Art Week Overtakes Us, or takes us over

Our community is overtaken once a year by an overwhelmingly richness of art fairs at which every form of modern and contemporary art you can imagine is displayed. For the past seventeen years, the visual and performance abundance has gotten bigger and bigger. The different fairs are located in venues around town and the surrounding cities; all the local museums gear their winter seasons to the increased traffic attracted to the bright lights and excitement.

The system I’ve developed over the years of this art feeding frenzy is to create a daily list for The Week and the surrounding days. Because of my position as an arts administrator, I’ve been fortunate to be on the list to get passes to most of the fairs; fortunate because otherwise it costs a small fortune to attend. A few months prior to Art Week, before the street banners fly, information starts flooding my inbox with dates, lectures, special events, and more. Quickly, I respond to those that really warrant my attention. And the list follows.

As Art Week nears, Constant Companion (who receives his own notices) and I compare lists and start paring down for our jointly agreed upon daily master list. From experience of past years, we choose events that interest us and that we can feasibly get to! We remain old school and take our own vehicle rather than relying on the availability of other transport, e.g. ride share or taxi. Before the advent of ride shares, a colleague used to round up her girlfriends and rent a limo!

Yesterday was Day One minus four. The biggest show will soon open to the expectant hordes and we’re already out and about. Actually, we started one evening earlier at the annual effort of the nascent, pop-up DORCAM (Doral Contemporary Art Museum). Yes, Doral, the city where one of Trump’s golf resorts is located and next year’s G-7 will not be taking place.

This museum without walls encourages the development of arts in the city on the Everglades, west of Miami International Airport (look at a map). This year’s evening event was located in a well-lit strip of roll-fronted units populated by artists’ galleries. D’Cata Wines’ shop offered sangria and was selling other beverages. Several performances were staged during the evening. Sandra Portal-Andreu used oral interviews with female immigrants from Central America in “Hilos,” a multi-media performance. It was an emotionally moving and interactive piece.

Day One minus four we embarked on the regularly scheduled Progressive Art Brunch in a “curated setting” (see Nov. 16 post). Some explanation about the genesis of the participating group of galleries: we’ve lived here for almost twenty-one years (wow, at the end of the month, where does time go?). Back then, a number of art galleries had spaces in the so-called Design District. As the District morphed towards its current exaggerated form of high end boutiques and restaurants, the galleries were pushed out.

They moved a little bit south to Wynwood, which Constant Companion now calls “north downtown.” This former industrial area was slated to become the new arts district of the community. Mural artists were encouraged to add their amazing illustrations. The Wynwood Walls caught the attention of the world (I kid you not, look it up). And the developers moved in. New multi-story, high occupancy buildings rose. Rents skyrocketed and the galleries again were pushed out, this time a few miles north to Little Haiti. Many fear the same property changes will follow sooner than later. Get the picture? Gentrification at work. This time hard-working residents will be pushed out.

Enough soap box. You can figure out my opinion on all of this. Back to yesterday, the Pre-Art Week Progressive Brunch. We picked up one of our daughter’s friends and met other friends at the first gallery – Mindy Solomon (www.mindysolomon.com). It was kind of fun, because the work of two artists was curated by Bill Arning, a bona-fide Houston-based curator, who most willingly talked about the artists (Mark Flood and Sam Jablon) and his process. Interesting.

Sam Jablon, Burn, 2019

Next to the next door gallery – Tile Blush – and an exhibit by Deon Rubi

(https://tileblush.com). Constant Companion particularly likes this smallish, inventive space. The featured local artist works with structures created from aluminum pipes. At our first stop, a young woman approached me; Dana Kleinman is one of the pair of artists, or Kx2. Our paths crossed again at Tile Blush. Dana and her sister also work with metal … maybe this was a match! Would be cool to see the two artists collaborate.

Constant Companion not only enjoys good food. He has immersed himself in the art world and is an wonderfully informed talker. At each stop, conversation ensued – first with the curator, next with the gallerist. By this time, our friends were waiting across the street. After a coffee break we took off to the next locale – Bill Brady Gallery

( https://www.billbradygallery.com ). The day was advancing and the crowds of art viewers growing. This gallery showing the work of a young Mexican artist was quite full. Everyone in our group was engaged in a discussion with him, though it did not impact our various opinions about his work.

Next stop, Etra Gallery (ww.etrafineart.com), not part of the Progressive Brunch list, but a long-time favorite.  Etra is a survivor of the Design District and Wynwood migrations. Their new site is small, but filled now with an impressive, curated exhibit, Ciudades, a multimedia exhibition comprised of paintings, sculptures, photography, videos, poetry and essays that use the theme of city to stimulate a dialog over the most pressing issues of today. 

Juan Raul Hoyos

We were on a tight schedule (as we will be all week) and could make only one more stop. We chose N’Namdi Contemporary (nnamdicontemporary.com), where we’d never been before. This Afro-American centric gallery specializes in established master artists as well as the next generation. The artwork was amazing, especially the work by Robert Colescott. I’m sure that when the dust settles after Art Week, this is a gallery to which we’ll return.

Garden mural, N’Namdi Contemporary

But, no, this was not the end of the day! I was dropped at home for a power nap while Constant Companion returned to the gallery crawl with daughter’s friend. A few hours later, he picked me up for an evening at the Lowe Art Museum at the University of Miami. The exhibit was a retrospective of the Afro-Cuban artist, Juan Roberto Diago with an informative dialog with two scholars, Alejandro de la Fuente and Barbaro Martinez Ruiz. Interesting insights into today’s visual art world of Cuba.

Yes, we were beat when we got home! We’d covered a lot of highly enjoyable ground. More tomorrow and the rest of the week.

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