Artist Alex Yanes to Leave Miami With "Up & Away" Going-Away Exhibit

There's something so visually striking about the carved wood sculptures in the shape of original cartoon faces with a heavy splash of color. The way their eyes look, or don't look, at you, the way the faces tell a story that makes you long to fill in the gaps, the unintentional way they make you smile.

These wild two and three-dimensional pieces of art are the work of local Miami artist Alex Yanes, and before conquering the rest of the world, he's preparing one more show in his Miami hometown.

During the Second Saturday art walk in Wynwood on November 9, Yanes will showcase his art at Handcrafted Tattoo & Art Gallery starting at 8 p.m. The exhibition, titled "Up & Away" will feature 15 new pieces by Yanes, including a refurbished 1960's General Electric speaker cabinet, which actually works! Calling it the "focal point" of the show, the GE speaker is part of a few other pieces that are "functional and have audio components built into them, so they can play music via Bluetooth," says Yanes.

Though Yanes will always call Miami home, he'll be leaving town after the "Up & Away" exhibit. "Some doors opened for me, where now I'm able to take my work outside Miami and travel with it and show it in other places, and that's what I'm gonna be doing in 2014," he explains.

With his last Miami show (at least for a while), Yanes will continue to ride the wave of success from this past year and travel the world. "I love Miami, it's the city that raised me, and where my roots are and always will be, but this world is a big place and it's time for me to branch out and see how far I can take it," he says.

For Yanes, "Up & Away" simply means "a new beginning." It signifies a "departure from my old way of thinking and misinterpreted reality," he says, explaining that "one of the toughest lessons has been to learn how to live life on life's terms." Being an artist, he says, "doesn't define who I am as a person, it's simply a role that I play."

His philosophy these days is modest: "I try not to project into the future and live my life one day at a time."

It's only appropriate that Yanes' handcrafted work will be on display at a place called Handcrafted. Yanes and gallery owner Chris Nunez also share a South Florida upbringing -- both are both Miami natives. Nunez is a "very passionate perfectionist when it comes to his craft, so we related instantly," Yanes says, noting that the size of the Handcrafted space was ideal to "house a well-rounded exhibit."

The pieces you will see during the exhibit will be in Yanes' material of choice: wood. Wood was a significant part of Yanes' childhood, reminiscent of the time he built a tree house with his father, or when his skateboarding habits fueled him to build wooden ramps with friends. "My art is a piece of all that, it's where it comes from... I've always been drawn to the beauty and pattern of the natural grain, the fact that no two pieces are identical, its organic component and the fact that it used to be alive and growing."

Poetically, Yanes describes his Miami and Cuban roots as "interwoven" into him and reflects deeply in his work. He adds, "This city and its people continue to inspire me, along with life and its circumstances; the never-ending support of my loving family and friends has always fueled my determination, and I cherish that."

Yanes' art speaks as much about our culture as it does about the modern era, and by combining elements of old with innovative touches he is certainly securing a place in history. "My art is my life; it's a piece of me that will stick around after I'm long gone."

The exhibit opens at 8 p.m. for the general public, and beginning at 7 p.m. collectors are invited to RSVP and attend a private viewing. Throughout the night, DJ Rage Johnson will be providing the music, and Deep Eddy and Perrier will provide complimentary cocktails and drinks. To RSVP, contact Mixed Media Collective at connect@mixedmediacollective.com.

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