I have always resisted the cliché of the summer as an idle season. In Miami we are habituated to traveler-imposed absurdity: Summer and apathy are a tradition -- and a curse. This year, for a nice change, a group of young artists/curators has decided to keep us awake. They've manufactured a string of exhibitions that make sense and suggest interesting developments for Miami's arts. I like their voices and their assuredness.
The emerging young artist has emerged in response to a combination of factors: better programs and students, museum attention, more galleries and alternative spaces, more critical exchange and media interest. They've shown they can become independent and, with almost no resources, produce quality. No doubt Miami's young have become a commodity.
Add the artist-curator phenomenon: Daniel Arsham, Hernan Bas, William Cordova, and Brandon Opalka are young artists who have produced interesting, good-looking shows. They are well-versed in the theory, have organizational skills and good connections, and write well. Gallery owners such as Genaro Ambrosino, Fred Snitzer, and Barbara Gillman are inviting them in because these producers are becoming magnets for a new generation of artists; they bring a younger crowd and are beginning to command a different kind of validation.
And finally in the Miami-New York connection, Miami is showing its face. Though still way behind New York, Miami's getting attention. These days an artist from New York would not mind showing in good venues here and getting hyped-up for the big city. It already happened at The House with "Native," curated by Daniel Arsham and Anat Ebgi.
"Native" brought down young artists from New York who, for the most part, had not even shown in the Big Apple. Anat Ebgi, a young Miamian now attending the reputed New School University in New York, tells me that the connection between the two cities can only bring a richer prospect for both.
Then Hernan Bas's "Smoke and Mirrors" at Snitzer recruited another group of artists from New York. They are rediscovering painting, not so much as a reaction against installation or conceptual art, but more as a way of distancing themselves from the older generation's conceptual scheme. They're less didactic and metaphysical. They dwell in Pop as a liberating metaphor for coming of age.
The intention may be to show how paint happens and flows: Liquid smears, dripping, following under gravity's pull, curlicues of patterns like meringue out of the confectioner's tube. Then we also see how the gestures get "fixed" on that. The execution may be delicate, aloof, brutal, and even apprehensive. The form adapts well to abstraction and patterns, but they hold a Pop panache: sleek, colorful, and appetizing.
Over at Barbara Gillman's Design District gallery, Brandon Opalka unveiled "15/Caliber." The show "features young Miami artists who in my opinion are among the best," says Opalka. On opening night, a diverse crowd and lots of energy. There was the usual Barbara Gillman group, but also a younger audience pulled in by Opalka. According to the curator, "It's a summer show, but there was a good energy: Everyone was inspired by one another and the work looked good." My favorites from "15/Caliber": Pablo Cabado and Paul Stoppi, with nice polished photos; Jiae Hwang with a well-produced video; and Christian Curiel, whose uncanny juvenile visions make him one of my favorite painters in Miami. (To address the young Miami artist phenomenon and other issues, Fred Snitzer and this writer are hosting a panel of young artists and curators on Thursday, August 8, at 8:00 p.m. at Snitzer's gallery.)
Don't miss "Republic" by Tom Scicluna at Locust Projects. Taking full advantage of the venue, Scicluna altered the space to operate a sort of structural and spatial brainteaser. His work reminded me of German artist Gregor Schneider, who has spent years shrinking, expanding, and cutting his own house. Scicluna transforms Locust's space into two rectangles, each half-accessed by a door next to the wall. The passage is a contradiction in terms, which Scicluna defines with door, lock, carpet, and ribbon. And there is one more element I won't reveal here: Go see it. It will remind you of what's public and private, accessible and inaccessible, full and empty, remembered and forgotten.
So on the subject of interactions and discussions, it's worth mentioning miamiartexchange.com. This Website has been up for some time, featuring Miami openings, art events, grant opportunities, and reviews; it can be helpful for anyone interested in what goes on in our city. Among the roster of critics are Onajídé Shabaka (the present editor), Michael Betancourt, Trina Collins, and Franklin Einspruch. Their articles are engaging, informative, and accessible and provide a viable forum between artists and the public, judging by the letters in response to the reviews. The site also features articles and reviews from across the nation, and is kept pretty up-to-date.
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