History has given us a great deal of endearing maternal figures to look up to: Mother Teresa, Mother Jones, Mother Goose, Mother Hubbard. Miami's art scene has been blessed with a "Momma" of its own, and it's banded together to celebrate her in a gallery show tonight.
More than 50 artists will debut portraits, caricatures and other representations of Myra Wexler, a 64-year-old art maven who has been a prominent figure in the Wynwood art scene since its fledgling days, at her latest gallery exhibit, "Yo Momma in the House." If you haven't met Wexler, you might wonder what could have possessed so many artistic individuals to create works honoring her. But if you know the woman, you know her swagger alone would tell Kanye's to sit down and shut up.
"I'm accountable to no one, so I'm out there suiting up every day. Windows open and I want to be visible in my community," Wexler said.
After retiring from retail merchandising and operating the successful South Miami children's boutique Red Road Kids Club, Wexler devoted herself to art. In 2009, she began writing an art column for SocialMiami; from there, she began hosting gatherings known as Jammin' @ Joey's [restaurant] in Wynwood. These events later evolved in to Musings with Myra, a monthly networking get-together at Wynwood Kitchen & Bar for creative types.
She took on the "Yo Momma" persona in October 2010 after meeting NYC street artist, TMNK or Nobody, who is internationally known for his tag line "Art is my weapon."
"He's provocative and in your face. He's out there working the streets all over the world in New York, Norway, Europe, Art Basel 2011.... We became fast friends. We were like Bonnie and Clyde. He said, 'You gotta have a sticker, babes. You gotta have a street name, babes,' and Yo Momma was born," Wexler said.
Wexler's bandana-clad face can be seen sticker-bombed around Miami, thanks to herself and the loyal posse she has quickly amassed in the art world. Her sticker reads, "Obey Yo Momma," and people are doing just that.
Tonight's exhibit was an impulsive decision. Wexler's friend, Patrick Aloysius Golden, photoshopped Wexler's signature bandana photo, which prompted photographer and friend, Deborah Gray Mitchell, to encourage Wexler to host a show featuring the image.
Wexler teamed up with photographer David Siqueiros, known for his photos of Andy Warhol taken in the mid-1980s, as well as tons of other artists. From local talents to international names, they all responded to Momma's shout-out.
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"The level of the artists is amazing. We have Australia in the house, Italy in the house, Oregon, Jacksonville...People responded on Facebook, some of them are major, major masterpieces. No shit, Sherlock, for real girl," Wexler said.
Wexler will show some of her own original collage pieces, too. Much of the art on display will be for sale by the artists, and 10 percent of the proceeds will go to benefit the Irma Braman Creative Arts Scholarship Fund.
"Yo Momma in the House" opens Wednesday, September 19, from 6 to 10 p.m. at 12345 West Dixie Studio and Gallery. Admission is free. Call 305-893-9495.