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Monday, January 20, 2014

Bowls of pearls as a metaphor for my art weekend

Two Porcelain bowls filled with thousands of freshwater pearls. A guard placed within inches to keep us from running our fingers through the troughs. Shiny, slightly odd shaped, and in a variety of pastel hues, the pearls were cultured in mass for the Chinese export of luxury products. It was an abundance of riches! Just like my weekend which I spent in the rarefied world of art.
My three day weekend was split evenly between my studio, wandering the grounds of the Beaux Arts Festival at University of Miami, and touring the newly opened Perez Art Museum (PAMM) in downtown Miami. ... Fantastic... really.

A small break from teaching and the abundant art shows (SeaFair, BeauxArts, PAMM, etc..) all around town lent a refreshing outlook to my quality of vision through out the weekend. In my studio, I played with tin and cardboard in ways that seemed to harness the element of earth and sky. At Beaux Arts the cool breeze kept Krisse and I moving briskly against the crowds. We caught glimpses of artworks in tents full of people. There was an array of woodwork, sculpture, paintings, and ceramics. I really enjoyed the work of Joyce Nelson, a jeweler of unusual combinations- stringing coral stems and gems. And my favorite festival print maker Marina Terauds  showed up with new bird etchings, and we stumbled upon the lovely pastel paintings of typical Florida scenes by Jacqueline Roch, who has a studio at the Miami Bakehouse. I am hoping one day Michael will secure one of her pastels for our apartment. And I secretly would love to own a ceramic sculpture by the 1st place award winning William Kidd... no website I can find...funky organic plantlike sculptures in vivid colors with weird textures.

The Perez building (PAMM), Miami's newest art museum is designed by Herzog and de Meuron. It has these great hanging columns full of dirt, growing plants and dripping to the flower bed beneath... The building is right on the edge of Miami Bay, and going inside, looking up I found myself under a sea of ships by Hew Locke. Right away my perspective shifted.

The block buster Ai Wewei show is a great retrospective, full of humor and tragedy. I think the reason we embrace him more than any other Chinese artists is that he is such a critic of Communism. He makes us feel good. But some of the things he worries over probably should worry us as well. Here is his marble surveillance camera.
A whole essay could be written about this object/ artwork/symbol that would be pertinent to today's news channels. And his use of corporate logos painted directly onto works of art is both a slap in the face of art purity and an inside joke on the reality of art patronage. Brilliant, really.
There is an excellent exhibition of concrete poetry and books on loan from a pair of local Miami art collectors, the Sackner Archive, that just blew my mind. I did not have enough time to do the whole room justice, but what I did see in the hour I meandered through it, was both thorough and inclusive of both outsider and established major players of art history. It was a treasure trove of gems. I will blog more about that later!
The PAMM has several rooms of it's own collection on display that shift the traditional read of Euro-centric art history to acknowledge the Americas and many women artists. It is refreshing. I read, more than once, signage for artworks by men that pointed to legacies of women from earlier decades! That was eye-opening! And the minimalist galleries are balanced by a single really powerful figurative art gallery where many artists- at least half women like Faith Ringhold, Sue Coe, and Nancy Spero- were, at the same time in history, dealing with human atrocities such as the disappeared  women of Jaurez, the persecution of dictators in Latin America, and the drug wars in central America- real issues when most of the art world turned a cold eye to emotion or story in art.
I have high hopes to get back to the Perez and see more of the work... I had to head home to work on my own mural before I could see all of the artwork there. But what I did see, was worth the time, and made me think, laugh, cringe, cry, and wonder!

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