Ebony Patterson's …while the dew is still on the roses… opens November 9 at PAMM.EXPAND
Ebony Patterson's …while the dew is still on the roses… opens November 9 at PAMM.
courtesy of the Pérez Art Museum, Miami

Museums Across Miami Explore Themes of Identity and History

If art reflects life, the art world has had a lot to deal with in the past year. It's no surprise that many local art institutions' programming reflects the identity crisis sweeping the nation. A good example are two shows that ended the Wolfsonian-FIU's previous year of programming: "Wit as Weapon" and "Constructing Revolution." Jon Mogul, associate director of curatorial and educational affairs at the museum, notes that the two surveys of propaganda during historical periods of political upheaval really resonated with museum-goers.

Moving forward, however, the museum is looking to reach out more tangibly. October 19 through April 28, 2019, "Deco: Luxury to Mass Market" will explore an architectural and design style close to Miami's heart.

"The 'Deco' show is, for us, very much an opportunity to connect the museum more strongly with our neighborhood in South Beach," Mogul says. "People who come to the exhibition will be able to walk around the nearby streets and look at the buildings with an appreciation of how they were part of a much broader design movement in America, as well as the values and the economic conditions that lay behind that movement."

In a city such as Miami, the notion of “community” can seem out of reach, especially considering the diverse range of discrete cultures that find refuge here. The Frost Art Museum at FIU strives to unite those cultures in “Relational Undercurrents: Contemporary Art of the Caribbean Archipelago,” a vast survey of 21st-century work by artists throughout the Caribbean. The exhibit, running October 13 through January 13, 2019, attempts to make connections among various identities across cultures and populations.

Judy Chicago, Birth Tear, part of the ICA's upcoming exhibit.EXPAND
Judy Chicago, Birth Tear, part of the ICA's upcoming exhibit.
Courtesy of the artist

Exploring a different kind of connection, the Institute of Contemporary Art will exhibit two retrospectives by artists Judy Chicago and Larry Bell. Chicago and Bell are lifelong friends who came to prominence in the '60s in seemingly unrelated disciplines: Bell is a minimalist sculptor, and Chicago is a feminist artist. But a major strength of institutions such as art museums is the power of proximity, of what comes up when different approaches are placed side-by-side. "Larry Bell: Time Machines," on view November 1 through March 10, 2019, marks the first comprehensive survey of the artist’s work in an American museum in almost 20 years. "Judy Chicago: A Reckoning," on display December 4 through April 21, 2019, shows the artist's interrogation of roles and skills usually seen as feminine or masculine.

Tobias Ostrander, chief curator at Pérez Art Museum Miami, says the conversations between exhibits are considered deeply at his institution.

"There’s a lot of diversity of programming happening at the same time," he notes. "We always try to look at these connections across projects so that different ideas come together between exhibitions. People can sort of connect the dots between different projects."

The resonances for this season's upcoming programming touch on two major themes. For works such as Ebony Patterson's installation ...While the Dew Is Still on the Roses... (November 9 through May 5, 2019) and Arthur Jafa's film Love Is the Message and the Message Is Death (through April 21, 2019), audiences can clearly draw parallels between the consideration of black experiences of celebration and oppression in close and often painful quarters. On the other hand, exhibitions such as "Grids: A Collection of Paintings by Lynne Golob Gelfman" (through April 21) and "Christo and Jeanne-Claude: Surrounded Islands: A Documentary Exhibition" (October 4 through February 17, 2019) tell pieces of Miami's distinct art history. It's a fitting range for PAMM to straddle during its 35th year.

The Bass will be no stranger to anniversaries this season either. Celebrating a year in its newly renovated space in October, the museum will begin its own movement outward as it strives to make its programming more accessible through audio tours and a possible digital archive. Upcoming exhibitions, such as Paola Pivi's "Art With a View" (October 13 through March 10, 2019) and the Haas Brothers' "Ferngully" (December 5 through April 21, 2019), demonstrate the Bass' commitment to constantly testing the boundaries of contemporary art, whether through interdisciplinary work or cutting-edge practices. Curator Leilani Lynch remembers that, though the museum is growing up, it's been a process.

"I think a lot of the fear has been about figuring out how we’re working internally," she reflects. "It’s been a lot of moving in and living in the space, which I think is important to do first. So instead of looking outward, it’s been looking inward. From that, yes, we’re settling into our space. It’s come full circle after a year."

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