Design District developer Craig Robins, founder of Dacra.EXPAND
Design District developer Craig Robins, founder of Dacra.
Courtesy of Dacra / Miami Design District

Craig Robins on the ICA's New Public Sculpture Program

In anticipation of the Institute of Contemporary Art's December inauguration of its new home — located around the corner from its current space in the Design District's Moore Building — organizers have debuted plans for a sculpture program in collaboration with developer Craig Robins, the neighborhood's seminal figure. The project will display massive works by notable names in modern and contemporary art, including two pieces by Sol LeWitt that will be located at the entrance to the Design District and a commissioned piece by Thomas Bayrle, titled Wire Madonna, that was the centerpiece of the German-born artist's retrospective at the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) last year. The program will scatter individual pieces throughout the district and is set to debut in November with the new sculptures along the neighborhood's Biscayne Boulevard border.

“Engaging audiences with art beyond the walls of the museum and throughout our community is central to ICA Miami’s mission and should be an everyday occurrence,” ICA director Ellen Salpeter says in a statement.

As museum and Design District organizers work to ready the program for its fall opening, New Times chatted with Robins, whose real-estate firm, Dacra, spearheaded development of the neighborhood. As a noted entrepreneur and art collector in his own right, Robins has proved to be one of the ICA's most valued partners.

New Times: Why did you feel it was important to debut a public sculpture program in conjunction with the opening of the ICA's new permanent home in the Design District?

Craig Robins: Since we started development of the Miami Design District and its expansion into what it will become with this latest phase of development, public art and public cultural programming have been a major component of the neighborhood, establishing it as a place unlike anywhere else in Miami. The opening of ICA Miami in the Design District only broadens the neighborhood’s appeal and offerings, but the public Sol LeWitt sculptures tie the institution into what we pride ourselves on as a neighborhood: having something for everybody and a plethora of publicly accessible world-class works.

Sol LeWitt, Tower (Frankfurt), 1990
Sol LeWitt, Tower (Frankfurt), 1990
Courtesy of the Institute of Contemporary Art

How do you think the museum’s new outdoor garden will enhance the Design District?

The new outdoor garden at ICA Miami perfectly adds to our existing collection of public art pieces and public plazas. And having Sol LeWitt pieces available for public view in a new area of the district further elevates the neighborhood as a place where guests are invited to spend the day, appreciating and interacting with art on a daily basis.

Who are some of the artists featured in the new museum that you're most excited about?

A few of the artists that I will be excited to see at the new ICA Miami are Nicole Eisenman and David Hammons. I have collected their work over the years, and it’s going to be wonderful to see them represented at the opening show.

Sol LeWitt, Tower (Lodz), 1993
Sol LeWitt, Tower (Lodz), 1993
Courtesy of the Institute of Contemporary Art

Why were the LeWitt pieces chosen for special placement at the entrance to the Design District? What is it about his work that you think continues to resonate with audiences?

We were very lucky to get the Sol LeWitt pieces. LeWitt often worked with classic geometric shapes, experimenting with concepts borrowed from urbanism and architecture. His experience in architecture and the parallels in his work and architectural design make these pieces incredibly fitting for the district. Here in the Miami Design District, we’ve wanted the entire development, every architectural structure, to be highly influenced by and include art. Being heavily influenced by architectural concepts, Sol LeWitt beautifully showcases the relationship between urban architecture and sculptural art in his works. We’re very excited for these works to join our existing collection of public art pieces.

Thomas Bayrle, Wire Madonna, 2016
Thomas Bayrle, Wire Madonna, 2016
Courtesy of the Institute of Contemporary Art

What can you tell us about the Thomas Bayrle piece commissioned for the Moore Building space?

The Thomas Bayrle show was the last exhibition presented in the ICA Miami’s temporary space at the Moore Building. Being able to keep the site-specific Wire Madonna in the atrium area is going to be a great reminder of these past few years of collaboration with the ICA Miami in the Design District. Bayrle’s work exploring consumerism and urbanism really resonates here, and it is such an impressive work that we are really pleased we are able to keep it longer and have it become part of the ever-growing roster of public art in the neighborhood.

How would you describe the relationship with the ICA and the Design District, and how do you think the museum fits into the neighborhood long-term?

The Design District and ICA Miami have been working together for many months leading up to the museum’s opening, specifically as it relates to public programming. Both we at the Design District and ICA Miami believe strongly in incorporating the community into the arts and providing opportunities for that to happen. Through our like-mindedness, ICA and the Miami Design District have successfully worked on a number of events, such as ICA x MDD Family Day, in which we invite the local community to come together with kids of all ages to spend the day with us, learning and experiencing art.

Long-term I see many more partnerships such as this and envision the relationship between the Design District and ICA to grow even stronger, allowing both to provide added opportunities for the public to get involved with the arts and culture as part of their everyday lives, as well as continuing to build Miami into the art destination that it’s becoming.

Institute of Contemporary Art Miami
Opening December 1 at 4040 NE Second Ave. Miami; 305-901-5272; icamiami.org.

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