By John Thomason
By Benjy Caplan
By Artburst Miami
By Carlos Suarez De Jesus
By Daniel Reskin
In the back of the gallery, in a curtained and darkened room so hidden that visitors would miss it if they were not told it existed, Ana Martinez makes an unusual statement with "Dreams." She uses digital photography, painting, and LED to create portraits of women based on nine personality types including enthusiast, loyalist, peacemaker, and challenger in a diagrammatic figure called the Enneagram. Her works look like optical illusions or hallucinogenic holograms that literally provoked me to touch them they were that strange. Her trippy pieces, with their dynamically shifting colors, reminded me of mood rings. Perfectionist depicts a linear doodle of a woman holding an umbrella superimposed over a photo of a foggy copse of trees. The images bleed into each other as the woman disappears and reappears in electric Kool-Aid hues of orange, purple, and red. Martinez's work reminded me of stoking up during midnight movies when I was a teen. I left wondering how her pieces might be enhanced if the viewer experienced them under the influence of some good weed.
Down the block, Kunsthaus Miami is showing "Natural Groupings," a tidy if unimaginatively named filler for the slow summer season that features the work of eight artists. Alonso Mateo is repped by a pair of large canvases depicting A-list celebrities. One features a flattened and elongated Donald Trump donning a snazzy monkey suit. The other shows Naomi Campbell stretched out like Gumby and stuffed into a wedding dress. Next to her, Gianni Versace is caught dead in an unflattering, poorly stitched, dreadful pea-color off-the-rack number.
Lifesaver/Misery Belt, a juicy sculpture by Ana Quiroz, looks like a cherry candy blown up to satisfy Shaquille O'Neal's sweet tooth. As big as a Wynwood manhole cover, the piece has the word misery chiseled onto its surface. On a wall above it, Dianne Pearce's A Su Esposo Le Gusta la Carne? (Does Your Husband Like Meat?) hints that the artist has a way with visual puns. It depicts a pelvic bone painted on what appears to be a stitched pillowcase.
Daniela Edburg's kooky photographs are arguably the yummiest in the show. Death by Gummi Bears depicts a flip-flop-wearing guttersnipe ready to graze from her picnic basket at a park. As the bimbo lies on her side near a bottle of mustard, a ham sandwich, and a bottle of tomato juice, streams of gummi bears climb up her legs and under her skirt, seemingly intent on invading her innards. Imitating Nicole Richie confronted by a pork chop, the woman shrieks in terror while covering her cooter to protect her chastity.
In Edburg's Death by Canderel, hands-down my favorite here, a pink-wigged minx in a tight cashmere tank top smooshes her painted face against a huge mirror lying atop her bed. The ginch's eyes are as big as disco balls from snorting fat lines of sugar substitute neatly arranged like a Macedonian phalanx. She holds a rolled-up Mexican peso in her limp right paw.
Sure, it may be the middle of summer, and many spaces are not rotating their shows, but in this patch of the hood, these galleries offer something to wrap the eyes around. And best of all, it involves no heavy thinking.