Far from the hustle of Art Basel's sundry fairs, Pablo Cano's City Beneath the Sea, the artist's ninth annual marionette show, played this weekend to a less-than-rapt audience of children -- and their dazzled parents -- at the Museum of Contemporary Art in North Miami.
The marionettes are exquisite, crafted from all sorts of strange objects. Princess Tula, the star, has a plastic outdoor lamp for a head; her mother Queen Coral has a transparent body made from inflatable plastic and plastic champagne flutes. You can see why Cano's stuff enjoys a place in several international art collections, including the Rubell Collection in Wynwood.
The tricky part is, kids don't care about that stuff. Many were transfixed by the show, in which a princess learns to accept her civic responsibility and ends up saving her kingdom. The marionettes bobbed and floated against a simple backdrop of sea creatures to the accompaniment of a four piece band.
But the smaller ones fidgeted; some slept, and others seemed unsure of the play's artistic merits. After the show, parents took their kids to the edge of the stage, emphatically pointing out the wondrous craftsmanship of the puppets, which Cano makes by hand in the garage of his Little Havana house.
After one woman deposited her son to the ground and continued to gaze on the display, the boy tugged at her coat. A father and son made their way out of the auditorium through Bruce Nauman's neon installations. The boy glanced up quizzically at his father, who looked down and told him, "It's art." -Frank Houston