With the Magic City's museums set to break out their big shows and the seasonal art fairs just a few months away, our cultural calendar is bristling with an embarrassing trove of riches this year.
Starting this weekend, you can catch new shows at both the Miami Art Museum and the Bass Museum of Art. The first offers an artist's insightful exploration of identity and race while the second challenges viewer's imaginations fueled by a group of international talent delivering a provocative commentary through an amalgam of technology and our environment in their "unnatural" works.
Then with December arrives the high point of local culture when an invasion of thousands of international creative types, sweaty-palmed collectors, Euro-trash hipsters and sundry art world honchos storm our shores for Art Basel -- or what we like to call a drunken orgy of hedonistic excess.
But for those of you who prefer an art experience of a more sensitive than overwhelming nature, here is a list of the top 10 arts offerings of the coming year.
Rashid Johnson: Message to Our Folks
Marking his first major solo exhibition and his South Florida museum debut, this exhibit covers over a decade of the Chicago-born, New York-based talent's career. Considered one of the rising comets of his generation, Johnson is known for mining issues of identity, race, art history, and metaphysics in his wide-ranging practice. The show boasts photography, paintings, sculpture, and video, revealing Johnson's remarkable eye for employing odd, common household materials including rugs, mirrors, potted plants, CB radios, record albums, melted soap, and shea butter to create conceptually-freighted works that are alchemical in nature.
September 7 through November 4 at the Miami Art Museum, 101 West Flagler Street, Miami. Call 305-3000 or visit miamiartmuseum.org
This intriguing group show places the focus squarely on the natural world, refracted through the filter of bleeding-edge technology while blurring the lines between the real and the imaginary. Participant artists employ diverse strategies to question the conventional means through which we understand our surroundings. Curated by Tami Katz-Freiman, works on display embody an implausible view of ecological wonders spawned from the deepest recesses of what one might call a techno-addled Darwin's imagination.
September 9 through November 4 at the Bass Museum of Art, 2100 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach. Call 305-673-7530 or visit bassmuseum.org.
to beauty: A Tribute to Mike Kelley -- selected works from Private Collections
Arguably among the most influential artists of his era, the late Mike Kelley, who passed away this past January, was a master of the abject, known for his haunting commentary on the anarchy of youth culture. Kelley created works -- such as a series of children's stuffed animals sewn onto hand-knitted afghans -- that transcended traditional mediums and are impossible to pigeonhole. His psychologically-freighted oeuvre often assailed the sanctity of cultural attitudes toward religion, history, education, and family.
October 17 through February 24, 2013 at the Patricia and Phillip Frost Art Museum at FIU, 10975 SW 17th St., Southwest Miami-Dade. Call 305-348-2890 or visit thefrost.fiu.edu.
Art Live Fair
We love it when creative types and charitable initiatives combine to build community and uplift spirits. Last year's rollicking street arts fair benefiting Wynwood's Lotus House Women's Shelter transformed a stretch of NW Sixth Avenue between 23rd and 29th streets into a family-friendly art lover's paradise. Rechristened the Art Live Fair, this cultural community project returns this year with multiple stages boasting live music, performances, buskers and much, much more. Supported last year by major museums and more than 30 local galleries and artist spaces from across the 305, the fundraising fair collected upward of $500,000 for a grand cause. Visitors are invited to create art in interactive exhibits while supporting the women of Lotus House break the bonds of dependency through the uplifting spirit of art.
October 26-28, 2012. Visit artlivefair.org.
Christo and Jeanne Claude: Prints and Objects
It's hard to believe it has been almost 30 years since Christo and Jeanne Claude surrounded 11 islands in Biscayne Bay with almost seven million square feet of shimmering pink fabric. Long before Art Basel parachuted onto our shores, this pair did more than any other artists in local history to propel the Magic City to the top of the international arts scene. This nifty survey at the Lowe reflects upon more than 40 years of Christo and Jeanne Claude's versatile artistic career, dating from 1962 through 2004. Noteworthy pieces in the exhibition include preparatory works for and documentation photographs of Surrounded Islands, Project for Biscayne Bay; lithograph/collages of Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped and Wrapped Opera House, Project for Sydney; not to mention sculptural objects such as Wrapped New York Times and Wrapped Payphone.
November 10 through January 12, 2013 at the Lowe Art Museum, University of Miami, 1301 Stanford Drive, Coral Gables. Call 305-284-3535 or visit lowemuseum.org.
Postcards of the Wiener Werkstätte: Selections from the Leonard A. Lauder Collection
This marks the first major museum exhibition in the U.S. devoted exclusively to the postcards produced by the Wiener Werkstätte (Vienna Workshop), an artist's cooperative founded in 1903 by architect Josef Hoffman and painter and designer Koloman Moser, both members of the Vienna Secession. The duo sought to eliminate the boundaries between high and low art by producing products focused on high-quality designs, resulting in what they called "Gesamtkunstwerk," or total work of art. From 1907 until 1919, the Wiener Werkstätte printed 925 postcard motifs by 57 known artists. Some of the major designers and painters who worked for the firm were luminaries of the era such as Carl Otto Czeschka, Josef Hoffman, Emil Hoppe, Oskar Kokoschka, and Egon Schiele. The collection on display at the Wolf opens a rare window unto the beguiling spirit of turn-of-the-century Vienna while depicting its cafes, architecture, fashion, urban types, and humor.
November 15 through March 31, 2013 at the Wolfsonian - FIU, 1001 Washington Avenue, Miami Beach. Call 305-531-1001 or visit wolfsonian.org.
Bill Viola: Liber Insularum
For his first U.S. museum survey since 2003, video pioneer Bill Viola brings his singular vision of the human condition to North Miami's Museum of Contemporary Art where his solo will feature 11 screen works and projections. Viola's sensory-engulfing opuses typically explore the concepts of birth, death, and conscious awakening, with a nod to both Eastern and Western art, as well as mystical, spiritual traditions. Viola is known for employing state-of-the-art technologies to explore the phenomena of sense perception as an avenue to self-knowledge. His highly anticipated exhibit was inspired by a 15th century Florentine cleric's tome recording the six lonely years he spent wandering the Aegean, which Viola uses as a compass point to illustrate our lives today in a transforming global landscape.
December 5 through March 3, 2013 at the Museum of Contemporary Art, 770 NE 125th Street, North Miami. Call 305-893-6211 or visit mocanomi.org.
Art Basel Miami Beach
Held at the Miami Beach Convention Center, ABMB, now in its 11th edition, promises to attract upwards of 50,000 visitors to South Florida during its four-day run. The zenith of our cultural calendar will also transform the entire tip of our peninsula into a sprawling installation that rambles from South Beach to the Fairchild Botanical Gardens and beyond. At the Convention Center, 260 top-shelf galleries from countries representing North and Latin America, Europe, Africa and Asia, will exhibit 20th- and 21st-century artworks by more than 2,000 artists. Special sections will also feature performance art, video art, public projects, and an area showcasing upstart young galleries. Art lovers can expect a little of everything from museum-quality works at the big fair to gritty urban graffiti murals and guerilla art interventions across town. Meanwhile the piggyback fairs like NADA, PULSE, Scope, Red Dot, Art Miami, and Design Miami scattered from South Beach to Wynwood will heighten the sensory overload as local galleries and museums inaugurate their strongest shows of the season.
December 6-9 at various Miami locations. Visit artbasel.com.
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Art Wynwood International Contemporary Art Fair
If the inaugural edition of the Art Wynwood Fair proved anything, it's that our local art market is sustainable enough to attract deep-pocketed visiting collectors beyond December. The owners of Art Miami attracted over 50 galleries from across the globe this year, proving in the process that South Florida dealers can sustain a high level of sales performance while contributing to establishing the local scene as a viable, year-round marketplace. The 2013 edition hopes to return with an even bigger bang, and will be showcasing top-drawer programs from London, New York, Amsterdam, Mexico City, Caracas, and Paris alongside Wynwood stalwarts. On view you'll find artworks ranging from painting, sculpture, photography, video, and installation at the sparkling 100,000 square-foot white tent pavilion, plus soaring urban murals and plenty of guerilla-style street performances -- all drawing yet more visitors to the rapidly gentrifying neighborhood.
February 14-18, 2013. Art Wynwood International Contemporary Art Fair 3101 NE First Avenue, Miami. For hours and admission costs call 520-529-1100 or visit art-wynwood.com.
Dawoud Bey: Picturing People
Perhaps best known for capturing a sense of the self-awareness and contemplative nature of his subjects, Dawoud Bey's soulful pictures portray people from all walks of life throughout contemporary society and are remarkable for their distinct humanism. Bey's work has been shown across the United States and Europe and is in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Brooklyn Museum. For this expansive career survey of Chicago-based photographer, Bey will lead viewers on a trip across time ranging from candid, inner city street encounters during the 1970s and 1980s, to his fragmented studio portraits of the 1990s, and up to his recent psychological studies of teenagers in America's classrooms.
May 24 through September 8, 2013 at the Museum of Contemporary Art, 770 NE 125th Street, North Miami. Call 305-893-6211 or visit mocanomi.org.