Miami New Times' Mastermind Awards, presented by the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, honors the city's most inspiring creatives. This year, we received over 100 submissions, which our staff narrowed to an elite group of 30. We'll be profiling our 20 honorable mentions, and eventually our 10 finalists, in the weeks to come. This year's three Mastermind Award winners will be announced February 27 at Artopia, our annual soiree celebrating Miami culture presented by the Miracle Mile Downtown Coral Gables. For tickets, visit the website.
There aren't many global locales more diametrically opposed to Miami than Sweden. Snowy, mountainous, utterly Anglo-Saxon -- in many ways, it's the opposite of our sultry Latin city. But that's part of why Swedish-born artist Peter Hammar is so enamored with the 305.
In 2013, Hammar was the grand prize winner of the Art Takes Miami contest, which granted him a solo exhibition at Scope Art Fair during Basel.
He got the news while boarding a plane to Sweden. He had to uncheck his bag and hurry back to Miami Beach, but considers it well worth it. "It was a great show," he says.
Originally into painting, Hammar quickly moved into installation work, citing the ability to tell a broader story through the use of objects and space. His pieces often incorporate thematic elements related to time and nostalgia.
"I use a lot of found objects that I alter and change so the meaning is repurposed. I'm more or less changing old, discarded objects nobody wants and giving them new life and meaning," he explains.
We spoke to Hammar on Swedish culture, Miami v. Sweden, and time travel.
Cultist: Time and nostalgia play into your work a lot. If you had a time machine, would you go backwards or forwards in time?
Peter Hammar: I would definitely go forward. I can't wait to see what's going to happen. I'm an Aquarius so I'm definitely a future kind of guy. Some things might not get better but overall we're going towards a better place. I do believe in mankind; we have to stay positive.
What's one thing Miami has over Sweden?
One thing is the weather. I'm really not a big fan of cold weather. I'm going to Chicago for a show and they have the polar vortex there. I'm dreading it, it's going to be horrendous. But I got a new winter jacket. As far as Miami over Sweden, the weather and the very interesting art scene that's happening, really starting right now. With the new PAMM and everything, I think Miami is like a future city, not like the old world. It has the future ahead of it, it's such an international hub. Everyone comes here, not only for Art Basel; the culture scene is growing. It's a good place to be for artists and it's relatively inexpensive. Sweden is an extremely expensive place to live.
I know you have an upcoming show that highlights Swedish popular culture. How is Swedish popular culture different from American popular culture?
Well America is so huge so I don't know if there's really an American culture that's cohesive.
Sweden is only like 9 million people -- that's almost like one American city. Their culture and their understanding of everything is much more in unison. I think they're more like going to a small town where everybody thinks the same way. The differences aren't that big. In America you can go from Miami to Alaska and it's a huge difference. This is like a continent. I think Swedes are much more homogenous. The culture too, because of the cold and all that, it's a little bit more closed. When the summer comes they live it up and have to catch up. Swedes love to come to Miami!
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Do you have a dream venue for an installation?
I think in Miami, Locust Projects, to do some experimental showing for sure. I love their program. Or maybe the new PAMM. That would be amazing too. It's so beautiful, the architecture and everything, that would be a dream.
Wanna see more MasterMinds? At Artopia, presented by Miracle Mile and Downtown Coral Gables, you can check out work by 2014's ten MasterMind award finalists and watch as the three Mastermind Award winners are announced. And that's just the beginning. Artopia will also include live entertainment by Bottle & Bottega, CircX, and Flamenco Puro; local art by Tesoro Carolina, Trek 6, 8 Bit Lexicon, Hec One Love, Ivan Roque, and Jay Bellicchi; and DJ sets by Main Event Productions, Phaxas, Golden San, Skinny Hendrix, and DJ Supersede. Other sponsors include Rums of Puerto Rico (Official Rum sponsor), Car2Go, El Palacios de los Jugos, Beck's (official beer sponsor), and Vero Water (official water sponsor). Early bird tickets are available through Feb. 2. Visit the official Artopia website.