Art

The Ten Best Art Galleries in Little Haiti

IRL Institute
IRL Institute Christian Hernandez

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Courtesy of Nina Johnson
6. Nina Johnson
6315 NW Second Ave., Miami; ninajohnson.com

With her previous space, Gallery Diet, Nina Johnson has been promoting the work of critically engaging artists since before the Wynwood gold rush. The gallery’s steadfast mission to “promote emerging and established artists from around the world” has yielded wonderful results, such as a recent showcase of Ana Betbeze’s emotional, texturally driven work "In the Flesh Part II: Potential Adaptations," a conceptual show by L.A. curator Courtney Malick that explored society’s changing relationships with health and technology.

Coming up this month, Johnson will show Miami local Nicolas Lobo’s "Cash Me Out." Presented in the austerely funny show, six fiber-and-terra-cotta bas-relief works — imprinted with the shapes of various mass-produced foods (onion rings, M&M's, breakfast cereal) and the interfaces of various ATMs — forge connections between consumerism, the lived environment, and Lobo’s winking, postmodern absurdity. The opening reception for "Cash Me Out" will take place Saturday, March 18, from 7 to 9 p.m.
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Fernanda Torcida
7. Pan American Art Projects
Main space at 6300 NW Second Ave., Miami; annex at 274 NE 67th St., Miami; panamericanart.com

For more than a decade, Pan American Art Projects (PAAP) has devoted its programming to work from the Americas, including Chile, Cuba, Mexico, and beyond. Since relocating to Little Haiti, the space boasts a gallery for exhibiting represented artists and an annex for special projects featuring works from PAAP's collection. The two spaces offer an opportunity to reflect on art of the Americas from two distinct vantages.

On display through early April are "The Power of Perception," in the annex, and "Kcho and Diago: Early Works," in the exhibition space. Diago and Kcho use domestic spaces as a framework to “investigate various phenomena in Cuban reality” and reflect on the concept of homes and domiciles. "The Power of Perception" showcases sculptural works, whereas "Early Works" features paintings and collages that highlight the artists' historical understanding.
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Jerome Soimaud
8. Yeelen Gallery
294 NW 54th St., Miami; yeelenart.com

On a well-traveled road bordering Little Haiti, Yeelen Gallery is an airy, well-curated space for the promotion of urban art and culture. The gallery tends to concentrate on realism and figuration, and many of its shows and events are geared toward social practice. The space seeks to further understanding between cultures, in part by “giving a voice to the unheard,” per its mission statement.

Ya La’ford’s "Simulation: Ancestral Patterns" will open this month at Yeelen. The Jamaican artist’s earthy, geometric canvases resonate with energy. Abstracted figures dance across the picture plane, a symbolic motif that the artist uses to “challenge notions of humanistic patterns and unseen experiences.”
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A work in "Liquid Knowledges."
Courtesy of Little Haiti Cultural Center
9. Little Haiti Cultural Center
212-260 NE 59th Ter., Miami; littlehaiticulturalcenter.com

Launched in 2006 as a vision of the late Miami-Dade Commissioner Arthur E. Teele Jr., the Little Haiti Cultural Center is a community-focused space that attracts thousands of visitors each year for programs centered on Afro-Caribbean culture. As part of its mission to “leverage arts and culture as tools for transformation,” the space includes an art gallery dedicated to showing works that enrich the neighborhood’s culture and promote discussion among the center's myriad visitors.

The LHCC is exhibiting "Borderless Caribbean: Liquid Knowledges," a three-part show that combines Antillean Lacunae: A Litany of the Botanical, a "multisensory experience exploring the colloquial and commercial uses of botanicals"; Garden of Mysteries and Botany of Memory and Experience, featuring work from contemporary Caribbean and Miami artists; and Liquid Knowledges, which seeks to "examine the contributions of Africans to the ethno-botany of the New World as well as the ideas of the enslaved populations of the Americas."
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Unnatural Life by Elisabeth Condon
Courtesy of EDG
10. Emerson Dorsch
5900 NW Second Ave., Miami; emersondorsch.com

Miami's art scene mourned when Emerson Dorsch was uprooted from its Wynwood digs after 15 years. The gallery was home to some of the most memorable shows the neighborhood had seen, including the experimental performance series This Is Happening, responsible for spectacles such as a full-on '90s Miami bass party and a backyard bacon-eating contest. This same playful spirit and willingness to push the envelope live on in the gallery's Little Haiti location.

Currently on display, Elizabeth Condon’s "Unnatural Life" subverts ideas about femininity, upper-class tastes, and domesticity. The flowers Condon depicts on her canvases are not typical decorative fare; they’re dripped and splattered with color and patchwork motifs, clashing and refusing to stay put in one’s field of vision. The result forces the viewer to recontextualize these supposed “decorative, feminine” subjects.
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David Bennett