It should go without saying that the first week in December — when Art Basel Miami Beach, Design Miami and the two dozen parallel art fairs take over the city — will once again grab the attention of art enthusiasts across the region. But visual art is a year-round pursuit in South Florida — so vibrant that even our writers couldn’t agree on their top choices. Here are picks from contributors George Fishman, Ricardo Mor, Siobhan Morrissey, Anne Tschida and Jane Wooldridge.
1: “The two Bobs: Thiele and Huff.” Sept. 4- Nov. 8, Miami Dade College Museum of Art + Design.
Sculptor Bob Thiele ditched a pro football career to teach art at Miami Dade College alongside a fellow artist, the late Bob Huff. Paired exhibitions explore the work of two pioneering creatives who have influenced a generation of locals. MDC Freedon Tower; mdcmoad.org.
2: “No Boundaries: Aboriginal Australian Contemporary Abstract Painting.” Sept. 17-Jan. 3, Pérez Art Museum Miami.
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In miles, Australia is literally a world away from Miami. But the aboriginal themes of displacement, imbued with rich cultural traditions and religious systems, resonate in South Florida’s own culture of disapora This selection of works by nine painters is drawn from the collection of Dennis and Debra Scholl. Also at PAMM, March 24-Sept. 11: “Michele Oka Doner: How I Caught a Swallow in Mid-Air.” Oka Doner now lives in New York but returns often to her native Miami, where she grew up inspired by nature. To anyone who has trekked through Miami International Airport’s North Terminal, her inlaid floor sculptures of local flora and fauna are familiar. This exhibition takes a broader look at her work — in objects, on paper and in ceramics — and dovetails with the Miami City Ballet’s presentation of The Tempest, for which Oka Doner has designed sets and costumes. pamm.org.
3: “Revolution of the Eye: Modern Art and the Birth of American Television.” Oct. 25-Jan. 10, NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale.
When TV first began, its stylistic look took its cues from pop art of the day — advertising, graphic design and the work of Andy Warhol and his contemporaries. This show uses video clips, fine art objects and TV memorabilia to explore the connection. Think of it as Batman meets Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein. Also, March 20-Aug. 28: “Chuck Close Photographs,” The super-realistic portraits by Chuck Close have earned the artist both acclaim and fame. Less known are his photographs. This exhibit explores the range of his work, from black-and-whites to daguerreotypes, through some 90 images shot since 1964. nsuartmuseum.org.
4: “Anselm Kiefer.” Oct. 28-April 3, Margulies Collection at the Warehouse.
Considered one of the world’s greatest living artists, Kiefer drew both raves and confoundment last year with a retrospective at London’s Royal Academy, as the German’s complex sculptures and paintings often do. Imbued with themes of history, mutability and polarities, the complex works to confront unsettling questions — and asks the viewer to do the same. Miami collector Martin Margulies was so struck by Kiefer’s work, he has worked directly with the artist on this comprehensive exhibition that includes many works from Kiefer’s personal holdings. margulieswarehouse.com.
5: “Walls of Color: The Murals of Hans Hofmann.” Oct. 10-Jan. 3, Frost Museum of Art.
A contemporary of Picasso and Miro, German-born abstract expressionist Hans Hofmann was one of the most important teachers of his generation, credited with influencing Helen Frankenthaler, Frank Stella, Lee Krasner and other New York artists with a new way of creating the illusion of perspective in art. By the middle of the 20th century, his own reputation as an artist earned him a major retrospective at the Whitney. The Frost exhibition takes a rare look at Hofmann’s murals, showcasing a 1950 collaboration with Jose Luis Sert in the Peruvian town of Chimbote. Also, Jan. 23-April 17: “The Art of Video Games.” You may think of video games as a time suck, but over the past 40 years, gaming has taken an increasing place in our national culture, not only as a diversion but as an art form combing painting, music, storytelling and videography. This show, organized by the Smithsonian American Art Museum, explores the phenomenon. thefrost.fiu.edu.
6: “Margin of Error.” Nov. 13-May 8, Wolfsonian-FIU.
From shipwrecks to workplace injury to explosions, catastrophe evokes reaction that reverberates throughout society. The Wolfsonian exhibit focuses on engineered disasters from the mid-19th to mid-20th centuries and responses to them in advertising, art and design by artists, including Man Ray and Margaret Bourke-White. “The exhibition is a reminder of how every step forward brings us that much closer to the edge of some cliff, as we evaluate, revise, and toe the line again — how we are in equal measures masters of the universe, and masters of its unmaking,” said Matthew Abess, the Wolfsonian curator who organized the installation. wolfsonian.org
7: “Bryan Zanisnik: Title tbc.” Jan. 30-March 16, Locust Projects.
New York artist Zanisnik’s installation is tied to the idea of a presidential library. The functioning space will incorporate books, quilts and portraits of the distinguished honoree, but it also offers comment on the current culture of celebrity, success and ego. locustprojects.org.
8: “John Miller.” Feb. 18-June 5, Institute of Contemporary Art.
In this first comprehensive museum survey of his work, artist and critic Miller conveys a unique twist on realism through 75 works executed in painting, sculpture, drawing, photography and video. icamiami.org.
9: “O’Keeffe, Stettheimer, Torr, Zorach: Women Modernists in New York.” Feb. 18-May 15, Norton Museum of Art.
Modernist artists Marguerite Zorach, Florine Stettheimer, Helen Toor and George O’Keefe sought recognition as artists — not women. But the age in which they worked invariably saw them through the female prism, thus shaping the conditions in which they worked. This exhibition — the first bringing together work by the four — explores the influence of gender on their craft. norton.org.
10: Faena Forum. April 16, Faena Arts District.
The Faena Forum arts and culture center designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Rem Koolhaas and his Office for Metropolitan Architecture for the Faena Arts District development in mid-Miami Beach will launch with an event April 16. A processional performance incorporating ideas from artists, dancers, musicians, designers and other performers will mark the forum’s opening. Ongoing programming will include arts exhibitions, installations and performances. faena.com/arts/.