But the art era of shock and awe has lost some of its punch — and the YBAs are no longer so young or controversial. Nonetheless, Collishaw’s “Last Meal on Death Row, Texas” is still provocative and disturbing, but in what feels like a more mature way. Still, as artists from the first scribblers on cave walls to Caravaggio knew, violence and mortality are always close at hand, and will always be integral themes in art.
This exhibit is another example of the Bass coming into its own in a Miami that is growing up. Gone are the days when our museums could rely on a sole director/curator to run the show. The duties of running an organization — and the constant need to fundraise for it — along with visiting artists and fairs and curating every show are just too vast for any single person. Other local museums have split up duties; in the wake of long-time director Bonnie Clearwater’s departure, MOCA will soon have both a director and chief curator. ArtCenter South Florida now also has both a director and chief curator; and PAMM has three fulltime curators plus director. Now, the Bass — under the direction of Silvia Karman Cubina — has brought in Jose Carlos Diaz for the new position of curator of exhibitions.
Diaz started working in Miami at the Rubell Collection, then moved on to Miami Art Museum and finally as curator at Diana Lowenstein Fine Arts before decamping to Liverpool, to work at the Tate Gallery there. His duties will include oversight of the “tc: temporary contemporary” program, an on-going recent project between the museum and the City of Miami Beach to bring temporary sculptures, videos and performances to the neighborhood throughout the year.
One recent August night, for instance, locally based artist Brookhart Jonquil lit candles, a ritual that commemorates both joyful and mournful events. Another local artist, Agustina Woodgate, is currently drawing her Hopscotch installation across the sidewalks around the Bass and Collins Avenue. The chalk will smudge and fade, and so too will the sidewalk sculpture.
Diaz says the museum will also continue to exhibit more decorative and fashion-based works, in the context of its relationship to art, following in the lines of the “Picasso to Koons” jewelry show last spring, which featured jewelry made by famous artists. In 2014, he points out, the museum will celebrate its 50th anniversary with a sprawling show “Gold,” with pieces made by local and international artists exploring gold, in its physical and symbolic sense. Such exhibits will help distinguish the Bass from other institutions in town.
Diaz, who returned to Miami after an almost five-year stint in England, is unabashedly excited about the new adventures he sees possible in a Miami he thinks has changed dramatically even in his five-year absence. “Look, we have curators from all over the globe here now,” he says, expressing the hope that this means we will see art from a variety of places and perspectives, and more of it.