In this week's issue of New Times, Natalie O'Neill profiles artist Romero Britto, a man who Miamians seem to have a love/hate relationship with. Er, well more like some people love him and some people hate him. In the past, we haven't been shy of our disdain for Britto's work -- and it's not about being an "art snob," as much as about knowing there are a lot better local artists out there that make Britto look like he's a product of the Art Instruction Schools (art test, anyone?).
Here is hoping Miami developers will wise up and perhaps hire some of Miami's real talent to do work around the city.
Britto complains there is too much ugliness in the world, but you won't find a negative piece of work in FriendsWithYou's portfolio. In fact, you can argue FriendsWithYou (Sam Borkson and Arturo Sandoval III) and Britto share a lot in common, especially when it comes to commercial work (see their work for Gwen Stefani, Match.com, Zune, and KidRobot). The big difference, though, is that FriendsWithYou brings a smile to your face by evoking childhood sentimentality that tugs at your subconscious to release all that stress of adulthood. While Britto's work tries to evoke the same feeling, its more blatant. Among the art collective's celebrity fans -- Gloria and Emlio Estefan and Pharrell Williams.
Her work is just as colorful, if not more so than Britto's. But we sure wouldn't mind seeing more major installations by the young artist, just check out the amazing piece she did while in Thailand. The Miami New Times MasterMind Award winner is best known for using paper to create immensely intricate patterns that are all done by hand, along with what one could only imagine an is enormous amount of patience. Stark has also been known to dabble in animation and drawing.
A product of of the arrival of Art Basel to our city, painter Hernan Bas is arguably Miami's most original contemporary artist. And the world has taken notice. Fredric Snitzer, one picky art dealer, has sold his work and the Rubells devoted an entire exhibit to his work in 2007 at their Wynwood warehouse. Bas was picked to participate at the Whitney Biennial in 2004, and his work can be found in the permanent collections of New York's MoMA, MOCA in North Miami, and MOCA in Los Angeles. Unlike Brito's Hallmark sentimentality, Bas' work is jarring: it's definitely not commercial, full of homo-eroticism, and oftentimes romantically dark. We hope centuries from now, when art historians talk about Miami's place in art history, it will be Bas' name that comes up, not Britto's.
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There is perhaps nobody in this city who enjoys juvenile humor more than Clifton Childree. When you title a performance piece "Dream-Cum-Tru," you can't help but snicker. Poop jokes and XXX humor aside, Childree's work is thought provoking, making you feel eerily nostalgic and uncomfortable at the same time. Whether it be full-scale amusement parks or silent films, the work always captures the imagination. Check out this 2008 profile by art critic Carlos Suarez De Jesus.
Sisters Tasha and Monica Lopez De Victoria do digital and performance art better than most. Influenced heavily by their hometown, Miami, they combine bright neon colors, pixelated imagery, and analog sounds reminiscent of the days when our city was solely known for Miami Vice and 2 Live Crew. The 2009 performance, "Whirl Crash Go!" transported us back to the days of Hot Wheels and freestyle music. Arguably, nobody takes seems more inspired by the Magic City, throwing a wrench in Britto's view of a Miami full of kittens, flowers, and polka dotted palm trees. Who are you going to trust: two Miami natives or a Brazilian color-by-numbers artist?