Tarell Alvin McCraney Portrait and Other Highlights from Guild at Ladder Room

The cubists had Guillaume Apollinaire; the surrealists André Breton. Guild, an emerging group of eight Miami painters, all New World School of the Arts grads, have Ricardo Pau-Llosa to champion their cause. Since discovering the octet during a Little Havana exhibit coinciding with Art Basel this past December, the local poet and art critic has written an essay for a catalogue of Guild's exhibitions and shepherded the artists to the Upper Eastside's Ladder Room, where he hopes their work will garner wider exposure.

In his essay about Guild, Pau-Llosa describes the group as part of a broader generational awareness he terms "renewal modernism," adding that the painters are conscious of the irony in their position as rebels against the reigning postmodernist ethos driving contemporary art. Each of the painters follows an individual style; it's their highly polished technical skills that join them.

Vincent Serritella
Everything Must Go

A modest venue located next to Uva 69 Restaurant, Ladder Room doesn't pretend to be a gallery, although it has mounted exhibits of Miami Herald photographer Carl Juste's work and recently shown some of Rafael Soriano's paintings coinciding with his retrospective at the Lowe, says artist Sinuhe Vega, who runs the venue. "The space has gone through different incarnations through the years," Vega says, adding that it has become "a trampoline project space where local artists and curators can collaborate on shows" outside the city's traditional gallery scene.

After Basel, Pau-Llosa approached Vega with the idea of exhibiting eight solo shows during a four-month span for each of the member artists: Abdiel Acosta, Frank Garaitonandia, Lu Gold, Todd Eliott Mansa, Yamel Molerio, Vincent Serritella, José Luis Telot, and Jovan Karlo Villalba.

Abdiel Acosta
Monsters From Within

 "I became excited," Vega says. "It's sort of like a relay race with each artist taking a turn in the spot every two weeks. We're even having literary readings during our new openings to create buzz for these artists."

Already making a big statement at the tiny gallery in the bustling nabe is Mansa, whose portraits of childhood friends and gritty urban scenes kicked off the second leg of the Guild show.

Todd Elliot Mansa
Sojourn of the Day Twin (Tarell Alvin McCraney)

Mansa's Sojourn of the Day Twin (Tarell Alvin McCraney) depicts award-winning Miami playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney -- who became a member of the Steppenwolf Theatre Company in April 2010 -- in front of a Liberty City butcher shop and corner store.

"The New York Times basically invented an award for playwrights and gave the inaugural one to him," Mansa says of his friend. "Tarell used to get beat up a lot in front of that store on the corner of NW 62nd Street and 17th Avenue. James Baldwin said that it is expensive to be poor. I use that as a metaphor for painting the inner-city experiences of people who are forged by strife rather than becoming victims of it."

This coming Saturday at 7 p.m., Mansa has invited his buddy Summer Hill Seven to recite excerpts from his Poemedy Trilogy's final book, Squircular!: An Actor's Tale, during Mansa's exhibit at Ladder Room. The author and filmmaker was recently recognized as one of New Times' top 100 local creative thinkers leading up to the 2011 MasterMind Awards.

See Guild through July 28 at Ladder Room (6900 Biscayne Blvd., Miami). call 305-389-2616 or visit ladderroom.com. The gallery is open Tuesday through Friday 4 to 7 p.m., and Saturday noon to 5 p.m.

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