June 2021 Gallery Guide: Bhakti Baxter, Juan Ledesma, Malaika Temba, and More

Tal Frank in the studio testing video projections in "Homeline."
Tal Frank in the studio testing video projections in "Homeline." Photo by Zony Maya
Perhaps a decade ago, Miami's art scene would have been very quiet during the summer months. As the humidity rose, the scene went into hibernation until fall.

That's not the case anymore. Chalk it up to the maturation of the local art market — or perhaps making up for lost time. Whatever the case, local galleries and arts organizations aren't waiting for December to exhibit the work of veteran and emerging artists alike.

This month sees the return of Bhakti Baxter to Miami for a solo show at Nina Johnson, while Oolite Arts explores humanity's lost connection to nature in the group show "Natural Transcendence." Meanwhile, fresh off a National YoungArts Foundation Jorge M. Pérez Award presented to the artist last month, Malaika Temba's "Sugarcane Is Sweetest at the Joint" will serve as a primer on the artist at Mindy Solomon.
click to enlarge Installation view of Bhakti Baxter's "Heat Transfer" at Nina Johnson - PHOTO COURTESY OF THE ARTIST AND NINA JOHNSON
Installation view of Bhakti Baxter's "Heat Transfer" at Nina Johnson
Photo courtesy of the artist and Nina Johnson

"Bhakti Baxter: Heat Transfer" at Nina Johnson

Three years ago, Bhakti Baxter decamped to Topanga, California, where he continues to produce work. So consider his latest solo exhibition at Nina Johnson in Little Haiti a homecoming of sorts for the South Florida native. For "Heat Transfer," Baxter juxtaposes the water scarcity of Southern California with Miami, where it seems like everything, from the ground to the air, is soaked in water. For his large-scale works, he soaked the canvas in water, and while working outside in the open air, he quickly started applying paint, racing against the accelerated evaporation. The results are brightly colored pieces that mimic the view through a kaleidoscope but feel alive and organic at the same time. On view through July 31 at Nina Johnson, 6315 NW Second Ave., Miami; 305-571-2288; Tuesday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
click to enlarge Juan Ledesma's "Rhythm of Speech" - PHOTO COURTESY OF LOCUST PROJECTS
Juan Ledesma's "Rhythm of Speech"
Photo courtesy of Locust Projects

"Tal Amitai-Lavi and Tal Frank: Homeline" and "Juan Ledesma: Rhythm of Speech" at Locust Projects

In the Design District, Locust Projects debuts a slew of new exhibits on June 11, including a site-specific installation by multidisciplinary artists Tal Amitai-Lavi and Tal Frank in the main gallery, and "Rhythm of Speech," an audiovisual installation by artist and musician Juan Ledesma, which takes over the project room. For "Homeline," the artists use the gallery's architectural elements to create a dreamlike environment that confronts the viewer's perceptions and senses. Simultaneously disorienting and comforting, the installation reflects the unsettling feeling everyone experienced during the pandemic lockdown. In the project room, meanwhile, Ledesma invited three local musicians to create a musical score based on a linguistic analysis of their respective accents. The centerpiece is a video projected on a circular screen that intersperses musical performances with footage of the musicians sharing their experiences. Opens Friday, June 11, and runs through August 7 at Locust Projects, 3852 N. Miami Ave., Miami; 305-576-8570; Wednesday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. by appointment only.
click to enlarge Colleen Plumb's Elsa in the Grass with Dandelions - COURTESY OF THE ARTIST AND DINA MITRANI GALLERY
Colleen Plumb's Elsa in the Grass with Dandelions
Courtesy of the artist and Dina Mitrani Gallery

"Natural Transcendence" at Oolite Arts

Curated by artist and filmmaker Rhonda Mitrani, "Natural Transcendence" brings together seven artists for a group show at Oolite Arts' 928 Gallery. Adler Guerrier, Megan McLarney, Colleen Plumb, Anastasia Samoylova, Jennifer Steinkamp, Wendy Wischer, and Antonia Wright explore how the relationship between humans and nature shifted during the pandemic. Either through video or photography, the artists aim to deliver a wake-up call regarding our fast-eroding connection to the outside world. With the lockdown forcing everyone to rely on technology more than ever before, "Natural Transcendence" might serve as a reminder that despite all the doomscrolling, there's plenty of beauty to behold away from our glowing screens. Opens Wednesday, June 16, and runs through August 22 at Oolite Arts' 928 Gallery, 928 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach; 305-674-8278; Monday through Sunday noon to 5 p.m.
click to enlarge Lydia Azout's Gold… Sun Essence - PHOTO COURTESY OF DOT FIFTYONE GALLERY
Lydia Azout's Gold… Sun Essence
Photo courtesy of Dot Fiftyone Gallery

"Lydia Azout: Tierra Nueva – Tierra Vieja (New Earth – Old Earth)" and "Julián León Camargo: I Think" at Dot Fiftyone Gallery

Over in Little River, Dot Fiftyone Gallery, in collaboration with Coordenadas Art, presents new works by Colombian artists Lydia Azout and Julián León Camargo. Azout is best known for her sculpture work in metal that feels both cosmically futuristic and ancient. Here she delves into the philosophical mysteries that still plague humanity: "What happens when a space of clarity becomes a vitiated, expressionless space? Absurdity is death. Is death always the end? Or is it rather to make way for the new?" In Camargo's first-ever Miami show, the artist takes a trial-and-error approach to his work. His paintings feature layers upon layers upon layers of paint that are only limited by the amount of the medium the canvas can hold. Opens Thursday, June 17, and runs through August 31 at Dot Fiftyone Gallery, 7275 NE Fourth Ave., Ste. 101, Miami; 305-573-9994; Tuesday through Saturday 11:30 to 7 p.m.
click to enlarge Malaika Temba's for east african girls that have considered self-worth / when drake is not enuf - PHOTO COURTESY OF MINDY SOLOMON
Malaika Temba's for east african girls that have considered self-worth / when drake is not enuf
Photo courtesy of Mindy Solomon

"Malaika Temba: Sugarcane Is Sweetest at the Joint" at Mindy Solomon

In May, the National YoungArts Foundation announced that New York-based artist Malaika Temba had won the $25,000 Jorge M. Pérez Award. "Malaika Temba has shown exceptional talent in her craft, and I look forward to following along as her creative journey continues to unfold," Perez said in a statement at the time. On June 26, Temba gets her own solo show at Mindy Solomon Gallery in Allapattah. The Tanzanian-American artist's work takes its inspiration from her African heritage mixed with cultural analysis. In for east african girls that have considered self-worth / when drake is not enuf, Temba uses textiles to create repetition and patterns that weave her own story. Opens Saturday, June 26, and runs through July 31 at Mindy Solomon Gallery, 848 NW 22nd St., Miami; 786-953-6917; Tuesday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
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Jose D. Duran is the associate editor of Miami New Times. He's the strategist behind the publication's eyebrow-raising Facebook and Twitter feeds. He has also been reporting on Miami's cultural scene since 2006. He has a BS in journalism and will live in Miami as long as climate change permits.
Contact: Jose D. Duran