With Art Basel just weeks away, you might expect local art venues to be shuttered for prep. Not so. Some have already unveiled their December shows; others are vying for attention from art-goers before their eyes begin to glaze over. Here are just a few of many worthy options.
NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale: “Happy” group show. One East Las Olas Blvd.; nsuartmuseum.org. Through July 5,
Throughout history, art has acted as a mirror commentary on the human condition, often shining a cathartic aesthetic light on dark times. “Happy!” takes this a step further, offering up literal and whimsical pieces from prominent artists depicting a happier, brighter world — a perfect elixir to our troubling times. The artworks were made between the mid-20th century and today. They include two early Mark Rothkos (one of which is a children’s celebration) and works by Cory Arcangel, Tracey Emin, Félix González-Torres, Keith Haring, Kenny Scharf, Jeff Koons, Takashi Murakami, Ernesto Neto, and Yoko Ono; along with local favorites FriendsWithYou, Adler Guerrier, Jorge Pantoja and Frances Trombly.
“For many of these artists, art-making is a way to channel sadness, stress, depression and trauma. Their acts of creation reward them with a sense of euphoria or hope,” notes NSU director and curator Bonnie Clearwater. “Even when faced with a hopeless situation, they can usually find a creative solution.”
While some pieces are metaphorical, others re-imagine stereotypical symbols of happiness, such as the smiley face, silver linings, the rainbow. Pharrell’s signature “Happy” song will fill your head.
“Good Blue Day,” solo show of work by Eugenio Espinoza. At Piero Atchugarry Gallery, 5520 NE 4th Ave., Miami; www.pieroatchugarry.com. Nov. 21 - Feb. 1.
Even from a country known for its 20th-century cutting edge art, Eugenio Espinoza stands out in the formidable lineage of Venezuela. Starting in the late 1960s, Espinoza began creating his vision of the Modernist grid paintings, creating some of the earliest conceptual art in that country. (His “Impenetrable” grid painting was picked up for the permanent collection at the Tate London in 1972).
Espinoza has been innovating with that grid and minimalism ever since; his work has been exhibited in museum shows that included one at Peréz Art Museum Miami in 2014 (Miami was lucky to have him as a resident in the early 2000s). “Good Blue Day” is a collection of new works of sculpture, painting, installation and performance that plays off the paradox in the title, the pull between opposites — formal and informal, grid and chance. According to curator Claire Breukel, “Although his vital contribution to Venezuelan critical practice must be acknowledged, Eugenio Espinoza is an artist of the Americas, and his new metal works reflect the tensions and struggles … existing ubiquitously, outside of the box — the grid.”
Oolite Arts: “On the Road II” group show, 924 Lincoln Rd, Miami Beach. oolitearts.org. Through Dec. 15.
Although on opposite ends of the country, Detroit and Miami both are home to distinctive voices telling stories in unique urban environments. Through paintings and photography, artists from these cities give us a view of corners often over-looked. In this group show, curator Larry Ossei-Mensah of Detroit’s MOCAD mixes works by Detroit artists with those from MIami to “map” urban trajectories for this “Road” series. Works by Miami artists include a stunning photo of women wearing white standing on the sand in the historically black Virginia Key Beach from Johanne Rahaman; a quiet scene of empty plastic chairs in front of a botanica from Monica Sorelle and a distorted painting of an African-American soldier from Farley Aguilar. “Each artist brings a unique point of view that engages a variety of topics,” writes Ossei-Mensah in the show’s notes, “from new and contemporary interpretations of history to confronting day-to-day concerns that affect us all as human beings on this planet.”
SEARCH FOR SELF
Primary Projects: “The Disappearing Man,” from Kenny Rivero. At 7410 NW Miami Court, Little River. Through Nov. 16; thisisprimary.com
It’s worth visiting Primary in its new Little Haiti home just to see the white Modernist structure, designed by the architectural company that includes PAMM’s former director Terrence Riley. But there’s also the show from New York-based Kenney Rivero, which delves into the concept of invisibility in the contemporary world of virtual and political realities. These somber paintings use anonymous figures, sorrowful flowers and an apocalyptic sky to explore the difficulties of finding and shaping one’s identity and recognition in today’s overwhelming landscape. According to the artist, the title “The Disappearing Man” works better than The Invisible Man: “The invisible person tends to lack control over being seen or unseen. While one who disappears may be responding to a threat, but can also navigate their circumstance with some agency.” The work offers viewers a chance to reflect on both loss of identity and the hope of finding it in their our own terms. \
Mindy Solomon Gallery: “The Hidden Hour,” at 8397 NE 2nd Avenue, Miami; mindysolomon.com. Through Nov. 23
Humans have always been collectors – of memorabilia, coins, relics, of things both luxurious and personal. But the word carries its own definition in the art world, where collections connote connoisseurship, specific curation, and yes, wealth. “Hidden” wants to broaden that description to include high and low brow, and to redefine how we value art. This exhibition features seven international artists who challenge the various notions of “collecting.”
For instance, Pam Lins is known for interdisciplinary work and here presents a collection of crying eyes she has been making weekly since Donald Trump has taken office. Rubens Ghenov and Nicole Cherubini focus on the past as a vehicle to explore how we determine value in both everyday objects and those with cultural significance. Adam Milner searches for discarded or obscure objects to define aspects of identity and relationships.
As the gallery notes explain, the artists of Hidden Hour “demonstrate the multitude of ways the collector-mindset can both inform the production of artwork, and how to engage with an audience adept as collectors.”