What better way for the Design District's 101/Exhibit to cap its year than with a grotesque display of terrifying creatures? After all, 2012 was a monster year for the space's owners, who expanded to a second location in L.A.'s West Hollywood neighborhood in October.
That kind of bicoastal success was far from guaranteed when Sloan Shaffer opened the space just as the recession hit in 2008. "You had Sloan talking about opening a gallery in that economic climate, and I thought it was perhaps a little unhinged," says Kevin Van Gorp, the gallery's director. "But his enthusiasm swayed me."
That enthusiasm is on full display in the gallery's latest show, one of the highlights of this month's Second Saturday Art Walk beginning at 6 p.m. this weekend.
Our picks for the culture crawl's top exhibits feature everything from fiendish photo collages to a dissection of the banal, a collection of paper bag portraits, and a trio of artists' eclectic vision of sculpture.
This exhibit features Chambliss Giobbi's psycho-sexually freighted photo collages depicting the seven deadly sins in haunting, mutating images. The New York-based Giobbi tackles wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony in works where business types, corporate CEOs, and women of questionable repute appear to have been mutilated on an autopsy slab before being stitched together like Frankenstein's monster. Giobbi typically photographs his subjects at length before tearing their images asunder to give birth to visions of visual and psychological alienation. The photos are densely textured and set against the backdrop of an organized religion's own worst nightmares. "Referencing his background in experimental symphony composition, Cham's work by nature is a mad-scientist arrangement," Van Gorp says.
101/Exhibit, 101 NE 40th St., Miami. Call 305-573-2101 or visit 101exhibit.com.
At Gallery Diet, Daniel Milewski continues exploring life in Miami's artiest neighborhood in his solo show "Umpire." The exhibit includes photography, collage, and sculpture riffing on the "banality" of everything from clothing to photography to memory, Milewski says. "What most interests me are the circumstances or things hidden in the mundane," he says. "That can be as complicated as a crazy spectacle, but the circumstances often go unnoticed.
The collection, created in 2012, also reflect his experiences of the vagaries of daily life while running Lester's, his bar/coffeehouse/art space just down the block from Diet. On view is a sculpture that looks like a pair of stilts draped in tie-dyed T-shirts, a sepia-tinged portrait of Henry Flagler, and a photo collage depicting smooching punk rockers sporting porcupine Mohawks. "I like the idea of the 'Umpire' because he's like a governor watching over a game," Milewski adds. "The umpire makes the rules but doesn't determine the outcome of what happens in the game."
Gallery Diet, 174 NW 23rd St., Miami. Call 305-571-2288or visit gallerydiet.com.
"Recent Work: Rafael Ferrer"
This can't-miss solo show by prolific Puerto Rican artist Rafael Ferrer features a trove of works by the talent whose oeuvre defies easy pigeonholing. The septuagenarian Ferrer has earned a reputation for experimentation in fields ranging from surrealism, process art, and new-image painting. He'll present several massive installations at the David Castillo Gallery, including his vaunted paper bag paintings that first appeared in public in 1972 at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. His new installation depicts angular, primitive-style masks and visages of expressionistic characters that suggest a tide of multicultural humanity. Ferrer's loosely modeled faces, often rendered in an intensely colored palette of crayons, are as much about the gesture of mark-making as they are of a pictorial presence. In addition to the artist's recent works on paper, the gallery features Empire's Mirror (2012), a piece composed of 95 blackboard paintings in an insightful, humorous installation exploring Puerto Rico's perpetually conflicted local politics.
David Castillo Gallery, 2234 NW Second Ave., Miami. Call 305-573-8110 or visit davidcastillogallery.com.
"Gimrack" and "Fairy Tales"
For aficionados of bold abstract metal sculptures that defy description, two artists at Pan American Art Projects offer contrasting visions with works that are both unexpected and gravity-defying. Ted Larsen's show "Gimrack" boasts salvaged steel and mixed media works rife with color and unpredictable shapes that are labor intensive and often are cobbled together painstakingly not unlike a puzzle."It can take years to develop the forms, with many false starts and revisions," says Larsen, whose forms may appear random but are conceptually-freighted.
Carolina Sardi's equally stunning suite of works also turn the head in her show titled "Fairy Tales." Perhaps best known for her beguiling wall installations, often reminiscent of cascading organic and uncanny forms, Sardi has introduced fresh surfacing to her pieces employing the process of plating the steel she uses in chrome, gold, copper and silver finishes to convey the impression of shining firmaments. The end result places the viewer before a fragmented mirror effect while the forms cast a constellation of beguiling shadows on the walls behind them. "These effects are addressing the question of form and essence, what is real and what is not and the mythical idea of the man reflecting in a mirror as Narcissus once did," explains Sardi.
Pan American Art Projects, 2450 NW Second Ave., Miami. Call 305-573-2400 or visit panamericanart.com.
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For his eye-catching solo, Franck Loret draws upon an organic lexicon to explore the unseen nature of the vegetal and molecular, creating airy sculptures that tinker with the mysteries of interior construction. The Frenchman, a former actor and playwright, employs vinyl to confect supple, flexible works reminiscent of skins peeled from their original forms that take on a buoyant architectural nature. Swapping the fiction of the stage for the real life stories he witnesses daily, Loret slides between the lines of the spaces that surround us to offer his vision of the unseen connections between man and the complex nature of our relationship with a shifting environment.