by Shana Beth Mason
Spring is the last hurrah for Miami's artists well until November-December, given the scarcity of public foot traffic in favor of finding cooler temperatures. If this is true, the spring season didn't witness a hurrah from Miami...it was a hurricane.
One of the final shows at the Miami-Dade Cultural Center complex (the Pérez Art Museum Miami opens in Bicentennial Park this December), New Work is an enthusiastic exploration into the practices of the city's emerging artists. Co-curated by René Morales and Diana Nawi, New Work's strongest elements is its physical design (executed by Consuelo Castañeda and Emmett Moore) and complementary visual exercises from Bhakti Baxter, Loriel Beltran, Sinisa Kukec and Moira Holohan. Odalis Valdivieso's Paper Folding series has the unique distinction of having appeared in three Miami-based locations simultaneously (Non-profit space Dimensions Variable opened a solo presentation from November to January, Alejandra Von Hartz's Wynwood gallery ran part of the series in December, and New Work holds a series currently).
In Little Haiti, artists Loriel Beltran, Domingo Castillo and Aramis Gutierrez opened a new space, guccivuitton, with defiant technology-based works from collective Art404; using clever digital manipulation and tongue-in-cheek slights at the advertising and Hollywood marketing giants, think of them as the art world's version of hacker group Anonymous (their work Anonymous vs Art (2011) was executed thanks to the notorious cyberspace crusaders). Among Miami's undiscovered talents, the nearby Fountainhead Studios opened to the public with bold initiatives from Temisan Okpaku (wry nods to Wade Guyton were manifested in his computer-generated 'paintings'), Lori Nozick (constructing fluorescent-colored mini architectural 'habitations'), Karen Starosta-Gilinski (whose installations send soft, gentle textiles into harsh territories) and Carla Fache (if ever 'Miami Vice' could be lovingly rendered in painting, she's done it).
In the Design District, also tapping into the ethical and visual ramifications of the digital multiverse, Locust Projects presented an ambitious performative installation, Precipice/Postmodem, from Jillian Mayer. A Place for Online Dreaming (The Sleep Site, 2013) and RGB Box (2013) simulate and question our experiences and interactions with increasingly subliminal virtual realities. Nearby, internationally-renowned filmmaker and artist Alfredo Jaar occupied the Project Room of the De la Cruz Collection with Terra Non Descoperta (2013). Jaar incorporated text from Spanish explorer Christopher Columbus, placid images of the ocean, and archival photographs of gold miners from the Brazilian Amazon mirrored against the work's viewers; in classic fashion, Jaar elegantly strings together the sad complexities of imperialism and post-colonial critique, confounding and enrapturing his audience.
Back in Wynwood, Black Square Gallery hosted L.A-based Ryan McCann's first solo show, Gold Chains and Champagne, jabbing at Communism and its Western underbelly in flagrant, hysterical fashion. Portraits of Stalin, Lenin, Marx and Engels overlaid with text reading 'Fast Cars', 'Money' and 'Diamond Rings' were burned into smooth wooden panels. Sinisa Kukec made a second local appearance with his solo show at Spinello Projects, L O V E L I K E T H E U N I V E R S E, continuing an interest in discarded or obsolete items possessing intrinsic beauty and meaning. Butter Gallery hosted HOX, a solo outing from graffiti artist/architect Douglas Hoekzema, in the same building; his spinning, asymmetrical ellipsoids appear both decorative and highly mathematical.
Finally, at Miami-Dade College's Freedom Tower situated Downtown, a leviathan 60-year retrospective named Arnold Mesches: A Life's Work ran from February to May. Mesches is a 90 year-old painter who splits his time between studios in Gainesville, Florida and Brooklyn. More on Mesches coming soon...
Shana Beth Mason is a critic formerly based in Brooklyn now active in London, UK. Contributions include Art in America, ArtVoices Magazine, FlashArt International, InstallationMag (Los Angeles), Kunstforum.as (Oslo), The Brooklyn Rail, The Miami Rail, San Francisco Arts Quarterly (SFAQ), and thisistomorrow.info (London).
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