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Five Local Artists to Watch at Miami Art Week 2020, According to Commissioner’s Dejha Carrington

Artist GeoVanna Gonzalez poses with her piece inside the Moore Building.EXPAND
Artist GeoVanna Gonzalez poses with her piece inside the Moore Building.
Photo by Andrea Lorena for Commissioner
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On this Sunday afternoon in late November, Dejha Carrington, the cofounder of the art-collectors' network Commissioner, has already made it through her first of many art-related events this season. In the lead-up to Miami Art Week, Carrington is riding the success of Commissioner's recent reveal of its first commissioned artist for season-three members.

Rather than allowing the constraints imposed by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Carrington is embracing the unique ways to experience art this December. The majority of Commissioner’s programming during Miami Art Week will be virtual, including a virtual tour of NADA with artist Naomi Fisher and a virtual curator conversation on emerging art trends from the diaspora.

“With less fairs, there’s going to be more emphasis on being able to experience exhibitions more deeply,” Carrington tells New Times. “Usually during Miami Art Week, so much time is spent trying to see everything, but with so much going virtual [this year], what you’re going to see more of is people going to exhibitions, going to solo shows, going to group shows, going to studios, and having a much deeper interaction with the artists and with the ideas.”

As cofounder of Commissioner and director of strategic communications for YoungArts, Carrington lives and breathes Miami's art scene. This season, despite the lack of glitz and glitter during a pandemically challenged Art Week, she has her eye on a handful of local talent.

Carrington is most excited about the group show curated by Marie Vickles titled "Contemporary Visual Expression" at the Little Haiti Cultural Complex (212 NE 59th Ter., Miami) on view December 2-6. Of the 46 artists featured in the exhibition, Carrington points to Morel Doucet as one not to miss.

Doucet, who is originally from Haiti but now resides in Miami, utilizes ceramics, drawings, and prints to address issues such as climate change and climate gentrification, and displacement within the Black diasporic community.

“I’m in love with his ceramics,” Carrington says. "To me, they represent the fragility as well as the resilience of the human condition. Everything from the figuration of the pieces to the materials from which they’re made, speak to the overall ideas behind the work.”

In addition to the Little Haiti Cultural Complex, Doucet’s works will be featured at Prizm Art Fair, which will take place all online (prizmartfair.com) this year, December 1-21. The fair’s theme will focus on the African diaspora and present 47 artists and 14 galleries from across Africa, the Caribbean, and the Americas.

Artist Reginald O'Neal, currently represented by Spinello Projects.EXPAND
Artist Reginald O'Neal, currently represented by Spinello Projects.
Photo by Elliot Jimenez for Spinello Projects

Among the artists featured in Vickles’ show at the cultural center is the aforementioned first commissioned artist for Commissioner season three, GeoVanna Gonzalez. The Los Angeles native will have her work displayed at a few locations during Miami Art Week.

“It’s just so exciting to watch her go,” says a beaming Carrington.

Gonzalez will also have her work exhibited at the Tile Blush booth as part of Design Miami (Moore Building, 191 NE 40th St., Miami), and as part of a group show at Minotti (3801 NE Second Ave., Miami) in the Design District titled "Combined Strength: Four Decades of Miami-based Women." The exhibition at Minotti will be on display through February 2021.

Juana Valdes’ work will also be featured in the "Combined Strength" exhibition.

“I just keep on coming back to her work,” Carrington says of the Afro-Caribbean artist. “She uses printmaking, photography, sculpture, ceramics, and site-specific installations to explore issues of race, transnationalism, labor, and class. I would say that her work is like a living archive that’s always analyzing and decoding experiences of migration.”

Earlier this year, Valdes’ work was exhibited at the Freedom Tower and Locust Projects.

Spinello Projects (2930 NW Seventh Ave., Miami) in Allapattah is presenting a solo show for artist Reginald O’Neal during Miami Art Week. Titled "At the Feet of Mountains," the exhibit is currently on view by appointment through January 18, 2021.

O’Neal grew up in Overtown and is a still-life painter whose range includes everything from landscapes to intimate details of his life, like a scar, or his grandmother’s glasses.

Carrington quotes an inspiring insight from the young artist: “My desire is to embrace the unappreciated, defaced and misrepresented, as well as illustrate the true beauty within my community. It is for people looking from the outside, but mainly a mirror for residents of the community to see ourselves for who we are.”

Perhaps the most singular take on Miami Art Week 2020 is artist Emmett Moore and his exhibition with Nina Johnson Gallery (6315 NW Second Ave., Miami), "The Boat House."

“Instead of bringing his sculptures to the gallery this year,” Carrington explains, “Emmett is going to be opening up his home to visitors so that we can experience the objects just as he does in his own home environment.”

The exhibit, located inside Moore’s home on the banks of the Miami River, is on view by appointment only. The location will be disclosed upon confirmation.

“Emmett Moore is a quintessential Miami artist,” Carrington says. “His work is extremely relevant to where we live, and also it’s just so clean. A lot of his work revolves around intelligent design. He’s known for these functional sculptures — he thinks a lot about the materials and the functionality of the materials and how they have an afterlife.”

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