Billionaire Developer Jorge Peréz Opening El Espacio 23 Art Museum in Allapattah

William Kentridge's "Kaboom" will be featured in El Espacio 23's inaugural exhibit.
William Kentridge's "Kaboom" will be featured in El Espacio 23's inaugural exhibit. William Kentridge, Goodman Gallery
It's official — the art world is invading Allapattah.

Following the Rubell Collection's move to the working class, proudly Dominican neighborhood, a new art space called El Espacio 23 will open in time for Miami Art Week 2019. It's being bankrolled by none other than Jorge Peréz. Yes, that Peréz — the billionaire developer whose name adorns the Peréz Art Museum Miami.

In a statement released Monday, El Espacio 23 announced its collection will occupy a 28,000-square-foot warehouse on NW 23rd Street. In addition to exhibiting pieces of Peréz's massive private art collection, the complex will also house three apartments designed for artist and curator residencies lasting six to eight weeks. There will also be "activations" by artists in Allapattah "with the intention of establishing long-term relationships with its neighbors." The first of these will feature Alberto Baraya, Susana Pilar Delahante, Raimond Chaves, and Gilda Mantilla.

El Espacio will open with an exhibition called "Time for Change: Art and Social Unrest in the Jorge M. Peréz Collection." Headed by Colombian curator Jose Roca, the show, which is organized into six "nuclei" with names such as "Extraction and Flows" and "State Terror," will present works that "due to their size or complexity have never been exhibited." Promising 100 pieces by over 80 artists, "Time for Change" aims to "explore the conflicts and contradictions of contemporary society, as well as analyze historical events and reframe them within the present." Locally based artists such as Edouard Duval-Carrié will be exhibited alongside international stars such as William Kentridge, Alfredo Jaar, and Ai Weiwei.

Peréz himself is a very divisive figure in the Miami art world. In 2011, his $35 million gift to the Miami Art Museum earned him naming rights for the facility and sparked resignations from its board in protest. The reaction wasn't unfounded, as the gift was a drop in the pond compared to taxpayer contributions to the new building. Aside from his art collecting, Peréz, a billionaire and prominent Democratic Party donor who is close to the Clinton family, owns the real estate development firm Related Group, whose properties are found in major cities across the U.S. and Latin America. His latest project in Miami is Wynwood 25, the massive, black cube of a luxury apartment building on NW 25th Street in the gentrified arts district.

Despite the positive news for the Miami arts community, the new space is likely to heighten justified fears of gentrification and displacement in Allapattah — or as some are already rebranding the working-class neighborhood, "West of Wynwood." 
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Douglas Markowitz is a former music and arts editorial intern for Miami New Times. Born and raised in South Florida, he studied at Sophia University in Tokyo before earning a bachelor's in communications from University of North Florida. He writes freelance about music, art, film, and other subjects.