With Art Basel Miami Beach just a couple of months away from focusing the art world's critical eye squarely on Wynwood, the standard move for area galleries is to showcase their biggest names during October's art walk rather than rolling the dice on unknowns.
But both Gregg Shienbaum Fine Art and O. Ascanio Gallery, separated by just a few blocks on NW Second Avenue, are betting that they can catch eyeballs by bucking that trend and turning their spaces over to first-time solo shows this weekend.
The two artists they're highlighting during one of the season's busiest Second Saturdays couldn't be from more divergent backgrounds. Both, however, try to interpret Miami's gritty urban landscape in a gallery setting -- and both are already creating buzz among collectors.
Beginning at 6 p.m. this Saturday belly up to the free wine-sipping conga line through the district and you'll discover a glut of other eclectic solos promising to leave you sated. Here are our top picks to savor.
Inside Shienbaum's gallery, the local street artist who operates under the name "Clandestine Culture," has re-created the entire exterior of a Wynwood warehouse. The 30-foot-long street installation includes a cement sidewalk, a chainlink fence, barbed wire, plywood panels, and a 30-foot street-art mural with the help of some of his graffiti/street-artist friends, who collaborated with him on the project.
The exhibit also includes about 30 of his trademark latex-paint-on-paper posters depicting protesters, police in riot gear, portraits of strangers, and others -- most with the artist's street name printed across the bottom. But some will wonder if the faux warehouse façade was necessary or just a street cred conceit. After all, one can look outside the windows and see the real stuff everywhere, and this was an opportunity for the artist's work to stand on its own.
Gregg Shienbaum Fine Art, 2239 NW Second Ave., Miami. 305-205-9089, gsfineart.com.
Hester Esquenazi marks her Wynwood debut at the O. Ascanio Gallery with a show close to 20 years in the making. The Colombian-born, Miami-based artist worked in fashion photography shooting everything from brides to babies, and later doing commercial work for catalogues, especially lingerie. While living in her homeland, Esquenazi spent two decades taking pictures of "tits and ass nonstop," she says.
But after relocating to Miami in 2001, she began to feel desperate to return to her roots as an artist. More recently, she's turned her lens on some of South Florida's most recognizable landmarks, including Marlins Park and Herzog & de Meuron's parking garage at 1111 Lincoln Rd. Her process is labor-intensive, and her wall-engulfing photographs impeccably executed. Typically she photographs an image during quiet moments of solitary introspection. Upon returning to her studio, she digitalizes the pictures and painstakingly doctors them pixel-by-pixel, working on each image upward of a month at a time until each is reconceptualized, not unlike an architectural drawing.
O. Ascanio Gallery, 2600 NW Second Avenue, Miami. 305-571-9036, oascaniogallery.com.
A Visual Diary of Jaime Ferreyros
For shutterbug Jaime Ferreyros, life changed in 2009 when his wife gave him an iPhone on Father's Day. Since then the photographer, whose passion was shooting in black and white film, has been experiencing the 305 through fresh eyes.
"I now see through the lens of a camera whose limitations push my creativity to unknown shades of color, texture, blur and noise. You're basically carrying a camera and a darkroom in your hand," the Miami-based iPhoneographer says.
His new exhibit documents his jaunts across Miami armed with what has become his favorite form of expression, rather than the bulky camera equipment and large lenses he used to lug around. It features color-saturated images of a lady wearing red shoes sitting on an urban bench, South Florida's bright neon lights, and a watermelon-patterned umbrella shimmering under a rain storm.
The Lunch Box Gallery, 310 NW 24th Street, Miami. 305-407-8131, thelunchboxgallery.com.
After Some Twisted Lines
Quisqueya Henríquez's third solo show at the David Castillo Gallery serves up a Lacanian mind fuck that will leave your cranial gearbox churning. Jacques Lacan was a French psychoanalyst and philosopher who asserted that when we learn language and visual symbols as children, we become cut off from experiencing the reality of our true nature. The deep-thinking birdbrain also posited that our self identity becomes fragmented the first moment we gaze into a mirror.
In her exhibit the Cuban-born, Dominican-based Henriquez furthers her investigation into appropriation, architectural form, and art history with new works in collage, fabric, video, and the Rorschach ink blot technique while tackling the Lacanian condition. Castillo's announcement mentions Henríquez's Rorschach test is "bold in scale and ornithological in aesthetic," and that the "artist builds a menagerie on the foundation of clinical analysis".
David Castillo Gallery, 2234 NW Second Avenue, Miami. 305-573-8110, davidcastillogallery.com.
If you think Mitt Romney is suffering from an identity crisis, then you'll love Josafat Miranda's new exhibit at the Robert Fontaine Gallery, where the Mexican artist finds inspiration in The Perfect Crime, a book by Jean Baudrillard, yet another French postmodernist egghead prone to wandering through the esoteric. Miranda's imagery represents the "meeting of two different characters or characteristics found within the same person or thing," or in other words, the qualities that best capture this year's Republican presidential candidate.
In their fragmented nature Miranda's bizarre personages seek to "break free of all constraints and allow them to be what they truly are or what they would like to become," says the gallery press release. For evidence, just take a gander at his opus of what appears to be an X-ray of former corporate pirate Romney fairly bedecked in a floral arrangement as he campaigns for the vote of the ladies.
Robert Fontaine Gallery 2349 NW Second Avenue, Miami. 305-397-8530, robertfontainegallery.com.
Lock Them Out and Bar the Door. Lock Them Out Forevermore
Manny Prieres' solo show takes its title from a phrase uttered by William S. Burroughs as he narrated the 1968 re-release of Haxan, a 1922 movie by Danish filmmaker Benjamin Christensen. The originally forbidden film portrayed sacrilegious rituals and demonic possessions and imagery of self-flagellation, forbidden sexual gestures and Inquisition-sponsored torture.
In his new series of works the Miami-based artist combines drawing, graphic design, printmaking and silk screening to recreate the covers of over 30 once forbidden books ranging from Animal Farm to Slaughterhouse-Five, Tropic of Cancer, Brave New World and Lolita. He will also scare up themes of the occult and the evils of censorship to deliver the Halloween shivers.
Spinello Projects, 2930 NW Seventh Ave., Miami. Call 786-271-4223 or visit spinelloprojects.com.
Miami-Based experimental photographer Aida Tejada's new series of medium-sized mixed-media photo transfer works on aluminum range from portraits to landscapes and abstractions. Her banal scenes evoke the fogginess of memory and detonate the frame-by-frame logic of the narrative. Tejada's disparate images evoke a sense of Absurdist Theater and hint at uncertain scenarios that are infused with a sense of the ineffable intended as departure points for open-ended readings.
Tejada creates her visual effects "in-camera" rather than relying on digitally manipulated computer media. In the nearly fifty works on display Tejada also experiments with color, employing a palette that swings from stark monochromes to striking color sometimes within a single image.
The ArtLink Gallery, 130 NW 36th Street, Miami. 305-456-5201, theartlinkgallery.com.
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1989-2012: Fotografias de Juan Carlos Alom
This Alom retrospective features more than two decades of work by the vaunted Cuban photographer who was selected by Time magazine in 2000 as one of the ten most relevant Latin American photographers of the millennium. His exhibit boasts more than 50 black-and-white and color photos reflecting his peculiar snapshots of life in contemporary Cuba. Placing a focus on pictures Alom lensed in 1989, the collection includes never before publicly displayed images. This is Buzzart's inaugural exhibit in the venue founded by a Spanish collective whose mission is to showcase Spanish and Latin-American photography.
Buzzart, 2750 NW Third Avenue, Suite 6, Miami. 305-571-8100.