When the Museum of Contemporary Art launched its rookie campaign with "Defining the Nineties: Consensus Making in New York, Miami, and Los Angeles," many in the contemporary art world considered the museum a swaddling upstart trying to elbow a spot at the big boys' table. "Ten years ago, when Bonnie Clearwater opened the museum showing Miami artists together with New York and Los Angeles artists, she was widely criticized," recalls local gallerist Genaro Ambrosino, speaking of MoCA's risk-taking director and curator. Now, with Art Basel in her ballpark and many of the young local artists Clearwater discovered going on to become heavy hitters, doubters are eating crow. "Time has proven her right," Ambrosino reflects. "Bonnie is considered a visionary."
"MoCA and Miami," Clearwater's first pitch of the museum's tenth anniversaryseason, offers a nod to the hive of local creativity, featuring the work of nearly 25 artists showcased at the museum since 1996. The exhibit surveys the parallel rise of the museum and the local art scene over the past decade, reflecting MoCA's role in nurturing young talent. "MoCA has been successful in supporting artists here and creating a bridge to the outside where the work is seen in a broader context," says Gene Moreno, one of the artists in the show. Independent curator Nina Arias agrees that MoCA has been an asset, crediting Clearwater for her efforts to keep the scene thriving. "Bonnie really goes all out to keep Miami exciting by cultivating homegrown talent," observes Arias.
Clearwater is enthralled with Miami's hothouse evolution since the museum staked its big-league dreams ten years ago. "There continues to be strong growth in the artists' community," she remarks. "Many of these artists have received international recognition with museum exhibitions and articles in art magazines, and are represented in important public and private collections throughout the world."