By John Thomason
By Benjy Caplan
By Artburst Miami
By Carlos Suarez De Jesus
By Daniel Reskin
As if rehearsing for the first week of December, when Art Basel parachutes into town, Wynwood galleries are high-stepping into the fall season with a flurry of exhibits boasting a bit of everything from psychedelic paintings and a quirky sculptural playground to a graffiti-inspired collection and a photographic ode to subversive skate-punk juvenilia.
Carlos Cabeza's hallucinatory collection of works, on view at the spanking-new O. Ascanio Gallery (2600 NW Second Ave., Miami; 786-369-9314; oascaniogallery.com) in Wynwood, gives the impression the artist painted them on a shimmering pool of water and then skipped stones across the surface to create an electric-Kool-Aid ripple effect.
"Rhythmic Paintings" includes 15 rainbow-hued, turbo-charged paintings, decoupage, and objects created by the Paris-based Venezuelan artist. Using a stream-of-conscious approach to the subject matter, the artist creates canvases that vibrate with an inherent energy that seems to send out shock waves. Cabeza further ratchets up the illusion by marinating his imagery of young women and surreal landscapes in kaleidoscopic fractal patterns executed with stylized lines and an extreme depth of detail.
Cabeza's striking works bring to mind the cosmic art of the '60s by painters such as Peter Max, those psychedelic posters that adorned college dorm rooms, or the album covers of bands such as Cream.
The suite of radioactive images exudes a time-capsule flair and is a bold choice for a freshly minted international gallery seeking to leave a footprint on the local scene as the Wynwood gallery season shifts into high gear.
Owner Oscar Ascanio, who opened his first gallery in Caracas in 1978 and is a publisher and collector, plans to work with top-shelf artists such as Jesús Soto, Carlos Cruz Diez, Alejandro Otero, Victor Lucena, Victor Vasarely, and Bernar Venet in his swank 3,800-square-foot digs, formerly the home of J & A Footwear.
The energetic dealer says opening a second gallery in Miami was as comfortable a fit as a pair of favorite slippers.
"I chose to open a gallery in Wynwood because of its growing international stature," Ascanio says. "Plus the art movement here is respectable and the area still accessible."
Like other starry-eyed newbies eager to plant their brand and stake a claim on visiting collectors during Art Basel, the Venezuelan gallerist says Wynwood reminds him of a "blossoming SoHo" and can't believe the city's cultural evolution since he first visited during the '80s.
"In 1985, I did my first show here in Miami's Center for the Fine Arts," Ascanio recalls. "Since then, Miami's art scene has evolved substantially. It is now well recognized by gallerists and artists alike the world over."
To celebrate, Ascanio is inviting the public to his chichi joint this Saturday at 7 p.m. for a ritzy inaugural bash sponsored by Polar Beer.
Down the corner at the Dorsch Gallery (151 NW 24th St., Miami; 305-576-1278; dorschgallery.com), the Second Saturday gallery crawl bursts with "Bubble Raft," a sprawling group show featuring sculptural works by 24 artists.
"The sculptures in the exhibition are colorful, witty, sometimes formal, and often phallic," explains Tyler Emerson-Dorsch, cocurator of the stalwart space. "This is going to be a lot of fun."
The show, she says, takes its name from the raft of bubbles that naturally forms in unpredictable patterns on the surface of liquids, a phenomenon that evokes the generative state of the exhibition.
Brook Dorsch came up with the concept after visiting the studios of participating artists and finding that their diverse works resonated like independent bubbles rising to the surface to join with others in unexpected ways.
Among the highlights, check out Magnus Sigurdarson's FRY ME extended version, the Icelandic prankster's heaping serving of self-deprecating hilarity that features a stack of pilfered newspapers topped by a turntable and a rotating wooden salmon carved with the words eat me. In it, Sigurdarson, who hails from heartier climes, seems to poke fun at sun-baked locals weaned on sushi and tanning lotion.
Also catch Bruce Conkle's quirky motorized mobile made of coconut, quartz crystal, meteorite, and azurite. It resembles a distant planet wobbling off its axis or a weird souvenir snagged at a tropical theme park.
Conkle, an avowed fan of snowmen, coconuts, fairy tales, crystals, and meteorites, creates works that use humor to address environmental issues such as deforestation and climate change, according to the curator.
"These objects' physical form, combination of materials, absurdity, and subtle humor begged comparison to one another, especially when displayed together for this exhibition," Emerson-Dorsch says.
The rollicking exhibit has been organized within the Dorsch's capacious interior and exterior spaces, and with names such as Bhakti Baxter, Robin Griffiths, Richard Haden, Sinisa Kukec, Daniel Newman, Brandon Opalka, and Ralph Provisero, it promises to be a big draw.
Upwind in the Design District, the Spinello Gallery (155 NE 38th St., #101, Miami; 786-271-4223; spinellogallery.com) has unveiled "Bang Bang," a multimedia overture to the seamy underbelly of street culture by local graffiti rat turned fine artist Typoe.
Boasting a new series of sculptures and works on paper, the renegade tagmeister has turned his gunsights from crumbling urban walls. Here he has created objects ranging from factory-finished bling to the occasional found objects he assaults with a thug's sensibility and recasts as visually poetic yet scathing commentaries on corporate treachery, street gang disputes, organized religion, and the ravages of war.
His Bandana, Silhouette Series, crafted from die-cut paper, exudes the same type of cinematic vibe as Kara Walker's cut black-paper tableaux yet is much more modest in scale.
The work reflects Typoe's desperado self-image while also raising questions about assumed identities and cultural stereotypes in contemporary society.
Out in Wynwood's edgier fringes at OHWOW (3100 NW Seventh Ave., Miami; 305-633-9345; oh-wow.com), Ari Marcopoulos thrashes out his vision of the Big Apple's nascent skateboard scene during the early '90s in "No Cause." The gritty, unrestricted look at the urban subculture features portraits, black-and-white and color snaps, photocopies, and drawings capturing the youthful air of defiance varnishing the cultural moment. It marks the Dutch shutterbug's Miami debut.
Since arriving in New York in 1980, Marcopoulos has emerged as one of the most influential voices documenting America's underground and marginalized subcultures. He has photographed everything from rust-rimmed, blood-coated public bathroom sinks to surfing Eskimos, homemade zip guns, angst-addled cherubim, and Swedish techno raves, as well as created intimate portraits of Warhol, Mapplethorpe, Basquiat, and other denizens of the '80s downtown New York art scene.
His works on view at OHWOW coincide with the release of the artist's new book, Stoopz, featuring pieces from the exhibit as well as additional images.