Art Basel is over. The tide of international art stars and culture tourists has receded. And in its place, Miami is getting its own exhibit of "by us, for us" art, compiled by local art collector Yuval Ofir, founder of Yo Space Gallery & Studios.
Titled "Looking Ahead," the project began as an idea to pay homage to art by local artists and their geographical muse, Miami. Ofir has been collecting for about seven years and showcased an initial version of the show at his gallery in Little Haiti last year. For this second installment, he thought it would be a better fit to have this latest collection fused with Miami memorabilia for the public to see.
Now, HistoryMiami Museum is showcasing the collection, curated by Ofir and dedicated to the people in Miami who have inspired these creatives on not-so-typical media. Salvaged chairs from the Miami Marine Stadium are used as canvases, forming the unison point of the exhibition. Ofir said the project has been in the works for six months and is excited to see it come to fruition.
“[In]January of last year, I started realizing I had a substantial collection for someone my age, mostly of local artists,” Ofir says. “The more I collected, the more I realized the pieces I had exemplified were from a turning point in the artist's career where they were developing and refining the style of work that they then became known for.”
Around the same time, Ofir began noticing other collections like the Rubell Family Collection, the Margulies Collection at the Warehouse, and other private exhibits available to the public. Some of them catered to Latin American or Haitian artists or other demographic groups, but there weren’t any collections that looked to define Miami art as a genre.
“I started thinking my collection was becoming a frozen moment of this time in Miami art history. All those artists were becoming known for their work here and outside of Miami, but it's about bringing attention to the art scene in Miami because of how talented they are. Whether it was Trek6, Alex Yanes, or more in the fine arts like Jean-Paul Mallozzi, I saw a void and approached the artists about the idea, and I got a lot of positive responses.”
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The 20 pieces on display were donated for the permanent collection by the artists, and the exhibit will be open from December 15 through February 19, free to the public during HistoryMiami hours of operation.
Artist Daniel Fila, one of the artists in the exhibit, says it’s the responsibility of artists to represent their city.
“I’m proud to be involved in this show and grateful to Yuval for inviting me into it. He’s opened a new door to me. See, although this is a modest exhibit, it is my first show inside of a museum. I’ve been painting these city walls consistently for over 20 years now and living solely off of my art for over a decade. In that time, it has become abundantly clear to me how detached these institutions really are. Many of the active artists that I came up with remain completely off of their radar, and artists shouldn’t have to have publicists to reach curators," Fila said. "There are these narrow circuits gallery artists flow through that I have no idea about. Operating completely outside of the establishment is my game. Regardless of that, though, I love this town and its history, which is why I’m happy to be showing within the walls of the HistoryMiami Museum.”
"Looking Ahead." 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Saturday, noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, December 15 to February 19 at the community gallery at HistoryMiami, 101 W. Flagler St., Miami; historymiami.org. The exhibit is free and open to the public. An artist reception is being planned to take place in January.