66. David Rohn

In honor of our MasterMind genius awards, Cultist proudly presents "100 Creatives," where we feature Miami's cultural superheroes in random order. Have suggestions for future profiles? Email cultist@miaminewtimes.com with the whos and whys. 

David Rohn as "Candidate" in 2007.
David Rohn as "Candidate" in 2007.

66. David Rohn

Forget Dana Carvey; artist David Rohn is the true master of disguise. From channeling Gretchen Bender (the transvestite real estate agent) to Herbert Katzenjammer (the pretentious art patron), Rohn really knows how to put on a show. "It was the drag queens of South Beach's early days who showed me how easy it is to be somebody else and how liberating it can be." 

Growing up around seven brothers and sisters and having parents

"who were more passionate than organized" probably helped develop the

attention-seeking side of Rohn. This came to an unexpected halt at the

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age of 12, when it seemed that he was suddenly being groomed for "middle

class propriety." Fortunately for the art world, even though he wanted

to please his parents, it may have been too late.

Apart from his chaotic upbringing, Rohn childhood immersion in NYC museums and all "the dinosaur skeletons and anthropology and wildlife dioramas, the Guernica at MOMA, the baroque nudes and Egyptian stuff at the Met, even the furniture," plus his uncle, the art aficionado, all played a part in this virtuoso's success. His performance art, via his off-the-wall, yet subconsciously recognizable characters, has been exhibited at MOCA, the Dorsch Gallery, and the Wolfsonian, among a host of others. 

And his passion shows through in every performance. "We mine the depths of feeling and awareness, and practice fundamental human communication (when it works out). It's personal, and it's risky. It's very important work even though it isn't necessarily appreciated unless you can figure out the commercial angle, which can get tricky. Let's face it--the biography shows are only about captains of industry and finance here. Even so we need real art just as much as any other society--ask Carl Jung. Maybe that's partly why we're getting so many artists now--to balance things out." 

Ventriloquist's dummy character for Art Center South Florida for five days during Art Basel.
Ventriloquist's dummy character for Art Center South Florida for five days during Art Basel.
Courtesy David Rohn

1. List five things that inspire you. 

-Expressions of imagination, especially when adults act like kids again.
-Seeing another artist's work that communicates something that unifies the personal and the collective, that unifies form and content, and that captures the complex core of experience simply. Francis Bacon, Edward Hopper, Jeff Wall, Dan Graham, for example.
-Seeing animals communicate with people.
-Seeing people do what they feel like doing.
-Seeing people get what they (apparently) deserve.

2. What was your last big project? 

Applying some of my invented contemporary characters to Carl Jung's Archetypes at Carol Jazzar Gallery last Spring. For me, Jung has answers. Big time!

3. What's your next big project?

Being a ventriliquist's dummy on Facebook in a window at ArtCenter South Florida for five days during Basel Miami. It needs participation to work so I m counting on having some chatter. I'll have to be fearless and let it unfold.

4. Why do you do what you do?

I've actually thought about trying something more stable and secure, but realized that doing anything else would be even more ridiculous for me.

5. What's something you want Miami to know about you?

Hmmmmm.....that I want everything to work out Okay for everybody, including the sex offenders and even the politicians.

What's something you don't want Miami to know about you?

Ask somebody else.

David Rohn as "Gangbanger."
David Rohn as "Gangbanger."
Courtesy David Rohn

The Creatives so far:

67. Diane Brache
68. Spencer Morin
69. James Anthony
70. Jim Drain
71. Claudia Calle
72. Kevin Arrow

73. Andrew Hevia

Ana Mendez

Michael McKeever

Diana Lozano

Ricardo Pau-Llosa

Agustina Woodgate

Tarell Alvin McCraney

Jennifer Kronenberg

Farley Aguilar

Colin Foord

Karelle Levy

Matt Gajewski

Antonia Wright

Allen Charles Klein

Christy Gast

Gustavo Matamoros

Shareen Rubiera-Sarwar

Kyle Trowbridge

Clifton Childree

Jessica Gross
93. Danny


Nektar de Stagni

Anthony Spinello

Vanessa Garcia

Justin Long

Rosie Herrera

Rick Falcon

Ingrid B

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