much-deserved look at how artists, including Alejandro Otero, brought international acclaim to their country as pioneers, particularly in Paris, during the 1940s through 1960s. The Frost’s free Target-sponsored Wednesday night programs are always worthwhile, but note this especially outstanding event: in October Jonathan Friedlander teams with the Frost and FIU School of Music to speak about creativity in art and music. See www.thefrost.fiu.edu

This autumn, I’m clearly falling hard for art in Miami.

Come fall with me.

Alejandro Otero, Model- Project for Park Avenue, New York, 1982, Mixed media, 46 1/2 x 15 x 15 in. Ella Fontanals-Cisneros Collection, Miami.Otero is much admired for his dynamic sense of form..

Lydia Rubio, Birds of Feeling, 2007 Ink and gouache on paper 30 x 22 in. Courtesy of the artist. Inspired by memories of home, Rubio spins delicate stories in her art.

Enrique Martinez Celaya, Painting for the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. Courtesy of Whale & Star.Celaya beautifully evokes stages of a spiritual journey.





Wifredo Lam Meets Miami / Spring 2008

The terrible beauty of Afro-Cuban art casts a long shadow in Miami. Its legacy is everywhere, from revitalized mangroves by once-segregated Virginia Key to the transformed skyline of downtown, from the Miami Art Museum’s show of art by Wifredo Lam in North American collections to the University of Miami, where the Lowe Art Museum show about Afro Cuban art from 1968 to 2003 just closed. Gallery shows devoted to Lam at Cernuda, Gary Nader, and Tresart enhance the luster of Afro-Cuban art in Miami.Some art is so deeply freighted with cultural associations that its destiny is to unfurl a community’s psyche when it arrives. That’s the case with Afro-Cuban art by Wifredo Lam.Finally, Miami heals its rift with Lam, whose support of the Cuban Revolution is now seen in the context of history. “It’s the first major exhibition of my father’s work in Miami,” said Eskil Lam of the MAM show. “I hope this will mark a new beginning.”Lam’s best art blooms from anger about persistent racist residues of a slave-driven colonial past and from visionary determination to forge a pioneering visual language that could transform the present. Lam, a black man whose father was a Chinese trader and whose Cuban mother was of African and Spanish descent, left Cuba in 1923 with a scholarship to study art in Europe. Some believe he also needed to extricate himself from a Cuba beset by prejudice. When he returned in 1942, he was enlightened by time in Paris in touch with the era’s best painters and poets.

But despite the expanded world view he carried with him back to Cuba, Lam at 40 was disheartened by narrow attitudes about blacks held by the island’s white elite. “I refused to paint cha-cha-cha,” he said after sailing across the Atlantic to his home in the Caribbean.

Consider the dazzling painting at MAM, “Le sombre Malembo, Dieu du carrefour (Dark Malembo, God of the Crossroads)” from 1943. It portrays emerald sugar cane fields flickering with reminders of slaves who sailed the Atlantic with spiritual beliefs from West Africa to create, under duress, powerful hybrid Afro-Cuban religions of Santeria and Palo Monte. Spirited hybrid images of plants, animals, and people cluster throughout with dynamic energy new for its time.

Lam’s unique Afro-Cuban gift to 20th Century art history is a gift that keeps on giving, especially in Miami if you know where to look. Recent art here builds on this legacy of terrible beauty. Such building does much to create a grand mosaic of Miami’s spectacular “fusion culture,” as Alberto Ibargüen of the Knight Foundation recently called it.

A poignant piece of that mosaic is “Amazing Grace,” a video by Wangechi Mutu, the ferociously talented artist born in Kenya. Filming a woman in white vanishing into waves off Miami Beach, Mutu was inspired by the slave trade to create her video. MAM showed it in 2005 and now owns it.

As it plays, Mutu sings “Amazing Grace” in English and her native Kikuyu. This familiar hymn was written by a British man who once led ships loaded with African slaves across the Atlantic. After surviving a storm at sea, he gave up the slave trade and became an Abolitionist.

“One of the ideas behind the show is that there are all these communities that have come via the sea and survived the Middle Passage,” Mutu said. “Cuban and Haitian communities traversed the sea to be in this area.”

At MAM her collages of entangled black women recalled Africa’s violent diamond trade and civil wars, also Florida mangroves. “The mangrove represents a family tree or root system or a community structure that is embedded deep into the past and comes out to the future,” she said.

Her art is about being torn apart and slowly healing. That soulful story is retold with operatic splendor in public art at the Arsht Center downtown. Gary Moore’s “Pharoah’s Dance” on a corner plaza takes cues from the call and response of gospel music to interlace with architecture and culture from American jazz to ancient Egypt. Long inspired by Afro-Cuban religion, José Bedia has made lobby floors and balcony railings replete with the terrible beauty of ocean travel.

Rush past all the glorious artworks to and from performances at your peril. You miss chances to be inspired by richly nuanced stories they evoke. Curtains never fall on these premiere public art performances.

Let’s hope that healing the rift with Lam helps Miami behold the visual art abounding here. To those of us weary of being told for years that this is a young city, the time is ripe to savor culture thriving right in front of us. From galleries to gardens, art is all around.

Wifredo Lam in North America. Miami Art Museum / MAM. Feb. 8 - May 18. Lam, Personaje con Sombrero, 1942. Guache on paper, 37 x 30 in

Lam one Man Show. Gary Nader Fine Art / Feb. 29 - April 30 / Lam, La Femme Femmie, 1955, Oil on canvas, 35 7/8 x 283/8 in

Wifredo Lam. Tresart. from Feb. 22 - March 28. Lam, untitled, 1965, oil on canvas, 19.69 x 15.75 in

Lam an Homage. Cernuda Arte. Feb. 4 - April 10. Lam, Mujer Sentada, 1944, oil on paper, 42 x 33 ¼ in

  • Advertisement





  • Advertisement