Ambrosino's 10,000-square-foot raw warehouse is just around the corner from Snitzer and Douyon's new location, across the street from a car rental agency and behind the Alley Cat strip club. The building has 24-foot ceilings and a loading dock. "The gallery has taken a more contemporary turn and I needed a more contemporary space," Ambrosino relates while giving an impromptu tour. "I needed a space that was more flexible." The dealer points out the concrete floors, which artists will be able to paint or even drill holes in as they wish. He plans to build a small exhibition room within the space for guest curators to hang shows, in addition to the main gallery. He also wants to include an area where functional objects made by artists will be sold (Ambrosino himself designs jewelry). Even with those divisions, the building is so large that Ambrosino is going to rent half of it to another gallery; he's negotiating with a local dealer to that end.
"If I put another contemporary art gallery here," he predicts confidently, "people who like contemporary art will start coming to this area."
Snitzer and Ambrosino envision their galleries as alternative spaces that will show a broad range of contemporary work that could include performance. This new Miami warehouse district could fulfill some of the broken promise of Lincoln Road, where the outstanding contemporary galleries of a few years ago have been pushed out by high rents.
"The neighborhood is a little iffy," Snitzer says appreciatively. "It feels really good. It feels a little like Chelsea in New York City, like a place that has that kind of potential.
"From a national standpoint, I love the idea of having an address that says Miami," he adds. "Everybody knows where Miami is. Miami's the place that's hot."
Last weekend's Gramercy International Contemporary Art Fair provided a broader view of contemporary art then we're likely to see in a whole year in the local galleries. A sad comment on the state of art in Miami, but reason enough to hope this event at the Raleigh Hotel is repeated next year. Thirty-eight galleries set up shop in rooms on two floors of the hotel, displaying works on the walls, spread out on the beds, even in bathroom sinks. The dealers (most were from New York but several had flown in from Europe) brought works to fit the intimate setting: drawings, prints, photographs, objects, and small paintings. Prices ranged from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand. In spite of its alternative venue, the Gramercy Fair was a classy contrast to Art Miami, the crass commercial circus held simultaneously at the neighboring Miami Beach Convention Center. The hotel proved an apt environment for looking at, and talking about art. And the public responded: Dealers at the Raleigh reported a lot of interest, a lot of sales, and big crowds of enthusiastic local residents who, as one gallery employee commented, seemed "culture starved."
A Life Cycle, a group show, is on display through February 1 at Ambrosino Gallery, 3095 SW 39th Ave; 445-2211. For information about Fredric Snitzer Gallery, call 448-8976. For information about Galerie Douyon, call 445-6624.