Temporary Contemporary: The Bass Museum Redefines Street Art

An evening many assumed would be a run of the mill art showcase turned out to be anything but, as the curators of the Bass Museum of Art had attendees marching around the building grounds, into the streets, and finally depositing the group at a gas pump.

The museum's Temporary Contemporary exhibit, launched on November 2, combined high art with street art. Those hoping to see beauty in creative works had to look no further than a sidewalk window display in Walgreens or the TV above the gas station cafe.

The procession began around the front of the building's courtyard just before the Beach's skyline swirled into pastel pinks and blues. Silvia Karman Cubiñá, executive director and chief curator of Bass, provided commentary for pieces scattered around the landscape as the crowd listened attentively, even in peculiar places like the Bass's parking lot where a billboard piece by L.A. artist, Ken Gonzalez Day, from his "Profile" series hangs in full view, almost as if to say, "You can't ignore this."

The piece deals with issues of art history and the way in which we perceive its subjects. "You go to a museum and see a white marble sculpture of an African woman and why is it white marble and why is there no name on it?...European American people have [their] proper names for titles," Cubiñá said of the way historical artists named and gave valor to their original works. "He's creating these; juxtaposing them in this conversation about art history...He did the research on who this African woman was and the work of art actually includes her full name...so he's almost rewriting history," Cubiñá said.

Director of exhibitions, Chelsea Guerdat, led the troops onto the next wall and briefly introduced a text installation by Mexico City artist Stefan Brüggemann that reads, "This is not supposed to be here." The message is open to interpretation, as Guerdat explained Brüggemann's interest in the forms of language.

The throng made its way to the street view for the next surface of inked museum wall. Bryan Granger, current Knight curatorial fellow at Bass, introduced a splatter work by Puerto Rican artist Michael Linares. Although the piece itself looks hurried, it took an entire week to erect, in addition to careful preparation where Linares created the image beforehand based on how the motion of the strokes would appear. "He sees a lot of energy in the accident, in the gesture...Being in Miami, there's also this overtone of it sort of being graffiti on the side of a building so we're looking at the idea of high art versus low art of street art," Granger said.

Dark approaches and everyone's left museum grounds for the Walgreens window displays across the street on Collins where Miami-based artist Cristina Lei Rodriguez introduced guests to her sculptures and installations behind the glass. Her use of plastic, paint, and resin to combine other objects and make new works with bursts of color is part of the appeal in her craft. She sets out to create a visually explorable landscape through detail. "The store front is an amazing place for contemporary art to really have a relationship with the street, with people who are walking by...For people to see art work up close in a different context and question the way that you see objects that are commercially to be bought," Rodriguez said.

Much to the surprise of the guests, the final stop of the evening landed them at a nearby gas station, where the Ferrari-commissioned video installation by Italian artist Marco Brambilla (fun fact: he directed Demolition Man) played inside its cafe.

It's a "first-person view from a Formula One race car driver and then completely redone and edited in this kind of kaleidoscope view," Guerdat said of the piece originally made in 3D, even though the screen it was projected on wasn't. As the exhibit concluded, guests were then invited to feast on croquetas and pastelitos in true Miami fashion.

As the first Temporary Contemporary installations, these are only a few of the pieces popping up around Miami Beach as Bass gets across its mission statement for the exhibit: "Art in unexpected places." There will also be an app available for free download within the next month so anyone with a smart phone can scan the art to find out more about it as well as the locations of other nearby works. The project will continue for the next two years spanning spaces from Lincoln Road to the museum and gas station; from the beach to the convention center and more.

Bass Museum of Art is located at 2100 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach. Call 305-673-7530.

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