Take a Bow

Who cares about Art Basel? The Bass exhibition proves Miami already had it going on.

Finally, there's Charo's soaring wooden tower, a discombobulated construction, part trash-architecture, part baby-world. Supported by think-tree branches, and filled with a disparate array of stuffed animals, dolls of all sizes, toy trucks, cheap jewelry, and whatnot, it remains a bizarre superimposition of old and new.

Coming down the stairs you hear Edith Piaf's rendition of "Autumn Leaves" at Pablo Cano's little silver-painted stage theater, with a Cubist-looking piano and singer with antennas. Neatly dressed, the artist proceeds to act upon his puppets with detached parsimony, in a bittersweet story of his own concoction.

Around the corner in a small room, Gustavo Matamoros performs his music, equipped with a Mac G-4 and a bunch of odd little utensils in a quasi-serious affair. "Let me see what elements I'll use for this composition," he utters. Stretching filaments, blowing into little vials, scratching surfaces with needles and toothpicks, and dropping threads of sand on miniscule surface mikes, Matamoros rewards the small audience with a weird and yet exquisite fusion of sounds. The composer burned CDs for $9.99, right on the spot.

Purvis Young painted the Bass Museum walls in an exhibition that makes Miami shine
Purvis Young painted the Bass Museum walls in an exhibition that makes Miami shine

Details

Through February 3; 305-673-7530
Bass Museum of Art, 2121 Park Ave, Miami Beach

Someone outside tells me to check Eugenia Vargas's piece by the pool at the museum entrance: a beat-up chassis -- as if just taken from the junkyard -- squirting delicate bubbles. A hell-of-a-ready-made, if considered in the context of a public sculpture next to Arata Isozaki's Modernist addition to the Bass. Yet on its own, the piece still works as a metaphor for death and rebirth.

Robert Chambers's wonderful effort has a sense of timing. An artist and a teacher with an easygoing personality, Chambers knows how to include other people and deal with big egos. "This is a springboard for what Miami has to offer, an international crossroads that includes Florida, which is extremely important," says Chambers. "Miami is, artistically, both a big stopping point and a happening place." He proves it by posting a list (at the museum entrance) of other venues that currently feature each artist's works, along with 29 maps for each of the 29 locations in Miami. After tonight's opening Chambers has become the hottest art producer in town.

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