For her initial curatorial experiment, Grela Orihuela conceptualized what her dream home would look like if she could fill its entire contents with artwork created by Miami's top talent. During this past weekend's art walk, her project "Home: Dream Home" filled the Praxis International Art space in Wynwood with functional art and décor by 32 area artists.
She transformed the gallery into a cozy, user-friendly dwelling where visitors lounged on furniture and mingled together as if at a housewarming party. What astounds is that Orihuela organized her exhibit in a little over six weeks when most curators often take upwards of six months or even a year to conceptualize solid shows.
More amazingly she was able to put together a roster of talent from the stables of galleries ranging from Snitzer, Spinello, Diet, Dorsch, Diana Lowenstein, Christopher Miro and Carol Jazzar for her first curatorial effort, an unheard of feat in these, or any other climes. During the opening, most of the dealers also attended her show, which speaks to the trust she's earned in the local art community.
Orihuela is a collector and executive producer of the Wet Heat Project, a Miami-based company that produces original films documenting the local art scene. While she shies from being referred to as a curator, preferring to say she "assembled" the show there is no denying she has a sharp curatorial eye.
Orihuela seamlessly sectioned Praxis into areas that included a foyer, bedroom, dining room, living room and den and even used the galleries bathroom and kitchen area to exhibit work.
At Praxis's entrance Nicholas Arehart's, IKEA Object 1, crafted from a tangle of IKEA swing arm lamps make a striking counterpoint to TYPOE's unusual Love Seat, a pair of black desk chairs trussed together with cable ties.
Nearby, inside the bathroom, a dim light glimmers from Kyle Trowbridge's stunning tissue dispensers, one referencing porn star Shy Love, the other Jenna Jameson. Across from these is a pair of David Rohn's hand-stitched towels, each depicting male or female genitalia.
Jessica Laino's rocker created from vinyl, wood and hay in the living area starkly balances an equally minimal wooden platform bed with lighting by Bert Rodriguez situated in Orihuela's ideal sleeping room which also features a pedestal lamp by Gavin Perry.
During the opening guests nested on Agustina Woodgate's stuffed animal skin rug across from Daniel Young's faux fireplace mural. Orihuela's idea to create a conversation between works on display in a comfortable setting for viewers to engage with the art garnered interest for private viewings.
Collectors and art lovers have scheduled appointments over the next few weeks to make themselves further at home in her dream pad.
"Several people have asked if they can come for coffee in the living room or lunch in the dining room," Orihuela says. "During the opening people relaxed on the couches and chairs and really seemed to enjoy the surroundings."
Orihuela attributes the success of the exhibit to her production experience. "I am not a curator but I've been a producer all my life whether working in fashion, television or films. I approached this like a casting, putting together the art like actors in a conversation," she explains.
"I also love things that come together quickly and the freedom to create without drawing things out," adds Orihuela who says she is not filming her first exhibit as part of the Wet Heat Project. "There is a difference between cross pollination and self-promotion," she mentions.
Already she has been approached to consider organizing shows at other spaces and may have to add the role of curator to her repertoire.
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"It's funny how things take you in different directions. To me it's all about expression." Asked if she'd consider another "curatorial" gig she responds, "I won't say no."
At Praxis, her rookie bolt out of that gate reflects that Orihuela has an innate knack for the undertaking and that gallery director, Julian Navarro, deserves kudos for giving her loose reigns to run in a direction that's new.
See "Home: Dream Home" through August 13 at Praxis International Art (2219 NW Second Ave., Miami). Call 305-572-2900 or visit praxis-art.com.