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Art Basel 2016: Miami Museums Spotlight Hometown Heroes and International Superstars

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Amid the frenzied art-gazing and party-hopping of Art Basel Miami Beach, local artists have often felt forgotten. High-profile art fairs and museum exhibitions often import their headliners from abroad, leaving the Miami art scene struggling to draw moneyed spectators and the art-world elite. Jorge Luis Gutierrez has vowed to change the conversation at the Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami (MOCA), where the independent curator will present "The Other Dimension," a show composed of some 50 works by Cuban-born, Miami-based artist Antuan Rodriguez. Exploring art's ability to force viewers to reflect within a more visceral, emotional realm, Rodriguez will present both existing and never-before-seen works, many of which were created for the show.

MOCA, which has struggled to find its footing in the years since its former board departed to form the Institute of Contemporary Art, expects the show to mark a new chapter in its 35-year history. For his part, Gutierrez — whose career includes planning groundbreaking shows at the Museo de Artes Visuales Alejandro Otero in Caracas and directing the Miami Dade College gallery program at the Freedom Tower — sees "The Other Dimension" as an opportunity to present Miami's rich artistic nuance on a global platform.

"Miami should become a space where we connect mainstream America with the peripheral art that is happening around the world," Gutierrez says. "While Rodriguez has emerged from Cuba, he's departed from focusing solely on the island like many of his famous Cuban peers. Instead, Rodriguez is changing the discourse and embodying a more global vision."

(770 NE 125th St., Miami. On view November 30 to January 22, 2017. Admission costs $5, with discounts for students, seniors, and members.)

The Bass is another local institution celebrating Miami's colorful cultural milieu. The building is undergoing renovations set to be completed by spring 2017, but the museum will still host an unveiling of Miami Mountain, a colossal sculpture the Bass commissioned from famed Swiss artist Ugo Rondidone, in the adjacent Collins Park. Modeled after Rondidone's prior installation in the Nevada desert, Seven Magic Mountains, the artist's Miami Mountain is a statuesque limestone boulder sculpture painted in neon hues.

(2100 Collins Ave., Miami Beach. The Miami Mountain-unveiling celebration will take place November 30 at 6 p.m. The event is free, but RSVP is required at jrudo@thebass.org.)

Down the street, the Wolfsonian-FIU has assembled a collection of works from its expansive design archives to present "Modern Dutch Design," a survey of innovative design from the Netherlands between 1890 and 1940. Examining that country's evolution into an epicenter of cutting-edge design, the exhibition features more than 200 works, including furniture, metalwork, and drawings.

The show, which opened November 19, begins with a striking welcome. Billed as one of the largest public art projects of the weekend, More Is More, a work by Hague artist Christie van der Haak, will envelop the museum's iconic postwar façade in colorful tapestry designs as part of the exhibition "Modern Dutch Design."

Silvia Barisione, who curated "Modern Dutch Design," says van der Haak's installation gives the show a more contemporary context. "She is particularly inspired by the Moroccan batik technique, but when you see the colors, you can see a really native Dutch influence," Barisione says. "The work gives the show a contemporary link while nodding to previous history and tradition."

(1001 Washington Ave., Miami Beach. On view through June 11, 2017. Admission costs $10, with discounts for students, seniors, and members.)

As the Institute of Contemporary Art prepares for the opening of its permanent Design District home in 2018, curator Alex Gartenfeld will present a retrospective survey of German artist Thomas Bayrle, the artist's first American museum show. "It's really important for us to set ourselves apart by spotlighting artists who have yet to have the platform of an American museum," Gartenfeld says. "In Europe, Bayrle is renowned, and this presents a really great opportunity for him to showcase his work on the other side of the world."

Spanning more than 50 years, Bayrle's body of work exhibits the artist's pop-influenced pieces merged with a contemplation of today's technologically charged panorama. Titled "One Day on Success Street," the show compiles roughly 150 works dating from the 1970s to the present. Bayrle will also unveil a specially commissioned sculpture, Wire Madonna, a reinterpretation of the iconic Michelangelo sculpture that will transform the museum's Atrium Gallery for its final presentation inside its temporary Moore Building home.

(4040 NE Second Ave., Miami; 305-901-5272; icamiami.org. On view through March 26, 2017. Admission is free.)

At Pérez Art Museum Miami, visitors might not believe their eyes. The museum's Art Week programming is anchored by "Julio Le Parc: Form Into Action," the Argentine artist's most comprehensive survey in North America. Born in Mendoza, Argentina, in 1928, Le Parc is a principal figure in the kinetic art movement, and "Form Into Action" is a total sensory experience, featuring more than 100 works, including large-scale installations and rarely seen works on paper.

"Visitors will... experience Le Parc's artistic production as it evolved from his early two-dimensional geometric studies and paintings, through small light boxes, to room-size installations, immersive environments, and playrooms," explains curator Estrellita Brodsky, noting that the works play tricks on the eyes for a political purpose. "Le Parc's art is rooted in a belief that social change can and should be the goal of the aesthetic experience... With art expressed as a constantly changing perceptual experience, the artist can be an important protagonist in creating change for the future: If nothing is fixed in time and space, then anything is possible."

(1103 Biscayne Blvd., Miami. "Form Into Action" is on view through March 19, 2017. Admission costs $16, with discounts for students, seniors, and members.)

Though much of Miami Art Week festivities take place in the city's urban core, local university arts institutions are also hosting several events geared toward local and international audiences. At the University of Miami's Lowe Art Museum, American artist Donald Sultan will explore his seminal exhibition, "The Disaster Paintings," a departure from the artist's oeuvre that takes a look at the chaos created within human life. Particularly fitting for the current geopolitical turmoil being felt across the globe, "The Disaster Paintings" is a darkly obstructive force in an otherwise cheery event. Speaking at the museum's Bubbles & Brunch event this Sunday, Sultan will take guests through imposing sculptures and inky prints created from 1984 to 1990.

(1301 Stanford Dr., Miami. On view through December 23. Admission costs $12.50, with discounts for students, seniors, and members.)

Florida International University's Frost Museum of Art will also host a Sunday breakfast honoring one of the art world's most prominent sculptors. A pioneer of installation art, Judy Pfaff will greet guests at the event while discussing her celebrated career and the challenges she's faced as a female artist living and working in the 1970s and beyond. Following the lecture, guests are invited to peruse the Frost's current exhibitions, which include a gorgeous retrospective of fashion designer Narciso Rodriguez in "An Exercise in Minimalism," along with a collection of works on paper on loan from BNY Mellon.

(10975 SW 17th St., Miami. Breakfast in the Park will take place Sunday from 9:30 a.m. to noon. Admission is free.)

Neil Vazquez contributed to this story.

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