Miami Dade College has long been overshadowed by the University of Miami and Florida International University when it comes to the arts. But in recent years, MDC has mounted a concerted effort to emerge as a cultural competitor.
Also, showing a scrappy, fighting spirit is Dimensions Variable, the exhibition space and artistic breeding ground founded by Frances Trombly and Leyden Rodriguez-Casanova in 2009. Using a space donation by Dacra/Design District, DV was a respected force on the local gallery scene until 2012, when its became nomadic. In 2015, the founders secured space in the Downtown ArtHouse through a WaveMaker Grant until development in the Magic City, yet again, forced them out.
Now, DV and MDC have teamed up in a new home on the college's Wolfson campus and will open this weekend with "Vice Versa — Leyla Cárdenas."
Pledging an eight-year commitment in December 2015, DV will occupy the Centre Gallery space of the Wolfson campus. Cárdenas' solo show is the space's first official exhibit, following a soft opening during Art Basel last year that featured the works of Ariel Orozco, Margrethe Aanestad, Leyla Cárdenas, Juan Pablo Garza, Jacin Giordano, Sabrina Gschwandtner, Aurora Passero, Kerry Phillips, Jamilah Sabur, Robert Thiele, Cullen Washington Jr., and the founders.
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Jumping from her melted acid memory of architecture in the inaugural group show, Cárdenas launches the possibilities of the new gallery with a solo show of her latest works exploring the build/destroy aspects of architectural entities. In "Vice Versa," Cárdenas, a Colombian artist, takes the sculptural craftsmanship of creation and re-examines it in a sort of reverse archaeological dig.
With the real-world experience of Trombly and Rodriguez-Casanova running an experimental space and Miami Dade College’s commitment to becoming a leader of Miami’s art scene, the future of Dimensions Variable looks promising. This new lease (or rather, eight-year commitment) is a freeing opportunity that could serve as a model for others hoping to bridge the academic and artistic worlds.
"Vice Versa — Leyla Cárdenas"
Opening night 6 to 10 p.m. Saturday, February 4, and on display through March 31 at Dimensions Variable (at the former Centre Gallery) at MDC Wolfson, 300 NE Second Ave., MDC Bldg. 1, third floor, Miami. Visit dimensionsvariable.net.