Art Basel: Surreal muscles at Art Public


At the Art Public opening in Collins Park on Miami Beach Wednesday night, a crowd of hundreds that included many members of the actual (as opposed to art collecting) public were treated to a deliciously distorted reality. There was Tony Cragg's "Mixed Feelings," a giant bronze tornado come to earth. Sterling Ruby's "Big Yellow Mama," a giant sized chair, faced Tony Tasset's "Deer," a towering Godzilla sized Bambi figure. Olaf Breunning's silvery profile head with the phrase I Can Not Take It Anymore probably expressed many exhausted art fairgoers feelings.

Performance artist Ryan Gander wandered the crowd as the character Earnest Hawker, intriguing people with tales of a failed art school and a teenage fling that were "as true as I can make them." In Xavier Cha's "supreme attitude exercise" three prodigiously muscled men rolled, wrestled, and hoisted two gigantic truck tires down a long pathway, followed by a crowd of gawking, admiring onlookers. As they finished, one of the men pointed to Cha and yelled "this is the lady who made it all up!" When mind can move mass like that, it's really surreal.

- Jordan Levin /Jlevin@miamiherald.com

Art at the Sagamore: The Portal


Amar Bakshi at the Sagamore

That gold shipping container in front of the Sagamore Hotel in Miami Beach is art. But to really appreciate it, you have to become part of the "show."

It's the Portal, which connects people in a shipping container in one part of the world -- in this case, Collins Avenue -- with people in Afghanistan, Iran, Mexico or Cuba.


Inside the Portal

During my 20-minute appointment, I chatted with a 23-year-old graphic designer via a Skype-type arrangement on a screen inside The Portal; he was in a portal in a gallery Isfahan, Iran. Speaking through an interpreter on his end, I learned that he lives with his parents, goes to university and works a typical 9-5 job. He hopes to come to the U.S. after he graduates and buy his dream car, a Ford Mustang. He thinks people in the U.S. or any country are probably different from their government and their media portrayal. He was interested in whether I was married and had children, and being a step-parent worked (a rare concept in a country where divorce is uncommon.) 

It was sometimes difficult to hear, and the voice lag and need for an interpreter made the conversation cumbersome. But it was still a great experience and whetted my lust for visiting that part of the world.

The year-old project was founded by Amar Bakshi, a former journalist who wanted others to experience the kind of meaningful interactions with strangers he had while traveling. “We’re creating a space where people encounter one another with no particular purpose” — a kind of global public square. Language won’t be an issue; each portal is staffed with both a translator and a local curator. 

Sagamore Hotel, 1671 Collins Ave., Miami Beach. Open 8 a.m. to midnight, Tuesday-Sunday. Connected to Tehran, Iran, 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.; to Mexico City or El Progreso, Honduras, 1:30 to 5:30 p.m.; to Havana or El Progreso, 6 to 8:30 p.m.; to Herat, Afghanistan, 9:30 p.m. to midnight daily. Free. Walk in or sign up atsharestudios.com/miami.

For more can't miss items during Art Basel, click here.

-- Jane Wooldridge


Art Basel: Holoscenes a tank of watery dreams


As the Holoscenes installation did a dry - or maybe we should call it a wet - run at Miami Dade College's downtown campus plaza on Tuesday afternoon, with performer Lua Shayenne spiraling like a mermaid in the work's giant tank of water, a woman passing by did a double take. "That's real?!" she said. She'd mistaken Shayenne for some kind of virtual reality trick.

Given that Holoscenes, which sets four performers swimming through mundane activities - coiling a hose, gathering persimmons in a basket, playing the guitar - is a metaphor for how people greet sea level rise by adjusting and acceptance, the woman's comment was apt. When Shayenne emerged from the tank, she said she went through her own cycle of fear of and acceptance during the time she spends trying to gather her floating fruit into a basket.

"I feel frustration and anger at having my task disrupted," she said. "I'm trying to put things in order. I think that's what we like to do as people, to do what we always do, to settle in our routine. When the water starts rising I definitely feel a sense of anxiety. But I do reach a sense of peace. You can't do anything about it and it becomes your new normal."


Provoking those kinds of thoughts about sea level rise was exactly why MDC Live Arts executive director Kathryn Garcia brought Holoscenes to Miami, where it will be live from Wednesday to Saturday.

"The arts have a special way of providing people with a way to talk about things," Garcia said. "You see people drowning and floating in water, it affects you in a visceral way."

That MDC was hosting Holoscenes during the Paris conference on global warming was perfect, if unplanned timing, she said. "Even though this wasn't made for us, it was made for us," Garcia said. "In Miami we need to talk about these things."


Holoscenes / Guitar / 3:45min / 2014 from Lars Jan on Vimeo.

Holoscenes creator Lars Jan was also pleased with the third presentation of the piece. "It took a crazy village to produce this and so many years," he said. "In Miami it has a special resonance."

Installing Holoscenes was a technically daunting task. The project requires an elaborate series of pipes called a "pump farm" to stream 4500 gallons of water in and out of the human sized aquarium which weighs 30,000 pounds when full. "It was a massive challenge," said MDC Live Arts event specialist Eddy Davis. "But totally worth it."

Performer Benjamin Kamino, who swam through the motions of playing the guitar, said he loses his sense of reality in the tank. "I have no idea which direction I'm facing or where the surface is," he said. "It's soft and quiet and warm - very soothing. It's just a beautiful place to hang out."

A stream of puzzled students eddied around the tank, stopping to gape, smile, film and take photos. Some found it more poetic than frightening. "It's gonna happen - eventually South Florida will be under water," said Lajuan White, 23. "It reminds me of how short life is."

Others found it more provocative. "A lot of people don't even think sea level rise is a real thing," said Alex Montalvo, 22. "It's cool there's an image to show it."

Jordan Levin
Arts & entertainment writer/music and dance critic
Miami Herald
twitter: @jordanglevin



Miami Art Week: "ELLIS" a film starring Robert De Niro at Galerie Perrotin Pop-Up

If you have time for only one event during Basel week, go to the Design District, where Galerie Perrotin is showing the starkly beautiful film “ELLIS”, starring Robert De
Niro. Not only is the price right – it’s free – but also, it may cause you to ponder the various issues surrounding immigration to this country – both in the past and current day.

The 14-minute short film was conceived long before Donald Trump made immigration the leading topic of the presidential debates, long before the Syrian civil war forever imprinted images of lifeless children washed up on a Mediterranean shore, and long before a cry to halt immigration of Syrians into this country in the wake of the Paris terror attack (which included a recent immigrant from Syria).

French artist “JR” began working on ELLIS shortly after the abandoned hospital reopened for public tours in October 2014. The facility had lain derelict since 1954. Many of the
windows were missing or shattered. The walls were a mass of blistered and peeling paint. The floors and walls reduced to concrete rubble in places. A rusted bed frame, with coils intact, and rotted doors lay strewn about. A jumble of wooden slated chairs provided the perfect backdrop for JR to place black-and-white headshots. It’s as if the seats have absorbed the essence of the immigrants who once sat there. 

JR – a pseudonym assumed by the former graffiti artist who now is known for his monumental photographs and public installations – used actual images of immigrants who
came to Ellis Island. Those images appear throughout the film and in several ink-on-wood portraits that are also on display in the pop-up gallery on the second floor of the Melin Building. The process JR used to transfer the images to the wood, give them a faded, ghostly appearance.

Their serious, straight-forward gazes appear throughout the wall art and film. The backs of a family can be seen in silhouette on the outside of a window, looking toward the
Statue of Liberty. A man in a fedora has a firm grip on a valise, while a young boy in a newsboy’s cap hoists a duffle bag on his right shoulder. A woman in a long skirt and bun lay down upon a public bench in exhaustion, and her image is superimposed above a rusted cot. The heads of white robed doctors and nurses peek above the surgery, where the white subway tile has fallen away.

All had to come through the Ellis Island Immigrant Hospital, which screened them for communicable diseases or mental illnesses.  The hospital could serve as either a portal to the new world and a new life, or an impenetrable barrier. 

“If a family came and the father was sick, then the whole family was told to go back,” says Marc Azoulay, the film’s producer. “Of the 12 million who arrived, only 200,000 were sent back,” he adds.

The central theme of ELLIS is that of an immigrant from an unnamed country who cannot cross into New York because of some unnamed disease.  It tells the improbable tale of the unnamed character, played by De Niro, who hides in various places in the hospital and remains undetected. He can be seen roaming the abandoned hospital, cloaked in a black trench coat that makes him stand out in a predominantly snowy landscape.

With the poignancy of one returning to a childhood home, De Niro takes the viewer through the corridors and rooms of the Ellis Island hospital. His memories are foggy, as are several scenes of the Manhattan skyline, its skyscrapers looming like icebergs across the icy harbor.

Those buildings become an illuminated beacon when De Niro’s character talks of his yearning to fly across the water that separates Ellis Island from a new life in New York and beyond.

“Where I could find peace,” De Niro says. “Where I could be treated like anyone else. Where I could be anyone I wanted to be.”


What: ELLIS, a film directed and produced by JR, starring Robert De Niro, and written by Eric Roth, and an exhibition images placed on wood JR, in a Pop Up Exhibition from Galerie Perrotin

Where: Melin Building, 3930 NE 2nd Avenue, Suite 201, Miami

When: Dec. 2-7, 11 a.m.-7 p.m.

Admission: Free

By Siobhan Morrissey / Siobhan.Morrissey@gmail.com

Art Basel Week: Laura Kimpton's really hot exhibit

There's little question that California-based artist Laura Kimpton (yes, scion of the late Kimpton hotels founder) will have one of the hottest shows in town. That's because Myths, Words and Fire, her nightly display at the SLS Hotel on Miami Beach, is a fire installation that literally will be aflame. 

Kimpton first began making fire installations at the Burning Man festival 15 years ago. Since then, she's become known for sculptures of giant letters (she designs them, others build), monumental sculptures, mixed media works incorporating video and photography, and clothing. Many of her works are created from found objects. (Her second husband actually proposed at the Petaluma, Calif., dump.) She often incorporates bird motifs, which represent "flying free of neurosis -- free to do what you want." 

Her Monumental Ego, a sculpture incorporating trophies and steel birds with video, stands in the SLS lobby. Out front are a giant letter, a smaller sculpture consisting of the word "Love," and a tree. All will be aflame nightly from 7-11 p.m. through Saturday. In back of the hotel, a centaur sculpture also will be afire. A crew of 15 help set up the installation and light it up. 

If letters as tall as a two-story house don't fit your local zoning code, check out the pop-up shop in a poolside cabana, where T-shirts start at $43 and elaborate top hats are $500. Or just stop by for a look; that's free. 

Laura Kimpton activation, Dec. 1-5, 7-11 p.m., SLS Hotel, 17th street and Collins Avenue on the ocean.



Miami Art Week: Robert James Buchholz debuts 50-foot dandelion sculpture in Midtown

Perhaps you have seen this massive sculpture in Midtown this week of what looks like dandelions losing their seeds in the wind?

Visually-thrilling installation artist Robert James Buchholz makes his Art Basel debut with his iconic piece WISH, a 50-foot tall, 21,000 pounds 3-D creation. The structure is comprised of three massive contemporary dandelions. The piece will be shown throughout the month, with an unveiling event happening Tuesday, Dec. 1 at the site of the future Triptych Hotel Miami (3601 N. Miami Ave. in the heart of Midtown and near the Design District.) The Exhibit will include American Pop Artist Peter Tunney’s roving lit vehicle and work of art, “Lady Bug,” and both artists will be onsite throughout the course of the event. Wish will be open for viewing throughout the month, concluding on Dec. 30.


“I like to build projects that captivated me as a child; I also like to build flowers so while researching and building storyboards for a new project, I kept coming across iconic images of dandelions losing their seeds in the wind,” Robert Buchholz told Juice magazine in 2012. “The image and idea is already so powerful to so many people, so by putting a 9-ton, 50-foot tall version in front of them, they will lose their mind.”


Premiering at Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival in 2011 (see video above), then showing again at The Hong Kong Festival of Lights 2014, WISH is created from highly-mixed mediums, and like most of Robert James' projects, WISH owns the horizon and has a presence that catches the eye of anyone within its reach.

WISH delicately balances blown glass with a mirror mosaic that covers the entire surface of the dandelion stems.With a custom designed RGB LED pixel array controlled by bespoke software and programming that models the precise location of each pixel in 3D space, the installation provides a 360 degree 3D experience. Already seen by millions across the globe, WISH has rapidly become the most infamous production from the Robert James Studio.

Below are some behind the scenes images of the installation. (Photos by Francisco Gonzalez)

— Fred Gonzalez / editor@miami.com














PULSE: Free on Saturday

For those who find art fair prices a bit hefty for the wallet, PULSE is offering free entry on Saturday, Dec. 5, the fair's final day, says director Helen Toomer. The fair is located at Indian Beach Park, 4601 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach. Pulse01 artinsure BIZ MSH

Make it a Beach day. Also free are Satellite, a new fair at and near the North Beach Bandshell at 74th and Collins, and Art Public, in Collins Park at 21st street and Collins Avenue.



The must-see exhibits this weekend during Miami Art Week and Art Basel


With so much art around South Florida this week, seeing it all would be impossible even for the most fervent art lover. The veteran Miami Art Week team of Siobhan Morrissey, Jordan Levin, Ricardo Mor, Ina Cordle, Anne Tschida and Jane Wooldridge suggest you start with these. Good news: A few of our favorites last beyond the week.

For more must-see art, click here


Mana Miami: Mana Contemporary, the giant hybrid artist space and community in New Jersey, has opened its Miami space with a literally Monumental show of giant-sized artworks in the colossal former warehouse they own in the heart of Wynwood. Heavy on ’80s generation artists such as Julian Schnabel, Francesco Clemente and David Salle, Mana Monumental also includes Mana executive director Eugene Lemay’s Nights in Beirut, with a small army of miniature soldiers in yellow sand evoking his experience in the Israeli army during the 1982 war with Lebanon. Even the giant paintings and sculptures on view looked small in the sweeping space, which is exhilarating in itself.
10 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m.- 5 p.m. Sunday. 318 NW 23rd St., Wynwood. Tickets: $20 adults; $15 seniors and students; free under 10.

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Shen Wei performance: Shen Wei’s paintings in Black, White & Grey seem full of movement, an effect that is magnified in the hypnotic dance he has created for his troupe Shen Wei Dance Arts. The 12 dancers swirl slowly through the Freedom Tower exhibit like a gracefully morphing organism, their movements echoing the paintings to draw their energy right off the wall. This weekend is the last and only chance to see dance and paintings together.
1 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday, 1 p.m. Sunday; MDC Museum of Art + Design, The Freedom Tower at MDC, 600 Biscayne Blvd., Miami; limited admission on a stand-by/first come basis. Free.

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Galerie Gmurzynska, Art Basel Miami Beach: To celebrate its 50th year in business, this highly regarded Zurich-based gallery created “A Kid Could Do That,” echoing an oft-heard comment at art events, to help fairgoers appreciate the breakthroughs in modern art that now look so familiar but in their respective times presented radical departures. The booth brings together 20th century masterworks by Joan Miro, Kazimir Malevich, Wifredo Lam, Cy Twombly, Francis Bacon and others in a “school room.” A specially made film by Baz Luhrmann and Catherine Martin incorporates an original video of the Ballet Russes de Monte Carlo in which a Miro painting is used in the set.
Booth B2, Art Basel Miami Beach, Miami Beach Convention Center, 1901 Convention Center Dr., Miami Beach. noon-8 p.m. Saturday, noon-6 p.m. Sunday. One-day ticket $45 adults, $30 students and seniors.

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Damien Hirst’s Love Remembered: Difficult to photograph, but spectacular to see, Damien Hirst’s massive mirrored medical “cabinet” of painstakingly placed pills adds another verse to the artist’s running commentary on the dark side of life’s meaning — or lack thereof. White Cube, booth L9, at Art Basel Miami Beach.


▪ Strandbeest: In their initial U.S. showing, Dutch artist Theo Jansen’s dinosaur-sized mechanical sculptures are drawing crowds on the sand behind Miami Beach’s W Hotel. The ungainly exoskeletal sculptures of PCV pipe and twist ties reveal a hidden grace as the wind propels them in a determined march along sugar sand. Demonstrations are offered twice daily, courtesy of Swiss watchmaker Audemars Piguet and the Peabody Essex Museum.
 On the beach off Collins Avenue at 21st and 22nd streets, daily at 10:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Free.


Art Public: In its fourth year, Public has become one of the highlights of Art Basel, as well it should. These outdoor and often interactive sculptures are free and open to the public, with artworks from some of the best sculptors the world over placed around the revamped Collins Park between the ocean and the Bass Museum. This year’s highlights include a playful giant yellow lamplight from Barthélémy Togo, a reflective glass walk-about installation from Jeppe Hein and a bronze from Georg Baselitz. Twenty-six artists in all make this a great place to hang and feel comfortable with art — both day and night, when the sun goes down and the lights come up, it’s maybe more magical.
Through March at Collins Park, 2100 Collins Ave., Miami Beach. Free.


“One Way: Peter Marino”: With the help of curator Jerome Sans, style-setting architect and artist Peter Marino — perhaps best know for his edgy luxury retail concepts for brands including Chanel and Louis Vuitton — has brought together works from his personal art collection (including Damien Hirst, Andy Warhol and Richard Serra), commissioned specifically for the show from artists including Gregor Hildebrandt and Farhad Moshiri, and his own creations. The result is a truly unique confluence of art, pop culture and fashion, including sometimes arresting images of the leather-clad Marino and a recreation of Christophe Willibald Gluck’s opera Orfeo ed Euridice. Don’t miss the chance to check out Renaissance bronzes next to Robert Mapplethorpe photos in a room clad with black eel. Parental discretion advised.
Through March 29 at the Bass Museum of Art, 2100 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, $8 adults, $6 seniors and students with I.D.; free under 6.

For more must-see art, click here


Art Basel: Openings for Thursday, Dec. 4

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Art Basel Miami Beach: Miami Beach Convention Center, 1901 Convention Center Dr., Miami Beach. Hours: 3-8 p.m. Dec. 4, noon-8 p.m. Dec. 5-6; noon-6 p.m. Dec. 7. One-day ticket $45 adults, $30 students and seniors; run of show $100; combination ticket for Art Basel and Design Miami: $55. artbasel.com.

Aqua Art Fair: Aqua Hotel, 1530 Collins Ave., Miami Beach. Hours: Noon-9 p.m. Dec. 4; 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Dec. 5-6; 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Dec. 7. Tickets $15; $75 multi-day fair pass to Aqua, CONTEXT and Art Miami. aquaartmiami.com.

Art Spot Miami: 3011 NE First Ave. (inside Spectrum art fair), Midtown. Hours: 1-9 p.m. Dec. 4-6; noon-6 p.m. Dec. 7; Tickets: included with admission to Spectrum. aldocastilloprojects.com

Fridge Art Fair: Third Street Garage Artspace, 300 SW 12th Ave., Miami. Hours: 2-8 p.m. Dec. 4; 1-9 p.m. Dec. 5-8; 1-3 p.m. Dec. 9. Tickets: free. fridgeartfair.com.

FusionMIA: Northwest Second Avenue at 22nd Street, Miami. Free. Hours: 9 p.m.-2 a.m. Dec. 4-7; 10 a.m.-10 p.m. //fusionmia.com/

Miami StreetPhotography Fair: Kike San Martin Studios, 2045 NW First Ave., Miami. Free. Hours: 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Dec. 4-5; 10-11 p.m. Dec. 6; noon-5 p.m. Dec. 7. www.miamistreetphotographyfestival.org

NADA Art Fair: The Deauville Beach Resort, 6701 Collins Ave., Miami Beach. Free. Hours: 2-8 p.m. Dec. 4; 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Dec. 5-6; 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Dec. 7. newartdealers.org

Pulse Miami: Indian Beach Park, 4601 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach. Hours 1-7 p.m. Dec. 4; 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Dec. 5-6; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Dec. 7. Tickets: $20. pulse-art.com


Rubell Family Collection presents annual breakfast installation. From 9 a.m. at 95 NW 29th St., Wynwood; www.rfc.museum; 305-573-6090.

Art Basel Art Public opens in Collins Park, in front of the Bass Museum, 2100 Collins Ave. 3-11 p.m. Free. Artbasel.com.

Locust Projects, presents a reception featuring Daniel Arsham: Welcome to the Future, and Simón Vega: Sub-Tropical Social Sculptures, 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Dec. 4 at the Marcy Building, 3852 N. Miami Ave. locustprojects.org.

YoungArts and Marina Abramović Institute presents The Slow Motion Walk participatory performance, noon to 6 p.m. at the YoungArts Campus, 2100 Biscayne Blvd, Edgewater. Free. youngarts.org.

YoungArts presents a performance of FKA Twigs X Clams Casino, at the YoungArts Campus, 2100 Biscayne Blvd, Edgewater. 7 p.m. Tickets from $25. youngarts.org.

Art Basel / Film presents “Radio Ga Ga,” exploring concepts of “radio” and “waves.” 8 p.m. at the New World Center Soundscape, 500 17th St., Miami Beach. Free. Artbasel.com.

Perez Art Museum Miami presents Future Brown featuring Kelela. 8 p.m. at PAMM, 1103 Biscayne Blvd. Open to sustaining-level members ($175, join at pamm.org.)

Art Basel / Film presents The Digital Revolutionaries. 10 p.m. at the New World Center Soundscape, 500 17th Street, Miami Beach. Free. Artbasel.com.


Art Basel: Public Art Sector Opens at Collins Park


Art Basel's Public Sector officially opened this evening with a private Welcome Reception followed by an event free and open to the public.

Curated by Nicholas Baum of Public Art Fund, New York, the show is entitled 'Fieldwork,' inspired by a quote from famed anthropologist Margaret Mead, and features sculpture and site specific installations.

This year 25 artists from 13 countries are represented.

Amongst the standout work is Hank Willis Thomas, Ryan Alexiev and Jim Ricks' In Search of the Truth (Truth Booth), an interactive installation that's toured the globe since 2011, recently in Afghanistan and South Africa. People are invited to enter the comic-strip like truth "bubble" and share their truth on video for up to two minutes in private. The artists were surprised to find that most people share personal, as opposed to political or philosophical truths.

Public Art is located at The Bass Museum at Collins Park and is free and open to the public -- and a must see this week.

--Shayne Benowitz



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