Miami's Musem of Contemporary Art Celebrates Its Quinceanera

To celebrate its remarkable transition from a fledgling upstart to an internationally respected arts destination, MOCA is marking its quinceañera this Thursday night with "At Capacity: Large-Scale Works From the Permanent Collection." The exhibit features a stunning selection from the more than 600 works in MOCA's collection, many of them monumental in scale and among the museum's iconic pieces by the contemporary art world's biggest names -- John Baldessari, Dara Friedman, Thomas Hirschhorn, Jene Highstein, Edward and Nancy Kienholz, Louise Nevelson, Dennis Oppenheim, Jack Pierson, and Ragnar Kjartansson.

The sprawling show offers a glimpse of the museum's holdings, culled together thanks to local and international collectors' and patrons' donations to MOCA's acquisition fund, and is slated to occupy the new 16,000-square-foot permanent collection galleries of MOCA's expansion.

The show also will celebrate MOCA's role in showcasing emerging artists,

many of whom have produced installations and large-scale works that

have been a focus of the museum's exhibits, says Bonnie Clearwater,

MOCA's executive director and senior curator.

"Some of the works on display were in our inaugural 'Defining the '90s'

show," Clearwater continues. "But this is the first time they have all

been exhibited together. The works represent an ongoing generational

dialogue among artists and reflect the history of contemporary art in

our times."

A local artist whose jarring work induces whiplash is Dara Friedman. Her

1999 film, Bim Bam, was included in a Whitney Biennale. It features

Friedman in dueling video projections slamming doors on either side of

the viewer while stuck at the threshold of some bizarre purgatory.

There is also a major installation by California's Edward and Nancy

Kienholz titled Soup Course at the She-She Café, depicting a couple and a

young woman dining near each other in a surreal restaurant setting.

Viewers are caught in their psychological web as the husband steals

furtive glances at the woman while his wife looks on unaware. The

arresting tableau provides an important precedence for other narrative

works in the exhibit, Clearwater says.

"The Keinholzes have been an important influence on artists like

Hirschhorn, while others, like Sterling Ruby, a young artist from

California, has been influenced by both of them," Clearwater explains.

"We have built this exhibit around a new acquisition of a Ruby

installation that climbs 14 feet up into the lights in the museum's


MOCA's commitment to nurturing homegrown talent is evident in "Open

Process: New Work by Miami Artists," showcasing Jessica Laurel Arias,

Autumn Casey, Domingo Castillo, and Tatiana Vahan.

During the past four months, the quartet was given access to MOCA's

archives and collection and received the museum's support to create

individual projects for the exhibit, organized by Ruba Katrib, the

associate curator.

Look for our full write-up in this week's issue.

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