What better way for the Design District's 101/Exhibit to cap its year than a grotesque display of terrifying creatures? After all, 2012 was downright monstrous for the space's owners, who expanded to a second location in L.A.'s West Hollywood neighborhood in October.
That kind of bicoastal success was far from guaranteed when Sloan Shaffer opened the space just as the recession hit in 2008. "You had Sloan talking about opening a gallery in that economic climate, and I thought it was perhaps a little unhinged," says Kevin Van Gorp, the gallery's director. "But his enthusiasm swayed me."
That enthusiasm is on full display in the gallery's latest, "SE7N," one of the highlights of this month's Second Saturday Art Walk. The exhibit features Chambliss Giobbi's psycho-sexually freighted photo collages depicting the seven deadly sins in haunting, mutating images.
The New York-based Giobbi tackles wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony in works where business types, corporate CEOs, and women of questionable repute appear to have been mutilated on an autopsy slab before being stitched together like Frankenstein's monster.
Giobbi typically photographs his subjects at length before tearing their images asunder to give birth to visions of visual and psychological alienation. The photos are densely textured and set against the backdrop of an organized religion's own worst nightmares.
"Referencing his background in experimental symphony composition, Cham's work by nature is a mad-scientist arrangement," Van Gorp says. (101/Exhibit, 101 NE 40th St., Miami; 305-573-2101; 101exhibit.com.)
At Gallery Diet, Daniel Milewski continues exploring life in Miami's artiest neighborhood in his solo show "Umpire." The exhibit includes photography, collage, and sculpture riffing on the "banality" of everything from clothing to photography to memory, Milewski says.
"What most interests me are the circumstances or things hidden in the mundane," he says. "That can be as complicated as a crazy spectacle, but the circumstances often go unnoticed."
The collection, created in 2012, also reflect his experiences of the vagaries of daily life while running Lester's, his bar/coffeehouse/art space just down the block from Diet. On view is a sculpture that looks like a pair of stilts draped in tie-dyed T-shirts, a sepia-tinged portrait of Henry Flagler, and a photo collage depicting smooching punk rockers sporting porcupine Mohawks.
"I like the idea of the 'Umpire' because he's like a governor watching over a game," Milewski adds. "The umpire makes the rules but doesn't determine the outcome of what happens in the game." (Gallery Diet, 174 NW 23rd St., Miami; 305-571-2288; gallerydiet.com.)
Just across NW Second Avenue, the David Castillo Gallery is featuring the can't-miss "Recent Work," a solo show by prolific Puerto Rican artist Rafael Ferrer, whose oeuvre defies easy pigeonholing.
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The septuagenarian Ferrer has earned a reputation for experimentation in fields ranging from surrealism, process art, and new-image painting. He'll present several massive installations at Castillo, including his vaunted paper bag paintings that first appeared in public in 1972 at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago.
His new installation depicts angular, primitive-style masks and visages of expressionistic characters that suggest a tide of multicultural humanity.
Ferrer's loosely modeled faces, often rendered in an intensely colored palette of crayons, are as much about the gesture of mark-making as they are of a pictorial presence.
In addition to the artist's recent works on paper, the gallery features Empire's Mirror (2012), a piece composed of 95 blackboard paintings in an insightful, humorous installation exploring Puerto Rico's perpetually conflicted local politics. (David Castillo Gallery, 2234 NW Second Ave., Miami; 305-573-8110; davidcastillogallery.com.)