Artist and Critic Carlos Suarez De Jesus Hospitalized, Launches GoFundMe
Courtesy of Carlos Suarez de Jesus

Artist and Critic Carlos Suarez De Jesus Hospitalized, Launches GoFundMe

Longtime readers of New Times arts coverage will remember the insight and whimsy of reviews penned by Carlos Suarez De Jesus, who critiqued Miami's rising art scene from 2003 until just a couple of years ago. The "Art Brute," as his column dubbed him, was a fixture in the cultural corners of this city, passionately tracking the work of artists and gallerists of all genres and walks of life. If you wanted to know where to find great art in Miami, you looked for Carlos' byline.

Now he needs your help.

Suarez De Jesus landed at Mercy Hospital earlier this week, suffering chest pains. He emerged with three stents in his heart following an expensive surgery. It's the latest in a two-year-long string of health scares and bad luck that has left the artist and critic homeless and in debt. A GoFundMe crowdfunding campaign now aims to alleviate his financial troubles with a goal of raising $5,000 to pay his medical bills.

At presstime, the campaign has raised $1,681. Miami artists including Sinisa Kukec, Randy Burman, and Christina Gast are among the local creatives who've lent support to the man who helped tell the city about their work.

Suarez De Jesus, a Miami native, began writing for New Times in 2003, not long after Art Basel first made landfall here. He dove headfirst into both exploring and contributing to the city's creative landscape. He launched art spaces, including lab6 in Little Havana back in those early days, and showed his own art in venues across the city. Along the way, he turned a kind, knowledgeable critic's eye to the artists and gallerists making and exhibiting experimental, boundary-pushing work in the Wild West-like freedom of Miami's burgeoning creative scene.

Before long, Suarez De Jesus became a well-known character within that scene. If you didn't know him, you might assume his notoriety came from his status as the predominant art critic for Miami's only alt-weekly newspaper. But in fact, you simply couldn't miss the guy. Carlos is tall and broad, with a size that might have seemed imposing had he not carried it with such gentle kindness. As the South Florida corner of the art world began to take itself more and more seriously, he maintained a sense of humor about the whole thing, laughing easily and appreciatively about the latest wild stunt a local artist had staged. With a trademark grey mustache, matching ponytail, and big, friendly eyes crinkling at the corners, his is a face not easily forgotten.

Nor is his insight into Miami art. Suarez De Jesus broke some of the city's most interesting art stories, from the departure of FriendsWithYou to AholSniffsGlue's eyeball motif getting ripped off by American Eagle. He interviewed Purvis Young, and broke the news to readers when Bernice Steinbaum closed her legendary gallery. He also judged New Times' annual Mastermind awards, which helped fund the projects of local artists.

But the last few years have brought hard times. Suarez De Jesus suffered a stroke in 2016, and was hospitalized in 2017 and three additional times this year due to heart problems. His mother, with whom he lived while caring for her as she suffered from Alzheimer's disease, was moved to a treatment facility this year too, leaving him homeless. For now, he's crashing with friends as he tries to get back on his feet.

If you've enjoyed or benefited from the rise of the arts in Miami during the last 15 years, you have Carlos Suarez De Jesus, in part, to thank. GoFundMe seems like a pretty great way to express your gratitude.

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