"Collabo 5" at Bakehouse Opening Was the Art Event of the Summer

Most art openings are undeniably forgettable. But the Collabo show openings are memorable for both their energy and art. A ton of Miami's finest visual artists work in collaboration, creating a wonderful synergy and interesting products. It's a chance, not only for these artists to work with each other on original projects, but also to have real fun with art with an enthusiastic audience. 

This past Friday night was the opening of the fifth "Collabo," our tropical biennial. It took place at the massive Bakehouse Art Complex, a block of artist studios in Wynwood. This year, it was curated by Director of Exhibitions Justin Long. Wearing an "Impeach Justin" shirt, he explained that he'd asked Bhakti Baxter — who's been participating in "Collabo" shows from the start — and the last show's co-curator Agustina Woodgate, to move it to the Bakehouse. 

To get a little history on the thing, the first one took place in the former Buena Vista Building (I think there's a Prada there now?) at the Bas Fisher Invitational. The next was at the old Wynwood location of the Fredric Snitzer Gallery, then Baxter says there was one at a warehouse on 71 Street and NW First Avenue, and the penultimate one was in a space on 27 Street and N. Miami Avenue. So it's made its way around the city.

One of the most illuminating and entertaining art nights I've had in Miami maybe ever was at the warehouse space. It was the first time I saw Coral Morphologic's underwater living organisms, Isabel Moros brought a parade of floating lanterns to float away into the night sky, and by the entrance, dudes rode BMX on a colorful half-pipe constructed by Long and Rob "Meatball" Lorie.
On arriving at Collabo 5, Randy Burman's Vent-O-Matic encouraged folks to throw shoes at his paintings of Republican candidates. He brought in 600 pounds of footwear and visitors were gleefully pounding those right-wing mugs. At the entrance of the main gallery room, three live chickens pecked away at their cage which was rigged to play notes on a sort of piano. Can I explain what a chicken piano is? Not really. But Asif Farooq, Andrew Nigon, and Hiroki Haraguchi engineered a contraption that allowed the chickens to compose music or sounds or something. I'm not doing it justice, but it was great. 

I suggested they donate the chickens to Jason Hedges, one of the former "Collabo" organizers, whose art involves cooking, but alas, these fowls' lives will not end on a plate, but in a nearby backyard.

Hedges and Kevin Arrow's contribution was a projection where they use slides to walk us through crafting three different meals. Baxter worked with Coral Morphologic to create a stylized concrete coral sculpture that was cracked by the end of the night. Javier Sasieta and Javier Hernandez had planned to create something that showed the tension between the artificial and natural. They were driving on NE Second Avenue. and 73 Street when they found an old railroad tie. Standing it on end, they used it as part of their sculpture and let the earth reclaim it with some ivy. Sasieta said that working with Hernandez was "seamless." They bounced ideas off each other, but, the work "kind of made itself." Perfect "Collabo" synergy. 

Kayla Delacerda had an actual thrift store located near the line to the bar. She has some amazing finds for sale at her Midnight Thrift, like a George Burns doll still in its package. She'll be open for the duration of the show and her prices are more than reasonable. Upstairs, two interesting video installations were hidden away, but worth the walk. Jeffrey Noble and Allison Matherly titled their work, the very relatable, Sorry for Hitting You So Much, Rock Bottom.  The work consists of a blue image on a screen overhead, representing waves, and rocks on the ground, suggesting you're under the water, at rock bottom. Across the hall is Casey Zap and Gang Gang Dance's Sean Maffucci's Rick Scott and the Miami Time Machine which shows a video of water, soon to engulf Miami. The city is represented by white block buildings.

There was plenty of action going on downstairs too, including a little live graffiti, bands, DJs, and performance art. An open mic was taking place at Speak Friday, which is a weekly event. Donzi, a post-punk trio, headed up by artist Jenna Balfe, charmed the crowd. They performed in front of a painting series by Jacqueline Falcone and Sinisa Kukec. Though I missed David Rohn's performance, Bubble Bank, it was apparently, and not surprisingly, fantastic. The TM Sisters showcased a choreographed roller skate routine in impressive silver, shimmery costumes for a huge crowd who didn't mind at all that it felt like a million degrees at 11 p.m. 

Eddie Negron and Marla Rosen's collaboration was to set up a project space within the show and curated him into that space. Heady but funny. That's what "Collabo" is largely about. It's playful and enriching, exposes the audience to new local talents, and brings us all together to see that chickens can actually, under the right circumstances, play the piano. 

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Liz Tracy has written for publications such as the New York Times, the Atlantic, Refinery29, W, Glamour, and, of course, Miami New Times. She was New Times Broward-Palm Beach's music editor for three years. Now she plays one mean monster with her 2-year-old son and obsessively watches British mysteries.
Contact: Liz Tracy