Although February ranks as a runt on the calendar, it's a giant in our cultural season and packs a punch. Much of its power is in Wynwood, where the Magic City's robust art scene is growing to year-round proportions.
Consider the new Art Wynwood fair, opening President's Day weekend (February 16 through 20) and boasting more than 50 galleries representing 13 countries from around the globe. Its organizers have packed the fair's roster with a dozen Miami galleries to showcase the area's evolution as a cultural destination.
But before we arrive there, we have to get through February's edition of Wynwood's wildly popular art walk. Beginning at 6 p.m. this Saturday, expect to be rocked by a walloping combination of new shows that take on subjects ranging from the naked truth about erotica in art to the spirit of rebellion and a girl gone bad.
Wynwood Second Saturday Art Walk
Here are our bets for this month's Second Saturday card, which promises plenty of action and an occasional sucker punch.
At Primary Projects (4141 NE Second Ave., Ste. 104, Miami), Jessy Nite answers the bell with "Bad As I Wanna Be," her first local solo appearance. The exhibition showcases a brash series of multimedia works in which Nite, with ruthless street swagger and a sharp feminist edge, channels the spirit of youthful rebellion while dropping the hammer on the rich and drug-addled.
On view are paintings from Nite's Money-Hungry series that evoke notions of bored, champagne-swigging, and pill-popping designer-clad housewives next to home-baked, blinged-out cookies studded with rare gems.
While checking out this wicked arsenal of works skewering wanton vice, make sure to tuck yourself in her bed for a moment's rest. The full-size mattress is the centerpiece of the exhibit and just the right spot to connect with your naughty inner radical while contemplating the show's title dangling overhead in a crazy cursive script. Visit primaryprojectspace.com.
Pan American Art Projects (2450 NW Second Ave., Miami), one of the local galleries participating in Art Wynwood's inaugural year, is rolling out the big artillery with a group show exploring the representation of nudity, sex, and eroticism in art.
Titled "The Naked Truth: Nudes and Erotica in Art," the collective features an array of works from the past century by mostly Latin American males, including well-known names such as Roberto Fabelo, Mariano Rodriguez, and Wifredo Lam.
As expected from a show catering to the art fair trade, the exhibit shies away from the controversial or sexually overt. However, it does include rarely seen explicitly erotic drawings by Cuba's Carlos Enríquez, who created the lustful pictures as illustrations for a tome of poetry by Pietro Aretino. Pan American rescued Enríquez's lost images many years after he created them and placed them on display along with the book.
If the libidinous anxieties of long-dead painters make you feel like throwing in the towel, Pan American is looking to rope-a-dope with you. Big Bang is a savory video piece by Cristina Lucas in the gallery's Project Room, which is discreetly tucked into a rear corner of the sprawling space.
Riffing on notions of the creation of the universe, the saucy Spanish artist hired a professional sex worker to appear in her video and write the words big bang with a brush clutched in her vagina. It goes without saying that spectators should use caution if inspired to repeat the feat later at home. Just take the artist's word that the work celebrates "women's role of gestation to represent creation." Call 305-573-2400 or visit panamericanart.com.
Take an eight count after Lucas's below-the-belt pulse-pounder and stagger across the asphalt to the Dorsch Gallery (151 NW 24th St., Miami) for three solid shots to the breadbasket. Offerings swing from magnetic poetry to an occupying army of one and the politics of time.
Magnus Sigurdarson lands one on the chin with an exhibit starring a life-size rotating camel and computer drawings inspired by French colonial-era postcards depicting life in the Sahara. The Icelandic artist is also showing a video and photographs documenting a one-man "protest" in which he stormed Opa-locka while holding signs that read, "Occupy My Innocence," "What's in It for Me?" and "Fundamentally Right."
In the collection, he appears throughout the Moorish-themed municipality as part of his conceptual intervention, exploring issues of identity and the exotic landscape of our city. His compelling exhibit, "1001 Dreams of Occupation: What's in It for Me?" conflates issues of postcolonialism and the transient nature of exoticism in a globalized world via the Occupy movement, the Arab Spring, and his own sense of feeling like a nomad since arriving in Miami seven years ago.
Nearby, Carlos Rigau rattles the brain pan with his installation and sculptural works delving into vodou, Palo, and Afro-Caribbean ritual. Rigau has created a cave to disorient spectators while presenting how initiates of those religions syncretized their beliefs to survive those who would prohibit them from exercising their faith freely.
His show, titled "Magnetic Poetry," employs the cave as a symbol for the unconscious and the underworld. The artist also repeatedly photographs elements of his constructions, layering the results on the surface to give the appearance his work is folding in on itself like a "feedback loop of its own history."
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In a neutral corner of the gallery, Kyle Trowbridge investigates how technology alters the dynamics of human relationships. "The Politics of Time" highlights his new suite of QR code paintings, some of which measure a whopping eight feet across.
Although the skull-staving canvases seem to reference canons of geometric painting, Trowbridge avoids becoming mired in the past. Toeing his trademark MO, the artist cloaks his paintings like a wolf in sheep's clothing. While engaging unsuspecting spectators in a physically interactive manner, he also forces viewers to bob and weave as he feints and then jabs at the senses via geometric abstractions embedded with hidden words that can be scanned by smartphones. Call 305-576-1278 or visit dorschgallery.com.
For thousands who will be visiting South Florida this month for the debut of Art Wynwood, these shows and others opening this weekend present a convincing argument that the local scene has the power to go the distance.