Despite the dismal economic climate and a gloomy weather forecast, last Saturday night's Wynwood gallery walk season kickoff opened with a roar, featuring expanded spaces, stellar shows, and even some brisk sales.
"I was worried that the torrential rains would put a damper on the evening," said Lyle O. Reitzel, the Santo Domingo-based dealer who opened his eponymous Wynwood annex a few years ago. "I was surprised to see such a huge turnout considering the weather. This was by far the best opening ever at our space."
During the summer, Reitzel rolled the dice and expanded his Miami gallery to twice its former size. He now has close to 3,000 square feet of exhibition space and inaugurated a pair of shows to celebrate the occasion.
One of the exhibits is a group show featuring names such as José Bedia, Luis Cruz Azaceta, José García Cordero, and Edouard Duval-Carrié.
The other show, "Shuffle," features a suite of large acrylic-on-canvas paintings by the dealer's latest discovery, Luciano Goizueta.
By the time the rain clouds cleared, hundreds of people had flooded his space, with some buyers snapping up paintings by the 26-year-old Costa Rican, Goizueta.
"We sold several of his works in the $5,000 range," said Reitzel, whose Santo Domingo gallery helped support his Wynwood space during a witheringly slow summer in terms of sales. "I'm happy that the artist sold in his first solo show ever in the United States."
Rendered in psychedelic, radioactive spills of color, Goizueta's paintings struck a jarring note through their depictions of people and recreational vehicles superimposed over concrete jungles.
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The artist often depicts Costa Rica's native wildlife in his paintings as a commentary on the uneasy balance between ecotourism and urban sprawl. For this show, he created several paintings that prominently highlight '60s-era airline stewardesses clad in funky mod fashions, adding a quirky pop sensibility to his work.
Fresh Fruit features a quartet of flight attendants wearing go-go boots and pink-and-orange uniforms. The women pose coquettishly with their hands on their hips as they flash their pearlies seductively at the spectator. In the upper right corner of the composition, an exotic bird plucks berries off a bush, dropping the ripe red fruit on the unsuspecting women.
"What impressed me most was the quality of people that turned out for the opening," Reitzel said. "It wasn't your typical crowd of youngsters showing up for free booze. Instead it was more like a New York opening, with plenty of well-healed people, many who were asking serious questions about the work and engaging the artist eagerly."
Through October 12
Lyle O. Reitzel Gallery
2441 NW Second Ave., Miami
Tuesday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.