Brook Dorsch is one of the most likable and well-respected guys in the Miami art scene. This Saturday night, along with the openings of solo shows Martin Murphy: Modern Trance and Mette Tommerup: Full Salute, he is hosting Dorsch Gallery's 20th anniversary party with a long list of musical acts and other new art works.
"I look back on it, and I enjoy every moment of it," Dorsch says. The gallery first existed as a small space on Coral Way, eventually moving to Wynwood about ten years ago.
We asked the gallerist to list a few of the more memorable and historical shows that he's had the pleasure of displaying over the years. He had a hard time narrowing it down. He's hosted Rat Bastard's White Noise Dance, an impressive video installation by Rene Barge from Cavity, the Blowhard fundraiser to pay for an A/C system in the gallery.
"How do you even single any of these out? It's almost impossible!" He indulged us anyway, and the following is a list of a few of the gallery's crazy, fantastic, and sometimes uncomfortable exhibitions.
5. Ball and Chain
Robert Chambers curated a major installation Ball and Chain in 1998 using the possessions of Robin Griffiths, a local sculpture and noted pack rat. This exhibition was displayed at his former space, which was merely 400 square feet small. Chambers went to Griffiths' space and packed up everything he could fit into three 24 foot Budget trucks and brought it over to Brook's.
"It was almost like he moved in. But it was overwhelming." Dorsch remembers, "There were laundry baskets filled with old topsiders." From medical equipment to stone sharpening tools, there was even a roll of toilet paper the artist had saved from a Boy Scout trip he took when only 14 years old.
"It was one of these shows that got more publicity in New York," Dorsch says, "I couldn't tell you how many people came to the opening because there was literally so much stuff in the gallery that I could only see about three or four people at a time." Though the show didn't receive a lot of press, Ball and Chain was one of the first memorable shows offering Dorsch a nice amount of buzz.
4. To the Edge of the Page
Dorsch scheduled the very first show at his space in Wynwood six months before opening the doors. That was six months before he could anticipate the amount of work that would go into settling into his new warehouse. There was a print conference coming to the University of Miami, so he decided that a works on paper group show would be a good addition to their agenda.
"The space was completely different, there were no walls," he says. On January 11, he received the keys to the then moldy, filthy space where crackheads still squatted in the house next door. The opening was on March 3. "Here I have this enormous space, and I don't know what the hell I'm doing." He worked three days straight to get the show up which included a whopping 56 artists.
"It was crazy. We had no running water," Dorsch admitted. Had to move his entire apartment into the space at the same time as he was hanging the art. "It was a blur because so many people came out." The neighborhood was still dangerous and he had to hire police and bartenders, but about 400 people showed up. "It wasn't a great show, but it was memorable."
3. Le chateau del pueblo
When he moved into the current warehouse space, there was still a house next door lovingly referred to as called the Crackhouse. There were three memorable shows in the house, including works by Julie Kahn and Guerra De La Paz. David Rohn's Le Chateau del Pueblo was one of those special exhibitions in that non-traditional space.
"(David Rohn) redecorated it and tried to sell it to people." According to Dorsch, "He showed up in drag as a realtor." Uh, memorable and amazing. "He had really funky furniture. He made it look like a model home, this is the boys room with the race car, then there was a girl's room that was all pink that had a sewing model." He covered the furniture in the living room with AstroTurf and at the opening, he showed up as Gretchen Bender.
There were items for sale (not the whole house), but it was "the experience of getting the tour of the house. He was just talking about how there's going to be a lake over here, and there's going to be a club house over there." Meanwhile, they were in a crackhouse with a sinking floor. "People came in and they couldn't even believe it had been a crackhouse."
Dorsch says of the castle of the people, "The closing for the show was really memorable because I dressed up in a tuxedo and pretended to be the head office and giving Gretchen the Salesperson of the Year Award."
2. nota bene: illustrated demons & allegories, stripped of one religion, culture or narrative, are cast adrift and, accordingly, find new haunts
Brook Dorsch also mentioned Nota Bene, a memorable show curated by his wife. "One of the things that I thought was really interesting was that it was distinctly different from something that had my mark on it," he notes, "Tyler has brought a new dynamic to it." It being the works shown in his gallery. He says, it had an "almost old-worldly" feel to it. The show featured beautiful works with a clean aesthetic.
1. Bubble Raft
"For me that was a classic," Dorsch says of his August 2010, season opener Bubble Raft. It had a strong concept based on a scientific idea that bubbles settle on the surface of water, demonstrating imperfection and unpredictability in the atomic structure. This sculpture only show was a strong curatorial effort on the part of Dorsch. He used the whole space and worked with a huge stable of artists. There were musical performances and interactive works like Toot's Anti-Sweat Lodge. It was fun to say the least.
Though Dorsch struggled to name only a few exhibitions, but this semi-recent show, he admits is "a great typical Dorsch Gallery show." Make sure to check out the anniversary party on November 19, which will also be a spectacular representation of what the Dorsch Gallery has to offer.
The party starts at 10 p.m. at 151 NW 24 St., Miami and will include music by DJ Otto von Bass Warrior, DJ Mr. Feathers, Boise Bob and his Backyard Band, Rat Bastard, and north&south.
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