Archives: Visual Arts

MOCA’s ‘Life and Spirituality in Haitian Art’ exhibit: Simple materials, exceptional vision

Posted By Elisa Turner
February 19, 2021 at 10:43 PM

Hector Hyppolite’s “Une jeune dame” features mixed media on wood. The artist drew international attention in 1947 when his work was featured in a UNESCO exhibit in Paris. (Photo courtesy of the Betty and Isaac Rudman Trust Collection)

Don’t call these artists naive. It’s a patronizing term smacking of colonial arrogance.

The works in “Life and Spirituality in Haitian Art: Selection from the Betty and Isaac Rudman Trust Collection” — on display at the Museum of Contemporary Art in North Miami — offer a stylized portrait of Haiti, primarily in the 1940s and 1950s, by artists working with simple materials and exceptional vision. They depict the hardscrabble Caribbean nation with grace and pride.

However, paintings such as these were once labeled “naive,” says exhibit curator Francine Birbragher. “This was a negative connotation,” she adds, arising from the artists’ lack of formal training and materials.

Yes, the paintings often have the “flat” look common to artists unused to portraying their subjects with three-dimensional perspective. Although some paintings are by artists more skilled than others at depicting subjects realistically, she says, “In general, these artists are all self-taught. They did not have acrylics or oils. They used house paint. They were very resourceful.”

MOCA’s “Life and Spirituality in Haitian Art” features master works that have rarely, if ever, been exhibited, according to the museum’s executive director, Chana Budgazad Sheldon.

“The artists in this exhibition, such as Hector Hyppolite, are considered masters of the Haitian art movement, or the Haitian Renaissance, in the 1940s,” she says.

Immediately the exhibit takes viewers to a seminal moment. It begins with paintings by the legendary Hyppolite, one of the first artists championed by the pivotal Le Centre d’Art in Port-au-Prince.

Founded in 1944 by American watercolorist DeWitt Peters, Le Centre has provided support for artists while promoting their work. It was there, in 1945, that Hyppolite’s paintings caught the eye of a celebrated visitor, French Surrealist poet Andre Breton, who was said to admire them for the absence of European techniques and styles.

Initially, Hyppolite worked with brushes made of chicken feathers and the enamel paint he’d used for painting doors and furniture to earn a living. Later, he acquired conventional brushes from Le Centre.

Prestigious recognition followed the artist’s encounter with the poet. Breton included Hyppolite in a widely read essay on Surrealism, and the artist drew international attention in 1947 when his work was featured in a UNESCO exhibit in Paris.

Today, his 1946 painting, “The Congo Queen,” hangs in The Museum of Modern Art in New York. It reflects influences of Roman Catholicism from French colonizers in Haiti and the country’s Vodou religion.

The son and grandson of Vodou priests, Hyppolite was a self-taught artist and, by many accounts, a Vodou priest. He had not formally studied European art but was well-versed in the sacred arts of Haitian Vodou, interlacing iconic scenes of spirits with flora and fauna.

Haitian Vodou is a folk religion born of a fusion of Roman Catholicism and West African deities, an unfairly maligned cultural manifestation of the world’s first free Black republic. It’s engendered visually rich stories and symbols adapted by historic and contemporary Haitian artists.

These artists range from Hyppolite to contemporary figures such as Edouard Duval-Carrié and those included in a dazzling, challenging exhibit co-curated by Duval-Carrié in 2019 at the museum, “PÒTOPRENS: The Urban Artists of Port-au-Prince.”

With “Life and Spirituality in Haitian Art,” MOCA provides a “historical context for contemporary Haitian artwork,” like that exhibited in “PÒTOPRENS,” Sheldon says. Overall, the tone of that exhibit and its art from ingeniously recycled materials, reflecting the country’s extreme hardship, was more blunt and grim.

Only a few paintings in the current exhibit fall into the cliches of portraying an impossibly idyllic paradise, such as the candy-colored village painted by Roland Palanquet.

Hector Hyppolite’s “Femme nue avec oiseaux” (1946), oil on canvas. (Photo courtesy of the Betty and Isaac Rudman Trust Collection)

Works by Hyppolite include a female nude posed among rhythmic, nearly abstract patterns of flowers and leaves. Two tropical birds gaze at the woman, whose face we cannot see, enhancing her mystery.

The painting, “Femme nue avec oiseaux,” is disarming for its “flatness” or lack of three-dimensional perspective, signifying the artist’s self-taught status. Its dreamy, vivid allure is undeniable. The woman’s body seems to float above small green mountains, overpowering them with heavenly, voluptuous beauty.

The 1946 “Toilette Paysanne” by Louverture Poisson shows a woman in a modest country home arranging her hair before a mirror propped on a log. Realistic details, from pots for collecting water to her reflection, capture a private, personal experience.

A 1963 painting by Gerard Valcin, who worked as a tile setter, depicts workers planting fields marked with fastidiously straight lines, surely echoing demands of his day job more than fields in Haiti, says Birbragher.

In the painting’s background, symmetrically rounded green hills are more abstract than realistic. The formal geometry animating this rural landscape illustrates Valcin’s refined sense of composition.

Other works record village life and spiritual ceremonies. “Baptizing of Assotor” by Rigaud Benoit shows a curvilinear Vodou drawing being created to attract spirits.

Jacques-Enguerrand Gourgue’s untitled portrait of Toussaint Louverture, oil on board. (Photo courtesy of the Betty and Isaac Rudman Trust Collection)

Complementing these visual stories of Haitian daily life are military portraits by Jacques-Enguerrand Gourgue. They depict men, all but one formerly enslaved, who are considered Haiti’s founding fathers: Toussaint Louverture, Jean-Jacques Dessalines, Henri Christophe, and Alexandre Sabès Pétion. The portraits exude defiant grandeur, with the revered leaders wearing elaborate Napoleonic uniforms.

All these historic paintings offer a sudden, disorienting contrast to the contemporary “Raúl de Nieves: Eternal Return and the Obsidian Heart” in the first gallery at MOCA. To enter and depart “Life and Spirituality in Haitian Art,” visitors must walk through the carnivalesque “Raúl de Nieves” exhibit.

In our screen-dominated days, when it’s easy to shift from one point in time to another on our devices, moving between MOCA exhibits is somewhat akin to switching from Eric Satie’s piano music in early 20th century Paris to Mardi Gras fanfare in New Orleans.

Be prepared to welcome this instantaneous passage between past and present.

 

WHAT: “Life and Spirituality in Haitian Art: Selection from the Betty and Isaac Rudman Trust Collection”

WHEN: Through March 14. Public hours of exhibition are noon-7 p.m. Wednesdays and 10 a.m-5 p.m. Thursdays-Sundays.

WHERE: Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami, Joan Lehman Building, 770 NE 125th St.

COST: $10 for general admission; $3 for students and seniors; and free for children younger than 12, MOCA members, North Miami residents, city employees and veterans.

INFORMATION: 305-893-6211; Mocanomi.org

 

ArtburstMiami.com is a nonprofit source of theater, dance, visual arts, music and performing arts news. Sign up for our newsletter and never miss a story.

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‘Dennis Manuel: The Eye of Afropunk’ captures a global movement

Posted By Michelle F. Solomon
February 16, 2021 at 10:41 PM

 The “Dennis Manuel: The Eye of Afropunk” exhibit features one of the photographer’s most iconic images: a closeup image of Grace Jones’ performance during Afropunk 2016 in London. (Photo courtesy of Dennis Manuel)

To fully appreciate and understand Dennis Manuel’s photography, it’s important to consider the global movement that’s the basis of his work.

Manuel is the official photographer for the Afropunk festival, an annual event that showcases live music, film, fashion and art produced by Black artists. And his craft has evolved along with Afropunk, a Black experience movement that was born out of the documentary, “Afro-Punk,” directed by James Spooner. The 2003 film highlighted Black punk artists around the United States and explored the lives of the musicians within a white-dominated punk subculture. Where Afropunk came together was through the multi-genre festivals that began in Brooklyn in 2005 and have since taken place throughout the world.

Through the years, these events have become a statement in self-expression – captured in the exhibit, “Dennis Manuel: The Eye of Afropunk,” available for viewing at the Historic Ward Rooming House in Miami’s Overtown. The photos were on limited display during Miami Art Week but have been brought back to the same space through March 13.

Christopher Norwood J.D., the exhibit’s curator, said there is intent behind showing a history-in-the-making exhibit during Black History Month.

“We look at history from the perspective of things past, which is very important and, yes, it is the primary function, but you can also be pigeonholed. We wanted to break out of that square of Black history and show how the act of making history is even more relevant in Black History Month,” said Norwood, who is also co-founder of Hampton Art Lovers, which is presenting the exhibit at the Historic Ward Rooming House. “I had literally hundreds of photos that I filtered down to the 35 that are showing. The curatorial theme was to focus equally on the interaction of the people, the performers, and the actual event itself.”

Photographer Dennis Manuel has been capturing Black performance art for more than 20 years. (Photo courtesy of Dennis Manuel)

The exhibit features photographs Manuel has shot at Afropunk festivals in Atlanta, New York City, London, Paris and Johannesburg. The New York-based Manuel met Matthew Morgan, now founder and CEO of the festivals, when the latter was starting out as a music promoter.

“I would go to some of the smaller events and different venues around Brooklyn,” Manuel said.

That’s where the festival’s roots were beginning to take shape, he recalled.

As it has come into its own, Afropunk has also formed an identity, and those attending the festivals are decked out in bold fashions.

“Festivalgoers are adorned in makeup, hats, and Afrocentric face paint,” Manuel said.

He recalled a photo taken during Afropunk Paris, where singer Solange Knowles was performing and ventured from the stage out into the crowd.

“The young girls were going crazy with excitement. I looked and there was one girl with tears streaming down her face,” Manuel recalled. “I got that shot of those tears of joy.”

This perspective is what broadens the scope of the work. He doesn’t squarely fixate on what’s happening onstage but wants to extract the energy of the event as a whole.

“In a broader sense, I enjoy capturing the reactions,” he said. “I have my head on a swivel between the performer and then I turn around because the crowd reacts to something.”

A point-and-shoot camera and a high school photography class planted the seed of photography for Manuel. “Initially, I just wanted to be good enough to shoot concerts,” he said, with a goal of getting “up close and within arm’s length” of musicians he idolized, such as Lenny Kravitz, Alicia Keys and Erykah Badu.

The exhibit features photographs that Dennis Manuel has shot at Afropunk festivals in Atlanta, New York City, London, Paris and Johannesburg. (Photo courtesy of Dennis Manuel)

“The most exciting thing for me was taking photos of artists that I admired when they were performing onstage, and the pageantry of the whole concert experience, then meeting them backstage,” he said, adding that capturing them in all of their different moods and atmospheres was what he loved “wrapping his camera around.”

While working by day as a mortgage banker in Brooklyn and shooting his concert photography at night, his hobby eventually became a career. He found his voice, so to speak, when he became the official photographer for Afropunk.

One of the most iconic photos in Manuel’s portfolio is from Afropunk 2016 in London. That’s where Studio 54 disco queen Grace Jones, as the headliner, would yield some of his most fascinating images.

Covered in body paint and wearing assorted, colorful neon necklaces and bracelets, she was captivating, Manuel said. As always, the legendary supermodel, singer and actress was “theatrical, her expressions dynamic and bold, and in your face,” Manuel said. “She was probably no more than 10 feet away from me, max. I noticed that in a lot of the shots, she was looking directly into my camera.”

Then there was the moment when everything just clicked. “Usually, a performer will focus on a part of the crowd, but she seemed to just be focusing on me.”

Norwood’s hope for the exhibit is to not only showcase Manuel’s work, but to have the viewer step away from the generalizations of Black history.

“What it is to look Black, how it is to think Black, all of these things were situational to the time in which that thinking was made, but always the intent of it was to be free,” Norwood said. “The whole fight was to have freedom. That’s what this show is about. The freedom to be whoever and whatever you want to be and to break out of that square of Black history, so that new Black history can emerge.”

 

WHAT: “Dennis Manuel: The Eye of Afropunk”

WHEN: Through March 13

WHERE: Historic Ward Rooming House, 249 NW Ninth St., Miami

COST: Admission is free, but RSVP is required at hamptonartlovers.eventbrite.com

INFORMATION: Hamptonartlovers.com

 

ArtburstMiami.com is a nonprofit source of theater, dance, visual arts, music and performing arts news. Sign up for our newsletter and never miss a story.

latest posts

MOCA’s ‘Life and Spirituality in Haitian Ar...

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Posted By Michelle F. Solomon,

The exhibition will feature newly commissioned and existing works by local, national and international artists.

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The $2.2 million investment emphasizes that the arts are critical to keeping communities connected.

‘Illuminate Coral Gables’ to transform city’s downtown into outdoor museum

Posted By Michelle F. Solomon
February 5, 2021 at 9:43 PM

Cai Guo-Qiang’s “Fireflies” will be one of the works displayed during “Illuminate Coral Gables.” Commissioned by the Association for Public Art with Fung Collaboratives, it was first presented in Philadelphia in 2017. (Photo courtesy of “Illuminate Coral Gables”)

“Illuminate Coral Gables” is a public art exhibit that’s perfect for these times.

Opening Feb. 12, this incandescent-and-interactive project is transforming downtown Coral Gables into a free outdoor museum – with newly commissioned and existing works by local, national and international artists curated to engage with some of the city’s most preeminent landmarks.

“Unlike all other blockbuster museum shows right now that had to be postponed because they could not be presented because of indoor restrictions, ‘ICG’ is meant to be a free, outdoor, high-quality contemporary art exhibit,” says its chief curator, Lance Fung.

Pedestrians through the downtown area will spot the work of Cuban-born, Miami-based artist Carlos Estévez, who is developing video content on people’s movements, interactions and sense of community. His first technology-based artwork, the video-mapped projection will be cast over the entire surface of the historic Coral Gables City Hall building.

Another technologically and artistically intricate work: Kiki Smith’s “Blue Night,” commissioned by the city specifically for “Illuminate Coral Gables.” The 40-by-190-foot installation will create a wonderland of constellations in Giralda Plaza.

Other works that use video mapping and projections will be found in Gables International Plaza (aka the Davidson Building) on Le Jeune Road; Actors’ Playhouse on Miracle Mile; and Coral Gables Museum’s facade on Aragon Avenue.

Planning for “Illuminate Coral Gables” began in January 2019. Exhibit co-founder Patrick O’Connell says the idea was brought to light by the city’s mayor, Raúl Valdés-Fauli.

“He started talking about this a few years ago. He had seen other public art and light-based exhibitions on his travels and thought this would be great for the Gables,” says O’Connell.

The mayor and Venny Torre, president of the city’s Business Improvement District and now president and co-founder of “Illuminate Coral Gables,” got together and started thinking about ways to make it come to life, O’Connell says.

Carlos Estévez’s “Urban Universes, 2021” was created specifically for “Illuminate Coral Gables.” The work will be projected on the facade of City Hall. (Photo courtesy of “Illuminate Coral Gables”)

The initiative is a city project, in collaboration with the Business Improvement District as well as the Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce, Coral Gables Community Foundation, and Coral Gables Museum, and in partnership with the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau. It has received funding grants from the Knight Foundation and The Kirk Foundation, other multiple family foundations, private companies, and in-kind sponsorships, according to O’Connell.

The overall costs for resources in this first year are a little under $1 million, O’Connell says. But the first “Illuminate Coral Gables” exhibition is worth well over several million dollars based on the artistic works alone, Fung adds. Six of the works were commissioned specifically for the show, while two others – Cai Guo-Qiang’s “Fireflies” and Sandra Ramos’ “90 Miles” – have been shown in various forms in two other exhibitions.

“‘Illuminate Coral Gables’ is really about focusing and enhancing the Coral Gables profile in the fine arts community and bringing more artists to the Gables,” O’Connell says.

To bring a show of such a scope together, the board of “Illuminate Coral Gables” conducted a search for a chief curator. With more than 40 responses from local, national and international curators, it selected Fung, of California-based Fung Collaboratives. Then Fung added a curatorial team, which includes Catherine Cathers, Coral Gables’ arts and culture specialist;  Jennifer Easton, art program manager collection for California’s Bay Area Rapid Transit; and Rosie Gordon-Wallace, founder of the Diaspora Vibe Cultural Arts Incubator.

Fung’s specialty is curating large-scale, public art exhibitions. Before he even began working with the board of “Illuminate Coral Gables,” he wanted to make sure he was the right fit for the project. He wasn’t just presenting art plunked down in various places. He and the board agreed that this was going to be a public art exhibition of international scale.

“I work on large scale shows where the work is easily accessible and visually captivating, socially aware and conceptually driven,” he says. “I work with artists whose work can stand equally inside a museum in Miami, for instance, or in front of a museum, or in a public space, and it is still the same artwork.”

Truth be told, the original iteration of “Illuminate Coral Gables” was to have included 20 installations.

“Many of them were static sculptures and art that would require people to gather around,” O’Connell says.

The question for all those involved was: How would that work during a pandemic?

So, that number has been culled to eight for the first year, Fung says. He believes the eight works by 16 artists will not only speak to visitors, but also engage them in conversation, and  –  of course – impress, all at the same time.

David Gumbs’ “Echos of Souls, 2021” will be shown on what is known as the Davidson Building, on Le Jeune Road. (Photo courtesy of “Illuminate Coral Gables”)

“My first criteria for all of the pieces was to have the works be super-compelling in the daytime and, at night, have them come alive in a different way,” he says. “Daytime, they may be more intellectual or more obvious, but the subtlety comes alive at night. That’s when it’s a little more magical, sometimes even spiritual.”

Martinique-based artist David Gumbs’ work will appear in Gables International Plaza and at the Miracle Theatre. Movements will trigger random, computer-generated animations and patterns. The work is a “token to lost souls due to the COVID pandemic and to social injustices,” Gumbs says.

In storefront windows along Miracle Mile, artist Joseph Clayton Mills will project archival footage from Coral Gables and other communities through an array of rotating mirrors.

Jonathan Perez, Florida International University’s digital arts faculty member in the Art + Art History Department, along with students Jennifer Hudock, Heather Kostrna, L’nique Noel, Maria Daniela Maldonado, Tara Remmen, Ari Temkin and Emily Silverio-Williams, created an interactive video mapping display, which will transmit sound elements of Coral Gables’ residents telling a story as imagery floods the walls of the Coral Gables Museum.

Ruben Millares and Antonia Wright created site-specific sculptural light installations. Through their barricade installations placed in different locations, the artists will transform a utilitarian object into a work of art that viewers can interpret in ways personal to their own experience.

Visitors will find Ramos’ “90 Miles: De-construction, 2021” at the Hotel Colonnade on Aragon Avenue. The divided 32-foot walkway is composed of 12 light boxes representing the journey between Havana and Miami.

Guo-Qiang’s “Fireflies” was first commissioned by the Association for Public Art and presented in Philadelphia in 2017. A series of American-made pedicabs are transformed into interactive sculptures through handmade silk Chinese lanterns. Previously an interactive work where visitors could enter the pedicabs, this time around, “Fireflies” has selected volunteers riding throughout the exhibit.

“We could not figure out a way to have people ride these safely during COVID-19,” Fung says. “Maybe next year.”

The lanterns, made in the artist’s hometown village in China, are collaged onto the bicycles. “At night, when they flit around downtown, it will look like a mirage,” Fung says.

While it has been a year and a half of fits and starts because of the pandemic, Fung assures that this exhibit is the start of something. Organizers are nothing short of proud of their new benchmark and what they hope will grow to become an annual, internationally recognized, public art exhibition.

“You know, seeing even one or two of these site-specific works would be phenomenal, but the fact that there are eight scattered throughout, it’s nothing short of amazing,” Fung says.

 

WHAT: “Illuminate Coral Gables”

WHEN: Feb. 12-March 14

WHERE: Throughout downtown Coral Gables

COST: Free

INFORMATION: Illuminatecoralgables.org

ArtburstMiami.com is a nonprofit source of theater, dance, visual arts, music and performing arts news. Sign up for our newsletter and never miss a story.

latest posts

MOCA’s ‘Life and Spirituality in Haitian Ar...

Posted By Elisa Turner,

These master works have rarely, if ever, been exhibited, according to museum executive director Chana Budgazad Sheldon.

‘Dennis Manuel: The Eye of Afropunk’ captur...

Posted By Michelle F. Solomon,

The exhibit is available for viewing at the Historic Ward Rooming House in Miami’s Overtown through March 13.

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Knight Foundation grants aim to foster togetherness through the arts

Posted By Michelle F. Solomon
January 21, 2021 at 4:02 PM

The Bookleggers Library was one of nine nonprofit beneficiaries of a $2.2 million investment by the Knight Foundation. Its staff includes, from left, Robert Colom, founder Nathaniel Sandler and Laura Monzon. (Photo courtesy of Pedro Wazzan)

Nathaniel Sandler founded Bookleggers in 2012 out of his Miami Beach apartment, with the dream of opening his own public library.

His mission: To use books as a way of building community.

Since growing out of its original home space, the Bookleggers Library had a few incarnations, moving to Mana Contemporary Miami in 2018, then to its current home at Wynwood’s Bakehouse Art Complex in 2020. These moves allowed Sandler to host ever-expanding community gatherings.

Despite the arrival of COVID-19, and the ensuing quarantines and shutdowns, Sandler continues working to keep that sense of community, exploring new ways of reaching its intended audience.

And his organization has received some sizable help, in the form of a $250,000 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The Bookleggers Library was one of nine nonprofit beneficiaries of a $2.2 million investment by the foundation, which has been creating grants to support arts groups during these unusual times.

The other beneficiaries were the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami; Coral Gables Community Foundation; Miami City Ballet; Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami; Prizm Projects; Miami Dade College Foundation; Third Horizon; and Nite Owl Theater.

“The big thing for us is the validation the Knight Foundation grant gives, along with the funding,” Sandler says. “To see our name up with institutions that are so established in the local public consciousness, it puts us out there in a way that is really meaningful.”

Each grant was tailor-made to the organization and its specific purpose, which was how the amount of funds was determined too, says Adam Ganuza, an arts program officer with the foundation.

“Bookleggers is not only rethinking the way that they do their in-person literary events, but finding ways, in these unprecedented times, to recreate new experiences to connect with audiences,” Ganuza says.

The grant will further the development of Bookleggers’ audiobook series and its online “Storytime for Grown-Ups,” which is an Instagram-based, storytelling series. It will also contribute to the completion of a Book Box Bicycle, a custom-made vehicle that will have wi-fi and musical capabilities and a front-load cargo box filled with a small library of books. The bicycle operator will be a dancer, musician or theatrical performer who creates an event around the Book Box Bicycle – for a multidisciplinary, outdoor experience, Sandler says.

“The idea is that we will be able to take the Book Box Bicycle out into the public and do scaled-down versions of our events, where the library becomes a one-to-one experience,” he explains.

The Bookleggers Library and other recipients are continuing to build on the foundation’s vision of a Miami where art is inclusive and accessible to all, even amid a pandemic, according to Victoria Rogers, Knight’s vice president for arts.

And these funds are meant as an investment in their evolution, Ganuza adds, helping “them transform into what their post-pandemic form will be.”

Nite Owl Theater’s grant will go toward creating the Nite Owl Drive-In in downtown Miami. (Photo courtesy of Nite Owl Theater)

Another organization that is creating an indoor-to-outdoor experience is Nite Owl Theater, which received $128,800 for development of a drive-in theater in downtown Miami.

“It’s the next level for Nite Owl,” says Ganuza.

Nayib Estefan, son of Miami’s own Gloria and Emilio Estefan, opened Nite Owl Theater in the Miami Design District’s Melin Building in 2017. It was born out of his Secret Celluloid Society, which is dedicated to showing 35 mm films.

Thanks to the new funds, Nite Owl can transition from 35 mm to laser digital cinema projection, which will be retrofitted into an airstream trailer. The mobile projection booth will enable Nite Owl to host drive-in theater experiences and launch a four-week film series in a green space covering an entire city block.

“[Estefan] has this incredible ability to generate excitement around films – and not first-run films,” Ganuza says.

The largest grant given in this round of funding, $750,000, went to another film-centric organization, Third Horizon.

“From the very beginning, the Knight Foundation has helped us explore an explosive growth,” says Third Horizon co-founder Jason Fitzroy Jeffers, whose organization began in 2016 to showcase an annual film festival of Caribbean and Caribbean-American filmmakers. “This investment is transformative. It empowers us to root down into what we are already doing but do so much more.”

The success of the film festival over the past four years has spurred a demand for Third Horizon programming year-round. “Be that at different museums, other film festivals, other art institutions,” Jeffers says.

A portion of the grant will get Third Horizon’s film residency programming up and running, in what Jeffers describes will be “the mentoring of seven different filmmakers per cohort in the creation of a film.”

As part of its continuing evolution, Third Horizon merged with New York-based Caribbean Film Academy (CaFA) – a move meant to provide Caribbean filmmakers with an even wider reach. The Knight Foundation grant propels that, Jeffers says: “With more funding, there’s stronger work, and with stronger work, there’s more investment. It’s all part of the transformation.”

Says Ganuza: “What Third Horizon has done is that they’ve gone from being an upstart film collective to becoming the primary source for Caribbean and Caribbean-American storytelling, especially through film.”

Cai Guo-Qiang’s “Fireflies” will be one of the installations in the outdoor public art exhibition, “Illuminate Coral Gables,” which opens Feb. 12. (Photo courtesy of Jeff Fusco Photography)

The Coral Gables Community Foundation’s Illuminate Coral Gables was already in the works when COVID-19 hit, but organizers had to pivot. The $35,000 grant helps finance the tech-enabled outdoor public art exhibition, which is set to run Feb. 12 through March 14 in the city’s downtown area.

“Some of the organizations that received grants had ideas that were already in development,” Ganuza says.

Plans for the exhibition began in January 2019. “So, this was way pre-COVID,” says Patrick O’Connell, co-founder of Illuminate Coral Gables. “It was in motion for 14 months before COVID took the wind out of our sails.”

O’Connell says they were “wringing their hands for two months,” asking themselves if they could make the exhibition possible in a pandemic environment.

“We thought about it for a couple of months and stopped the planning for a bit. We had 20 installations that we had planned, many of them static sculptures and art that would require people to gather around,” he says. “But the more we thought about it, and with our chief curator (Lance M. Fung), we were able to plan it in a way with sensitivity to COVID.”

The exhibition will turn the streets, buildings and public spaces of Coral Gables into an outdoor museum, says O’Connell. The installations of newly commissioned and existing works from world-renowned local, national and international artists are in the form of light sculptures, projections and interactive works that can be safely viewed from afar and within socially distanced recommendations.

The grant will support Illuminate Coral Gables in its first year, O’Connell says, and will build a foundation for the outdoor exhibition to become an annual event.

Adam Ganuza, who joined the Knight Foundation in 2016, says the sense of togetherness and connection that comes through arts and culture is “incredibly critical. (Photo courtesy of Knight Foundation)

The idea behind the Knight Foundation funding also was to bridge physical divides brought on by the pandemic and allow organizations to continue their forward-thinking as they adapt to a new reality.

“At a time when we are so disconnected from each other in so many different ways, not just physically, the sense of togetherness and connection that comes through these kinds of experiences – through arts and culture – is incredibly critical,” Ganuza says.

Money for institutions such as the Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami ($250,000); the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami ($150,000); and Prizm Projects ($200,000) is meant to spur their digital outreach strategies and online platforms, providing pathways for audiences to access new works via digital portals.

The Miami Dade College Foundation, which presented its annual book fair for the first time online in 2020, received a $150,000 investment to continue development of the event’s online streaming platform – created in response to the challenge of presenting author and literary gatherings in virtual spaces.

Miami City Ballet received $250,000 for continued support of its outdoor production of George Balanchine’s “The Nutcracker,” which allowed for the holiday classic to continue its annual tradition – albeit reimagined to navigate COVID-19 health protocols for dancers, production staff and audience members alike. It also received $67,500 to commission two digital dance works.

“What we’re funding here are parts of these necessary adaptations that arts and cultural organizations and artists had to make to respond to the constraints of the pandemic,” Ganuza says. “Certainly, some of that will stay with us moving ahead into the future.”

ArtburstMiami.com is a nonprofit source of theater, dance, visual arts, music and performing arts news. Sign up for our newsletter and never miss a story.

latest posts

MOCA’s ‘Life and Spirituality in Haitian Ar...

Posted By Elisa Turner,

These master works have rarely, if ever, been exhibited, according to museum executive director Chana Budgazad Sheldon.

‘Dennis Manuel: The Eye of Afropunk’ captur...

Posted By Michelle F. Solomon,

The exhibit is available for viewing at the Historic Ward Rooming House in Miami’s Overtown through March 13.

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Posted By Michelle F. Solomon,

The exhibition will feature newly commissioned and existing works by local, national and international artists.

HistoryMiami’s ‘Collecting 2020’: Documenting an unforgettable year

Posted By Elisa Turner
January 11, 2021 at 3:47 PM

HistoryMiami Museum’s “Collecting 2020″ aims to record what daily life was like as South Florida endured a barrage of historic events: the global pandemic, Black Lives Matter protests and political elections. (Photo courtesy of HistoryMiami Museum)

Rosie the Riveter. The Grim Reaper. A “Black Lives Matter” Miami Heat jersey.

What do they have in common?

Indirectly or directly, they’re part of a project documenting the year many of us want to forget, jubilantly toasting its demise as New Year’s Day 2021 dawned.

The project is “Collecting 2020,” undertaken by HistoryMiami Museum, to record what daily life was like as South Florida endured a barrage of historic events: the global pandemic, Black Lives Matter protests, and divisive political elections.

HistoryMiami executive director Jorge Zamanillo urges the public to visit the “Collecting 2020” page on the museum’s website and contribute to this recently announced initiative. He spoke on Dec. 30, at the plaza in front of the museum, during a public call for community participation.

“You can submit anything, from a printed story to a video,” Zamanillo said. “You can request to submit objects, anything from personal protection equipment to a sign made by the kids next door to support front-line workers. Anything you think helps tell the story of COVID-19, the elections – either local or national – Black Lives Matter and racial injustice.”

Joining him in the plaza were Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, Miami Heat television host Jason Jackson and attorney Daniel Uhlfelder, who in May dressed as the Grim Reaper to walk through crowded Florida beaches and raise awareness of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Attorney Daniel Uhlfelder stands next to the Grim Reaper costume he donated to “Collecting 2020.” (Photo courtesy of HistoryMiami Museum)

His Grim Reaper costume is already part of “Collecting 2020,” as is the Miami Heat BLM jersey worn by player Bam Adebayo when the National Basketball Association resumed its season at Disney World in July. There also are signs stating “Latinos for Trump,” “Fund Black Youth,” “Not All Heroes Wear Capes,” and “Cubanos Con Biden.”

The Heat’s Jackson expressed pride in the young people and players who stepped up to support the BLM protests. They are “one and the same for me,” he said. “In my position, the players seem so young. There were about 20 to 30 different messages that players were able to choose from, negotiated with the players and the NBA, and ‘BLM’ was by far the most-used phrase that Black, White, international players had on their back.

“As a unified association of teams and players, the message was strong and certain,” he added. “The injustice that has been part of Black life since the 1600s continues in 2020.”

HistoryMiami displays a “Cubanos Con Biden” sign and a Miami HEAT jersey emblazoned with “Black Lives Matter,” part of the “Collecting 2020” exhibit. (Photo courtesy of HistoryMiami Museum)

The jerseys, Jackson said, reflected a desire among the players, NBA and team owners to show that Black players “are still young Black men in America that experience this injustice. It doesn’t matter how much money you make.”

As “Collecting 2020” spotlights a year of relentless anguish, it will also demonstrate the critical value of learning from history, according to Cava, who was wearing a mask emblazoned with Rosie the Riveter, an iconic symbol of female strength and initiative.

“We learn what were the challenges and also the opportunities to solve the problems. We are moving ahead in 2021 with great hope for the vaccine, but we are going to have to use all our ingenuity to make sure that people take advantage of that vaccine and, as we recover, we do it in a way that will be equitable for everyone,” she said.

Cava also wore the Rosie the Riveter mask on Nov. 17 when she was installed as Miami-Dade’s first female mayor. Will she be donating the mask to the collection?

During a news conference, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said HistoryMiami Museum’s “Collecting 2020” will demonstrate the critical value of learning from history. (Photo courtesy of Elisa Turner)

Cava smiled at the question, replying: “It’s not exactly my mask, it’s a general mask, so I’m going to hold on to it.”

However, she said she is donating items from her history-making political campaign in 2020.

In sharing his message, Uhlfelder appeared in business attire holding aloft a scythe: “As I now donate this item to the history museum of Miami, I recognize that there is not much to celebrate. “[COVID-19] cases continue to spike and hundreds of thousands of Americans have already lost their lives to the disease …

“What we can celebrate is the thousands of supporters who have joined us in this fight for truth. What I have learned from traveling the state dressed as ‘Death’ is that we are strongest when we work together and speak truthfully.”

As part of “Collecting 2020,” the public is invited to write a story, record a story, or donate items. Find more information and make your contribution at Historymiami.org/collecting2020

ArtburstMiami.com is a nonprofit source of theater, dance, visual arts, music and performing arts news. Sign up for our newsletter and never miss a story.

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Locust Projects presents ‘Made by Dusk’ installation

Posted By Michelle F. Solomon
December 31, 2020 at 12:34 AM

Miami-based artist Mette Tommerup, in front of one of the gilded canvases that are part of the “Made by Dusk” installation at Locust Projects. (Photo courtesy of Pedro Wazzan)

Mette Tommerup’s large-scale installation at Miami’s Locust Projects isn’t meant to merely exist. Her installations evolve through the visitors who interact with them, the space they are in, and the process that was used to create them, from inception to completion.

“Made by Dusk” is the last of a trilogy of installations that follow the pilgrimage of 40-by-12-foot canvases created in natural environments. Originally scheduled to be on display through Jan. 23, it has now been extended until Feb. 13.

The canvases in “Made by Dusk,” perched on the gallery walls, show video projections of the Miami-based artist on the roof of the Locust Projects building throwing canvases off the sides and pulling canvases back up onto the roof.

“You are surrounded by videos of what it would be like to be on top of the building,” she says. “It is supposed to take you away.”

The projections – which videographer Pedro Wazzan shot from above at twilight, using a camera on a drone – document Tommerup’s process: how she “liberates” her canvases before they enter into a gallery space.

“For the first time, I was able to document pulling up all of the work onto the roof of the building and then, consequently, tossing the work down,” she says.

“Why would I want to toss the canvas? The idea was to expose the work to the natural element of the time of the show: dusk. Floating it through the air, and the canvas being exposed to the night sky.”

The canvases in “Made by Dusk” went through a process of applied acrylic paint in gold and gray.

Mette Tommerup liberates one of the “Made by Dusk” canvases, as she tosses it off the side of the Locust Projects building at dusk. (Photo courtesy of Pedro Wazzan)

“Sometimes I use bundles of canvas and the canvases become the brush and I dip them in paint and then drag them, almost like dragging a body,” she says.

She puts the canvases through a number of paces in order to subject them to the elements. For “Dusk,” the canvases were put outside at twilight to soak in the timing, or she would do the handling of the canvases at that time.

This has been Tommerup’s process for all of the pieces in her three-year trilogy, which touches on the elements of water, earth and air.

The first installment, 2018’s “Ocean Loop,” showed at the Emerson Dorsch Gallery in Little Haiti. The artist strung small oil paintings of the sea and submerged them in the ocean. Some broke free and disappeared, and the ones she reeled in were discolored and tattered by saltwater.

“I’m interested in thinking of the paintings themselves as if they have their own agency,” she says. “They are independent of me, and they are breathing and alive – off on an adventure out of the blue.”

The following year’s “Love, Ur,” which also showed at Emerson Dorsch, focused on the Earth. Tommerup buried the canvases. She crushed them into the ground, immersing them to create whatever the environment would “paint” on the canvas. After they made their way into the exhibition space, visitors were encouraged to drape themselves in the canvases or roll around in them, if they pleased.

Tommerup says she admires the work of the late 1960s and early ’70s – obviously influenced by the Fluxus artists of that time, a group of avant-gardes whose art was meant to be social and participatory rather than something to be viewed.

“I’m really interested about ideas that were brought forth in that time period that have to do with the dematerialization of the art object – what happens when you strip away everything down to only the idea behind the object,” she says.

The stepping-off point for “Made by Dusk” is Locust Projects’ emphasis on strong female artists for its 2020-2021 exhibition season, in conjunction with 2020 marking the centennial of the 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote.

A video projection shows the artist working the canvas in “Made by Dusk.” (Photo courtesy of Zachary Balber)

“I am from a culture where women traditionally have been a lot more liberated and empowered than women in other places in the world, including the States for sure,” says Tommerup, who is originally from a small coastal town in Denmark. (She came to the United States to attend college in western Pennsylvania, then made her way to New York before settling in Miami in the 1990s.)

For “Made by Dusk,” she was inspired by Freya, the Nordic goddess of love, beauty and transformation who cried tears of gold. Tommerup wants the conversation that evolves from “Made by Dusk” and the influence of Freya to be “fueled by this otherworldly force, this divine entity. I needed something in the supernatural to work around for this project,” she confides.

“I wanted to bring in from another dimension a liberated, free-spirited entity.”

While the installation was in the works before the COVID-19 pandemic, its gilded and womblike atmosphere has added a place of refuge during a time of forced pause due to the coronavirus. “Made by Dusk” invites viewers to pause, but on their own terms.

The entrance to the exhibition is inspired by divine rays, a bit like a halo, ushering visitors into a space that at once is ancient but also post-modern. There are wooden benches suspended from the ceiling, and visitors are invited to sit and hover in time and space, bathed in golden light.

“With their feet slightly off the ground, the participant can locate an equilibrium that is empowering, disorienting and a place of contemplation,” Tommerup says. “The goal is to encourage a sense of liberation and restoration in this troubling time.”

These participatory elements of the exhibition are an essential part of the experience, she says.

During Miami Art Week, the first activation, “Liminal,” was viewed from Locust Projects’ parking lot. Starting at twilight, the performance included video projections of the massive canvases cascading down the side of the building. Blocks of dry ice were placed at the base, and attendees were encouraged to make a symbolic offering to Freya by dripping honey onto the dry ice.

“This created a hazy fog that captured the light and gave this cast of a warm, golden glow,” she says.

The intent went deeper than surface view: “While making the offering, they could contemplate their own wishes and desires.”

The public can view the exhibit from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays, by appointment or according to walk-in capacity.

During Miami Art Week, “Luminal” invited participants to drip honey on dry ice during an activation of “Made by Dusk” at Locust Projects. (Photo courtesy of WorldRedEye)

Two additional activations were planned for January. For the Jan. 9 activation, “Ethereal,” groups of 10 were ushered, in 30-minute increments, into a space where delicate flakes of gold leaf float around. Visitors were encouraged to try to catch the weightless sheets to create a collaborative work of art.

The idea was for the gold to accumulate throughout the space as the day progressed, adding another element to the exhibition as visitors stirred up the leaves, making them dance lightly in the air before falling again, according to the Locust Projects website.

Like the liberation of her canvases, activations such as “Ethereal” are designed to let visitors feel free.

“This offers an intuitive response to engage with the piece. There are no instructions,” she says. “I’ve seen first-hand that people will just dive in.”

As part of the constant evolution of the exhibition and of Tommerup’s wish to “surrender the work to another artist,” she wants people to regularly interact with the space, something that has become difficult because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

To that end, she has invited multimedia artist Danié Gómez-Ortigoza to present “To a ‘God.dess Unknown,'” from 7 to 8 p.m. Jan. 13. The performance piece, to be streamed, will explore “the process by which divinity unfolds itself from the universal to the individual in an otherworldly space and is dedicated to Freya,” according to a description by Gómez-Ortigoza. Instructions on how to join the event will be forthcoming on the Locust Projects website.

 

WHAT: Mette Tommerup’s “Made by Dusk”

WHEN: Through Feb. 13. Public hours of exhibition are 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesdays-Saturdays, by appointment and walk-in capacity.

WHERE: Locust Projects, 3852 N. Miami Ave., Miami

COST: Free

INFORMATION: 305-576-8570; Locustprojects.org

ArtburstMiami.com is a nonprofit source of theater, dance, visual arts, music and performing arts news. Sign up for our newsletter and never miss a story.

 

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Collector Jorge M. Pérez on his most recent art obsession and the exhibit at El Espacio 23

Posted By Michelle F. Solomon
December 10, 2020 at 10:55 PM

The exhibition, “Witness: Afro Perspectives from the Jorge M. Pérez Collection,” features “Nation of Refugees” (2017) by Christopher Myers. (Photo courtesy of El Espacio 23)

“I’ve always seen art as a way to better understand my culture and roots,” says art collector Jorge M. Pérez, who was born in Argentina to Cuban-exiled parents.

While the bulk of the South Florida real-estate developer’s vast art collection has been focused on Latin American and Caribbean works, Pérez discovered what he calls “an unexpected kinship” to African art and art of the African Diaspora.

“While I didn’t always experience a direct connection to African and African Diaspora art, that all changed once I traveled to the continent myself,” he says.

Pérez says he found many similarities to the works produced by Latin American and Caribbean artists: “Among these parallels were questions of political and social oppression, colonialism and identity, all of which were deeply embedded in many of my favorite pieces from Cuba and numerous other Latin regions.”

You can see 100 of his pieces in an exhibition titled, “Witness: Afro Perspectives from the Jorge M. Pérez Collection,” at his 1-year-old private museum, El Espacio 23 in the Allapattah neighborhood of Miami-Dade County.

The art is exceptional – and the curator behind “Witness” is, too. Zimbabwean-born Tandazani Dhlakama is assistant curator at Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (MOCAA) in Cape Town, South Africa. Open since 2017, it is the first major contemporary art museum in Africa.

“I met Tandazani during one of my many visits to Zeitz MOCAA, the largest museum of contemporary African art in the world. Shortly after meeting, we found we had a common passion for using art to celebrate and, more importantly, understand identities and cultures from around the world,” Pérez says.

Art collector Jorge M. Pérez says he has traveled to Africa multiple times and has developed ties to many of the local galleries and artists. (Photo courtesy of Nick Garcia Photography )

Dhlakama worked alongside Pérez’s full-time curators, Patricia M. Hanna and Anelys Alvarez, albeit from a distance because of COVID-19.

“The idea was that I would come a couple of times initially to see the space and for the installation and the opening, but unfortunately because of travel restrictions in both countries, I haven’t been able to,” she says.

Still, while it would have been wonderful to spend time in Miami, she says it didn’t affect her curating of the show.

For Dhlakama, it was a dream come true to select from “such a wide-ranging, interesting and significant collection,” she says. “That was the fun part, for sure.”

When she began to immerse herself in the collection, some narratives began to emerge, Dhlakama says.

“There were stories that were coming from an African perspective that I wanted to highlight. They all speak to this idea of witnessing in different ways,” she explains.

And so was born the name of the show, “Witness.”

The year 2020 certainly was a time to put this perspective into context, she says.

“We have all been witness to many things – some of us have been implicated knowingly or unknowingly and, regardless of what vantage point you are coming from, there’s this idea. You watch another human being murdered in nine minutes,” she says, using as an example the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minnesota police, and how the video made anyone who watched it a witness.

Curator Tandazani Dhlakama (Photo courtesy of Zeitz MOCAA)

“But what does something like that mean?” she asks.

“The work that I wanted to put in the show, to a certain extent, helps us make sense or highlights the issues,” adds Dhlakama, emphasizing that the art reflects on more than what’s happening in the present.

“There’s an important continuum around race, displacement, migration. These are not new issues. These are issues that humanity has been grappling with.”

She mentions some of the artists included in “Witness,” such as Frida Orupabo, a Norwegian with Nigerian heritage: “This is why it is subtitled, ‘Afro Perspective,’ as I don’t believe that you can talk about the African continent without talking about the African Diaspora.”

The African Diaspora refers to the many communities of people of African descent dispersed throughout the world as a result of historic movements, much of it from forced migrations due to slavery.

Sunday Service, Beaufort West Prison, 2006, Mikhael Subotzky (Photo courtesy of El Espacio 23)

“We tried to make sure that there were representations from the geopolitical space – the African Diaspora, i.e. anyone or anything that is rooted on the African continent even loosely related. A curator I looked up to once said, ‘Africa is a utopia, so why do we limit it to a physical land mass?’ ”

El Espacio 23’s artist-in-residence, Masimba Hwati, of Zimbabwe, produced a new site-specific piece for “Witness,” which explores Black identity in 1960s America.

“Of course, you can’t talk about Africa without thinking about race, and even that is complex. There are white Africans,” she says, with representation in the show by the works of multidisciplinary artist Mikhael Subotzky, a white South African born in Cape Town.

There’s also a piece by Cuban artist Carlos Martiel, “Mediterráneo,” which addresses human migrations and, in this work, the issues of Europe’s commitment and accountability for African migration.

One of the most prominent Cuban artists, KCHO (Alexis Leiva Machado), is part of Pérez’s collection, and his works will be on display at the exhibit. KCHO grew up on the small island of Isla de Pinos, Cuba, and lives and works in Havana. His subject matter is the portrayal of migration, specifically those seeking refuge by risking their lives in perilous voyages at sea.

“You can’t talk about Latin America without talking about Africa,” says Dhlakama, which circles back to Pérez’s idea about connection.

Pérez’s first trip to Africa in 2013 introduced him to the art and piqued his curiosity.

“Eventually that curiosity grew into more of an obsession,” he confides.

El Espacio 23 Artist-In-Residence Masimba Hwati at Harare Polytechnic, Zimbabwe, South Africa, 2012 (Photo courtesy of Baynham Goredema, baynham@xealos.com)

Pérez says he has traveled to Africa fives time since and has developed ties to many of the local galleries and artists, “to better understand trends, and identify young up-and-comers and more.”

He also recently pledged $2.5 million worth of the African art he’s been collecting to the Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM), which has more than 40 of the works on display through July 1, 2021.

“Miami, in particular, stands to benefit greatly from this recent emphasis on art from African and African Diaspora artists,” says Pérez. “Many of these works serve as a window into a seemingly foreign world, one not often shown in film and television, while also highlighting the undeniable similarities between African, Latin American and Caribbean cultures, as well as the outlooks of their people.”

 

WHAT: “Witness: Afro Perspectives from the Jorge M. Pérez Collection”

WHEN: On display through 2021

WHERE: El Espacio 23, 2270 NW 23rd St., Miami

SPECIAL INSTRUCTIONS: During the COVID-19 pandemic, viewings will be available by appointment only, from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. In accordance with U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Miami-Dade County guidelines, face coverings are required for all visitors and staff, and hand-sanitizing stations are placed throughout all galleries. Social distancing of at least 6 feet is strictly enforced. 

COST: Free

INFORMATION: To reserve a time, and for more information about guided tours, visit Elespacio23.com or email info@elespacio23.com.  

 

ArtburstMiami.com is a nonprofit source of theater, dance, visual arts, music and performing arts news. Sign up for our newsletter and never miss a story.

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‘Global/Borderless Caribbean XII: Focus Miami’ to celebrate the arts

Posted By Jonel Juste
November 30, 2020 at 10:22 PM

Luis Cruz Azaceta’s “Shifting States,” featuring acrylic, charcoal and white pencil on canvas, will be part of the exhibit. (Photo courtesy of Haitian Cultural Arts Alliance)

This time of year, Miami typically welcomes art lovers from around the world. However, because of the pandemic, major art fairs and exhibits such as Art Basel have been canceled.

Still, all hope is not lost. Over the past three months, some museums have reopened to the public and the arts have been making something of a comeback. Within this panorama, the Haitian Cultural Arts Alliance (HCAA) is offering “Global/Borderless Caribbean XII: Focus Miami,” a series of exhibitions at the Little Haiti Cultural Complex.

From Dec. 4 through Feb. 28, artists from Miami and the Caribbean will show their works with large-scale, outdoor exhibits as well as through virtual programming.

“We are celebrating 12 years of the ‘Global Caribbean’ series this year, and it will be done on the exterior walls of the Cultural Complex,” said Edouard Duval-Carrié, the renowned Haitian-American visual artist who is the HCAA’s executive director. “We are going to cover the whole building with paintings. With material that will last for at least a year, we will present things in a way that hasn’t been done yet, I hope.”

Among the art displays will be “Local Global,” a gallery exhibit curated by Marie Vickles. The curator-in-residence at the Little Haiti Cultural Complex sees “Local Global” as a celebration of Miami and Miami artists of the African Diaspora, representing the multiplicity of histories, nationalities and ethnicities that define the region and connect it to the Caribbean.

“Many times in Miami, we probably don’t feel as special as we should. Because of COVID-19, we had to think more closely about the local,” she said. “The local has always been a strong focus at the Little Haiti Cultural Complex, but this year makes it extra-special because the local is the most special thing you can highlight as a curator, a gallerist and an art community.”

Though it has had a longstanding partnership with the famed Art Basel fair since the beginning, organizers clarify that the “Global/Borderless Caribbean” series is an independent project.

The exhibits will be on-site, with the requirement of facial coverings and social distancing. However, there will also be free virtual programs – including workshops, lectures, fashions shows, live music and more – for people who don’t feel ready to attend physically or those who cannot travel, Vickles said.

Renowned Haitian-American visual artist Edouard Duval-Carrié is executive director of Haitian Cultural Arts Alliance. (Photo courtesy of HCAA)

“There are many ways to engage with the program, either physically or virtually. People can expect to be introduced to new artists that perhaps they are not aware of, connect to established artists of the African Diaspora they may not know have a local connection to Miami,” she said.

Participating artists include Tessa Mars, Joscelyn Gardner, Carl Juste, Sandro Garcia, Vickie Pierre, Francisco Maso, Vanessa Charlot, Yanira Collado, Marcus Blake, Charo Oquet and Asser Saint-Val.

Auxiliary programming on the campus and neighboring vicinity of the Little Haiti Cultural Complex will be provided by arts organizations IPC ArtSpace and Art Beat Miami. IPC ArtSpace, curated by Carl Juste, seeks to nurture connections and intersections between Haitian and Latin American artists and their communities. Meanwhile, Art Beat Miami is an annual satellite art fair presented by Little Haiti Optimist Club and Welcome to Little Haiti.

Organizers said the 2020 event is dedicated to the memory of Nigerian curator Bisi Silva, whose lifework and words are the inspiration for the “Local Global” exhibition.

Celebrating the arts during this time is important because “it speaks to everything we are going through, especially at this moment,” Vickles said. “It can help us work out all these issues that we face as humans interacting with one another, whether at an internal level, at a community level, or a political level.”

“Art is essential,” added Duval-Carrié. “As human beings, one of our common denominators is that we love and do art.”

 

WHAT: “Global/Borderless Caribbean XII: Focus Miami”

WHEN: On display from Dec. 4 through Feb. 28 

WHERE: Little Haiti Cultural Complex, 212 NE 59th Terrace, Miami; visitors to the physical location must RSVP at bit.ly/littlehaitiartweek.

COST: Free

INFORMATION: Email rsvplittlehaiti@gmail.com; visit Haitianculturalartsalliance.org or Littlehaiticulturalcenter.com

 

ArtburstMiami.com is a nonprofit source of theater, dance, visual arts, music and performing arts news. Sign up for our newsletter and never miss a story.

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MOCA North Miami makes its ‘Eternal Return’

Posted By Jonel Juste
November 19, 2020 at 9:07 PM

At the center of the “The Eternal Return and The Obsidian Heart” exhibition is a life-sized carousel that circles endlessly in a performance of fantasy and delirium. (Photo courtesy of MOCA North Miami)

The Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami reopened its doors to the public with an exhibition whose title fits with the moment: “The Eternal Return and The Obsidian Heart.”

Created by Mexican-born artist Raúl de Nieves, the exhibition originally was scheduled to open in April but had to wait seven months to finally be installed in the museum. It “offers a holistic look at the ways in which Raúl de Nieves rejoins the spiritual with the material in contemporary consumer culture,” says curator Risa Puleo.

The exhibit features a 14-foot-tall by 50-foot-wide installation titled “Basilio,” representing cosmic time with its depictions of planets circling the sun. There’s also a working carousel, referencing the cyclical time of Eternal Return, or “the idea that time is composed of a limited number of events that endlessly recur in different sequences and combinations,” according to the museum.

“Raúl is a very young and very prolific artist,” says the museum’s executive director, Chana Budgazad Sheldon. “His large installations joining the spiritual with the material are quite magical.”

This cosmic representation of time in colorful configurations of planets moving around the sun is part of “The Eternal Return and The Obsidian Heart.” (Photo courtesy of MOCA North Miami)

Born in 1983 in Michoacán, Mexico, and residing today in Brooklyn, the multimedia artist, performer and musician is inspired by childhood memories, growing up in a place where public religious rituals and private devotional acts involved costumes, performances and theatrical components.

“The exhibition is the first to consider the relationship between de Nieves’ sculptural work and his solo and collaborative performances, and in doing so, it also offers a comprehensive view of the artist’s practice,” Puleo says.

Safe reopening in 2020

To welcome back the community, MOCA North Miami had to comply with safety guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. The museum requires social distancing and face coverings, among other measures. It has placed signage and hand sanitizer throughout the museum and implemented enhanced cleaning and disinfection protocols.

Typically, a reception accompanies the museum’s vernissages, but not this time.

“There was nothing special, it was just about bringing the art back in the museum [and] opening our doors,” Sheldon says. “We just installed the artworks in a way everyone can socially distance and enjoy the exhibition.”

The Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami is enforcing safety guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control in order to welcome back its public. (Photo courtesy of Greater Miami and the Beaches)

‘Art on the Plaza’

While closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, MOCA North Miami kept busy with an initiative known as “Art on the Plaza.”

From June 15 to Sept. 30, passersby had the opportunity to peruse a large, black-and-white photograph displayed at the museum’s outdoor plaza, accompanied by four simple words: “I Am A Man.” A work by Miami Herald photographer Carl Juste, the image showed Elmore Nickelberry, who was part of the Memphis sanitation workers’ strike of 1968, and his son, Terence, with a sign representative of those carried during the 65-day strike.

It was a powerful statement during a time of protests inspired by George Floyd, who was killed in May while being arrested by former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.

“It was a way for us to bring artwork safely to the public, engage in social conversation, and connect with the community,” Sheldon says. “We had a great response to having art outside.”

This new type of programming, created during the pandemic, is here to stay, Sheldon says: “It is something that we will continue early next year. We will be commissioning local artists to create temporary artwork on MOCA Plaza.”

Executive director Chana Budgazad Sheldon says the museum received positive feedback about its outdoor programming during recent closures. (Photo courtesy of Daniel Bock)

Virtual programming

To keep in touch with the North Miami community, the museum also turned to virtual activities such as exhibitions and conversations with artists.

“We immediately pivoted to online programming, as many museums did,” Sheldon says. “Our teen, youth and family programs went virtual. That’s the way we could stay connected with the community.”

One such program, “Corporal DADE,” was a virtual exhibition exploring Miami-Dade County’s dynamic makeup. It took place from May 29 through Aug. 31, presented by interdisciplinary Miami artists including Aurora Molina, Almaz Wilson, Laura Prada, Lucia Del Sanchez, Mateo Nava, Mateo Serna Zapata, Sonia Báez-Hernández, and Susan Feliciano.

Haitian art exhibit

Up next for the North Miami museum is “Life and Spirituality in Haitian Art,” with art from Haitian painters such as Hector Hyppolite, Jacques-Enguérrand Gourgue, and Célestin Faustin. This exhibit will precede Miami Art Week.

Both this exhibit and “The Eternal Return and The Obsidian Heart” will remain on display through March 2021.

During a time like this, showcasing art is more important than ever. “Museums are able to provide a sense of community. It’s a place to reflect, especially in the time that we are in. To be part of the healing process, the transformation,” Sheldon says.

“It is wonderful to open again and welcome the community back to the museum, and to be surrounded by art again.”

The Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami, at 770 NE 125th St., is open from noon to 7 p.m. Wednesdays and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays. It is closed on Mondays and major holidays. Cost is $10 for general admission; $3 for students and seniors; and free for children younger than 12, MOCA members, North Miami residents, city employees and veterans. For more information, visit Mocanomi.org or call 305-893-6211.

ArtburstMiami.com is a nonprofit source of theater, dance, visual arts, music and performing arts news. Sign up for our newsletter and never miss a story.

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MDC Museum of Art and Design is back with ‘The Body Electric’

Posted By Marialexia Hernandez
November 13, 2020 at 5:36 PM

Marta Minujín created “Simultaneidad en Simultaneidad” (1966), a collage of situations happening simultaneously and creating the illusion of “total participation.” (Photo courtesy of the artist)

Months before the pandemic that shut doors of institutions throughout the region and around the world, Rina Carvajal was scouting projects for Miami Dade College’s Museum of Art and Design (MOAD).

The museum’s executive director and chief curator discovered “The Body Electric,” an exhibition by The Walker Art Center in Minneapolis that is a searing commentary on the way technology has evolved and continues to change our lives.

She planned to bring the exhibit to MOAD in November, but she’d had no idea back then that it would mark the museum’s reopening after nearly eight months of closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Honestly, all this virus situation that we have gone through with the pandemic has shown more than ever how dependent we are on technology,” Carvajal says about the theme of “The Body Electric,” which runs through May 30 at the museum’s space in downtown Miami’s Freedom Tower.

Though not organized chronologically, the exhibition features influential artists beginning from the late 1950s through the present day.

“There is certainly, you can say, a canon of artists engaging with new technologies with the screen and exploring issues surrounding the body and identity,” says Pavel Pyś, curator of visual arts at the Walker Art Center, who first organized the exhibit. “How have artists engaged with that space between the analog and the digital, the real and the virtual, the place of the world and the space of the screen?”

Pre-pandemic, “The Body Electric” was displayed in its original Minneapolis home and at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco. Bringing it to Miami for display in the times of COVID-19 created challenges and opportunities. Both curators agreed that organizing the exhibition for Miami was more complex, robust and ambitious than it had been for previous venues.

Because of its subject matter, the exhibit was to be extremely interactive – but how to make it touch-free now?

“We wanted to do it in a way that was user-friendly,” Carvajal says. “We didn’t want to put apps or QR codes that people have to put on a phone or download an app. I did a lot of research just to figure out how we are going to do this, and we found the solution that was technologically easy for people, so people can enjoy the show.”

The solution: The team at MOAD created interactive elements, installing directional speakers and motion sensors to activate the digital content.

In order to support audience participation without having touch points, organizers had to adapt the space and create immersive environments by investing in new technologies and working with some of the artists to adjust their masterpieces.

“The exhibition was full of single-channel videos that would [typically] be experienced on headphones,” Pyś says.

Then there was the major installation by Trisha Baga, an incredibly immersive experience titled “Mollusca & The Pelvic Floor,” which required the use of 3-D glasses.

“There were many conversations that we had among the curatorial team in terms of how we adjust the show … but also with some of the artists in terms of adjusting their work to be shown in a way that is safe, given that we are in this situation,” Pyś says.

As far as selecting the art, Pyś says he discussed Miami audiences with Carvajal and wanted to highlight a diversity of voices.

“We added works that we felt were necessary to see in Miami by artists who maybe hadn’t been seen much in this city,” he says. “So that was one of the key things. I wanted the exhibition to have a greater relevance to the community.”

With the large space inside The Freedom Tower, organizers were able to add 27 artists, some of whom were Latin American, who had not been included in previous presentations.

Additions for Miami included Marta Minujín, an Argentinian artist and pioneer of performance art, video, and soft sculpture, and Venezuelan artist Claudio Perna, who explored conceptualism through collage and photographs, among other artists.

“I think it’s relevant to Miami because there’s such a large population from Latin America living here that people will be interested in knowing what was the contribution of some of Latin American artists to this conversation,” Carvajal says.

“It’s a gigantic show. You have 50 years of history of artists interfacing with technology and showing the importance of technology in everyday life since the invention of television.”

 

WHAT: “The Body Electric”

WHEN: On display through May 30, 2021

WHERE: Museum of Art and Design at MDC, inside The Freedom Tower, 600 Biscayne Blvd., second floor, downtown Miami

MUSEUM ADMISSION: $12 for adults; $8 for seniors and military; $5 for students (ages 13-17) and college students (with valid ID); free for MOAD members, children 12 and younger, and MDC students, faculty and staff. Purchase tickets online or in person at The Freedom Tower.

INFORMATION: Call 305-237-7700, visit mdcmoad.org or email museum@mdc.edu. Call 305-237-7710 for accessibility issues.

 

ArtburstMiami.com is a nonprofit source of theater, dance, visual arts, music and performing arts news. Sign up for our newsletter and never miss a story.

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Commissioner, an alternative arts patronage model, begins its 3rd season

Posted By George Fishman
October 29, 2020 at 5:14 PM

On Oct. 17, Commissioner collectors and alumni gathered at the Design District’s historic Moore Elastika Building for “When we open every window,” a performance, installation and artwork reveal designed by GeoVanna Gonzalez. (Photo courtesy of Andrea Lorena)

What does it take to be an art collector? One imagines well-heeled patrons swooping through galleries and art fairs, dropping big bucks on A-list trophy pieces created by celebrity artists. But how do “regular” folks – interested in acquiring art, yet intimidated by the hype and price tags – get involved?

Enter the subscription program Commissioner, an alternative patronage model that is beginning its third season of operation. It’s the brainchild of Miamians Dejha Carrington, a communications strategist for the National YoungArts Foundation, and Rebekah Monson, co-founder and COO of WhereBy.Us, a platform that helps build media businesses.

Commissioner offers a down-to-earth membership approach for people primarily attracted to learning about the art-making process and supporting the local arts ecosystem – while starting their collecting journey.

“Why would we go on [the website] Artsy and buy something from some guy in Australia or Germany or China or New York or L.A., when there’s such an incredible community here that’s your neighbor?” said Justin Clarke, a Commissioner alumnus.

Its platform harnesses the power of cooperation and pooling resources to directly commission original artwork – locally. With a roster of 153 current members and alumni, they’ve commissioned more than 400 works by some of Miami’s most talented artists – principally for young collectors.

An annual membership of $1,500 (or $500 quarterly) entitles 40 “Collectors” to a series of exclusive cultural programming and four limited-edition artworks, specifically commissioned by the curatorial team. Ten third-season Collector memberships remain on offer.

“We look for rigor in the artists’ practice. We look at what they’ve done and what they want to do, and always we want to see which artists we are very excited about,” said Carrington during a Zoom call. The curatorial team seek diversity in medium, identity and perspective – and consider an artists’ ability to create an edition of 40 pieces (plus artist proofs).

Commissioner isn’t trying to undermine the gallery system. In fact, Primary, a Little River gallery founded by Typoe Gran, Books Bischof and Cristina Gonzalez in 2007, is a curatorial partner in selecting Commissioner’s artist roster and hosts many of its events. Gran was the first artist chosen to create artwork for Commissioner’s inaugural Collector members.

GeoVanna Gonzalez created “When we open every window” as a boxed set of miniature sculptural elements that correspond to the large installation and performance she staged. (Photo courtesy of Andrea Lorena)

The pooled resources generate a financial benefit, while prioritizing relationships with the artists over the works themselves. It’s not a buyers’ club.

“The intention is to make sure that you’re connecting with the person before the object and understanding the process,” Carrington said. “We wanted the combination of being able to commission new work and to keep the group of collectors and members engaged through a program that would be happening very regularly. It’s this idea of not only figuring out the economics but also figuring out how to build community and keep the interaction both between the members and with the artists.”

Commissioner initially was funded by the Knight Arts Challenge and Locust Projects’ WaveMaker Grants. Membership fees, supplemented by corporate and organizational sponsorships, provide ongoing support.

The unveiling and delivery of the artworks is organized as a celebratory event – a reveal – open to the Collector group and a set of Patron-level participants. The artist presents the work – which the collectors see for the first time – and provides insight into the ideas, techniques and materials that underlie the collage, digital media, photograph or sculpture that was created. This dynamic, explained Carrington, “puts the artist in front of the object.”

This was exemplified in the reveal for artist A.G., at Primary on Sept. 25, 2019. As Clarke recalled, “This reveal was particularly interesting because the artist, A.G., has a real flair for theatrics. Everything was dramatic and theatrical in how he presented the piece.”

His untitled digital print on vinyl was described as “prop: newspaper with special effects blood, sweat, & tears.”

For her commissioned work, Johanne Rahaman created a set of diptychs, consisting of one photograph depicting life in her native Trinidad, paired with one from her series documenting Black communities in Florida. Titled, “You Can Never Go Home,” they encompass a wide gamut of moods, activities and personalities. Her reveal featured a photography workshop at The Center for Subtropical Affairs, during which participants used the lush locale – and each other – to create a story of the environment and the creative community they’re generating.

Commissioner also offers special program access during Art Week and regularly organizes studio tours, including at Fountainhead Residency, co-founded by Dan and Kathryn Mikesell. These are supplemented by visits to private homes, where members see how seasoned collectors research, select and live with their treasures. The Commissioner website profiles its artists through non-jargony text and a short, but cogent, video.

Johanne Rahaman created a series of 10 diptychs juxtaposing images of carnival in Miami, Goombay in Key West, and life in Trinidad. Titled, “You Can Never Go Home” (2018-2019), her photographs are windows into everyday moments that highlight entrepreneurship, beauty, sensuality, aging, mortality, youth and resilience. (Photo courtesy of the artist)

Members are encouraged to collect on their own, recruit friends and generate a ripple effect. Clarke ran with this idea, creating a monthlong pop-up gallery downtown during Art Week in 2019. “Life in Every Breath” featured the photography of his friend, Enoch Contreras.

“I really wanted to give him a platform to show the world his eye,” Clarke said. “He’s trying to tell the stories of the indigenous peoples of Bolivia and why this mountain of ice is sacred to them, and how global warming is affecting them and the mountain.”

Clarke and Contreras also published a coffee table book, which sold out.

Inevitably, the pandemic disrupted Commissioner’s program, which shifted resources from summer gatherings to commissioning a fifth artwork – a multicolor resin sculpture by Gavin Perry – and adding other special projects, such as virtual art-making workshops. Season One and Two members were allowed to renew.

During Season Three, GeoVanna Gonzalez’s Oct. 17 artwork reveal was unique and COVID-safe. The young and highly accomplished artist took her socially based practice into the Moore Elastika Building in the Miami Design District, where she orchestrated three performances in which her collaborators – all shared householders – gracefully assembled and re-assembled a set of sculptural “props” for a choreographed dance. This was accompanied by music and Gonzalez reading her poem, “When we open every window.” Inspired by the whirl of activity in and around her great-grandmother’s Los Angeles home, Gonzalez’s abstract sculptural forms evoked the furniture, open windows, steps and curb where friends and family hung out.

Each taking home a boxed edition of miniaturized forms that the artist team fabricated and painted, the Collectors were encouraged to re-invent – on tabletop scale – the physical and emotional exchanges they witnessed during the reveal. Several days later, while celebrating her just-announced Ellies Award from Oolite Arts, Gonzalez said, “Performers told me that people in the audience were tearing up from seeing the performance, so it really seems to have touched people in a particular way.”

Safety-enhanced studio, gallery and private collection tours are scheduled for November and beyond. For more information, visit Commissioner.us.

ArtburstMiami.com is a nonprofit source of theater, dance, visual arts, music and performing arts news. Sign up for our newsletter and never miss a story.

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ICA Miami presents ‘Tomás Esson: The GOAT’ exhibition through May 2021

Posted By Rebekah Lanae Lengel
October 28, 2020 at 7:06 PM

The exhibition, “Tomás Esson: The GOAT,” is on display at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami through May 2, 2021. (Photo courtesy of Zachary Balber)

“Tomás Esson: The GOAT,” the latest installation at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami, is the Cuban painter’s first-ever solo museum presentation.

Throughout three decades, Esson’s work has been called grotesque and challenging, and has been censored, with exhibitions being shut down in his native country. Since moving to the United States in 1990, Esson has lived between Miami and New York, and he has pieces in the permanent collections at the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Havana; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City; Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego; and Ludwig Forum für Internationale Kunst, Aachen, Germany, among others.

The opportunity to support Esson with a solo exhibition at this transformational juncture in his career resonated with ICA Artistic Director Alex Gartenfeld.

“Tomás is such an important artist who has been based in Miami on and off for almost 30 years. It’s so crucial to our mission to be able to support not just international artists but artists living and working in Miami who are making a profound impact on the international scene – and Tomás is a great example of that,” he said.

“Tomás’ work is provocative and it has a history that is closely related to censorship, and so this is the time to kind of reckon with the ideas that are central to his work,” Gartenfeld added. “Tomás’ work has been consistently critical of the political regime in Cuba and has done so by employing revolutionary iconography, as well as very provocative imagery relating to mythology and sexuality.”

Set in three rooms, the exhibition allows the viewer to trace the trajectory of Esson’s work – something Gartenfeld says highlights the depths of his artistry.

The exhibition, which will remain on display through May 2021, features never-before-seen pieces and highlights different periods of Tomás Esson’s life. (Photo courtesy of Zachary Balber)

“Over the course of three decades, you see him moving from figurative mythological to a hybrid style to an almost completely abstract style, and just the consistency and steadiness of Tomás’ development, I think in this exhibition, is really striking.”

The exhibition, which will remain on display through May 2021, features never-before-seen pieces and highlights different periods of his life, including his early career with works such as “The Retrato (Portrait) Series” and his “Wet Painting” series. It also features a monumental, 100-foot-wide wall painting done by Esson in black and white, with mythical and malformed figures that are signature to his work.

“There are new works which are site-specific and responsive installations,” Gartenfeld said. “One of the wall paintings are drawings on paper which are assembled into a mosaic-like wallpaper using some of his very humorous, very kind of sexual iconic imagery from the late ’80s and early ’90s and turning them into an immersive installation.”

ICA Miami is also creating a catalog to accompany the exhibition, due in the spring, which will offer a significant contribution to
the scholarship of Esson’s work through a critical exploration of his oeuvre.

Added Gartenfeld: “I’m hoping that people take a sense of what kind of incredible artistic practice is happening here in Miami, and a sense of how painting can be political, critical, humorous and sexual at the same time and teach us new things about ourselves and our society.”

ICA Miami reopened in September. The museum has implemented new cleaning procedures and polices to ensure the safety of visitors. In addition to requiring advanced timed tickets for entry, attendees are limited to one hour in the museum and are required to wear facial coverings while inside or in the sculpture garden. Visit Icamiami.org for more details. 

 

WHAT: ICA Miami presents “Tomás Esson: The GOAT”

WHEN: Through May 2, 2021

WHERE: Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami, 61 NE 41st St.

COST: Admission is free, but visitors must reserve timed tickets in advance

INFORMATION: Call 305-901-5272, visit Icamiami.org or email hello@icamiami.org

 

ArtburstMiami.com is a nonprofit source of theater, dance, visual arts, music and performing arts news. Sign up for our newsletter and never miss a story.

latest posts

MOCA’s ‘Life and Spirituality in Haitian Ar...

Posted By Elisa Turner,

These master works have rarely, if ever, been exhibited, according to museum executive director Chana Budgazad Sheldon.

‘Dennis Manuel: The Eye of Afropunk’ captur...

Posted By Michelle F. Solomon,

The exhibit is available for viewing at the Historic Ward Rooming House in Miami’s Overtown through March 13.

‘Illuminate Coral Gables’ to transform city’s downtown ...

Posted By Michelle F. Solomon,

The exhibition will feature newly commissioned and existing works by local, national and international artists.