Art Elsewhere Redux – Public Art

Many different areas of the city came alive with Public Art (see 11-29-2022 post for No Vacancy in hotels) during Art Week. Some are actually permanent, others are installed for short periods.

We crossed paths with this year’s installation in the Design District when we went an exhibit closing.

Germane Barnes was awarded the invitation-only 2022 Miami Design District Annual Neighborhood Commission. The Miami-based architect’s concept, “Rock | Roll,” a multifaceted, multi-scale installation that draws on the vibrant visual language of Miami Carnival to honor the BIPOC communities, was realized across the neighborhood’s public spaces.  

With a nod to steel drums and the infectious joy of Soca music, Barnes has also designed brightly hued wind chimes, hundreds of which will be hung like melody-making ornaments in the lush native trees and palms planted throughout the neighborhood.

While there, Constant Companion and I took the time to see this year’s mural in Jungle Plaza.

Brazilian artist Criola, in her largest mural to date, created a Gemini image, titled “Interdimensional Portal,” that explores associations to identity and culture through figuration, symbols and motif, and invites a rethinking of what defines Black female identity. It’s a modified Rorschach test; female protagonists are adorned with layered symbols. Hummingbirds, common to Brazil, hover over flowers seeking nectar. Two women are wrapped in snakes and hold elongated plant leaves. Snakes can represent danger while also offering healing venom. The flora and fauna adorning these women signify medicinal virtue.

“Trapeze Contortionists,” is the work of Haitian-born artist, Edouard Duval-Carrié. The work incorporates the silhouettes of fifteen figures of dancers high above the historic Española Way corridor (see 12-22-2021 post). 

For the inaugural Elevate Española installation, Duval-Carrié was inspired by a Senegalese contortionist troupe he saw walk the high wire in a circus-like theater while living in France.

“Starchild,” a 50-foot figurative sculpture, is another piece of Public Art commissioned by the city especially during Art Week. “Starchild” is the main character in FriendsWithYou’s newest body of work in which the artists are renaming the Earth to “Ocean” as a means to unify the planet by a name.

“The Great Spirit,” by Italian sculptor Ettore Pellegatta in 1924, stands just a few feet from and overshadowed by Starchild. It was originally installed at the Nautilus Hotel in Miami Beach and moved to its current location in 1959. “My husband had the statue erected there,” Mrs. Carl Fisher* said, “because he was opening up that section of the Beach for development and he needed something to designate the new area.”

*Fisher was one of the original developers of Miami Beach.

Several days during Art Week, a guided tour of the outdoor public artworks in the area around the Convention Center was sponsored by On Swiss Running Shoes. Walkers were able to give their shoes a test walk.

What we found along the way was a bronze sculptural self portrait by South African artist, Zanele Muhole, part of the Art Basel Meridians section.

When the Miami Beach Convention Center was upgraded and remodeled in 2020, six public artworks were commissioned. Sarah Morris’ installation “Morris Lapidus” honors the famous, local designer who remade Lincoln Road as a pedestrian mall and created the famous Fontainebleau and Eden Roc Hotels.

Lining the landscaped Collins Park Canal (named for John Collins, one of Miami Beach’s original developers) are “Humanoids,” a series of sculptural, abstract figures, by Joep van Lieshout.

“Bent Pool” by Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset, across from the Convention Center, is a study in contemporary sculpture art.

This took us past the Convention Center to see more of Germaine Barnes’ colorful, playful works and also Jaume Pensa’s “Minna.”

“Minna,” a monumental public artwork, was permanently installed in Pride Park across from the Convention Center.

Next stop was our city hall and the oversized portrait by Zanele Muhole. “Phaphama at Cassilhausi,” “awake” in Zulu, is a persona created by Muholi during a residency in North Carolina, wears a leopard print vest, a velvet jacket, and a bow tie.

Roy Lichtenstein’s “Mermaid” is located across the street from Frank Gehry’s New World Center and in front of the municipal auditorium formerly known as the Jacky Gleason Theater. This 1979 sculpture was Lichtenstein’s first or second piece of public art, depending on who your walking tour guide is.

We circled around to Collins Avenue to see local artist Charo Oquet’s playful contribution to this year’s No Vacancy. This was one of the artworks CC and I were not able to get to during our Prelude to Art Week (see 11-29-22 post).

Returning to the Convention Center, the group was introduced to “About Sand” by German artist Franz Ackerman. Bright colors and various abstracted forms represent the artist’s interpretations of daily life, tourism, and commerce in Miami Beach.

And then there’s Art that Falls from the Sky … At Design Miami, CC and I marveled at the display from Gufram Homemade. They presented Shroom CACTUS®, a new edition signed by artist, entrepreneur, actor, and fashion icon A$AP Rocky in collaboration with his new design studio HOMEMADE. A large cactus sculpture loomed over the entire display.

The other morning as CC and I left our driveway for some destination, I saw a green thing in the street near the curb. When we returned, it was still there. Far be it from me to not explore a mystery. The Guframini Cactus has found a new its new home!

And while we’re at Design Miami, several bits of whimsy … “Croc Cousteau” a carpet by the Haas Brothers. I wish this had fallen from the sky!

My friend, the octopus, continues to follow me … from Lebreton gallery

And back to the main show, Art Basel Miami Beach, for Cosima von Bonin‘s “Total Produce (Morality).” No, I do not understand the title, just like the cephalopod.

I’m really not looking for them, they are just here, there, everywhere!

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