Art and Harmony

Charo Oquet on the power of community and friendship

Then the activist kicks back in.

[Laughs] Then you realize the quality of the work is there, that it has a tension. I tell you, I can dislike a person and still present his or her work on its merits. These shows have opened roads for Miami artists to exhibit in important venues abroad. It's happened and it will continue to happen.

Are artists protective?

Artist, curator, and occasional cook Charo Oquet: "I think Miami has all the elements to become the art capital of Latin America"
Jonathan Postal
Artist, curator, and occasional cook Charo Oquet: "I think Miami has all the elements to become the art capital of Latin America"


Opening November 27: "Miami Now," a cross section of contemporary Miami artists. 305-303-8852.
World Arts Building, 2214 N. Miami Ave, Miami

Yes, artists are protective, but when you develop a good relationship based on mutual respect, beautiful things happen. It's based on trust. I see it as a way of establishing a network of art-making in the city. Artists traditionally work together. Movements and styles come from this communion of shared ideas.

Do you see a Miami style?

I do. I see a lot of interesting threads happening all over the place.

What are these threads?

[Laughs] Now I'm on the spot! Well, I could be a little myopic, but I see my own work being influenced, and some of us working with similar elements. It's back and forth among the artists. I see bright colors in a strange way, like glitter, not used in the traditional sense. There is an element of light that's seductive. The religious aspects have been diluted, but the ideas sort of remain. There are elements of Caribbean popular culture -- the trinkets, cheap stuff, not the themes but the stuff, like a Caribbean chimichurri. Miami started out pink, but it has changed, gone full circle, and it's beginning to show it.

What's Miami?

Something unique happens down here. It's kind of Southern, but by Southern I mean all the Latin American and Caribbean influences. What unites us is lo negro [the black experience]. It's already digested [in the mainstream], but it's strong. The more Miami grows, the more you'll see it. People come here and that's what they see. We're different. We're not a replica of New York. This is us. Miami will grow with its unique voice.

Are you ready for Art Basel 2004?

Absolutely! For Basel 2004 we'll have a surprise show. It will have a lot of artists from Miami with a few international artists. Art Basel Miami Beach has been a great experience. The exchange of ideas, the serendipity -- it's been great. You never know who you're going to find. We artists need to speak to other people, we need the exchanges. We don't live on an island.

You've supported the idea of a Miami biennial, which is a great idea. What's in the making?

Miami is ready for a next step, to have some kind of biennial, an overview of what's happening in the city. I have spoken with most of the museums and they're into the idea. We haven't found anyone to back it, but we're ready. This is not a competition to Art Basel, it's just different. We're talking about something that would last two months. I think Miami has all the elements to become the art capital of Latin America. We're vibrant. We need to further invest in what we have.

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