Anthony Spinello is talking about gentrification and displacement at his new Design District digs when water unexpectedly starts rushing out of several open faucets in the building. "Shit, I guess they turned on the service," Spinello yells as he drops the phone and starts running from room-to-room to twist taps closed.
The peripatetic Spinello just returned from Berlin where he and Agustina Woodgate having been working on an arts project at an abandoned amusement park. Issues of abandonment also loom large in a trio of solo shows Spinello is raising the curtain on in his return to the local art scene this Friday night after a lengthy, summer sabbatical from the 305.
Spinello's site-specific project features the work of Agustina Woodgate, Santiago Rubino, and Typoe, who along with Spinello have holed themselves up in an abandoned branch of a Christian family social services center.
At this new space, the quartet has been exploring notions of the often turbulent, conflicted dynamics of childhood, loss, and nostalgia. "The conceptual thread tying these shows together is the concept of abandonment and early education," says Spinello who's gallery snagged New Times' best honors in 2010.
"We can't ignore the fact that this is the abandoned site of a former schoolhouse, all of the artists are using remnants actually found in the space in their installations," Spinello explains. "Agustina is using some old chalkboards she found in a closet and Santiago is actually covering some of the walls entirely with graphite reminding one of the pencils traditionally used in elementary schools.
For his exhibit, "Black Sunday," Typoe bounces between the urban underground and the glitzy cult of celebrity to reference Disneyland's opening day in July 1955 when the mouse park imploded, leaving close to 30,000 visitors baking on the Anaheim asphalt. To achieve a sense of this the artist created the silhouette of Mickey Mouse on a wall with gunpowder and lit a match to it.
The resulting image deftly captures how the iconic rodent burned itself into the collective unconscious and remains one of the globe's most visible brands today. "At a certain point when the blaze fizzles out with a twinkle it also reminds you of Tinker Bell," Spinello muses.
The dealer is creating trailers for each of the exhibits and Typoe's with the instantly recognizable Disney theme music and pyrotechnics recalls the fireworks display concluding the amusement parks business each day.
For her part Woodgate's "If These Walls Could Talk" takes a stab at elementary school education, unmooring metaphorical students from familiar places by power-sanding the surface of a classroom globe until all that's left are ambiguous land masses.
Rubino weighs in with "Eyes of the Stars," in which doe-eyed children appear in his beautiful graphite drawings as if transported inwardly beyond the schoolhouse by idyllic reveries.
"What I find most relevant to what we're doing here is our 'site specific' approach -- outside of the 'white cube.' The fact that Spinello Projects has been galloping around from space to space serendipitously aligns with my current mode of working/producing. What can I say, I'm a Sagittarius -- we like to be nomadic," the 28-year-old dealer concludes.
Attend Spinello Projects' (150 NE 42nd St., Miami) Opening Preview Reception on Friday, November 11 from 7 to 11 p.m. Event is free to the public. Call 786-271-4223 or visit spinelloprojects.com.
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