From Wynwood to South Beach, Galleries Bring the Heat to Basel

Kris Knight, Bougainvillea Goth, oil on prepared cotton paper, 2014
Kris Knight, Bougainvillea Goth, oil on prepared cotton paper, 2014
Courtesy of Spinello Projects

Amid the chaos at the Miami Beach Convention Center, the noise of dozens of side fairs, and all the museums with their gala exhibits, how does an individual gallery possibly get noticed during Art Week?

Just ask Locust Projects, which has made a habit of hijacking headlines and making a splash dating back to 2012's blockbuster show with Theaster Gates and including last year's buzzy work by Nicholas Hlobo's "Sketch for an Opera," which drew hordes.

See also: Design Miami Celebrated Ten Years With Emmett Moore, Coral Morphologic

This year, Locust Projects (3852 N. Miami Ave., Miami; 305-576-8570; locustprojects.com) has outdone itself with Daniel Arsham's "Welcome to the Future," one of the top shows you'll see anywhere during Basel this year. Its hot streak comes as ever more galleries look to capitalize on Basel-mania with an embarrassment of riches for local art fans.

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"The art fairs provide Locust Projects and the other local organizations an international platform to share our work and our dynamic city with the contemporary art world," said Chana Budagazad Sheldon, artistic director of Locust Projects, Miami's longest-running alternative art space. It was founded in 1998.

For the latest project, Arsham cut a hole measuring 25 feet in diameter and three feet deep into Locust's gallery floor, then filled the sprawling cavity with close to 3,000 sculptural objects rendered from volcanic ash, obsidian, and crystal. The awe-inspiring exhibit gives the impression of an archaeological dig discovered circa 3014.

Inside the crater is everything from boom boxes to pay phones, film reels, cameras, car tires, steering wheels, crayon boxes, cameras, footballs, videogame controls, keyboards, portable televisions, a Gibson guitar, and even a Shell gas station sign.

While gallerist Anthony Spinello is absent from the Convention Center this year, his Spinello Projects (95 NE 40th St., Miami; 786-271-4223; spinelloprojects.com) is poised to induce whiplash in the Design District with "Smell the Magic," a pop-up solo exhibition featuring Toronto's Kris Knight. The artist's psychologically freighted portraits of young fops hark back to the hedonism of Rococo excess. Knight's provocative canvases elegantly suggest new models of the masculine ideal that have inspired fashion icon Gucci to source his paintings for its fall-winter 2014 collection.

 

Cheryl Pope, Up Against
Cheryl Pope, Up Against
Courtesy of the artist

Spinello is also staging "Auto Body," a four-day video and performance project at the defunct Giant Motors Auto Body & Paint Shop (1750 Bay Road, Miami Beach), featuring works by 33 international female artists with a focus on South Florida talent, all selected by a panel of 25 international female curators. The ambitious event boasts a sweeping installation of 25 videos and daily performances.

Photography buffs need look no further than Wynwood's Dina Mitrani Gallery (2620 NW Second Ave., Miami; 786-486-7248; dinamitranigallery.com) for a world-class display. The show presents a solo tour de force by Sebastiao Salgado, who spent close to a decade traversing the planet to capture his riveting imagery. The Brazilian's seamlessly curated black-and-white photos are a call to action for environmental stewardship. This collection includes works from Alaska, Siberia, Africa, and South America, where Salgado explored and documented tribes, animals, forests, deserts, and waters. His human touches remind us that we can each influence the Earth's healing in small, individual ways.

Not many Miami spaces boast as talented a roster as Gallery Diet (174 NW 23rd St., Miami; 305-571-2288; gallerydiet.com), which expands its influence this year with a first-ever collaboration with Design Miami. That fair will feature Diet stalwart Emmett Moore, the first local designer invited to the event.

Diet is also presenting "I'm With Her," a striking show by painter Rochelle Feinstein, whose work is impossible to pigeonhole. The artist's first Magic City solo show brings together a group of works ranging from 1991 to the present. Standouts include Love Is Over!, a cockeyed reflection on love and narcissism; and a glamorously grim painting partnered with a revolving disco ball titled Boo Fucking Hoo.

Diet owner Nina Johnson-Milewski and her husband, Daniel Milewski, are also opening the doors of their 1928 bungalow home to present "Great Expectations 2014," a visual feast. The comfy group show will include Invisible Exports and the Box curating groups of artists and individuals for a conceptual smorgasbord with new works by Katie Stout, Jim Drain, Christy Gast, and others.

Downwind at the Diana Lowenstein Gallery (2043 N. Miami Ave., Miami; 305-576-1804; dianalowensteingallery.com), don't miss the vaunted Argentine dealer's 25th-anniversary bash called "4409.72 Miles 9125 Days 25 Years of Art Discourse From Buenos Aires." The exhibit chronicles a quarter decade of emerging and established talent that has grown global in scope under her hands-on programming. She was an early Wynwood pioneer, opening in 2000, and today Lowenstein represents 30 international names. Her show presents an epic survey of dozens of artists from her past and present stable, many of whom have catapulted to art-world fame.

At the Upper East Side's Guccivuitton (8357 NE Second Ave., Miami; office@guccivuitton.net; guccivuitton.net), "Luxury Face," a collaborative project, is billed as a "nonshow" that questions what it means to place value on luxury commodities like jewelry, real estate, and contemporary art. The gallery space will be full of "things that look like artwork" but are actually "aesthetic objects of blended image and language with the suggestion of meaning." In other words, the gallery is a spot to discuss and observe the power of art without fear of getting separated from your wallet by Basel hucksters.

Downtown, take a gander at Centro Cultural Español's (1490 Biscayne Blvd., Miami; 305-448-9677; ccemiami.org) "The Avant-Garde and Latin-American Photography: The Poetics and Discourse of the Modern Gaze," an impressive exhibit featuring unforgettable images dating as far back as the 1930s. The show boasts top-drawer talent like Manuel Álvarez Bravo and Tina Modotti, all of whom capture the contradictions of life in Latin America.

The new Fredric Snitzer Gallery (1540 NE Miami Ct., Miami; 305-448-8976; snitzer.com) presents "Panting," a group offering from Big Apple curator John Connelly, who brings his Chelsea gang of emerging names boldly exploring contemporary approaches to notions of traditional painting. The title, the word "painting" without an "i," is intended as a commentary on the always persistent prognosis that the media is dead. Some of the artists deliver works that eschew the use of pigment or paint, while others hew to traditional forms embracing figurative imagery and the essentials of painting while acknowledging its limitations.

Primary Projects (151 NE Seventh St., Miami; 786-615-9308; thisisprimary.com) takes a stab at agit-prop jingoism in a collective Bronx cheer titled in reference to North Korea's Supreme Knucklehead Kim Jong-il's kitsch-and propaganda-filled gift pavilion in the Hermit Kingdom. The "International Friendship Exhibition" corrals a group of nearly 20 artists who riff on the nature of contradiction with engaging results. Miami's Asif Farooq goes off the reservation with Desaparecidos (The Missing), a neon installation reminding us how easily our heads can be wrapped in duct tape when protesting evildoers in tyrannical lands. Meanwhile, Autumn Casey delivers a centerpiece opus featuring a turn-of-the-century Ferris wheel seat that the public can climb on to play the conflict-wary ostrich sticking its rattled noggin in the sand.

At nearby Dimensions Variable (100 NE 11th St., Miami; 305-607-5527; dimensionsvariable.net), Miami-based artist Fabian Peña presents "Death of a Printed Story," a provocative show offering scathing commentary on the avalanche of printed propaganda in our media-saturated culture. Check out the pulpy gray matter coating the walls, giving the impression that a crowd has blown its collective stack in the space. The gunk is concocted from a stew ripped from the pages of history, religion, fashion, pornography, and art magazines.

Across the causeway at his new South Beach compound that's a stone's toss from the nip-and-tuck crowd at the Miami Beach Convention Center, David Castillo (420 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach; 305-573-8110; davidcastillogallery.com) floats out "Guaynabichean Odyssey," Juan Lerma's solo show inspired by Spanish conquistador Juan Ponce de León and his search for the mythical Fountain of Youth in modern-day Florida.

Afterward, skip over to the ArtCenter/South Florida before its iconic, bubble-shaped Richard Shack Gallery (800 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach; 305-674-8278; artcentersf.org) fades into history. The gallery, which recently sold the space for $88 million to a retail developer, celebrates its 30th anniversary with "Thirty Years on the ad," a retrospective group show curated by Edouard Duval-Carrié. The exhibit features a who's who of local talent -- ranging fro Agustina Woodgate to Antonia Wright, the TM Sisters, and Luis Gispert, among others -- who are also fellow alumni of the pioneorganization.

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