December 2007, Miami Contemporary Artists

Miami Contemporary Artists by Paul Clemence & Julie Davidow

Review by Aimée Sinclair, WM Miami

Miami in many ways manages to elude the prevailing standards of more traditional art cities. The city, much like its inhabitants moves in a way that is less sanctimonious. It is this point of convergence – a veritable mélange of interests that help shape the precociousness of its identity as an art city. The arena for art differs in the sense that it is not driven by an old guard culture that demands a particular MFA pedigree from the artists but rather partakes of the pioneer spirit that says show me what you’re made of. Many of the artists featured in the book stand out not only for their art but also for creating venues for other artists to show. Whether via running an artist space or curating shows, peer based support is a significant ingredient in the mix.

In the newly released book, Miami Contemporary Artists by Paul Clemence and Julie Davidow, we are given a captivating portrait of some of the individuals behind Miami’s winsome personality as an art capital. The authors’ criterion for selection was to, “include artists who could be presented in different stages of development, or who took different career paths, had international careers in addition to ones just beginning to make a name for themselves.” Artists were asked to submit a personal statement about their work as well as describe their experience of living and working in Miami, thereby providing the reader with a personal insight into their relationship with the surroundings.

Paul Clemence and Julie Davidow. All photos in this article by Sheldon Baldie for WM

The foreword written by Elisa Turner, arts writer for the Miami Herald, provides a frank and incisive picture of the evolution of the art scene from 1980 to the present that delineates the trajectory of the scene and enables the reader to formulate a context for the ensuing portraits. 

In their description of what it is like to live and work in Miami, artists such as Alexander Heria, Clifton Childree. George Sanchez-Calderøn Lou Anne Colodny. Carlos Betancourt, Rakel Bernie, Tawnie Silva and Natalia Benedetti offer the rest of us a piece of vicarious excitement…

 Artist Glexis Novoa

 “Also there is something about Miami, which makes me think of going out west,

 mid-nineteenth century. Miami is free of parameters. We are not re-creating

 anything but creating something anew. I love the ocean, the blue skies and

 Cuban Coffee. Most people I know don’t understand what it is I do, and that’s

 alright. Explaining it to them is part of the process.”

 George Sanchez-Calderøn


 Artists Maritza Molina, Westen Charles(center), Gavin Perry.

 “The city is constantly moving, shifting, and redefining itself providing

 fertile ground for artists. Despite the international attention, the art

 scene has maintained a lack of pretense and remains genial with risk that sustains

 a quality level equal to that of any major city. I feel a strong sense of optimism

 even with the fear of another wave of gentrification. Cranes from north to south

 map out the future sky lone. Art deco buildings and vintage signs, remnants of the

 city’s heydays permeate the fringe of a beautiful rebirth of a stunning city that’s

 nostalgic with a contemporary edge. Art is refreshing, youthful, and charged.

 Alternative spaces pop up constantly. Young curators turn their apartments into

 project spaces. To be an artist in the middle of this emergence is exhilarating.

 Is there another way of saying right place, right time?’

 Tawnie Silva

 Gavin Perry & Beatriz Monteavaro


  “It would seem as if Miami had been a well kept secret that was just discovered.

 But it really is great that everyone is so excited about this city. I love it here too. 

 I also look forward to what will come, and a time when being an artist living in

 Miami will not be all about being a Miami artist.”

 Natalia Benedetti


Aimee Sinclair

Aimee Sinclair is a writer in Miami

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