ArtCenter South Florida found itself in an enviable predicament.
Flush with cash from the $88 million sale two years ago of a building it purchased for $629,000 on 800 Lincoln Road in 1984, the venerable arts organization is in a position to re-establish itself with a new mission, a new strategic plan to get there and a renewed focus on education for its artists and the South Florida community.
Plans include the creation of a residency program where future AC/SF alumni mentor upcoming artists, develop their own craft and pair with existing cultural organizations for new community arts programming.
The first exhibit under this mindset, “An Image,” is already open at the 924 Lincoln Road location through Dec. 18, to capitalize on Art Basel crowds in early December. “An Image,” takes its visual cue from The Pink House, an Arquitectonica-designed home on Biscayne Bay in Miami Shores that was featured frequently on “Miami Vice” a decade after it was built in 1976.
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The exhibit, a series of programs, seminars, programs and screenings, including “Black Radical Imagination,” a look at how black identity has been defined on screen, dovetails with the new mission.
Education is a main and key component in all the programs.
Maria del Valle, executive director ArtCenter South Florida.
“What’s exciting to me is the educational component,” said AC/SF board member and vision committee chair Lilia Garcia. “The educational component is so important because it gets lost. People say we are bringing in well-known artists, artists that can share their process and history.”
Indeed, “An Image,” co-curated by Natalia Zuluaga, AC/SF’s artistic director, and Domingo Castillo, is bringing in artists of renown. The exhibit features works by Enrique Castro-Cid, Harun Farocki, Alan Gutierrez, Barbara Kasten and Suzan Pitt.
But the center’s new mission is also to create live/work spaces to bolster artists’ advancement. “We haven’t said anything about job development, about making these people more aware of how to earn a living by teaching them what other people do,” Garcia said. The exhibit, she believes, is “an introduction to many possibilities.”
Right now, the center is taking a measured approach in implementing its new plans, says executive director Maria del Valle. There is no hurry. Artists can be housed at the current Lincoln Road location, a campus the center maintains at 1035 N. Miami Ave. in downtown Miami, or at a new location altogether.
The proposed strategic plan for 2016 through 2020 culled board members, artists, curators, art administrators and cultural leaders, including Cathy Leff, former director of The Wolfsonian; Gordon Knox, director at Arizona State University Museum and Silvia Cubina; executive director of the Bass Museum.
The center’s plans include a residency program for up to 15 artists. Artists, predominantly Miami-based or local, will receive free live-in studio space for three months, a stipend and access to exchange programs with partner organizations, which can include the Pérez Art Museum Miami and New World School of the Arts.
We have grown and the arts played a big role in Miami. Everyone is looking at us as a destination for one week a year. Now our duty is to make it year-round.
Lilia Garcia, board member, vision committee chair for ArtCenter South Florida.
A visiting artist program will provide housing, studio and stipends for six to 10 artist-curators per year who will mentor live-in artists.
A fellowship program of five to 10 fellows a year, to be drawn from an international well of artists, is also on tap.
“Our center was in good shape in terms of assets, but the kind of programming, and where Miami is heading to, is a different place from 20 or even 15 years ago,” del Valle said. “There is a demand for other kinds of programming. We are an artist center organization, and our core is the artists. How can we mature the artists?”
That’s where the partnerships and visiting artist program comes in.
“Since its inception, what we were doing was very important for artists. We were giving them studio space in an affordable place but that’s all we were doing. We weren’t helping them be better artists. We weren’t preparing them for the job market …helping them grow,” Garcia said. Now, “they will have a master artist and a stipend; that is a wonderful gift. Countries from all around the world do it, and very few in the South.”
The National YoungArts Foundation has an artist residency in visual arts program at its Biscayne Boulevard location. Deering Estate in Palmetto Bay has an artist-in-residence program. ArtCenter’s ambitious plans are an added plus for South Florida, Garcia said.
As for new, permanent digs, there’s time for that. In the interim, the center maintains its properties on Lincoln Road and North Miami Avenue.
“For over a year now, the board committee has spent countless hours identifying possible locations, existing buildings, vacant land and other possible new locations,” del Valle said. “The prices in Miami’s real estate market have been very high. This is a major, long-term decision, and our endowment has to continue to be there as a financial resource to assist and support artists for generations to come.”
If you go
What: “An Image,” new exhibit that introduces ArtCenter’s new mix of public programming, with seminars, performances and screenings, including “Black Radical Imagination,” a look at how black identity is defined on screen
Where: ArtCenter South Florida, 924 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach
When: 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Friday; 12-8 p.m. Saturday-Sunday; through Dec. 18; “Black Radical Imagination” screens at 8 p.m. Nov. 6 at Miami Beach Cinematheque, 1130 Washington Ave.
Information: 305.674.8278 or artcentersf.org