It's Thursday afternoon at the recently renovated Emerson Dorsch Gallery, and everything is still -- except the moving stock images on TV screens. Observers stand silently, observing the pieces of art around them: boxes on the floor, paintings on the wall, and plasma TVs placed on the floor, the wall, and a table, all illuminated by a stage-lighting system. Movement commences as people walk towards the next piece, but then there's absolute silence once again.
The serenity of the room is interrupted when artist Alan Gutierrez enters the room and the formerly entranced observers turn to greet him.
"INTRO" is Gutierrez's debut solo exhibition, and it happened in his hometown of Miami at the renovated Emerson Dorsch Gallery.
"I don't know if I expected it to happen in Miami, but it's perfect that it did. I lived in New York for a bit and I didn't feel the vibe, but then I came to Miami and I felt it. It's beautiful," said Gutierrez.
"INTRO" is the aftermath of the artist's research of experimental theater as a form to tell a narrative in a non-narrative way. The exhibit, now running through July 20, is simple and consists of video, sculpture, and paintings while incorporating theoretical and theatrical ideas. Gutierrez presents Night, a series of paintings; the Elevated Surfaces series of sculptures; and Studio-work, a series of videos.
For his first solo show, Gutierrez plays with the idea of work. He claims that the call to "work" is the work itself. Though the pieces appear like art-objects, which indeed they are, they better function as props that allude to their creation and their creator -- the labor and the laborer. Performance of work would be neglected if not for a live representation, the work itself.
With his exhibition comes awareness, and that is where Gutierrez chose to begin "INTRO."
"That's why this is a video of writing. For me that is the beginning. For me it was a year of research, reading, and writing. The production itself wasn't as laborious. Once you got it, you got it," said Gutierrez.
Painters, college students, executives out of work, and supporters- all types of people flowed into the gallery to witness Gutierrez' debut. Several people walked around the exhibit with a beer in hand, ready to examine the artwork and get a grip on the artist's mind.
The paintings on the wall are self-promotional for the exhibit in which they are presented. Gutierrez outsourced graphic design posters from Arnold Steiner, printed them, and painted them onto his pieces. Painting the promotional posters onto his pieces was Gutierrez's idea of a surprise "gift" to the graphic designer. There are two sets of two unpainted boxes stacked on top of each other on the floor -- both brought to life by stage lighting.
"These guys are really basic, but if you get close you can see the drawing and there's still sawdust. You can see the creation of itself," said Gutierrez, referring to the sculptures. People crouched down beside the sculptures and scrutinized the visible labor on each box. Some even glided a finger over the box to feel the sawdust residue.
The lighting is theatrical, but also references self-awareness. The light glowing around each piece functions as awareness of art being "on" and being able to perform in itself.
"When you work, or work for a show, there's all this other stuff that happens and no one sees. There's work around the work, and the light is that extra effort that brings work to light," said Gutierrez. Each piece is spot-lit with a stage light that has a specific filter on it, and the artwork becomes strong in the way it's presented.
"I want to pay attention to what's given to me. My eyes see a few pieces, but my mind has a whole lot to work with," said Stephanie Zapata, a college student who found herself wandering the Wynwood District and chose to walk into the gallery after seeing a small crowd get out of cars.
The videos show stock footage of different daily occurrences, such as a beverage being poured or cigarettes on a table. The sculptures, the video, and the paintings represent an idea of work and potential beyond meets the eye. The peaceful and simple art objects speak a compelling message in themselves, and gallery co-owner Tyler Emerson Dorsch agrees. "He's (Alan Gutierrez) presenting himself without being there, you know. It's this negative space that's really powerful in that idea of potential."
Emerson-Dorsch relates to Gutierrez's debut, being that the previously named Dorsch Gallery was a pioneering "worker" in Wynwood's now thriving art scene. Aside from that personal relation, Emerson-Dorsch says, "INTRO" addresses "a consistent concern with potentiality relevant to Miami" in an evolving way. "In Miami there's often conversation about who's the next big talent or what's the potential of any given person to make it to the next level in New York or the rest of the country. I see Miami as a nascent scene, but not completely as established as New York or LA," said Emerson-Dorsch.
But Miami is ready to receive this sort of sophisticated thinking. Gutierrez's next exhibit will be titled "2." However, expect a different approach next time around.
"It'll be a progression from 'INTRO,' but it won't be so literal. It'll steer away from direction and step towards another direction about the love of work," said Gutierrez.
"INTRO" runs through July 20. Visit dorschgallery.com.
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