By Sandra Schulman
An energized art season approaches, with exhibitions looking out to the Caribbean, back to Christo’s Surrounded Islands, and ever further back to the lush heyday designs of Art Deco. Some new players such as the Institute of Contemporary Art and the expanded Bass promise fresh new shows in their spacious digs. Even the parking garage across from the ICA is a marvel in itself.
The Convention Center in Miami Beach has become almost impossibly large, taking up several blocks now with way over a million square feet of exhibition space and other luxe amenities including a rooftop ballroom and updated outdoor plaza. That’s plenty of room for the international art jet set to explore when Art Basel Miami Beach comes to town. Dozens of satellite fairs will converge in December, with the waterfront Art Miami Fair a new highlight.
Art Basel Miami Beach: Has it gotten too big? Nah. The art fair that made Miami a new art world center returns with hundreds of leading galleries from North America, Latin America, Europe, Asia and Africa, with major work from the masters of modern and contemporary art, along with the new generation of emerging stars. Top-tier paintings, sculptures, installations, photographs, films, and editioned works are on display in the massive main exhibition hall. The weekend of Art Basel – and even the weekend before — has become an international draw for Miami, with parties, plenty of satellite fairs – Art Miami, Aqua, Context, Scope Red Dot — and luxe themed events being held in conjunction with the show. A newly expanded convention center will redesign the fair’s layout and allow for more exhibits and installations. Dec.6-9.
The Bass: The newly renovated and expanded Bass Museum has three shows lined up for the fall. Two open in October with a feature show opening to coincide with Art Basel Miami week in December.
The two season opener shows spotlight Paola Pivi’s Art With A View – wildly diverse new work that lines up feather-covered polar bears, tumbling pearls, fish on a plane and a 65-foot balloon ladder. (Oct. 13-March 10).
Tune Yer Head presents new work by Texas-born, L.A.-based artist Aaron Curry. Curry pulls his muse from Picasso, Picabia and Calder, cartoonist Basil Wolverton, BMX and skate culture to display in the museum’s first-floor galleries. (Oct. 13- April 21).
Expanding the definition of “contemporary art” to includes design, architecture, and fashion, The Bass presents the Haas Brothers’s first solo museum exhibition, called Ferngully. Named after a 1992 animated film, this utopia-like setting creates a lush environment of velvet, a padded floor, beadwork, glass and ceramics that exemplifies the brothers’s return to nature through design. (Dec. 5-April 21).
The Bass recently announced the acquisition of major contemporary works by living artists to the permanent collection, including significant work by Sanford Biggers, Mark Handforth, Karen Rifas, Mika Rottenberg, Pascale Marthine Tayou and Lawrence Weiner, all of whom have had exhibits at the museum. A highlight of the season is always the fantastical sculpture that festoons Collins Park in December with installations and lawn parties that converge around the permanent acquisition of Ugo Rondinones’s colorful rock-star Miami Mountain.[The Bass, Miami Beach; www.TheBass.org. 305-673-7530]
Pérez Art Museum Miami: With a major new work in London — The Mastaba, now floating in a Hyde Park lake — the Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) exhibit Christo and Jeanne-Claude: Surrounded Islands, Biscayne Bay, Greater Miami, Florida, 1980-83: A Documentary Exhibition, is a timely reminder of how Christo impacted Miami. This collection of archival materials and artworks is the conceptual heart of the renowned artists’ site-specific 1983 installation, Surrounded Islands, in Miami’s Biscayne Bay.
On view now through Feb. 17, the exhibition of Surrounded Islands commemorates its 35th anniversary. In May of 1983, Christo and wife Jeanne-Claude encircled 11 uninhabited islands in Biscayne Bay with 6.5 million square feet of floating, pink, woven polypropylene fabric. For two weeks, the results ignited the bay with a stunning floating world in blue, green, pink, and turquoise. The anniversary show coincides with the founding of PAMM’s predecessor institution, the Center for Fine Arts.
Variations on the grid inform the paintings of Miami-based Lynn Golob Gelfman, who examines the interplay of the strict form with abstraction. Dating back to 1968, this series of works reference metal window gates, chain-link fences and even the watery patterns made by sunlight on the sea. Grids, which opened Sept. 15, runs through April 21.
Ebony G. Patterson . . . while the dew is still on the roses . . . is the work of Kingston-born artist Ebony G. Patterson (b. 1981). Referencing a night garden, her drawings, tapestries, videos, sculptures and installations bloom with layers of flowers, glitter, lace and beads, signifying birth, growth and death. (Nov. 9–May 5)[Pérez Art Museum Miami, Miami; PAMM.org, 305-375-3000]
Wolfsonian FIU: Miami Beach is Art Deco, and the FIU museum’s show, Deco: Luxury to Mass Market, gives us a deeper dive into this gilded, elegant art style that still flourishes in Miami Beach nearly a century after its apex. Art Deco came together in the 1920s and 1930s from a series of styles originating in Europe that became the language of industrial production in the United States. The exhibit, which runs from Oct. 19 to April 28, includes handcrafted objects, appliances, graphics and traces its migration to its unique glories on the shores of Miami Beach.[Wolfsonian FIU, Miami Beach; Wolfsonian.org, 305-531-1001]
Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami: Mira Lehr, whose multimedia works reflect the natural world, is the focus of Mira Lehr: Tracing the Red Thread at this vibrant home of cutting-edge art. The large-scale work, in which a rope winds through mangrove roots on its way to a central structure, is drawn from the ancient Greek myth of Ariadne. She wove a red thread for the hero Theseus, who faced the half-bull, half-man minotaur inside a labyrinth. The thread helped him find his way back out of the Hellenic corn maze; Lehr’s idea is to make a metaphorical comparison about finding your way to insight about the natural world. (Opened Sept. 6, runs through Nov. 4)
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of AfriCOBRA, an artist collective with roots in Chicago, the group exhibit AfriCOBRA: Messages to the People showcases Jeff Donaldson, Jae Jarrell, Wadsworth Jarrell, Barbara Jones-Hogu, and Gerald Williams. “AfriCOBRA” stands for African Commune of Bad Relevant Artists. (Nov. 27-April 7)[Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami; www.Mocanomi.org, 305-893-6211]
Frost Museum of Art: From the Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach, Calif., comes Relational Undercurrents, a major survey of 21st-century art of the Caribbean. Curated by Tatiana Flores of Rutgers, the exhibition is built around the idea of an archipelago and divided into four parts — Conceptual Mappings, Perpetual Horizons, Landscape Ecologies, and Representational Acts. Drawing on the work of more than 80 artists with roots all over the region, the exhibit attempts to show the links, island chain-style, between the various paintings, sculptures, photos videos and performances that make up the show. (Oct. 13-Jan. 13)[Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Art at FIU, Miami; www.frost.fiu.edu, 305-348-2980]
Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU: In hand-sewing “walking canvases” of his punky interpretations of his Jewish/Polish heritage iconography, Daniel Chimowitz is both an artist and a fashion designer. For a site-specific show at the Jewish Museum, he will create new fashion/art based installations throughout the unusual temple turned museum. Chimowitz will appear Dec. 9 for the museum’s annual Sunday brunch during Miami Art Basel. (Opened Oct. 3, runs through Feb. 3)[Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU, Miami Beach; jmof.fiu.edu, 786-972-3176]
Frost Museum of Science: It’s not strictly art, but we love this interactive, inventive museum on Biscayne Boulevard. Its season-long special exhibition, Creatures of Light: Nature’s Bioluminescence, shows that nature’s light, in creatures from fireflies to deep-sea fishes, is an art in itself. Indeed, down in the inky depths of the oceans, some 90 percent of the creatures light up. (Now through April 21)
And while you’re there, don’t miss Da Vinci — Inventions, an exhibit created by the Museo Leonardo da Vinci in Rome that brings the machines the great Renaissance artist dreamed up in his notebooks to life, including prototypes of cars, helicopters and bicycles, and even scuba gear. The show, which also includes replicas of some of the artist’s paintings, opened in June and was scheduled to close in December, but has been extended to January.[Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science, Miami; www.frostscience.org, 305-434-9600]
Institute of Contemporary Art: Larry Bell, the desert-dwelling minimalist who works obsessively with form and shape, is the subject of Larry Bell: Time Machines. Major bodies of Bell’s work, from his early Cube series to his large-scale color-glass installations that create whole new interiors, will be featured. The show focuses attention on Bell’s innovative explorations of architectural space, as well as his work in audiovisual media, video and photography. (Nov. 1-March 10)
Along with Bell, the ICA presents another pioneer, Judy Chicago: A Reckoning, a major survey of works by the place-setting feminist artist. Chicago explores roles traditionally regarded as “female” such as needlework and embroidery, and stereotypical “male” skills, such as auto body painting and pyrotechnics. (Dec. 4-April 21)
Manuel Solano: I Don’t Wanna Wait For Our Lives to Be Over is the first solo show in the U.S. for Solano, a Mexican artist who lost his sight to an HIV-related infection four years ago but has continued to make art. This exhibit features a painted diptych that is a reaction to his encounter with a female stranger that seemed to be his doppelganger. (Nov. 1-April 14).
Another solo spot is given to William N. Copley, a survey of works by the American surreal Pop artist, who died in Key West in 1996. Copley began as a collector before becoming an artist, and developed a cartoonish style, often featuring men in bowler hats and female nudes, that in some ways prefigures Keith Haring. (Dec. 4-May 12)
When visiting the ICA, it’s impossible to miss the newly completed ICA Garage that faces the museum on 41st Street. Several artists were commissioned to dramatically design the outer wall facades and reimagine what a building for cars can look like. The main entrance on 41st Street was designed by French-born Nicolas Buffe, whose artwork, called Serious Play, is a madcap black-and-white cartoonish delight with 23-foot high 3D animal statues astride the garage’s arched entrance and exits. Above them are scrolls and more characters that play with space and the imagination.
Next to that fanciful entry, Spanish firm Clavel Arquitectos’s Urban Jam arranges 45 gold and silver muscle and sports car bodies in an interlocking grid seven stories high. At night the headlights and taillights glow red in the night. Other designs use the familiar orange-and-white Bob’s Barricades to create a zigzag design that includes faux flower window boxes; and a human scale “ant farm” garage-goers can actually walk around in to find tiny rooms to hang out in before battling Miami traffic again.[Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami; www.icamiami.org, 305-901-5272]