The white tents are popping up all around Wynwood like mushrooms from cow patties after a flash summer rain. Last month, quick-buck artists and street vendors peppered the art nabe, hawking everything from T-shirts and beaded bracelets to grilled steak on a stick. Soon, stilt-walkers, fire-breathers, contortionists, jugglers, curb minstrels, and sundry buskers, not to mention Euro-trash collectors and carpetbagger art dealers, will join the fray. Holy Communion wafers, it's that time of year again!
With the Art Basel circus roaring to roll into town soon, this weekend's Second Saturday art crawl from 7 to 11 p.m. promises to be a rollicking review of what revelers can expect during December's countywide tent-pole affair.
Wynwood's galleries are opening shows featuring exhibits that explore an array of subjects, including Catholic angst, apparitions of vaporous ectoplasm, the power of myth, the destruction of sacred images, and booby traps riffing on human greed.
It's a perfect opportunity to discover some of the best shows of the year and knock back some free hooch without having to shell out big bucks for parking or endure those snooty Basel crowds.
At Locust Projects (155 NE 38th St., Ste. 100, Miami), Jim Drain draws on his Catholic upbringing in "Saturday's Ransom," a sprawling multimedia exhibit transforming the alternative space into an evolving cathedral that comments on the crossover between religion and art.
Drain, who was born in Cleveland, says his grandparents partly inspired the show. "It is more about family than religion," he says. "I come from a big family, and we would all gather together to attend church on Sundays. My grandparents didn't have the same opportunities that I have. I get to make these nonfunctional objects, and they had to get jobs. Both of my grandfathers went to church every day."
Known for combining disparate media in psychedelic works that employ elements of pop culture and art history, Drain has collaborated with DASH students on a series of translucent drawings using the pages of found books and melted wax. The artist has plastered these across Locust's window façade to create a stained-glass effect. The light filtering through the window and into the space veils the interior of the building in an odd, ethereal glow.
"Researching the early history of the church for the show, I discovered that people believed that when sinners stood outside of a cathedral and the light shined through them from the stained-glass windows, they would become purified," Drain explains. "I have found that there is somewhat of a crossover between religion and art — not from a dogmatic perspective, but rather of the notion that nothing can be transformed into something."
The show's name comes from having to give up Saturdays for catechism classes to get Sundays off as a day of rest after church, Drain says.
But don't expect to find the Stations of the Cross marked off when you enter the gallery space. Instead, the artist's reflection on notions of transcendence features sculptures and collages confected from knit fabric, painted cedar, and welded furniture in an installation riffing on the history of modernism, with references to Christian, African, and Middle Eastern sources and symbolism.
His glowing, translucent drawings evoke illuminated medieval manuscripts and depict various objects, such as floating archangels, camel caravans, boxes of chocolates, praying Catholic schoolgirls, and bare-chested beefcakes.
The exhibit also marks the prolific local talent's first major solo show in South Florida. Call 305-576-8570 or visit locustprojects.org.
Inside prison-striped cellblock OHWOW (3100 NW Seventh Ave., Miami), Tim Barber celebrates his breakout first U.S. solo show.
It's hard to believe the former photo editor of Vice magazine and indie curator of influential online gallery tinyvices.com is busting out his initial major survey in our own back yard.
"Untitled Photographs" features a selection of the deceptively mundane images the shutterbug has snapped during his decade and a half behind the lens. They include everything from hauntingly poetic landscapes to candid portraits and quirky narrative scenes.
One of his images portrays what appears to be a puff of cigarette smoke sucked languorously down a sink's drain. Another snap depicts the back of a suicide blonde's mane as the minx perches precariously on a high-rise balcony overlooking Central Park, while yet another picture captures a slovenly mook as he teeters on the edge of a diving board jutting out above a calm sea.
Barber's intriguing snaps convey the notion of a moment frozen in time before being fumbled, and they possess a red-eye, family-album aesthetic at once familiar yet enigmatic. Call 305-633-9345 or visit oh-wow.com.
Downwind at the David Castillo Gallery (2234 NW Second Ave., Miami), Xaviera Simmons explores the shamanistic journey toward self-discovery in her solo exhibit "(Harvest): Any Number of Myths and Stories."
The New York-based artist explores awareness and expansion in a series of staged scenes employing photography, sculpture, text, performance, and video.
In her work, Simmons often appears like a stranded astronaut on a desert planet or a disoriented wanderer clutching a map.
She also mines the relationship between predator and prey in dramatic found images such as one depicting a majestic barrel owl shredding a mouse in its claws.
Her complex, unfinished narratives exude a sense of the primal instinct to survive the unknown or unravel the tangle of myth from memory. Call 305-573-8110 or visit davidcastillogallery.com.
Across the asphalt at Artformz Alternative (171 NW 23rd St., Miami), "3," a group exhibition showcasing the work of Rosario Bond, Alette Simmons-Jimenez, and Randy Burman, features painting, installation, and audience participatory works examining issues such as consumerism, greed, obsession with beauty and youth, and overrated art.
Bond's Diary of a Shopaholic explores runaway consumption and fashion fetishes through sprawling, wall-swallowing paintings and installations.
Simmons-Jimenez exhibits a new series of cages and snares she calls Booby Traps, crafted as a commentary on avarice, sexuality, power, beauty, death, and decay.
In the project room, Burman has hung a neon sign proclaiming, "Old art must die in order for new art to be born." He has included 8,000 replicas of iconic images by Warhol, Koons, Van Gogh, Michelangelo, and others arranged in stacks on shelves along a gallery wall.
"The artist has placed several paper shredders on an opposing wall and is asking the public to feed the famous artwork images into them," gallery owner Simmons-Jimenez says. "It's sort of like a roast commenting on the commercial nature of the art world."
She will host a similar massacre of local art glitterati November 20 from 5 to 7 p.m., when folks such as MoCA director Bonnie Clearwater, art dealer Fredric Snitzer, and local artist Hernan Bas also will get their mugs torn to pieces in the paper grinder.
"It's like a purge," Simmons-Jimenez quips. "I don't know why, but people always feel good about doing stuff like that. Maybe we can run your face through the shredder as well," she cracks to New Times before hanging up. Call 305-572-0040 or visit artformz.net.
Click to read more about the Second Saturday Art Walk.