Best Local Artist in 2011? We Have Some Theories

Here we are, mere hours and days away from the Best of Miami issue hitting newsstands and interwebs, but we can't help stoking the fires of anticipation even more. Last week, we ventured some guesses about Miami's best art gallery for 2011. The other hotly contested category is best local artist. You readers probably think we gave it to Bert Rodriguez, a Miami conceptual artist who graced our Art Basel issue cover in the nude save for silver body paint. After dabbing chrome shimmer on a man's nether crevices, awarding him a Best Of is really the least we can do to say thanks. But Bert won in 2006 and is therefore out of the running for the 2011 award.

So who could it be? Here are some hints: The artist is one of our 100 Creatives, hasn't won in the past five years, and recently exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Art in North Miami. Check the cut for the winners from 2005 to 2010.

2010: Edouard Duval-Carrié
"We love the work of Edouard Duval-Carrié for many reasons. Duval-Carrié's work is in the permanent collections of the Bass Museum of Art and the Miami Art Museum. He is known for weaving African fables, classical mythology, Haitian and world history, and contemporary events into a rich symbolic tapestry of haunting imagery. When experiencing his work, you can almost hear the resurrection drums tapping out the messages of Haiti's vodou pantheon. This past December at the Little Haiti Cultural Center, Duval-Carrié organized and curated "Global Caribbean," a world-class exhibit featuring the work of 25 of the region's top talent." - From 2010 Best of Miami Issue

2009: FriendsWithYou
"Since tag-teaming in 2002 to form their FriendsWithYou collective, Sam Borkson and Arturo Sandoval III have been on a tear to corner the globe with their vision of magic, luck, and friendship. The Miami-based conceptual duo started off creating a line of designer toys featuring a wacky cast of cosmic characters with names such as Buddy Chub, Fluffy Pop, Bumble Grump, Red Flyer, Albino Squid, and Malfi. They have carved out their own niche in the contemporary art world, and Borkson and Sandoval's neck-craning projects have become a staple during Art Basel Miami Beach, including a spacey blimp parade in 2006 and this past December's giant bounce house at the Scope Art Fair." - From 2009 Best of Miami Issue

2008: Clifton Childree
"The self-taught experimental filmmaker and artist creates throwback black-and-white slapstick horror movies reflecting an upbringing one could call Southern Gothic. His mother, Barbara Doetsch, who had once been a Catholic nun but gave up the church to raise a family, was a creative influence as well. She spooled Super8 horror reels for the young Childree at their Plantation home, infecting him with the celluloid bug. The 37-year-old auteur went on to helm The Flew, rated one of the top 50 midnight movies of the past decade. His quirky shorts earned him in recent years the South Florida Consortium and Native Seeds grants.

It Gets Worse, Childree's latest opus, unfolds the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde-like account of a seafarer whose scrotum blows up to monstrous proportions when his deadly alter ego possesses him. The filmmaker says he was inspired by a story his grandpa once told him about a visit to Brazil, where he encountered a man suffering from elephantiasis, which caused his balls to grow so large he had to cart them around in a wheelbarrow when out on the town. The amazing thing about Childree's irreverent, hallucinatory productions is that he writes, directs, produces, and stars in them." - From 2007 Best of Miami Issue

2007: No Best Local Artist! 'Twas a dark, culture-less year.

2006: Norberto "Bert" Rodriguez
"The New World Art School grad has been stymieing the public since he bolted out of the gate with his first solo show, "A Pre-Career Retrospective," featuring drawings, paintings, and objects from his childhood. Rodriguez also once had himself followed by a private eye and then exhibited the investigator's documentation. For an early solo at the Fredric Snitzer Gallery, which reps him, he packed the space with furniture he crafted and then hired a feng shui master to arrange it.

During his solo show at Snitzer's during Art Basel 2004, he filled the gallery with conceptual odes to failed relationships, including a pair of mannequins on the verge of duking it out (now in the permanent collection of the Museum of Contemporary Art), and capped off the evening with a mariachi band he taught to sing punk-rock tunes. Perhaps the pan of chocolate chip cookies he frosted with his name and phone number while fishing for a date with a girl he didn't know, and then subsequently photographed and titled "You're Just a Friend I Haven't Met," best captures his appeal. We can't think of anyone else in town with the chutzpah to pawn cookies off as art. But you know what? Bert did and ended up with the girl." - From 2006 Best of Miami Issue

2005: Hernan Bas
"Finally a Miami artist worthy of the hype. There's a reason everyone from Mera Rubell to Michael Ovitz is singing the praises of New World School of the Arts graduate Hernan Bas. His evocative paintings are striking enough to have earned them a slot in the Whitney Biennial, though you hardly need an art expert to explain their appeal. The eye is immediately drawn to Bas's waiflike young men, homoerotically leaping into each other's arms or flitting across dreamlike landscapes. If his portraiture is at times a bit too enraptured with teen angst, well, Bas is barely out of his teens himself. And watching his talent continue to mature is going to be one of the Miami art scene's greatest pleasures." -- From 2005 Best of Miami Issue

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Amanda McCorquodale