After nearly five years on hiatus, Venezuelan dealer Genaro Ambrosino has returned to the Miami arts scene. Ambrosino, who was one of select few locals who made the cut at the Miami Beach Convention Center during early editions of Art Basel Miami Beach, is opening General Audience Presents together with Lissette Garcia, a local art advisor and independent curator, near the Museum of Contemporary Art in North Miami.
General Audience Presents joins indie spaces Bridge Red Studios/Project Space and Under The Bridge, in a neighborhood that's becoming noted for its alt art vibe.
Ambrosino's new project space plans to traffic in "thoughtfully curated exhibits that encourage a discourse between emerging and mid-career artists and the local arts community," he says.
Thursday from 6 to 9 p.m. "Architectural Archetypes," GAP's inaugural exhibit, features work by multidisciplinary New York-based artist Derrick Adams, the artist's South Florida solo debut.
We spoke to Ambrosino about his return, the new space, and what's next.
Cultist: Why did you decide to open another space now?
Genaro Ambrosino: It just was the right time. A number of people had been insisting for months that I reopen but for some reason it was never quite right. Then a series of conditions came together and here we are. Plus, I was getting bored of just traveling.
Why did you partner with Lissette, and what is the mission for the space?
I knew from the get go that if I ever opened a space again I was not going to do it alone. Also my idea was to not have an art gallery per se but rather a project room, an exhibition space. I didn't want to represent artists like I did with Ambrosino Gallery so both these conditions had to come together: a partner that wanted to share responsibilities and that also had the same or at least similar vision.
Lissette happened to be that person. We have known each other for a while; she was actually my assistant director at Ambrosino Gallery for a number of years and knows the way I like to do things. A big plus is also that unlike me who practically disappeared from the scene five years ago, Lissette has done hundreds if not thousands of studio visits with artists throughout the United States these past years while working for Artist Pension Trust. I am a bit jealous but also very lucky in that regard; you can't pay for such experience and she will be a great resource to achieve our goal of exhibiting up-and-coming and mid-career artists who are "under exhibited" in Miami.
The area you are in has become a hotbed for alternative projects. Are you going to keep things experimental or will it become a commercial venue?
Well, the space is a commercial venue at the end of the day. Both Lissette and I pay for everything so we would like to make some of that money back, especially because that would allow us to finance more daring projects. But marketability is not the focus of the project room. We want to show things that excite us regardless of their commercial potential. That is why we decided to keep the space very small, not only to keep costs down but also to make it really easy for artists to take over the room and create something special with it.
Who are some of the artists you plan to work with, and are any of them local?
Our program is very "relaxed" so to speak. We have only scheduled four projects for the first season, one of which is of a "local", William Cordova, whose installation "yawar mallku: look 4 me in the whirlwind" opening during Art Basel Miami Beach 2012 will mark his return to exhibiting individually since his show at MOCA years back. We intentionally left a few empty weeks in between shows so we can fill them with happenings, performances, video, one-day or short length installations by local artists, you name it. I believe the space has to be malleable and needs to generate its own life; and we will be there to encourage it. I am sure we will be receiving proposals and we will carefully consider them and chose the ones that we consider fit the mission. For me one thing is absolutely imperative: I have to have fun doing this, otherwise there is no point in "coming back."
What is the core philosophy behind your programming?
Hhmmm... I can't speak for Lissette, but I am interested in exhibiting artists whose work has a message that I find relevant and that is both visually and intellectually stimulating.
Do you have plans for a Basel project?
Just the William Cordova installation.
Tell us about the artist in your inaugural show.
The artist with whom we open the space is Derrick Adams. He is a true multi-disciplinary artist from NYC who taps into his local cityscape for inspiration. He fuses urban textures and human iconography to create a series of hybrid works that I find fascinating. Derrick has a very solid body of work, both performative and more "conventional" bi/tri-dimensional that has been exhibited at MoMA PS1, PERFORMA 05, Brooklyn Museum, Jack Tilton, The Kitchen NYC, Studio Museum in Harlem, and (BAM) Brooklyn Academy of Music. He was also a recipient of a 2009 Louis Comfort Tiffany Award and an honored finalist for the 2011 William H. Johnson Prize. He is not totally unknown to Miami because he also did a Fountainhead residency, but this will be his first show in town.
You have seen it all and were an early Basel pioneer. Do you plan doing things different this time around?
I don 't really have a "master plan" to make things like or different than... All I know is that I am not going to take myself too seriously and that my only real plan is to have fun at this, with no regrets.
Did you miss the action while you were away?
I thought I would, but no, not really. I had things I needed to take care of these past five years and I am glad that I could take time off and do them. I'm actually not done, that's why it's great to have a partner in this new endeavor, and it allows me to focus my attention on those projects as well.
What is the best thing about the Miami art scene?
That it is still relatively small.
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And the worst?
That it is still relatively small.
General Audience Presents 769 N.E. 125th Street, North Miami, Call 786-467-0941 or visit generalaudiencepresents.com.