Archives: Visual Arts

The arts are in the DNA of The Betsy-South Beach

Written By Michelle F. Solomon
June 9, 2020 at 4:15 PM

The team behind The Betsy-South Beach see the hotel as a beacon for art partnerships and a space that gives groups a home in the greater Miami area. (Photo courtesy of The Betsy-South Beach)

The Betsy-South Beach has been closed ever since the coronavirus shut down tourism in South Florida. A gradual reopening is expected on July 1, but live jazz music in the lobby and the ever-present buzz of arts and cultural programming won’t be back in full swing.

That doesn’t mean that The Betsy’s “PACE model” of philanthropy, arts, culture and education is on hold. Rather than hosting salons in the hotel, The Betsy moved them to a virtual space – creating online salons where artists and authors present live from their homes to yours.

At the end of March, just weeks after everything came to a halt, The Betsy began its virtual artists’ series titled, “Zen and the Art of Architecture, Music, Poetry, and Photography,” each Monday at 7 p.m. via Zoom. The weekly “community gatherings” kicked off with architect Chad Oppenheim broadcasting live on March 30.

“We’re now living in a world where on the other side of the screen or the telephone are people yearning for cultural and artistic interaction,” says Jonathan Plutzik, chairman and principal owner of The Betsy. “This virtual connection is profoundly important.”

The next incarnation of the “Zen” series started June 1 with a focus on contemporary writers creating in a multicultural world. “Zen and the Art of Writing in America” will continue each Monday through July 13. Then comes “Zen and the Art of Writing and Making,” which will close out the series on July 20, July 27 and Aug. 3.

Plutzik, who co-owns the hotel with wife Lesley Goldwasser, says it is vital for The Betsy to be a space for comfort and healing through the arts. It’s a message he remembers a restaurateur friend telling him back in 2001, about places like restaurants and hotels playing an important role after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Husband-and-wife owners Jonathan Plutzik and Lesley Goldwasser. (Photo courtesy of The Betsy-South Beach)

“They became places of healing in a communal space, he told me. I carry that with me today,” Plutzik says.

The arts are a family affair for Plutzik. His sister, Deborah Plutzik-Briggs, is a professional opera singer-turned-doctorate-in-arts-education-turned-arts-development-expert. She serves as the hotel’s vice president of arts and as director of The Betsy Community Fund, which programs its arts and culture.

Their father is the late poet and three-time Pulitzer Prize finalist Hyam Plutzik.

The Betsy has a Writer’s Room that is a legacy to him – and that features his desk as well as inspirational wall hangings in the form of Hyam Plutzik’s work, “The Importance of Poetry.” Writers selected for the hotel’s weeklong residencies in the creative studio space are meant to get inspiration from the surroundings.

“Many Miami pre-war hotels had ‘writing rooms’ for travelers and guests,” Plutzik-Briggs says.

The room opened in 2012, and the pandemic marks the first time the room closed and the residency was put on hold.

While the Ocean Drive hotel hosts everything from music to its own curated exhibition spaces, writing is the “most natural commitment to The Betsy,” Plutzik says. “We know about the immortality of creating things and of words and of poetry in particular.”

In May, The Betsy offered “Zen and the Art of Poetry By Women.” This month, “Zen and the Art of Writing in America” launched with Pablo Cartaya, who is the co-founder and former director of the Escribe Aqui/Write Here program at The Betsy. He also established its bilingual, LGBTQ and Young Adult Writers initiatives.

“When Pablo started as the first author on June 1, it confirmed to me that what we are doing is something important, giving artists the chance to talk about their work in the context of what is happening now in the world, and how, in spite of it all, they still find their Zen,” Plutzik-Briggs says.

She remembers getting Cartaya initially involved at The Betsy thanks to a Knight Foundation challenge grant designed to help further the writers program.

“I wanted to hire a writer from the community to work with me,” she says. “With that grant, I hired Pablo Cartaya. Having a partner like him made all the difference in the world. We created together Escribe Aqui/Write Here, and then we developed the residency program with Escribe Aqui for regional writers.”

Like everything The Betsy does with its programming, it was one of their community-built partnerships that became the link for the Zen series to get off the ground so quickly in March. Plutzik-Briggs called up John Stuart, executive director at FIU Miami Beach Urban Studios, to help The Betsy create the series.

“Jonathan was on board with the idea from the beginning,” she says.

Both brother and sister express great pride in The Betsy’s role as a beacon for art partnerships and a space that gives groups a home in the greater Miami area.

The Writer’s Room at The Betsy hotel on Ocean Drive. (Photo courtesy of The Betsy-South Beach)

This commitment to the arts is visible down to the details. Everything in each room is curated, from the art on the walls to the book selection. Goldwasser has put together a formidable art collection with museum-quality exhibition space throughout the property.

“We don’t want to have decorator books in our rooms, and we don’t want to have decorator art on our walls,” Plutzik says. “We focus only on great photography, and we think of ourselves as having nine galleries, six of which are in rotation and three of which are permanent.”

Goldwasser curates many of the exhibits, often inviting guest curators to mount shows. Because of their dedication to the fine art of photography, they have partnerships with some of the greatest galleries in the world.

Just before COVID-19 temporarily closed the hotel’s doors, the hotel was exhibiting “The Art of Andy Sweet.” Sweet was the young photographer who chronicled 1970s Miami Beach and was murdered in 1982.

“The exhibit moved people,” Plutzik says.

The Betsy also acquired an exclusive collection of Muhammad Ali photographs for an exhibit overseen by Goldwasser and curated by Andrew Kaufman. The exhibit offers a rare glimpse into the champ’s time spent in Miami Beach.

“There are some very famous shots in that exhibit and a set of 20 smaller ones all taken in Miami Beach,” Plutzik says.

Sitting out and looking at an empty Ocean Drive make Plutzik appreciate his connection to Miami even more, he says. He recalls when he and Goldwasser first laid eyes on the hotel. When they purchased The Betsy in a bankruptcy auction in 2005, “it was closed, the door was locked, and it had a skeleton staff of three,” says Plutzik. “But it wasn’t in bad shape.”

The couple did some renovations and opened it in 2006 as a luxury boutique hotel.

Deborah Plutzik-Briggs holding a copy of “The Betsy” by Harold Robbins. (Photo courtesy of Shams Ahmed)

“I can’t say that the moment we purchased it that we knew exactly what direction we would take, but we knew it would be to create a hotel that we thought South Beach needed,” he says. “We ran it for a while, then we shut it and renovated it completely. It took us a while to figure out what we wanted to do.”

The Betsy Hotel closed in 2007 and reopened in 2009 after a multimillion-dollar restoration.

“Perhaps except for now, spring of 2009 was probably the worst time in economic history to open a luxury hotel,” he says.

All these years later, The Betsy has developed more than 200 partnerships with its PACE model and the philanthropy of The Plutzik Goldwasser Family Foundation, which was created by Plutzik and Goldwasser. Plutzik-Briggs serves as the foundation’s executive director.

Not only has the Zen series helped The Betsy stay connected with the community, but it has served as a way to help keep arts brands alive, too.

“This is a very important time for us and all presenting organizations to have a chance to reassess what we do, to think about what you do well even better, or maybe to say, ‘You know that one thing we do? We’re going to leave that to someone else,’” Plutzik-Briggs says. “I am hoping to take with me these quiet moments and try to figure out how to do what I do and what we do better for the next phase.”

“Zen and the Art of Writing In America” continues each Monday. The July 13 closing of that series will feature the screening of the documentary, “Hyam Plutzik: American Poet,” in partnership with the Miami Jewish Film Festival. “Zen and the Art of Writing and Making” will begin July 20 with entrepreneur Gidi Grinstein and continue through Aug. 3. To RSVP for the free salons or to see the list of authors and guests, go to thebetsyhotel.com/calendar.

Jonathan Plutzik: With the help of family and friends, Plutzik has created a cultural Mecca in the heart of South Beach – offering chamber music, opera, jazz, poetry in many forms, writers’ breakfast salons, a writer-in-residency program, art exhibitions, a cappella festivals, and much more – all free of charge to the public. Find more video interviews of Plutzik at Inspicio.fiu.edu. (Video courtesy of Inspicio)

Video Credits: Drone video:  Zachary Plutzik.  Music:  The (New) Beethoven Quartets. The 32 Piano Sonatas Reimagined. By Jeffery Briggs.  Piano Sonata in C-minor, op. 13.  Performed by the Amernet String Quartet.  Photo & Design:  Raymond Elman.

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‘I Remember Miami’ to use residents’ voices, photos for installation of memories

Written By Michelle F. Solomon
May 29, 2020 at 6:33 PM

Dora Garcia’s “I Remember Miami” is a participatory work that will create a collective time capsule, documenting a unique time in Miami’s history before and after the COVID-19 pandemic.  (Photo courtesy of Massimiliano Minocri)

“Think about a single place in Miami, where you have been in the past.”

With these instructions, artist Dora Garcia aims to unite Miamians and create a time capsule that will cement in time the recollections and the sense of place of a pre-pandemic city.

That is the idea behind Garcia’s “I Remember Miami,” a participatory and collective art-and-audio installation commissioned by Miami Dade College’s Museum of Art and Design (MOAD) as part of its “A City of the People” series.

“Overnight, restaurants, bars, concerts, theater, so many things quickly became outdated,” says Garcia, referring to when Miami and the rest of the country came to a standstill in March. “Even though it has only been a few months, it all feels like it happened a long time ago.”

Garcia believes and hopes that, in time, the collective voices of “I Remember Miami” will define a moment in culture and society.

Once completed, the online archive will live on the websites of the artist, MOAD and the Miami Book Fair. Residents have until June 30 to submit their memories.

“Through her art, Garcia creates the conditions to keep us connected and collectively involved in visualizing Miami’s past, present and future,” says Rina Carvajal, MOAD’s executive director and chief curator. “‘I Remember Miami’ is a beautifully fitting culmination to ‘A City of the People,’ which encourages Miamians to become active participants in the life of the place that we love.”

So, how do you become part of this collaborative time capsule?

First, pick a Miami spot that has personal significance, like a bustling Wynwood coffeeshop, a special museum, a symphony concert at New World, a crowded cocktail lounge in Miami Beach.

“Something that made a special impression,” Garcia says.

If several people select the same place to describe, which is bound to happen, Garcia would consider it one of the unexpected journeys of the project. “Then we understand what subjectivity does to a place, in the way each person remembers it,” she says.

Garcia says recording on an iPhone or other mobile device is fine: “The Voice Memo app on iPhone is great for this.”

Garcia wants you to be as specific as possible about the place.

“It is important for those who hear the recording to get an idea of the place you remember,” she says. “You can speak to how it felt for you, but it is very important to describe what kind of place it is.”

Be sure to stand next to a window or on a balcony in what have been your quarantine quarters and first observe what is outside. Start the recording, then close your eyes, she instructs.

“In your mind, start walking around in it. Describe the place as it was the day or days you were there,” she says. “It is important to the piece to order your memories according to your path through the space. You walk into the space, you look to your right, to your left.”

“Think about a single place in Miami, where you have been in the past,” says Dora Garcia to collaborators who want to become part of her collective audio installation, “I Remember Miami.” (Photo courtesy of Angela Valella)

The length of the recording can be from a few minutes up to 15 minutes, but make it enough that the listener can reconstruct your impressions of the space.

Pictures are another crucial element of the installation.

Garcia suggests photographing the space around you right after you’ve finished the recording. Then add a photo of the place you described – an image of the site, a selfie taken with friends there, or a picture of an object that connects you to that place.

You can submit only one recording but send up to three photographs to accompany the narrative.

“I Remember Miami” is a companion piece to Garcia’s current collaborative with MOAD, “Rezos/Prayers,” which she first enacted in her native Spain in 2007. The artist splits her time between Norway and Spain.

For the Miami project in 2019, 11 people recorded narrations of their observations in various locations or on public transport, noting everyday (and sometimes) unexpected details.

“‘Prayers’ was about perception, ‘Remember Miami’ is about memory,” Garcia says. “The process of memory is made at the moment. It’s not something that pre-exists.”

Listeners also become part of the collective installation.

“The moment you describe [a memory] to someone, it is also forming an image for the person who is listening. This is what is exciting about this process,” she says.

After all, we don’t really know how life will look once we’re completely past the pandemic.

“As long as you remember a place, you are keeping it alive,” she says. “In this case, you are remembering Miami” – for yourself and for others.

Submissions will be accepted until June 30 for inclusion into a growing online archive. Once completed, the archive will be accessible on the websites for the artist, the museum and the Miami Book Fair. Submit photographs and audio recordings, in any language, as digital files at mdcmoad.org/iremember.

The Museum of Art and Design at MDC is inside Miami’s historic Freedom Tower, 600 Biscayne Blvd. For more information, visit mdcmoad.org or 305-237-7700. The museum is temporarily closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

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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‘By & For’ online art auction to benefit Miami artists

Written By Rebekah Lanae Lengel
May 26, 2020 at 6:06 PM

Among the pieces for auction in “By & For Ed. 2 | MIAMI” will be Philip Lique’s “Segment study based on cathedral ceiling,” 2020. (Photo courtesy of Philip Lique)

When curators and friends Luna Goldberg and Laura Novoa saw the havoc that the COVID-19-related shutdown was causing within the arts community, they had to take action.

Inspired by the efforts of fellow curator Pia Singh in Chicago, who created the “By & For” online art auction to benefit artists, the two teamed up to co-curate their very own Miami edition.

Known as “By & For Ed. 2 | MIAMI,” the local auction will take place on the Instagram social media platform, running from 5 p.m. May 29 through 5 p.m. May 31.

“It was conceived of as an artist relief fundraiser to help support artists who have lost opportunities because of the pandemic,” says Goldberg, who also works as education manager at the Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU. “The concept behind it is that in bringing different artists together, coming from different backgrounds, both emerging and recognized, resources can be pooled to really support the entire arts community.”

“Both of us are really trying to support the community that we work with and deal with every day,” adds Novoa, who is the curatorial and public programs associate at Miami’s Bakehouse Art Complex. “Some of us can feel a little bit like we’re not doing enough during this time, so this was a great opportunity for us to work together and do our part in supporting artists.”

Mateo Nava’s “Hasta que nos alcance,” 2019. (Photo courtesy of Mateo Nava)

Here’s how it will work: Bids must be placed in increments of $50, and be made either through the comment section of each post or via direct message on the social media platform. Funds raised will be split equally between participating artists.

With opening bids as low as $150, it’s an opportunity for art-lovers to build their collections while also supporting a community of artists.

Instagram is a very democratic platform,” Novoa says. “Anyone can bid on an artwork and participate in this event, and in a process that’s usually unreachable and unattainable if you’re not of a certain social economic standing. I think that’s an exciting part of it – making this more democratic, and making this a collective shared experience that is meant to be a fun way of supporting local artists.”

The auction will feature the works of 16 Miami-based artists, including Jen Lynn Clay, Lucia Del Sanchez, Philip Lique and Mateo Nava.

To create the “By & For Ed.2 | MIAMI” auction, the two curators reached out to their networks, looking for a diverse group of artists who worked across mediums.

“We’ve gotten such positive responses from the artists themselves,” Goldberg says. “You can really see this camaraderie around the community and this excitement around supporting one another, and that’s been really lovely.

“Many of the participating artists have works and practices that are in conversation with one another,” she adds. “They contribute to the city’s local arts scene and practice alongside one another in institutions like the Bakehouse Art Complex, Oolite Arts, the Deering Estate, among others.”

Jen Lynn Clay’s “Fruiting Bodies,” 2020. (Photo courtesy of Jen Lynn Clay)

The Miami edition of “By & For” will include works in a variety of mediums such as painting, printmaking, ceramic and soft sculpture textile works, Goldberg says.

“We are hopeful that by providing such a diverse grouping of artworks, individuals with different aesthetic tastes will be able to connect to one or multiple works,” she says. “We hope that it’ll be something that people respond to, and that we will have multiple people over the weekend interested in pieces, placing bids.”

As curators and educators, Goldberg and Novoa see the auction as an opportunity to amplify the community of artists in South Florida and to recognize the role art plays in our daily lives, particularly during the pandemic.

“Artists usually bring with them more than just their artwork or their creativity,” Novoa says. “They really do think in very creative ways about the ‘we.’ The socially engaged nature of artists and artwork is so important, and not only in times like this, but all the time.

“Having the ability to think creatively is what’s going to get us through many crises, not just COVID-19, but also the climate change crisis and beyond. Artists and creative, in general, are the ones that really bring change to our world, so for us it’s important to give them this platform.”

What: “By & For Ed. 2 | MIAMI,” an Instagram-mediated artist relief auction featuring work by John William Bailly, Thomas Bils, Liene Bosquê, Jen Lynn Clay, Lucia Del Sanchez, Diego Gutierrez, Rhea Leonard, Philip Lique, Nick Mahshie, Laura Marsh, Mateo Nava, Alex Nuñez, William Osorio, Jennifer Printz, Nicole Salcedo, and Lauren Shapiro.

When: 5 p.m. May 29 through 5 p.m. May 31

Where: Instagram.com/by.and.for

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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‘Imagine Visions of Hope’ encourages photojournalists to combat grief and fear

Written By Elisa Turner
May 21, 2020 at 2:32 PM

“Smile,” taken Sept. 26, 2008, features Carla Gonzalez, 5, from Jalapa, Guatemala. Carla suffers from chronic malnutrition. Many of the children living in the small villages surrounding Jalapa suffer from some type of malnutrition. Due to the lack of sufficient nutrition, children are short for their age and have skin ailments. (Photo courtesy of Carl-Philippe Juste)

Prize-winning photojournalist Carl-Philippe Juste knows when it’s time for heavy lifting.

As the pandemic devastated Italy in February, Juste initiated the heavy lifting for a bold project — “Imagine Visions of Hope,” an online photo gallery that will eventually become traveling exhibits around the world.

Its mission: to encourage photojournalists to capture powerful scenes of hope as a way to counter the mounting tides of grief and fear inundating the globe.

It’s vital to pay witness to hope amid adversity, Juste insisted. “We have to give ourselves self-assurance. Because the quickest way you can manipulate people is if you make them fearful, if you rob them of their power.”

Fear stunts action and hope. As a Miami Herald photojournalist who’s covered wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, he said, “I’ve done a lot of hard stories, and one thing I’ve learned is that you can’t live in fear.”

The project’s website, Imaginevisionsofhope.org, went up online in early March. It announces an open call for both professional and amateur images to be featured in the gallery and to be considered for an exhibition series projected to travel from Miami to Washington, D.C., or New York City, as well as to South America, Europe, Africa, and Asia. Plans are to launch the series in Miami in 2021.

The barely 2-month-old project is a collective effort, combining the rich photojournalist talents of Iris PhotoCollective in Miami, which Juste founded, and Focus on the Story in Washington, D.C.

It has an estimated budget of $200,000, he said, not including various programs for each show at six locations. It also will award $500 to one photographer for “Best of Show,” according to the website.

Juste enlisted the partnership of Focus on the Story executive director Joe Newman, an award-winning reporter and editor who founded the Focus on the Story International Photo Festival to support visual storytelling that has a social impact.

“When I come to lift something really heavy, I bring people to help me carry it,” he said.

Juste also assembled a curatorial team to jury submissions for the online gallery and planned exhibits.


In “Untitled,” shot in 1992, Marjorie Conklin cools off in a tub of water filled with a hose, surrounded by what’s left of her south Miami-Dade County home several days after the destruction of Hurricane Andrew. (Photo courtesy of C.W. Griffin)

In addition to Newman, Juste’s team includes documentary photographer Maria Daniel Balcazar, San Antonio News-Express photo editor Luis Rios, and Newseum director of photography Indira Williams Babic, a frequent speaker on issues in photojournalism, including women covering conflict from the front lines.

“We’re not looking at pictures because they’re pretty,” said Juste, of the jurying process. “We’re looking at pictures because they’re poignant.”

All images must be grounded in fact, abiding by principles of photojournalism.

The website currently features 50 images from Miami, Guatemala, Honduras, Haiti, Sudan, India and other locations. Many show children playing in countries beset with desperate poverty or reminders of armed conflict. There’s an image from photographer Colin Finlay, for example, of children in Cambodia playing in a field that had recently cleared of landmines.

“We always seem to personify hope in terms of children, because the gravity of their life does not hold them down. No matter where you go around the world, kids still play. And they play with a sense of wonder,” Juste said.

Others evoke dramatic images of resilience in seriously degraded landscapes. Jeffrey A. Salter’s close-up of two gnarled, bare feet shows a green sprout pushing up between them, a small but vivid sign of efforts to counter deforestation in Haiti. In C.W. Griffin’s photo, a woman lounges in a water-filled tub, surrounded by remnants of her home a few days after 1992’s Hurricane Andrew destroyed it.

“The project speaks to the human condition at its worst and how we are able to sustain some level of humanity,” he said.

Juste spoke urgently about the still-nascent project, expressing his passionate belief in the visual language of photography to effect change: “Everyone has courage. It’s up to us, as artists, as communicators, to touch that courage and ignite it.”

To submit an image, and read the submission rules, go to Imaginevisionsofhope.org. The deadline to enter is July 15.

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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Art curator Rosie Gordon-Wallace stays on mission, with hope & the will to help

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May 19, 2020 at 4:43 PM

Rosie Gordon-Wallace co-curated last year’s Miami-focused exhibition, “Inter | Sectionality: Diaspora Art from The Creole City,” at the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. (Photo courtesy of Roy Wallace)

Rosie Gordon-Wallace has been a doyenne of the Miami arts community since the founding of Diaspora Vibe Cultural Arts Incubator in 1996. Originally trained as a microbiologist, the Jamaica native’s passion has always been for art.

She has supported the development of artists from the Caribbean diaspora through residencies and exhibitions and been a tireless mentor to all who cross her path.

It is no wonder that in the face of a global pandemic, her focus immediately turned toward the needs of the artistic community. On May 9, she launched a food distribution program that helps artists facing financial and food vulnerability, as well as Homestead farmers.

“It was a kneejerk gestation, overnight,” Gordon-Wallace says. “I wanted to do something to support the small farmers and to support artists, just in getting food on the table.”

Throughout the next three months, the Farms to Studios project will distribute boxes with $25 worth of fresh fruits and vegetables from Homestead’s Redland Community Farm and Market (along with recipes contributed by her sister who is a nutritionist) to 40 South Florida-based artists.

The distributions take place every two weeks on the lawn of Bay Shore Lutheran Church in Miami.

“When you’re doing this, you realize that you can’t do everything for everybody, and it’s a very humbling thought,” she says. “So at least, if someone is really in need, then … they can come and get a box of vegetables and food, and we can at least take away the insecurity and anxiety around food.”

Artists must register online for each cycle of distribution, and boxes are limited to 40 each cycle due to fundraising capacity.

In her words, there are “no guidelines. However, the artists’ word of mouth is fierce. Each week, we have a waiting list.”

(Courtesy of y Izia Lindsay, MFA)

The impetus for the program came from conversations with artist colleagues, who discussed the economic and psychological impact of the COVID-19 shutdown on the community.

“We talked about shame, that people feel it because their careers are on a pause,” she says. “They were doing major projects internationally and locally – and the shame [can come] around thinking: How can I be successful internationally, and I’m unable to keep my apartment, or put food on the table, put gas in my car?”

Gordon-Wallace understands that the path out of this pandemic will be fraught with challenges for all, not the least of which will be those working in the cultural sector.

“I’m hoping that as we face the pressures, that we will be able to push through. It’s going to require faith. It’s going to require a kind optimistic mindfulness, a deep belief in practice, faith in the tomorrow – that the sun sets every evening and rises in the morning,” she says. “I am hoping that this artist community does not lose faith.”

She would like to see the artist community come out of this pandemic and organize.

“I would like to see some leadership come out of this hardship, and [for the artist community to] come together and ask the tough questions of what we need. How can we organize as a group? It doesn’t have to be large, it can be locally, then nationally, then globally,” she says. “But a coming-together around an agreement around how contracts are formed is critical. What would you pay an artist to do an installation? What is the norm that you would pay an artist to fabricate? What are the standards for our industry?

“This work requires muscle. It requires sacrifice for you to focus, and to develop deep thinking and deep ideas,” she adds. “It requires sacrifice, but it doesn’t mean that you have to suffer.”

In the face of our new reality of isolation, Gordon-Wallace finds comfort in routine, connections and faith.

Volunteers at the first Farms to Studios food distribution on May 9. (Photo courtesy of Roy Wallace)

“I’m a firm believer in ritual. When I open my eyes in the morning, I’m privileged enough to see a canopy of green and flowers. And I am great for that at my age, that I can open my eyes and get up,” she says, with a laugh. “So the simple gratitude of just being able to get up and move, and the rituals of simplicity, and really keeping in touch with friends and family.”

She also continues to find inspiration in art. She references a painting by artist Jared McGriff titled “Alone Together,” which was included in a recent exhibition she co-curated at the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design at George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

“I thought of how both of those words are so powerful, because we are alone, but we are together in this. We’re alone together, and that has not happened for the American family in a long time,” she says.

These are also times that reinforce her steadfast commitment to artists and the importance of making art.

“I have my mission statement taped to my computer, and there are days when I literally read it aloud. It is to nurture and promote and exhibit the work of Latin and Caribbean artists, black and brown artists,” she states emphatically. “This is not work for the faint of heart. No one chooses this pathway just because, because you’re certainly not earning enough. So the question becomes why, right? Why do this?

“[It’s] the immeasurable joy that it brings to me – not joy in the way that you think I’m happy running in the streets leaping, not that kind of joy – but rather a deep-seated sense of contentment. I feel worthy, I feel worthwhile, that when I die, even if everybody that we have served does not appreciate it, that if we can in this work change the artistic mind of one human being from that region, to have a dedicated life in this, then it would have been enough. If we can stay on mission, regardless of how rocky the future is, I will find peace and joy and contentment.”

If you would like to sign up for a box, or underwrite a box for an artist in need, visit dvcai.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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ICA Miami’s ‘Digital Commissions’ showcases new works every week

Written By Rebekah Lanae Lengel
May 14, 2020 at 2:01 PM

Faren Humes’ “MLK” is part of ICA Miami’s “Digital Commissions” project. (Video still courtesy of Faren Humes)

As stay-at-home orders stretch into the third month, cultural institutions are looking at how to present artistic offerings to the public in safe and digitally accessible ways.

The Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami (ICA Miami) has long focused on expanding its online platforms, so it was uniquely positioned to quickly launch a commissioning project featuring seven Miami artists and an artist collective.

“Since we launched, we have worked on ensuring that, as a new and cutting-edge museum, everything we were doing was thinking innovatively about technology and media,” says Alex Gartenfeld, ICA Miami’s artistic director. “So there is a giant section of our website entitled ‘Research,’ and a big part of it is our Channel, which is a program dedicated to creating new narratives in contemporary art.”

Titled “Digital Commissions,” the project premieres new works weekly and keeps them live on ICA Miami’s channel for a year. Its aim is not only to expand the institution’s digital reach but to develop and support artists, who are among the hardest hit by the COVID-19 economic shutdown.

“Obviously, this is an unprecedented time for people working in all sectors of the economy, but artists and art educators are no less impacted, and this is one of a number of gestures that the ICA has undertaken in order to give back to our community,” Gartenfeld says. “It’s a tribute to the Knight Foundation and our partnership with them on this new program … which speaks to our foundation leaders in this community, who are thinking long term and short term about sustainability in Miami.”

The project – organized by ICA Miami’s director of the Knight Foundation Art + Research Center, Gean Moreno, and museum curator Stephanie Seidel – originally focused on four artists but soon expanded to eight participants. They are: Cristine Brache, Domingo Castillo, Faren Humes, Terence Price II, The Institute of Queer Ecology, Aramis Gutierrez II, Tara Long, GeoVanna Gonzalez.

Video still of Terence Price II’s work, titled “2017, 18, 19, 20 & So On.” (Courtesy of Terence Price II)

The artists were given a short turnaround period but much freedom to create.

“We gave artists a pretty blank slate. We said to them: Thinking about your practice recently, create a new work that will function innovatively on our website ad social media,” Gartenfeld says.

“We said: What can we do to support artists in our community? We have taken this time to also analyze all of our digital offerings and ensure that we’re engaging the public in new ways, so this is perhaps a marquee program in that initiative. This was a way of working with artists to continue to move their vision forward, and invest in them as well.”

For Price II, a Miami-based photographer, this was an opportunity to realize a work he has been developing since 2017. Originally focused on street photography and documenting the Miami communities where he grew up, his “Digital Commissions” work includes a series of four videos documenting his own haircuts – from a cut during a 2017 visit to Eatonville, Fla., to the most recent performed by himself during COVID-19 enforced isolation.

“In 2017, I decided to record my uncle, who was a barber, cutting my hair, and from there it has been like once every year I recorded myself cutting my hair and shedding and starting fresh from whatever experiences that led up to that moment,” he says.

The end result, titled “2017, 18, 19, 20 & So On,” was the second commission to premiere on ICA Miami’s Channel.

The museum and artists are excited about the possibilities of a digital exhibition space, which allows works to be seen and experienced by viewers without the limitations of geography.

“Since people are able to watch it on their phones, or at home, I think that’s pretty cool that you can reach a lot more people,” Price says. “Now that it’s on this platform, everybody can travel through the web and then watch it and sit with it and have their own personal connections to it.”

Adds Gartenfeld: “We have had to think about how every program not only translates to web but engages audiences of all types, so this raises really complex questions about how we work with partners, how education functions, and how we continue to ensure accessibility.

“So this particular project is just a narrow glimpse into the deep consideration we have had around be goal of digital in our lives.”

What: “Digital Commissions,” presented by the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami

When: Ongoing, with new works premiering each Wednesday 

Where: icamiami.org/channel

Cost: Free

More information: 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.

 

 

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Review: ‘Aesthetics of Mobility’ offers corona-era insights on creative possibilities for artists

Written By Elisa Turner
May 11, 2020 at 3:27 PM

Visual artists Najja Moon, left, and GeoVanna Gonzalez star in the YouTube series, “Aesthetics of Mobility.” (Photo courtesy of Najja Moon and GeoVanna Gonzalez)

Before the virus slammed Miami, visual artists GeoVanna Gonzalez and Najja Moon began living in their tiny house on wheels, a retro-fitted box truck. Now, it’s an unexpected bulwark against COVID-19.

Not only is it where they shelter in place, but it’s also their studio for producing a timely series of performances on YouTube. No need to observe social distancing for these public art performances, part of the artists’ community-engaged social practice.

The pair – creative thinkers active in Miami’s art community – have been working at home on a new project, “Aesthetics of Mobility,” which they began posting on April 16 on YouTube. It’s a series of conversations about their process of living together as artists in a small, mobile space. The space was designed for sustainable living in a pre-virus era, though now its economic concept and design look prescient during these days of quarantine.

“Aesthetics of Mobility” offers corona-era insights on creative possibilities for artists of most any genre, surely viable for post-lockdown times when sustainability may be ever more necessary.

Conversations between Gonzalez and Moon can ramble and sometimes seem tinged with self-promotion, but overall their talks are disarming and informal, free of pretentious art jargon. It’s a refreshing addition to the relatively static experience of seeing art online when venues are in lockdown.

Cheerful ribbing occasionally punctuates the back and forth. Gonzalez and Moon muse over the decisions they’ve made and are still making for this space, which was designed for their own purposes and at their own expense.

Having already accomplished the back-breaking work of converting a 15-foot box truck into a tiny house, they started the series on YouTube to archive their current experiences.

“Now that we are living in it, there’s another kind of learning process that’s happening,” said Moon, who is co-founder of the BLCK Family, a Miami-based creative collective known for performance art.

“I do consider the archive part of my practice,” she added. “Our practice is not just limited to the things you produce. I’m always trying to be aware of how my life is influencing my work.”

The first episode was a lively introduction to the series. Moon struck a humble note, uncomfortable with the idea that anyone can truly own land. She expressed gratitude for being able to “borrow the land” wherever the house happens to be parked.

The second episode focused on their Murphy bed, not only as a place for sex but as a sanctuary for dreaming, Gonzalez said. It’s a vulnerable place, added Moon, a place to shed the goal-oriented “performances” of daily life. They riffed about the social pressures that misconceive taking time to rest and reflect as a form of laziness.

The first two episodes of “Aesthetics of Mobility” were supported by a stipend from the Bakehouse Art Complex, where the two share an outdoor studio.

“I loved the project when Najja showed me the drawings at the very beginning, a year and a half ago at least,” said Bakehouse acting director Cathy Leff. “It was about sustainability. How could you live minimally? What do you really need? I could see the exquisiteness of their thinking.

“It’s designed like a perfect space … really nice materials but not fancy. It supplies everything they need. Especially in times like these.”

In the second episode, titled “The Bed,” GeoVanna Gonzalez (at left) and Najja Moon riff about the social pressures that misconceive taking time to rest and reflect as a form of laziness. (Photo courtesy of Najja Moon and GeoVanna Gonzalez)

“Aesthetics of Mobility” is encompassed by an earlier project, “Living Life as Practice,” first conceived by Moon. The larger project, Moon explained, speaks to ideas that “the way we live our lives, the relationships we have, the food we eat, the way we party, the way we have sex” all inform work we do.

“I wanted to dedicate some time to building my living environment and see how learning a skill would impact my art practice on a larger scale,” she said.

When the lease on her Little Haiti apartment was not renewed, Moon decided to build a tiny house, an idea she’d had for some time. She purchased the box truck in December 2018 and started living in it over the summer of 2019.

“It did not look as beautiful as it looks now,” she said, laughing. “There was a point when my partner and I literally gutted everything and rebuilt everything. I have learned so many skill sets.”

Together, they did the electrical wiring and built the furniture. The house runs on solar energy.

Their tiny house is on target to produce more big ideas.

On April 29, Locust Projects announced that Gonzalez was awarded a $6,000 WaveMaker grant to create new work, titled “Supplement Projects.” It will be interwoven, Gonzalez said, with the interconnected projects “Aesthetics of Mobility” and “Living Life as Practice.” Each will be developed from the tiny house she shares with Moon.

“Supplement Projects” involves a host of noncommercial endeavors, including performances, installations, spoken word, music and poetry, Gonzalez said.

It’s nomadic – emphasizing both collaboration and community – and will take place in various locations, from homes to empty lots, all beyond traditional gallery spaces. It will highlight “marginalized or under-represented artists, curators, activists and cultural practitioners,” she said.

This experience has pushed the couple to think about how to be more self-sufficient.

“We do go to the grocery store once a week, so we’ve started planning how to integrate a garden into our home,” Moon said.

Still, she added, “I miss people and bodies and community. That’s why so much of my practice is a social practice. I don’t think art is made or happens in a silo. I think there are introspective moments, but that living life as practice is real for everybody.”

To watch the series, search for “Aesthetics of Mobility” on YouTube.com.  

Click here for Episode 1.

Click here for Episode 2, “The Bed.”

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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Behold Miami-Dade’s Art in Public Places, one of largest public collections in U.S.

Written By Rebekah Lanae Lengel
April 28, 2020 at 6:58 PM

Daniel Arsham/Snarkitecture’s “A Memorial Bowing” can be found at Miami’s Marlins Park. (Photo courtesy of Noah Kalina)

Miami has become known as a global capital for the visual arts – thanks to the artists who make the city home, and aided internationally by the attention of the annual Miami Art Week crowds each December.

Fewer know, however, that Miami-Dade County is also home to one of the largest public art collections in the United States.

The county’s Art in Public Places program has placed more than 750 works of art since it was established in 1973, in spots including Miami International Airport, Zoo Miami, the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, libraries, fire and police stations.

That means that despite the COVID-19 pandemic and associated social-distancing prevention measures that have limited the public’s ability to see art in person in galleries or museum, many of the pieces in the Art in Public Places collection are in locations still viewable by the public.

“It’s a major collection,” says Amanda Sanfilippo Long, who has served as the program’s curator and artist manager since 2016. “We have some artworks that are spanning from the greats of the pop art generation, important artists working in South Florida, and also internationally.

“We are very artist-focused,” she adds. “It’s about really privileging the artists to the fullest extent to expand their practice, and really being artist-centric, as opposed to sometimes public art agencies being very focused on sort of guessing the needs of the community. This is about artists and their work.”

Art in Public Places has had a long time to figure out the best way to marry the many needs of the multiple stakeholders in a public art project, including the artist, the community and real estate developers. The 1973 ordinance that created the program stipulates that any developer building on county-owned land must finance public art projects on that development with 1.5 percent of their total project budget.

The first step, Sanfilippo Long says, is “a sit-down to look at [a particular] project and talk about the opportunity for public art. Sometimes, projects have components that they designed from the get-go with the idea of incorporating or integrating public art into the fabric of the building – not just hanging a painting on a wall, but something that’s architecturally scaled. It could be a massive terrazzo floor, or something integrated using landscaping.”

One such example: the terrazzo floors by Michele Oka Doner in the North Terminal D of Miami International Airport.

Overseen by a trust that is appointed by the Board of County Commissioners, with guidance from a professional advisory committee, the program’s focus remains firmly on ensuring the art will have an effect on both the community and the artist themselves.

“The opportunity to work with artists to create things that are not only permanent but are maybe some of the largest or most robust examples of their work in their oeuvre, is fabulous,” she says. “It’s about scale, about these artists being able to push themselves.”

The trust also ensures that decisions on a collection of such magnitude and permanence are not taken lightly.

“It’s an extraordinary program with a real solid focus on supporting artists and excellence and diversity, and that’s really important,” she says. “Who are the decision-makers at the table, and are they reflective of the community? Diversity, equity and inclusion are very important to us, and you can see it in our community members, our trust, and it’s reflective of the artists that we are engaging.”

The following is a selection of pieces throughout Miami-Dade County, with highlights from Sanfilippo Long. 

(Photo courtesy of Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs’ Art in Public Places Trust)

Erwin Redl’s “Volume Miami” 

Location: PortMiami, Crown of Miami – Cruise Terminal A – Royal Caribbean Cruise Line, 2299 E. Port Blvd.

Featuring 650 custom light fixtures, this installation on the Royal Caribbean Cruise Terminal is best viewed at night, driving east from downtown Miami to Miami Beach on the Interstate-395 Causeway.

“What’s exquisite is that this artwork is actually a gift to the entire city because it’s visible for anyone driving on 395. It’s just this glimmering, shimmering experience and light that are installed throughout the immense architectural volume of the terminal,” she says. “The lights are on a very specific program, coming in different intervals, so it’s not only just about what’s inside the buildings, but what everyone can see outside as well. There are so many different dynamic ways the collection exists out in the world.”

(Photo courtesy of Luis Villalobos)

Nekisha Durrett and Hank Willis Thomas’ “I See Myself In You …”

Location: 6103 NW Seventh Ave., Miami

On the Northwest Seventh Avenue facing side of Liberty City’s Sandrell Rivers Theater is a 3-Dimensional metal wall sculpture of a woman gazing outward with reflective glasses, which allows the work to change throughout the day.

“It’s this beautiful facade of the building that is a beacon, and transforming,” she says.

(Photo courtesy of Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs’ Art in Public Places Trust)

Isamu Noguchi’s “Slide Mantra” 

Bayfront Park, Biscayne Boulevard at Flagler Street

This interactive piece made of Carrara marble is also a functional slide.

“It’s a wonderful artwork that you actually get to climb on the back and slide down.”

(Photo courtesy of Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs’ Art in Public Places Trust)

Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen’s “Dropped Bowl with Scattered Slices and Peels”

Location: Stephen P. Clark Government Center, 111 NW First St., Miami

Installed in 1990 on the southwest corner of First Street and Second Avenue, this sculpture is reminiscent of a dropped bowl of fruit.

“It’s just a joy,” she says.

(Photo courtesy of Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs’ Art in Public Places Trust)

Purvis Young’s “Untitled”    

Location: Northside Metrorail Station, 3150 NW 79th St., Miami

Painted by one of Miami’s most celebrated sons, this monumental mural graces the Northside Metrorail Station and emerges as you ride the escalator up to the train platform.

“It’s an enormous mural by Purvis Young, and most people have never seen it, and it’s just a gem from 1986,” she says. “It’s a really special thing.”

(Photo courtesy of Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs’ Art in Public Places Trust)

Art at Marlins Park: Carlos Cruz-Diez’s “Chromatic Induction in a Double Frequency” and Daniel Arsham/Snarkitecture’s “A Memorial Bowing”

Location: Marlins Park, 501 NW 16th Ave., Miami

The Miami Marlins’ ballpark is home to several pieces from the public art program.

“I definitely recommend walking around the grounds of the Marlins’ ballpark and just experiencing the collection of artwork there,” she says. “Carlos Cruz-Diez’s incredible integrated walkways are just mesmerizing, they are so much fun to visit. I have to say it’s one of my favorite pieces in the collection!

“And then, of course, don’t forget around the other side of the Marlins Ballpark you’ve got Daniel Arsham/Snarkitecture, with his great big orange letters that look like they tumbled off the side of the former Orange Bowl and just dropped and embedded themselves in the concrete of the steps of the Marlins Park.”

DENNIS LEYVA worked at the City of Miami Beach for 22 years. As the public art administrator for 15 years before retiring in 2019, he worked as the city’s liaison to the Art in Public Places program. His primary focus was curating and commissioning site-specific projects for public spaces throughout Miami Beach. FIU Inspicio interviewed Leyva and shared with us this video. In it, he gives his pick of favorites in Miami Beach.

For more videos of Leyva, go to Inspicio.fiu.edu.

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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How will Miami’s arts community survive? Groups answer call for help

Written By Elisa Turner
April 6, 2020 at 8:57 PM

“Man-Made Environment (here, there, everywhere)” is a work by Devora Perez, an artist featured through the Diaspora Vibe Cultural Arts Incubator. (Photo courtesy of DVCAI)

In these dark days of social distancing and shuttered arts venues, doors are opening to help visual artists survive the economic onslaught of COVID-19.

Art is increasingly coming online for the viewers, and critical financial resources are coming online for the artists. Such online resources connect artists and culture-lovers virtually, producing both material and emotional benefits. But will these be enough for all or most of Miami’s arts community to survive when no one knows how long the crisis will last?

“We all want to be optimistic, but there will be loss, there will be grief, and I think we need to find new ways to come together,” said Lorie Mertes, executive director of the Design District alternative space Locust Projects. “It’s almost like the austerity measures after World War II. It’s too early to know what the impact will be, but we are all thinking about it.”

Michael Spring, director of the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs, regularly sends out emails with information for artists and nonprofit organizations during this crisis. (The Department of Cultural Affairs helps support the mission of ArtburstMiami.com.) Spring’s April 1 update discussed federal and local relief funding from sources such as the National Endowment for the Arts, the Knight Foundation, Oolite Arts, and the Miami Pandemic Response Fund started by United Way of Miami-Dade and the Miami Herald/el Nuevo Herald.

The new Oolite Arts relief fund – started March 26 with $25,000 repurposed from canceled programming – has more than quadrupled. It has received donations from individuals as well as from The Jorge M.  Perez Foundation at The Miami Foundation and The Lynn and Louis Wolfson II Family Foundation. Oolite has since provided an additional $25,000.

“People really do understand how much of a driver our cultural sector has become, in driving tourism, our economy, and making Miami a place people want to live,” said Oolite Arts President and CEO Dennis Scholl in an email, commenting on the relief fund’s rapid-fire growth. “One of the more rewarding moments in establishing the fund is to see that a number of artists and cultural workers have also made contributions … noting that they were still employed and wanted to do what they could for their colleagues in the art world who were struggling.”

Artist GeoVanna Gonzalez prepares for an exhibition at Locust Projects that was later postponed. (Photo courtesy of Pulp Arts)

Visual artists who are Miami-Dade County residents can apply for up to $500 of lost income due to canceled employment, whether or not it’s in the cultural sector, or canceled professional artistic opportunities. Applications will be accepted through April 16.

Miami Beach-based Oolite Arts has already sent checks to about 250 artists, Scholl said.

Meanwhile, The Fountainhead Residency is providing Miami-based artists and supporters numerous online opportunities, including an updated “Artists’ Resources” webpage and the ability to sell work priced under $1,000 directly.

It also is hosting virtual studio visits via Fountainhead’s Instagram account. The format is informal and engaging.

“To see inside an artist’s studio is an absolute privilege. It is truly the artists that are getting us through this,” Fountainhead Director Kathryn Mikesell said. “This is going to help us understand the value artists bring to our lives.”

The initiative – which is open to Miami artists as well as Fountainhead Residency alumni artists – is expected to continue after the threat of COVID-19 is over, Mikesell said.

Artists David Rohn and Alex Nuñez are among those who’ve already conducted virtual studio visits courtesy of Fountainhead.

“Like a lot of things now, it all seems a second-rate version of ‘going live.’ But it’s what we’ve got right now, way better than nothing,” said Rohn via email about his virtual studio visit. “And for me personally, at least, it all wound up actually being more real than I expected.

“Seeing the icons of watchers and the occasional waves of ‘thumbs-up’ and ‘hearts’ made me feel that it was all happening in real time, and I found myself getting a lot more personal and open than I’d expected to.”

While there’s no virtual exhibit at Locust Projects, the alternative space is also posting artist resources and assisting in other ways.

“Virtual exhibits are tricky for Locust,” said its executive director, Mertes. “Locust is so much about process and site-specific experience.”

She said The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts will collaborate with its 16 regional re-granting partners across the country, including Locust Projects in Miami, to distribute emergency grants to artists affected by the pandemic.

Oolite Arts, seen here from Lincoln Road, has started a relief fund to help artists. (Photo courtesy of Zach Balber)

With Warhol’s approval to re-allocate money from the 2021 WaveMaker Grants, Locust Projects can award a minimum of 40 Miami visual artists with $1,500 each in emergency relief funds. Details on how to apply will be announced by April 15 on Locust’s website and through social media. Grants will be awarded before June 1.

Additionally, Locust Projects has informed the 12 artists soon-to-be-announced as the 2020 WaveMaker recipients that they may use up to 50 percent of their grant toward emergency relief, if needed due to COVID-19.

Rosie Gordon Wallace is founder and chief curator of Diaspora Vibe Cultural Arts Incubator, which provides international opportunities for Miami and Caribbean artists. DVCAI has operated online for several years. However, this crisis is so new that Wallace has not yet secured major funding to assist her stable of about 45 artists. She hopes immigrant status will not exclude DVCAI from the funding process.

“I continue to reach out and ask, ‘How are you doing and what do you need?’” she said. “My concern is around the day-to-day — rent, food, gas, and the emotional stability of the artist.”

Miami-based art historian and curator Aldeide Delgado recalls that as COVID-19 began raging in Europe, her inbox started to fill up with cancellations. She and her partner, artist Francisco Maso, were scheduled to participate in a photography biennial in Italy that was canceled.

In response to all these vanished opportunities, the pair on March 12 set up a public Facebook page for sharing resources and news, titled “COVID-19 Cultural Affairs Alliance.” It now has more than 700 members.

“Our priority is our health and safety, but we also need to take care of our community,” Delgado said. “We decided to make this a space of solidarity and to think together.”

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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Written By Douglas Markowitz,

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Culture Shock Miami: Experience performances, museum tours and art exhibits online

Written By Mike Hamersly
March 27, 2020 at 5:27 PM

Viewers can check out a new exhibition, “Allan McCollum: Works since 1969,” through Miami Culture Shock. Pictured is “If Love Had Wings: A Perpetual Canon.” (Photo courtesy of ICA Miami)

You’ve self-quarantined, or at least are dutifully practicing our new buzzword, “social distancing.” You’ve binge-watched everything from “Game of Thrones” to “Family Feud” reruns. And you’re going crazy with hardly any true artistic stimulation.

Here’s a bit of good news amid the boredom, anxiety and cabin fever: While you can’t visit an art museum or enjoy a concert in person, you can watch live performances, take virtual museum tours, and view dozens of exhibits online.

Culture Shock Miami – the audience development program that focuses on promoting the arts to teens and young adults age 13-22 by offering $5 tickets to events – is opening its online doors to the entire community. Anyone, regardless of age, is welcome to visit its website, CultureShockMiami.com, where you’ll find the section “Online Experiences” under “Events.”

There, visitors can choose from a curated list of online happenings offered by Miami-Dade County’s thriving arts scene, as well as links to activities from arts organizations in other parts of the country, including Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Broadway World, National Public Radio’s (NPR) Tiny Desk series and The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Local organizations include Coral Gables Art Cinema (watch up to three free films per day), Miami Symphony Orchestra, Perez Art Museum Miami (PAMM), Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, The Bass Museum of Art, and the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) Miami.

ICA Miami has inadvertently been preparing since its inception by consistently posting and updating content on its online “Channel,” with monthly exhibition stories, interviews, public lectures and more. 

Installation view: Allan McCollum’s “The Shapes Project,” Petzel Gallery, New York, 2006. McCollum’s exhibit at ICA Miami was originally scheduled to run from March 26 through July 19. (Photo courtesy of ICA Miami)

“Our investment in digital really dates back to the opening of our first temporary space five years ago,” says Alex Gartenfeld, artistic director of ICA Miami. “It’s a way of our telling experimental stories in new ways, and follows the development of our programs, exhibitions and education.

“We’ve also partnered with the Knight Foundation, which has an extraordinary mandate to focus on digital with the foresight to think about times like these. And in partnership with the Knight Foundation, especially over the last year, we have expanded and bolstered our digital offerings, making sure that there’s a robust presentation of all the footage that we’ve created to date.”

Featured artists on the Channel make up a diverse list: You can watch and learn about Frank Stella, Trisha Brown, Donald Judd, George Segal, Hernan Bas, Charles Gaines, Richard Tuttle and dozens more.

A new exhibition, “Allan McCollum: Works since 1969,” was scheduled to run from March 26 through July 19, spotlighting the renowned Los Angeles artist’s interest in methods of mass production, as seen in 2005’s “The Shapes Project” and other works. Instead of seeing it firsthand, however, viewers now can experience it on the Channel.

“Being as we have temporarily postponed the opening of Allan McCollum, one of our key initiatives is to communicate that show, which is almost entirely installed, to a broad public who might not be able to see it at this time,” says Gartenfeld. “So that entails everything from interviews of our audio guide to catalog materials to video presentation and installation. It’s our challenge to think about how to translate the gallery in a new experience to a broad audience.”

Other video highlights to come, according to Gartenfeld: “One is about the life and work of Eric-Paul Riege, a Diné artist to whom we gave our first solo museum presentation. That is a really beautiful narrative piece that follows his life at home in Gallup, New Mexico, and follows his journey to working with our community and specifically with our educational programs. 

“We also have a video forthcoming with Guadalupe Maravilla, whose project focuses on public issues of identity, specifically his experience of immigrating to the United States, which is an ever-timely issue, of course.”

No one knows for sure when the global shutdown will end. But while it continues, Gartenfeld and ICA Miami are hearing feedback from many art lovers who are thankful for all the efforts to keep contemporary art accessible in an alternate way.

“I think a lot of people are appreciative of the fact that the nature of public space has changed,” he says. “And so people who may not have access to exhibitions, which is everybody at this particular juncture, have definitely relayed their appreciation of some of the storytelling that we and other museums are doing.”

What: Culture Shock Miami’s “Online Experiences”

Cost: Free

More information: CultureShockMiami.com

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MOCA’s ‘HamacaS’ exhibition invites visitors to make hammock, use hammock, talk immigration

Written By Elisa Turner
March 3, 2020 at 4:50 PM

Located in MOCA’s shaded courtyard, “HamacaS” consists of large looms where visitors can take part in the weaving of hammocks. (Photo courtesy of Philipp Muller)

When Liene Bosquê left Brazil 10 years ago for art school in Chicago, she could not find a place to hang her hammock.

“I was so disappointed with the drywall there,” she said, with a laugh.  “Finally when I got to New York, I had a residency in an older building so I could drill a hole for it. Then I was really happy.”

Currently living in Miami, Bosquê not only has a place to hang her hammock but has launched an interactive art project with hammocks, “HamacaS” at the Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami, which is on view through March 29. (The title is the Spanish word for hammock, with the capital “S” at the end intended to reflect the curvy shape of a hammock in use, the artist says.)

As an example of what’s known as “social practice” or “socially engaged art,” it does not involve the creation of a discrete art object like sculpture or painting but instead engenders an ongoing experience designed to connect with the surrounding community. Viewers can simply observe, or they can participate as well.

Located in MOCA’s shaded courtyard, “HamacaS” consists of three large looms where visitors can take part in the weaving of hammocks. Looms are threaded in a fetching array of colors, and weaving on the looms progresses at different paces and in various patterns, depending on how much or how little each participant wants to weave. It’s not hard; Bosquê or other artists provide straightforward instructions. Nearby are completed hammocks in which people can sit or swing.

Recent political controversies about immigration spurred her to conceive “HamacaS.”

“This is a lot about my own thinking about what an immigrant would be carrying from where they are from,” she says. “It’s about displacement, how we adjust to a new culture and place. How we carry our background, our stories with us.”

She says her background in architecture also led her to think about hammocks as womb-like shelters for the body.

At times, socially engaged art like “HamacaS” may cross over into territories of political activism and environmental advocacy. Such art is deeply rooted in community activism and has become increasingly prevalent in the 21st century.

Artist Liene Bosquê says her background in architecture got her thinking of hammocks as womb-like shelters for the body. (Photo courtesy of Jess Rolls)

South Florida is no exception to this trend. The Boca Raton Museum of Art recently presented “Tree of Knowledge,” evolving from a residency with sculptor and performance artist Maren Hassinger. It was inspired by a landmark banyan tree in Boca Raton’s Pearl City, a community settled by African-Americans. During storytelling sessions, Hassinger worked with the public to create twisted strips of newspapers. Echoing the banyan tree’s aerial roots, the newspaper strips were then suspended from the ceiling of a museum gallery.

Like “Tree of Knowledge,” “HamacaS” creates an easy-access place where people contribute to the art as it evolves and grows. Everyone can participate. Conversation is encouraged. Immigration, in this case, is the intended theme.

In 2018, another version of “HamacaS” took place in the New York borough of Queens, known for its cultural diversity and large immigrant population. The art project was installed in a public park next to the Queens Museum, which selected Bosquê and “HamacaS” for its ArtBuilt residency.

Since “HamacaS” is now in a museum and not in a public park as was its previous New York iteration, Bosquê thinks there was “a more spontaneous encounter” in Queens.

“HamacaS” is funded by The Ellies, Miami’s visual arts awards presented by Oolite Arts, and the WaveMaker Grants program by Locust Projects, with support from The55project, which promotes Brazilian artists in the United States.

On a recent Sunday at MOCA, Miami-based textile artists Amy Gelb and Karla Kantorovich said they were impressed by the range of people interacting with “HamacaS.” Bosquê was out of town, so she chose Gelb and Kantorovich to work in her place.

In Bosquê’s absence, conversation focused more on connecting with others than immigration.

“People have been loving it. People that come here already want to connect,” Kantorovich said. “Yesterday, there was a lady who told us how she had lost her son recently. She was here almost two hours. She called so many friends to tell them about it. It’s touching something very personal.”

“What’s special about this project,” said Gelb, “is that it creates a sense of community around art in a way that’s not just observing or talking about art, which I value a lot, but you get to experience art with other people. I think we are hungry for that.”

Viewers can simply observe, or they can participate as well in the interactive art project, “HamacaS.” (Photo courtesy of Philipp Muller)

In this setting, art is not intimidating, she added. “It’s something everybody can do.”

When people see this project, she said, “they ask questions. They walk around. Little by little, they start touching. No one’s telling them, ‘don’t touch.’ Then we ask if they’d like to participate.” She estimated at least nine out of 10 people do at least one line of weaving.

While assisting with “HamacaS,” Gelb said she hasn’t heard much specifically about Miami’s immigrant experience. Instead, she’s heard about Miami as a city of transients, populated by “people who have moved from place to place and need to connect with other people,” she said.

Weaving has provoked deep memories. People have told Gelb how textile art had been a presence in their families, “whether it’s their mother’s knitting or their grandmother’s crocheting,” she recalled. “One gentleman said his mom had a loom. He hadn’t seen one in years. He was very emotional about it.”

In the courtyard where “HamacaS” takes place, colorful weavings abound. Looms are near traditional examples, including an intensely blue hammock from Mexico, a striped one from Guatemala, and one in natural fibers from the Amazonian Warao tribe. Arranged on a table are other Latin American textiles in gold, blue, fuchsia and red. These textiles all deserve more explanation regarding their cultural significance.

After its presentation at MOCA, other yet-to-be-announced Miami locations are expected to host “HamacaS.”

What: “HamacaS: A Project by Liene Bosquê”

When: On view through March 29. “HamacaS” will be activated for public participation from 2-4 p.m. Saturdays-Sundays. The artist is expected to be onsite March 7-8, 21-22, and 28-29; the project will be activated by other Miami artists when Bosquê is not in town. Museum hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesdays-Sundays.

Where: Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami, 770 NE 125th St.

Cost: $10 general admission; $3 for students and seniors; and free for MOCA members, North Miami residents and children younger than 12

More information: 305-893-6211; mocanomi.org

Related free events: 

“MOCA miniMakers: HamacaS with Liene Bosquê,” 2-4 p.m. March 7. Learn about textiles and collaborative weaving techniques in a hands-on workshop; for age 6-12.

“MOCA Moving Images: Weaving on Film,” 7-9 p.m. March 11. Screening of 16mm film and digital video on weaving and its culture, followed by conversation between Bosquê and “HamacaS” project coordinator Ana Clara Silva.  

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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Art Wynwood: One last Miami art fair of the season – and never-before-seen Warhols

Written By Michelle F. Solomon
February 11, 2020 at 7:45 PM

Art Wynwood will take place at One Herald Plaza, the former “Miami Herald” site that also houses Art Miami and CONTEXT Art Miami during Art Week. (Photo courtesy of Michelle VanTine)

Think of it as the closing of the winter Miami art fair season.

Art Wynwood, a sister show to Miami Art Week’s Art Miami and CONTEXT Art Miami, arrives for its ninth edition on Presidents’ Day (and Valentine’s Day) weekend, from Feb. 13 to 17.

There’s a good reason Art Wynwood isn’t lumped into December’s Basel bash, says Julian Navarro, the fair’s director.

“There is just too much then, too much competition. Collectors and visitors like this show in February because it’s another option for the big collectors who stay away [from Miami Art Week] because it is too overwhelming,” says Navarro, who has also been the director of CONTEXT Art Miami since 2014.

Art Wynwood will take place at One Herald Plaza, Biscayne Bay and 14th Street, where it will continue its side-by-side partnership with the Miami Yacht Show. The former “Miami Herald” site also houses Art Miami and CONTEXT Art Miami during Art Week.

Whereas CONTEXT Art Miami focuses on emerging and mid-career artists and Art Miami has investment-quality blue chip and contemporary and modern works from established artists, Navarro says Art Wynwood combines the two.

“At this fair, you can have an emerging artist that’s 23 years old and you have the post-war work, the best of both. I love to see that dialogue between the two markets in one place,” Navarro says. “It’s also a boutique fair with only 50 galleries. You have the best of the two: the emerging contemporary galleries and the established ones that are coming with blue chip work.”

Therefore, prices can start at $1,000 for emerging artists’ work. “Then, when we go to the Andy Warhol drawings, we can start talking about $250,000 to $300,000, to the Robert Rymans and the Boteros, we are in the millions,” he says. “That’s the beauty of Art Wynwood. We have all the market there.”

Art Wynwood debuted in 2012 as an international contemporary art fair in the heart of midtown Miami and, in many instances, introduced worldwide visitors to the Wynwood Arts District. Now that its permanent home is no longer in Wynwood, is a name change due?

Navarro emphatically says no: “The name was more about an idea when everything started, and it has been solid since then. Globally, everyone knows it is in Miami.”

The fair highlights Miami galleries, although there are national and international galleries exhibiting as well.

“To see Miami the way it was in 2012 to Miami now in 2020, it is two different worlds. That is why every year we work hard to present the best that we have in this market, the galleries that we have that are our champions in the city,” he says. “Every year we have new galleries from Miami that are working with us, and that is very important to the community.”

While Navarro says everything is worth seeing, when pressed for his Top Five, he does offer a must-see list for this year’s Art Wynwood.

Long-Sharp Gallery, Indianapolis/New York: never-before-exhibited Andy Warhol drawings of flower compositions from the 1950s.

“You have these rare Warhols coming to town to be seen for the first time, five beautiful drawings from The Andy Warhol Foundation. This is the first time anywhere they are available in the market. This is great for Miami.”

Andy Warhol’s “Flowers,” circa 1956, features ink on paper. (Photo courtesy of Long-Sharp Gallery)

Robert Fontaine Gallery, Wynwood, Miami: emerging artist Vickie Vainionpaa’s “Soft Body Dynamics 18,” 2019.

“The quality of her paintings is just stunning. When I see these canvases by themselves, no color and then the oil on top creating shapes, it’s a new language.”

Vickie Vainionpaa’s “Soft Body Dynamics 18” (2019), features oil on linen. (Photo courtesy of Robert Fontaine Gallery)

Lelia Mordoch Gallery, Wynwood, Miami: Jose Arellano.

The Miami-based sculptor creates visual semblances from museum board and xylene-based acrylic paint.

“His pieces are lively and very interactive. This is the first time, too, this gallery is in the fair.”

The Bonnier Gallery, Allapattah, Miami: “Section,” Robert Ryman, 1985.

“This is a work you’d find in Sotheby’s or Christie’s, and it’s right here in Miami, so this is an opportunity for people to see this kind of quality we have at local galleries.”

One of the pioneers of Minimalist painting, Ryman excludes all hues except white. In 2015, Christie’s sold a Robert Ryman work for a staggering $20.6 million.

Robert Ryman’s “Section” (1985) features oil on aluminum. (Photo courtesy of The Bonnier Gallery)

Burgess Modern and Contemporary, Fort Lauderdale.

The Burgess gallery will display Marc Jansen’s continuation of his 2011 “Faceless” series, which features striking, large-scale portraits of foreboding, faceless men in suits. Jansen is a former U.S. Army soldier turned combatant for the avant-garde. 

“When the show is over, we want to make sure that the community keeps visiting the galleries and supports the artists,” Navarro says. “That’s important to us.”

What: Art Wynwood

When: 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Feb. 14-16; 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Feb. 17; VIP preview 6-10 p.m. Feb. 13

Where: One Herald Plaza, Northeast 14th Street on Biscayne Bay, Miami

Cost: $35 for one-day; $60 for multi-day pass; $20 for seniors, students and groups of 10 or more; free for accompanied children younger than 12; and $200 for VIP

More information: 305-517-7977; artwynwood.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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