By John Thomason
By Benjy Caplan
By Artburst Miami
By Carlos Suarez De Jesus
By Daniel Reskin
On most nights, one could fire a cannon in the Wynwood Art District and not hit a soul. But when the starter pistol cracked on the season September 9, thousands of art patrons swelled the area's streets during a gallery crawl that began and ended with a bang.
Genaro Ambrosino, the sole holdout of North Miami's moribund gallery scene, uncorked his new Wynwood digs like a bottle of cut-rate spumante via "Half Way There," a group show featuring 21 artists.
Although he says he will keep a reduced presence across the street from the Museum of Contemporary Art, Ambrosino informs that his North Miami space will be devoted to site-specific installations while he will be headquartered in Wynwood.
"Inside Miami Garden": Through October 30. Lyle O. Reitzel Gallery, 2441 NW 2nd Ave, Miami; 305-573-1333, www.artnet.com/reitzel.html.
Mental Fight: An Anti Spell for the Twenty- First Century and Miramar substation/ EMF displacement: Through October 28. Locust Projects, 105 NW 23rd St, Miami; 305-576-8570, www.locustprojects.org.
"Being There" and Meditations on Mutropolis: Through October 8. Ingalls & Associates, 125 NW 23rd St, Miami; 305-573-6263, www.ingallsassociates.com.
"broken smiles, lost tragedies, fractured talks, and in the end it was perfect": Through October 14. Kevin Bruk Gallery, 2249 NW 1st Pl, Miami; 305-576-2000, www.kevinbrukgallery.com.
Gean Moreno solo show: Through October 7. Fredric Snitzer Gallery, 2247 NW 1st Pl, Miami; 305-438-8976, www.snitzer.com.
The dealer christened his joint with verve after having applied the finishing touches on the walls just moments earlier.
Jonathan Peck's impeccably crafted Out of the Trenches, situated on the floor in the center of the gallery, was among several pulverizing pieces at Ambrosino.
Peck fashioned two trench coats, one black and the other white, each topped by a Burberry-pattern skull and exactingly rendered out of construction and crêpe paper. The piece made for one of evening's cleverest statements.
Another artist with a taste for the visual bon mot was Frenchman David Le Roi. His Saw Cute, near the back of the gallery, featured a carpenter's work table holding a hand saw, its serrated edge appearing anointed in blood. A handful of bloodied ceramic fingers and plastic driblets of gore on the table and floor seemed to suggest that Ambrosino might have risked lopping off his digits while racing to open his doors.
For the most part, much of the rest of the work in the exhibit seemed hung with an eye for the checkbooks, as did work in several of the other spaces in the neighborhood.
At the Lyle O. Reitzel Gallery, "Inside Miami Garden" featured seven Hispanic artists' mixed-media pieces, many of them high-ticket canvases.
In Levitation, she hung pantyhose from the ceiling and stuffed the toe end of the nylons with beeswax replicas of her own feet.
Isa, a spectacular Cibachrome photo, depicted the artist with her head bowed and her body clad completely in the hosiery. Her torso was tightly corseted in fishing twine. Sections of a red garden hose with dolls' hands attached to the ends jutted out from Paiewonsky's chest like porcupine quills.
Her weirdest piece was a Cibachrome diptych called Priapo Ruy. In it the artist squeezed a naked fellow into a flesh-tone nylon body tourniquet and tied his hands behind his back. The unsightly mook sported what looked like a low-riding cummerbund covered with a row of limp, uncircumcised burlap dicks. Despite the discomfiting imagery, Paiewonsky's work delivered a visceral uppercut and was difficult to peel the eyes from.
At Locust Projects, Michael Tedja's Mental Fight: An Anti Spell for the Twenty-First Century, drew the early crowds.
His brawny installation, taking up most of Locust's main gallery space, featured a wall covered in paintings under glass, many with empty beer bottles affixed to them. Below these works, numerous other paintings swept across a vast expanse of the floor and were slathered with what could have been the contents of Fred Sanford's junkyard.
A gallery handout described that for the Amsterdam-based artist, "Painting is like an intestine it's a container for indefatigable production, libidinal overdrives, endless research, and a stream of ideas that never ebbs." After experiencing the wacky stuff, one would find it difficult to argue with the description. Tedja's portraits of black men and women featured coins glued over the subjects' eyes and rays shooting from their peepers. Others appeared in gaudy wrestling masks. Gorillas, chimpanzees, and orangutans popped up everywhere. His paintings were densely covered with coat hangers, rhinestone-flecked bicycle tires, cat's cradles, tambourines, toilet paper tubes, a black Santa Claus doll, photographs, strips of painted wood, text, drawings, dirt, and seemingly just about anything else the artist could gobble up and regurgitate in his exuberant pop-cultural amalgamation. For all the obsessive-compulsiveness conveyed by the work, it suffered from too orderly a presentation, forcing the spectator to engage the individual pieces from a distance and leaving one unable to appreciate the more nuanced aspects of Tedja's work. The artist should have considered leaving room between the paintings exhibited on the floor, and arranged them in a way where the viewer could fully ingest the works by walking between the pieces.
In the project room, Nicolas D. Lobo's Miramar substation/EMF displacement, a model of the electromagnetic field generated by the power substation located next to Locust Projects, was one of the evening's head-turners. Lobo used thin lengths of lumber to create the large jagged-edge, matchsticklike sculpture that looked like the skeletal remains of a mountain range or an iceberg.
Up the block at Ingalls & Associates, Charles Huntley Nelson's video piece, Meditations on Mutropolis, on view in the south gallery, laced snippets of Fritz Lang's Metropolis and Gualtiero Jacopetti and Franco Prosperi's film Goodbye Uncle Tom. In the 1927 classic helmed by Lang, a mad scientist replaces humans with robot clones. Released in 1971, Goodbye Uncle Tom is likely the most incendiary film ever made about the evils of slavery. Nelson combined the films with provocative effect as an abstraction of the black experience and to convey notions of working-class people used as machines to build great civilizations. He did so in an effort to visualize the term Afrofutursim.