Artquake

ArtBasel: Where Did It Come From? What Does It Want?

Fredric Snitzer Gallery is one of Miami's most committed supporters of young art. This year about half of his artists featured at Art Basel in the convention center are New World School of the Arts graduates (a new addition is Jiae Hwang, a young Korean artist who hasn't even gotten her BFA yet). In 2004 he exhibited Gean Moreno, Bhakti Baxter, and Jacin Giordano, among others.

Bernice Steinbaum Gallery exhibited Glexis Novoa, already established as a significant Miami artist; Liz Cerejido, a strong female voice and an FIU curator; and Karen Rifas, a veteran teacher and exquisite sculptress.

The North Miami circuit has MoCA, Ambrosino Gallery, and Leonard Tachmes Gallery. MoCA's premiere of Pablo Cano's "Marionettes as Sculpture" was a winner. Tachmes had one-person shows for Maritza Molina, Leyden Rodriguez Casanova, and Victor Muñiz. Molina is one of Miami's best performers and Rodriguez has emerged as an artist to watch. Also this year Ambrosino presented Vicky Pierre, Carol Brown, and Annie Wharton. Pierre's "What You Feel Is What I Feel For You" was a notable show.

Design District gallery owner Kevin Bruk: "When our major collectors fight over who has the best cookies, how can we take the next step?"
Design District gallery owner Kevin Bruk: "When our major collectors fight over who has the best cookies, how can we take the next step?"
Wynwood gallery owner Fred Snitzer: He made the Art Basel cut, he's on the selection committee, and he's become a magnet for criticism
Wynwood gallery owner Fred Snitzer: He made the Art Basel cut, he's on the selection committee, and he's become a magnet for criticism

The Design District wouldn't be the same without the Moore Space, the nonprofit arts organization and exhibition space founded by Rosa de la Cruz. Directed by Silvia Karman Cubiña, the Moore Space shows heavyweights from around the world but keeps a substantial Miami profile. Another Design District space for contemporary locals is Placemaker, an artist-based project related to The House (flattened by redevelopment this summer) and directed by Martin Oppel and Daniel Arsham. Placemaker has produced a solid series of shows with consistent work from the likes of Tom Scicluna, Natalia Benedetti, Jason Hedges, and Tao Rey. (Placemaker has its own place at Basel this year -- one of the shipping containers at Art Positions on the Beach at 21st Street.)

You may have noticed an increase in coverage of art during 2004. In the mid-Nineties Miami had only one full-time art critic, Helen Kohen of the Miami Herald. Since Kohen's retirement, though, the Herald has relied on part-time critics. At the same time, more critics, with diverse voices and backgrounds, have been appearing in weekly papers (like this one) and in art-related magazines and on Websites such as Franklin Einspruch's artblog.net and Onajide Shabaka's miamiartexchange.com.

Miami's art scene would not be possible without its booming art activism, pushed further, in my view, because of Basel. Susan Caraballo's "Surreal Saturdays" at Little Havana's old PS 742 was a performer's heaven, with local curators producing over-the-top events (my picks: José Elias's "Arroz con Mango" and performer Octavio Campos). Another favorite was Vivian Marthell's "Fleshroom," a powerful one-night event. From his apartment José-Carlos Diaz launched the Worm Hole Laboratory and co-produced engaging events all over the city. Charo Oquet's Edge Zones at the World Arts Building has shaped some of our best independent events. Collector Arturo Mosquera keeps showing a worthy lineup of local artists from the office of his dental practice in Westchester.

Miami's art activists also helped fellow artists: Edouard Duval-Carrié's "Nepotism: The Art of Friendship" at the Museum of Art in Fort Lauderdale and Carlos Betancourt's "Miami Visions of Now" at the J. Johnson Gallery in Jacksonville Beach both featured well-known South Florida talents, among them Carlos de Villasante, Sergio Garcia, Beatriz Monteavaro, and Alfredo Ceibal. New York exile Anat Ebgi and Carla Stellweg produced "Domestic Arrivals" at New York's White Box, featuring Adler Guerrier, Christian Curiel, Brandon Opalka, A.A. Rucci, and Gavin Perry, among others.

All this energy is also shaping our art schools. This year FIU, the University of Miami, and the New World School of the Arts have all designed components to be part of Art Basel Miami Beach. Louise Romeo, dean of visual arts at the New World School, is optimistic: "Because of Art Basel, our community has initiated an artistic dialogue and collaboration, breaking the boundaries from local to global." These encounters with the outside, provided by Basel, have helped us to grow culturally. And if self-knowledge is always dependent upon how others perceive us, with these exchanges we've learned to look at ourselves through the eyes of the world. -- Alfredo Triff

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