By John Thomason
By Benjy Caplan
By Artburst Miami
By Carlos Suarez De Jesus
By Daniel Reskin
Because I Say So
"Because I Say So" is an exhibition featuring selections from the collection of Debra and Dennis Scholl that challenges the notion of what art is. The works on display are remarkable not only for the range of materials — which include twigs, strips of fabric, hairpins, and even LPs — but also for tiptoeing around the tradition of sculpture while subverting it in arresting ways. The Scholls, who are major collectors (he was just named the Knight Foundation's Miami director), have offered the Frost often-unseen sculptures and installations from their impressive contemporary art trove. According to a museum handout, they look for "work that succeeds both on and below the surface, evoking a strong response, and not necessarily a positive one... So long as a viewer is engaged enough to give a reaction, either one of pleasure or discomfort, we feel that the work has succeeded." The reactions are strong and tantalizing at the Frost. The Scholls' plucky eye for talent is on display even before visitors enter the gorgeous second-floor gallery, where their quirky treasures are amassed.
Through June 27. MoCA at Goldman Warehouse, 404 NW 26th St., Miami; 305-893-6211; mocanomi.org. Wednesday through Saturday noon to 5 p.m.
At first blush, the fetching cheerleader with Bettie Page bangs and twinkling blue eyes appears to be the stuff of a teenager's wet dream. That is until she begins speaking, spewing threats to place your nuts on a dresser and smash them to bits with a spiked bat. She then offers a seductive wink. The maniacal minx stars in one of local artist Luis Gispert's early videos, titled Can it be that it was all so simple then (2001), on view at the MoCA satellite space in Wynwood as part of the artist's first comprehensive solo exhibition in a museum. It features the young, athletic model wearing a pleated uniform and ruby red lipstick while lip-synching foul Wu-Tang Clan lyrics and posturing menacingly against a lurid green backdrop. The chroma-key background, typically used in film production before computer-generated imagery is layered in, became an early trademark for the artist. Gispert's sensational eye- and ear-blistering show — featuring large-scale photographs, videos, sculptures, and films dating from 1999 to the present — mines the artist's urban Cuban-American roots, his youthful fascination with hip-hop and car culture, and the baggage dredged up during several years of Freudian therapy. And, of course, there are the boomboxes, which reference the artist himself and appear everywhere in his work. There is no arguing that Gispert's deft juggling of urban subcultures and tradition defies the senses and offers a startlingly singular vision of the role hybrid culture plays in identity. Just like there can be no arguing that this show is an eye opener of the first magnitude and not to be missed.
In Your Own Image: The Best of Bert Rodriguez
Through June 14. Bass Museum of Art, 2121 Park Ave., Miami Beach; 305-673-7530; bassmuseum.org. Tuesday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Early last year, Bert Rodriguez found himself atop the art world. But by the end of 2008, he had unexpectedly crashed to earth. Rodriguez, who was in the Whitney Biennial last April, followed his success with projects in Paris and London before closing the year out with the debut of a Stanley Kubrik-inspired work at Art Basel Miami Beach. Right after Basel, the 33-year-old was the victim of a hit-and-run. The local conceptual artist broke his back in three places and sustained a nasty crescent-shaped gash on his forehead that snaked from ear to ear and required 47 stitches. Ironically, on display at the Bass Museum of Art is an image of Rodriguez's noggin punctured with scores of staples, eerily reminiscent of his brush with death. It's part of "In Your Own Image: The Best of Bert Rodriguez — Greatest Hits Vol. 1," his first show since the accident. The series of works comprise 134 postcards bearing the same headshot of the artist, whose entire pate has been shaved.
Last year, Rodriguez printed 1,000 postcards with instructions inviting the public to work his image over by adding hair, clothing, accessories, or makeup using the media of their choice. The postage-paid cards were left in shops, cafés, and bars throughout Paris and mailed back to the artist after strangers completed them. Some of them depict Rodriguez sporting a Mohawk, Mickey Mouse ears, a crown, insect antennae, devil horns, Hitler bangs, flaxen tresses, and even a pair of runny sunny-side-up eggs. His exhibition — which includes works in a diverse variety of media, such as photography, sculpture, video, installation, and sound — can be considered a sprawling self-portrait in one form or another, Rodriguez says.
NeoHooDoo: Art for a Forgotten Faith
Through May 24. Miami Art Museum, 101 W. Flagler St., Miami; 305-375-3000; miamiartmuseum.org. Tuesday through Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday noon to 5 p.m.
It's impossible to imagine a better city than ours as a host for the mojo-manic exhibit currently on view at the Miami Art Museum. Co-organized by the Menil Collection and P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center and curated by Franklin Sirmans, "NeoHooDoo: Art for a Forgotten Faith" is freighted with the religious beliefs of those who have migrated here. The sprawling show corrals 50 works by 33 artists in an arresting variety of media ranging from sculpture to photography, assemblage, video, and performance. The exhibition was inspired by the African-American writer Ishmael Reed's Neo-HooDoo Manifesto, which explores the role of spirituality outside organized religion.
Adding some wit and humor to the mix is Brian Jungen, who has stacked golf bags floor to ceiling to create two colossal columns reminiscent of totem poles. He does so as a critique of the commodification of native imagery. In his Beer Cooler, Jungen — who is of mixed European and Native American ancestry — carved skulls, flames, an eagle, and a dreamcatcher, into the sides of a plastic cooler. By placing beer cans in the cooler and the cooler in a museum, Jungen has stated he is "giving alcohol back to the Europeans." "NeoHooDoo" includes a mind-jarring range of depictions of spirituality that will bring visitors back again and again to plumb its enigmatic depths.