Miami Art Week feels like a tornado of increasingly insane events competing for attention — drones over South Beach! VIP Björk DJ sets! Vagina chapels! Amid all of that noise, galleries can offer a shelter from the storm where ambitious art can speak on its own terms without the madness transpiring outside the front door. Here are our picks for the best gallery shows this year.
Spinello Projects. Rather than pack its gallery with dozens of exhibits, local favorite Spinello Projects will display works by four standout solo artists: Sinisa Kukec, Naama Tsabar, Agustina Woodgate, and Antonia Wright. "It’s almost like the gallery becomes an art fair, where each room is its own exhibition," says founder Anthony Spinello, who deems this quality-over-quantity approach a new experiment for his gallery.
That approach allows visitors to home in on works such as Wright's performative sculpture Control, a visceral commentary on the culture of fear and violence that many experience in Trump's America. Audience members will be instructed to stand in front of a huge barricade while crowd-control barriers are launched at them from the other side. Protected by the barricade, the audience will experience the psychological violence of the performance in conversation with the literal violence that many civilians face.
“[The projects] all have this duality to the work, and they definitely reflect our times," Spinello says. "A lot of them are explicitly political." "4 Solo Shows," through December 20 at Spinello Projects, 7221 NW Second Ave., Miami; spinelloprojects.com. Admission is free December 5 through 10.
Primary Projects. Primary Projects will transform its gallery to show Derrick Adams' Black White and Brown, a mixed-media meta-commentary on how the black body is used in institutional presentations of artwork. Known for his collages, Adams will adapt his work — which uses bold geometric patterns to deconstruct sociopolitical contexts — to fit the built-in gallery space.
Primary partner Books Bischof sees Brown's 2D-to-3D exhibition as representative of Primary's mission. “A pretty big agenda of ours has always been to manipulate the space and bounce across the spectrum of creative options," he says.
Primary will hand-paint Brown's bold op-art style across the floor of the gallery. “We’re paying that extra attention to detail," Bischof says. “I learned from an old teacher that putting this extra love into the details makes a big difference instead of tricking everyone.” Derrick Adams' Black, White, and Brown, Tuesday, December 5, through January 27, 2018, at Primary Projects, 15 NE 39th St., Miami; primaryprojectspace.com. Admission is free.
Rubell Family Collection. This year, the Rubell Family Collection's two exhibitions will discuss the internet's role in shaping culture. The first, "Still Human," presents the work of 25 artists, including Ed Atkins, Simon Denny, and Cécile B. Evans, covering artificial intelligence, biotechnology, bioethics, desire mediated by technology, surveillance, and social justice.
Artist-in-residence Allison Zuckerman's "Stranger in Paradise" takes historical paintings and hybridizes them with paint and digitally altered printed images from social media to create cultural and social commentary across history. "Still Human" and "Allison Zuckerman: Stranger in Paradise," Wednesday, December 6, through August 25, 2018, at the Rubell Family Collection, 95 NW 29th St., Miami; rfc.museum. Admission is free December 6 through 10.
De la Cruz Collection. The de la Cruz Collection's exhibition "Force and Form" includes more than 45 artists from the 20th Century to today and aims to examine how technology and social change affect the way art and language are made. The artists take traditional forms such as sculpture, installation, and painting and fuse them with materials and found imagery to "address the innate conflicts of the mechanical gesture and human intention," the gallery says.
"You can see we're in the 21st Century," gallery owner Rosa de la Cruz says, noting that many artists have taken techniques for painting and imaging and merged them with more modern styles such as silk-screening. “Artists now move in different directions. I think we’re in an era where the changes in media are going to be huge," she says. "The same way technology is shaping the world, it’s shaping art.”
Nate Lowman's In Pieces and in Stitches, for example, presents the literal social fabric of America on a mixed-media canvas map of the United States. Each state has its own texture and design — some complex and abstract, others opaque and well defined. "Force and Form," Tuesday, December 5, through November 2018 at the De la Cruz Collection, 23 NE 41st St., Miami; delacruzcollection.org. Admission is free.
Locust Projects. In the main gallery of the not-for-profit exhibition space Locust Projects, New York interdisciplinary artist Nancy Davidson's Per Sway unfurls large, uncanny inflatable sculptures that skew our political climate like a funhouse mirror. Davidson's anthropomorphic sculptures hint at connections between the desecration of the nation and the persistent abuse of the female body. Performance artist Slim Ninja will perform with the installation during the gallery's Basel event.
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Miami-based Pepe Mar's Man of the Night, a solo installation collaging elements of the artist's practice over his career, will also be on display. Custom "fabric paintings" that show personal artifacts, gay ephemera, and art from his archives will be woven into a patchwork.
"I’m really superexcited about the shows we have up," executive director Lorie Mertes says. "It couldn’t be a better representation of what Locust is all about.”
Whereas Locust is often a space for new or upcoming artists, this year the gallery is giving long-established artists an opportunity to push their work further. "They’re really interesting counterpoints," Mertes says. "Davidson focuses on feminizing the space... and then you have Pepe, who’s interested in investigating queer space.” Nancy Davidson's Per Sway and Pepe Mar's Man of the Night, through January 20, 2018, at Locust Projects, 3852 N. Miami Ave., Miami; locustprojects.org. Admission is free.