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."