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Contemporary artists share a singular role: to challenge perceptions. Their work inevitably questions whether truth can be objective, or whether our understanding — of an image, a video, installation or social situation — depends on our particular perch. Never has that been more true than with this season’s top shows.
WHAT LIES BENEATH
At first glance, the work highlighted in upcoming solo shows at the Perez Art Museum Miami and the Institute for Contemporary Art-Miami feel worlds apart — one from the streets, the other from the math lab. But the subtext is the same. Is what we see real, or is the truth about race, class and social structure so veiled by misinformation that we fail to recognize it?
At PAMM, “Gary Simmons: Public Enemy” spans Simmons’ 40-year career through 70 sculptures, paintings, photographs, works on paper, installations and large-scale drawings created on-site. The work is peppered with pop-culture images, many akin to chalkboard drawings partly erased. Others stab sharply at America’s unequal treatment of people of color. The installation “Lineup,” 1993, for instance, stations eight pairs of gold-plated athletic sneakers beneath a police wall chart lineup. “Step into the Arena (The Essentialist Trap)“ (1994), a full-size boxing ring with tap shoes dangling from the ropes, references the exploitation of African American men for sports and entertainment. The idea, says show curator Rene Morales, probes “into the spaces between history and collective memory’’ — what we’re encouraged to remember and to forget. The exhibition was co-created by PAMM and the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, where it appeared this summer.
“Gary Simmons: Public Enemy,” at the Perez Art Museum Miami, Dec. 5 – April 28, 2024; 1103 Biscayne Blvd., Miami. 305-375-3000; pamm.org
Charles Gaines is the quintessential conceptual artist, a philosopher who employs complex grids and systems in drawings, photographs and video installations to underscore the difference between what we see, and what we perceive. The ICA explores his practice through 70 works from 1992 to the present. Some are recreations of works unseen for 20 years, such as “Greenhouse,” a 12 by 16-foot enclosure where simulated atmospheric changes are paired with data visualizations of recorded temperature shifts. A multimedia installation transforms political manifestos into musical performance. Still others appear to be pixelated drawings deconstructed into multiple gridded layers. But what you first see or hear is just the surface; so much lies beneath. Says curator Gean Moreno, “The goal of the work is remind viewers that they have a critical capacity to question the categories that organize their lives. In this sound-bite world, we’ve forgotten we have these critical capacities.”
“Charles Gaines: 1992-2022,” at the Institute of Contemporary Art – Miami,” Nov. 16 – April 30, 2024, at 61 NE 41st Street, Miami. 305-901- 5272; icamiami.org.
ABSTRACTION CON ACTION
The late Venezuelan artists Jesús Rafael Soto and Carlos Cruz-Diez played with perception in a visceral way, using color, illusion and motion to create works that literally seem to dance in space. Miamians know their work, if not their names, from Soto’s swinging jungle of indigo cords near the entrance to the Perez Art Museum Miami to Cruz-Diez’s multi-hued geometric streetwalks outside Coral Gables City Hall and at loanDepot Stadium. For a few more weeks, they can celebrate these two masters in greater context at the Coral Gables Museum in the show “Masters that Changed the City,” a centenary tribute.
“Masters that Changed the City,” at the Coral Gables Museum, through Oct. 22, at 285 Aragon Avenue, Coral Gables. 305-603-8067; coralgablesmuseum.org.
Cuban artist Juan Francisco Elso lived only 32 years, from 1956-1988, but his influence continues today. Co-created by the El Museo del Barrio and the Museum of Contemporary Art – North Miami, the show “Juan Francisco Elso: Por América” includes Elso’s own sculptures, crafted in natural materials, and work by more than 30 other artists exploring Cuban, Caribbean and Latin American identities and the Afro-Caribbean and indigenous traditions that shape them. Among artists in the show are Miami’s Jose Bedia, Glenn Ligon, Gabriel Orozco and Los Carpinteros.
“Juan Francisco Elso: Por América,” Nov. 1 – March 17, 2024; at the Museum of Contemporary Art – North Miami, 770 NE 125th St., North Miami. 305-893-6211; mocanomi.org.
Burgers, fries and diner fixtures are at this fall’s menu at the University of Miami’s Lowe Art Museum. They’re all part of the exhibition “Order Up! The Pop Art of John Miller” featuring 35 over-sized glass sculptures by the artist, whose work is inspired by the Pop Art movement of the 1960s and personal memories of youthful visits to a diner near his father’s motorcycle shop. The exhibit is paired with a the Where’s The Burger? Scavenger Hunt for 12 signed mini-burgers hidden throughout Coral Gables from November to January. While you’re there, don’t miss the painstaking drawings of Miami’s Chris Friday,
BACK TO THE FUTURE
The late digital pioneer June Nam Paik is hailed as the father of video art and credited with creating the term “electronic superhighway.” Born in Korea and trained as a classical pianist in Germany, Paik lived in Tokyo, New York and Seoul — all places that shaped his widely acclaimed video, multimedia and performance works. But little attention has been paid to his connections to South Florida, where he kept an apartment from 1988 to his death here in 2006. “Nam June Paik: The Miami Years” at The Bass will explore his local connections, including his massive 1990 sculptural installations “WING” and “MIAMI” at Miami International Airport. Centered on Paik’s 2003 work “TV Cello,” the Bass show include an Oct. 7 lecture with art historian and Paik authority John Hanhardt and performances by contemporary artists influenced by Paik’s work.
“Nam June Paik: The Miami Years,” Oct. 4 – Aug. 16, 2024, at The Bass, 2100 Collins Ave., Miami Beach. 305-673-7530; thebass.org.
GLORY OF COLOR
Head to Fort Lauderdale for a blast to the mid-century past. Artists of the moment experimented with smooth, flat spans of color – sometimes abstract, sometimes geometric – to evoke emotion and spirituality. The style was dubbed Color Field Painting, practiced by such now-famous artists as Frank Stella, Mark Rothko, Helen Frankenthaler, Sam Gilliam, Morris Louis, Kenneth Noland, Jules Olitski, Larry Poons. “Glory of the World: Color Field Painting (1950s to 1983)” at NSU Art Museum takes its name from Frank Stella’s comments about fellow abstractionist Hans Hofmann painting “Gloriamundi”: “Hofmann proved that the straightforward manipulation of pigment can create exalted art…Glory of the world this painting surely is, and glory of the world his painting surely was and is.”
“Glory of the World: Color Field Painting,” Nov. 21 through June 2024, at the NSU Art Museum, 1 E Las Olas Blvd, Fort Lauderdale. nsuartmuseum.org, 954-525-5500.
SPEAKING OF STELLA . . .
Miami’s privately owned museums offer a rare glimpse into the discerning eyes of some of the world’s most prominent art collections. On the must-see list is “Motherwell, Segal, Stella” at Margulies Collection at the Warehouse, the cavernous Wynwood showcase for the collection of Martin Margulies. The show features works from a trio of America’s most celebrated 20th Century artists. Included are a rare 1961 painting by Frank Stella from his Copper Series, credited with launch American minimalism, and a selection of abstract paintings by Robert Motherwell from 1958-1981. Three sculptures by George Segal remind us how painfully difficult city life can be outside the circle of privilege.
“Motherwell, Segal, Stella,” Oct. 18 through April, 2024, at 591 NW 27th Street, Miami. margulieswarehouse.com, 305-576-1051.
In the Design District, the de la Cruz Collection presents “House in Motion,” a selection of paintings, sculptures, and site-specific installations from the private collection of Rosa and Carlos de la Cruz including Hernan Bas, Mark Bradford, Tauba Auerbach and Rashid Johnson. From Dec. 6 at 23 NE 41st Street, Miami. 305-576-6112; delacruzcollection.org.
The sprawling neighborhood of Allapattah is now home to three private museums: the Rubell Museum, El Espacio 23 and the new Marquez Art Projects. Don’t try to see them all in the same day; you’ll want hours at each.
At El Espacio 23, the Jorge M. Pérez Collection showcases recent textile acquisitions in “To Weave the Sky: Textile Abstractions,” featuring works by more than 100 inter-generational artists from around the world — including Lee Krasner, Joan Mitchell and Bisa Butler — encompassing abstraction, landscape and indigenous ritual. From. Nov. 2 at 2270 NW 23rd St., Miami. elespacio23.org; 786-490-9090.
At the Rubell Museum, this year look for work by artist-in-residence Basil Kincaid and solo artist presentations by Lauren Halsey, Sharif Farrag, Alfonso Gonzalez Jr, Patrick Martinez and Danie Cansino. From Dec. 5 at 1100 NW 23rd Street, Miami. rubellmuseum.org/miami; 305-573-6090.
The newly opened Marquez Art Projects features work from the John Marquez collection by more than 50 emerging visual artists, including Cristina de Miguel, George Condo and KAWS. At 2395 NW 21st Terrace, Miami. marquezartprojects.com