It's that time of year again: awards season. The Oscars have announced their nominees. The Grammys will reveal their winners this weekend. And here in Miami, New Times has selected the finalists for its annual MasterMind Awards.
OK, we're not exactly the Academy Awards. But we believe that, to the artists chosen as MasterMind finalists, our efforts to highlight the best in Miami culture make a difference. Finalists will be featured in a New Times cover story in print and online. They'll show their work in person to the thousands of attendees at Artopia, New Times' annual arts soiree. And they're one step closer to taking home a giant check, redeemable for a sweet cash grant.
This year's finalists produce work in a wide range of genres, addressing topics from feminism to Miami history and the challenges facing at-risk youth. There's just one thing these creatives have in common: They're all producing excellent work in South Florida.
Here are the finalists:
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- Franky Cruz: A Dominican-born multimedia artist and alumnus of Miami’s New World School of the Arts whose practice has led him to experiment with plants, crystallization, and cycles in the flow of water, as well as cycles within humans and organic objects.
- Rod Deal: A Miami-born, Oakland-raised director and photographer whose work ranges from unique photo mosaics to documentary film. With a specialty in editorial portraits and photojournalism, he has worked with local entities such as Wood Tavern, III Points, Sweatstock, New Art Dealers Alliance Art Fair, and Sidebar.
- Asif Farooq: A contemporary artist who, living and working in Miami, has used the area's unique resources to create a concise body of work that speaks to the history of the region, his own life, and our interactions with the world at large.
Sammy Gonzalez: A staple on the local music scene and an accomplished classical guitarist, Gonzalez is also the bassist for rock band Jacobs Ladder and the owner and operator of the Bull Productions in Miami, where he produces records and mixes artists from all genres and backgrounds. Sammy is president/CEO and cofounder of the nonprofit Young Musicians Unite, which, since 2013, has been dedicated to providing free in-school and after-school music programs to South Florida's youth from at-risk communities with limited or nonexistent music programs.
- Miami Music Club: Created by a small collective of musicians, writers, and curators, Miami Music Club is a nomadic space for music, sound, and performance concentrating on curating alternative social atmospheres. The club works in collaboration with musicians, artists, institutions, and others to foster moods and ideas not available at traditional venues for music and art.
- Milagros Collective: Founders Felici Asteinza and Joey Fillastre work with an ever-changing cast of collaborators in their collective. Their objective is to reinforce individual strength through collaboration. They concentrate on combining the context of a space and its history through color and intricate patterns to visually transform the space while highlighting its unique attributes.
- Oliver Sanchez: The founder of Swampspace, a Design District studio turned contemporary art space supporting emerging artists, Sanchez has been a major player on the Miami art scene for 50 years. As well as a successful curator, Sanchez is an artist who works with a multitude of mediums, including design and installation.
Jill Weisberg: This South Florida native's background in graphic design and fine art has influenced her to create thought-provoking fine and public art with a feminist edge. Having been shown in South Florida and across the United States, her work uses unique materials and dazzling colors while also engaging the viewer conceptually to evoke a strong emotional response.
- Agatha Wright: As the artistic director of the Agatha Wright Dance Co., Wright has presented work on stages and in galleries across the nation, from Miami to New York and Los Angeles. A Broadway-certified instructor, Agatha has taught technique classes in ballet, modern dance, and contemporary dance at schools, studios, and organizations in South Florida. Her life's work consists of keeping the lineage and artistic pedagogy associated with modern dance alive within a contemporary context.
Antonia Wright: As an artist, Wright explores the various politics and comic facets of contemporary life through a multidisciplinary practice that blurs the boundaries between live performance, video, photography, sculpture, poetry, and perception.
Watch this space to learn more about the finalists in the weeks ahead.
MasterMind Award winners will be announced at Artopia, taking place March 2 at the Coral Gables Museum. In addition to witnessing the work of these ten creatives, Artopia attendees can take in live art, gourmet food, and delicious drinks courtesy of Beck's beer. Tickets are on sale now at newtimesartopia.com.