Thought I would blog today about one of Miami's remarkable art collections, that of Debra and Dennis Scholl. "Vanishing Points: Paint and Paintings from the Debra and Dennis Scholl Collection" is now on view at the Bass Museum of Art in Miami Beach through Oct. 30. For more info, see www.bassmuseum.org One of the particularly informative features about the Bass website for this show is that you can find a transcript there in which Knight Curatorial Fellow Kristin Korolowicz interviews Gean Moreno, the Miami-based writer and artist who guest-curated this exhibit.
First things first: More visual arts news in Miami
Art and Culture Center of Hollywood announces its Hot Topics Discussion Series, beginning Sept. 17 with a talk by Shamin M. Momin. She is director, curator, and co-founder of Los Angeles Nomadic Division (LAND). Momin is a former contemporary curator at Whitney Museum of American Art and co-curated the 2008 and 2009 Whitney Biennial exhibitions. This is the first of five lectures by leading figures in the contemporary visual arts world. They will address current trends and the vital role the arts play in communities. Each lecture includes a reception for guests and time for Q&A. Reception for Momin starts at 5 pm. Her lecture starts at 6 pm. Location is Art and Culture Center of Hollywood, 1650 Harrison Street, Hollywood, FL. Cost is $10 for non-members and $5 for members, students, teachers, and seniors with ID. There's a fab roster of future speakers for this series. For more info, see www.artandculturecenter.org
Note also that for the first time in its 30 plus year history, the Art and Culture Center of Hollywood is presenting winners of the South Florida Cultural Consortium. Exhibit for the 2011 winners of the 23rd Annual South Florida Cultural Consortium Visual and Media Arts Fellowship Awards runs Sept. 10 to Oct. 16. Opening reception is Sept. 9, 6-9 pm, with free admission and music by DJ Le Spam. Miami-Dade County artists in this exhibit are Tony Chirinos, Aymee Cruzalegui, Cristina Lei Rodriguez, Martin Oppel, Leyden Rodriguez-Casanova, Asser Saint-Val. Other winners are from Martin, Palm Beach, Broward, and Monroe counties.
Formed in 1985, the Consortium shares resources among counties in South Florida. Funding comes in part from the National Endowment for the Arts and various Florida government agencies. Check the Center's website for list of prestigious regional and national arts experts who chose this year's winners.
Two cool events on one night: At Farside Gallery , 1305 Galloway Road (SW 87th Ave.), at 7 pm Sept 15, Ana Albertina Delgado invites you to an informal tour of the the exhibit "Ana Albertina Delgado: Selected Drawings." At Art @ Work, 1245 Galloway Road (SW 87th Ave.), ph 305-264-3355, at 7:30 pm on Sept. 15, Ernesto Oroza invites you to an informal tour and discussion of his exhibit "Enemigo Provisional." Here's another show I hope to catch: "SET: Tom Schmitt, Odalis Valdivieso, Kerry Ware" at Bridge Red Studios / Project Space, 12425 NE 13th Ave., North Miami. Too bad I was just too pooped to get to the opening reception Sept. 4 from 7-10 pm, because the last time I was there I saw so many fab people I used to write about all the time!! (Yes, I started this blog around Thurs., Sept. 1, but I am actually finishing it on the morning of Labor Day.) I'm hoping to make the closing brunch Sunday Oct. 23 noon to 4 pm. Before that brunch, if you want to see the show call 305-978-4856 to make an appt. Also I'm looking forward to this one: "Crushed Candy" at David Castillo Gallery in Wynwood. It's David's 6th anniversary exhibition with art by Jonathan Ehrenburg, Shara Hughes, Meredith James, and the TM Sisters (Tasha and Monica Lopez de Victoria). Anniversaries, his press release notes, present an opportunity for "remembrance and revelry." (I've been thinking the same thing, as my next blog post will be my 50th blog post!! As we say in that tiny Midwestern town where I grew up, whodathunkit??!!!! Maybe that will call for TWO white chocolate martinis!!!) "Crushed Candy" at David Castillo Gallery, 2234 NW 2nd Ave., runs Sept. 8 to Oct. 1. Reception is 6-8 pm Sept. 8. For more info, call 305-573-8110 or see www.davidcastillogallery.com
Many thanks to my fab artcentric friend Mary Malm (we don't even want to THINK about how long we have known each other!) for emailing me about "Mary Malm: Bathers" and "Kristen Thiele: Paintings," both running Sept. 9-30 at Edge Zones Art Center, 47 NE 25th St. in Wynwood. Preview to meet the artists is 7-9 pm Sept. 8. Note also that Amable Lopez Melendez, chief curator of Museum of Modern Art in Santo Domingo will speak 7-10 pm Sept. 22 at Edge Zones Art Center. See www.edgezones.org
News from another fab artist Jean Chiang: Wish I had energy to put in all the info she sent me, but I just don't. She is in a group show, "The Sincerity Project, at Studio 18, 1101 Poinciana Drive, Pembroke Pines, ph. 954-961-6067. Look in that show for her wood panel painting, "The Meandering Yellow River." As of Oct. 17, she'll be back from upstate New York and will start teaching at Little Haiti Cultural Center.
Congrats to ArtCenter/South Florida ( www.artcentersf.org ) artists W. Andre Allen, Babette Herschberger, Alfonso Corona. Their works will be showcased by Celebrity Cruise Lines on the labels of three special wine and champagne vintages. ArtCenter/South Florida instructors Leslie LaCombe and Armando Droulers are currently teaching in the Mediterranean on board Celebrity's newest luxury ship, Silhouette. For more info about this, see www.CelebrityCruises.com , then go to section on Company Information and click on News; see May 9, 2011 press release.
And on the subject of Miami art collections featured in museum exhibits, note also that "Thirty Americans," organized by the Rubell Family Collection of Miami can be seen in Washington, DC at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, www.corcoran.org from Oct. 1 to Feb. 12, 2012. This is a most enlightening exhibit about contemporary African American artists. I was especially glad I got to review it for ARTnews magazine. In my March 2009 review, I wrote that I thought this exhibit "offers a reminder that even as the discussion of race [in this country] has moved beyond clear-cut terms of black and white, ghosts from the past remain." Among those artists I mentioned in my review: Lorna Simpson, Robert Colescott, Carrie Mae Weems, Renee Green, Wangechi Mutu, Xaviera Simmons, Kara Walker, Purvis Young.
I had hoped to find in my personal archive of my Miami Herald stories my specific profile of art collectors Debra and Dennis Scholl, but I could not. (Probably just as well, since my plan for a book based on my Herald stories appears to have all the market value of a typewriter!!) However, I think this May 2003 article, which includes a review of a South Florida museum show based on their collection, will nevertheless be quite interesting for my blog post this week.
In Living Color by Elisa Turner
This month two shows to the north entice us back to the lovely but loaded pleasures of childhood. There's "Imperfect Innocence" at the Palm Beach Institute of Contemporary Art, with photographs of risky role-playing from the Miami Beach collectors Dennis and Debra Scholl. [Really too bad for contemporary art lovers that the PBICA in Lake Worth, directed by Michael Rush, is no more. I always looked forward to the chance to chat with Michael, after I had made that long drive up north to Palm Beach County from Miami. He is so smart, and I always learned so much from the terrific shows he curated! I miss his presence here a lot.] Then there's the gaudy carousel of color that is "My Reality: Contemporary Art and the Culture of Japanese Animation" at the Norton Museum of Art in Palm Beach.
At the Norton, you'll see a mix of paintings, sculpture, video and installations populated with comic book characters pretty in pink, and pretty frightful in pink and purple. The art owes much to such heroes and heroines who fight battles on a galactic scale and dazzle with balletic leaps. Their wide-eyes gazes speak of both childish sweetness and sinister control.
As children born in the wake of a nuclear holocaust and raised in shope-till-you-drop prosperity, such sharacters are the girls, guys and cyborgs of comic books the Japanese call manga, and of anime, Japan's animated films based on such larger-than-life characters.
Since the 1980s, anime stars like Astro Boy and Sailor Moon have powered their way onto American television. It was only a matter of time before artists in the East and West would bound onto the manga and anime fan wagons.
Still, "My Reality" suggests that it's often easier to talk about than to master convincing exports and imports of an aesthetic shaped by Japanese comics. In this exhibit, artists of Japan and Korea tend to be more successful than those in the United States. That disparity would not surprise one young Korean-born Miami artist, whose video and drawings are also saturated with the bright, narrative allure of manga and anime.
"I don't think enough people appreciate it. American superheroes are very muscular, but most of the superheroes in Asia have a feminine quality. They are very beautiful and delicate," says Jiae Hwang, a college junior at New World School of the Arts. "It's like they are doing a dance. Then they shoot this laser and there's this flowing, delicate movement. A lot of people copy images of manga because it's cute, but it's more than cute." [Really terrific to run into Jiae earlier this year when I was touring the facilities of LegalArt. Not at all surprised that she won a residency there. Her impressive and persevering career is surely yet one more testimony to the impressive track record of NWSA!]
Certainly manga-made fantasy and escapism is written all over "My Reality."
The minute you enter the show, for instance, you could be forgiven if you thought that the bankrupt FAO Schwartz--in a delusional move to relive its former glory--had not only decided to take up residence in an art museum, but had also commissioned Jeff Koons to create giant inflatable rabbits as a catchy twist on Schwartz's signature, oversized stuffed animals.
Instead, the exhibit's first gallery is bathed in shocking pink light and dominated by the towering, toothy grins of a pair of big pink rabbit ballons by Momoyo Torimitsu. The rabbits make up a facile piece, "Somehow I Don't Feel Comfortable."
Comfort is definitely not Torimitsu's strong suit, and her art also probes anime's freakish, futuristic fusion of human and machine. In a booth at Art Basel Miami Beach last year, her mechanical mannequin of a man in a dull corporate suit jerkily crawling on the floor to get ahead was wacky and disturbing.
The atmosphere of zany, over-the-top toy store plays no small part in this show. This makes things all the more lively when the funny business fades and the more ominous but lavishly crafted quality of these play things prevails.
That darker strain slithers beneath cute colors and wide-eyed playfulness in a smooth-as-porcelain painting like Mika Kato's "Sunrise," in which a broken blood vessel stains a girl's sweet but fixed stare, and in Kenji Yanobe's perky miniature cars--or are they puppy cyborgs?--outfitted with Fisher Price-ish lights and Geiger counters.
Inka Essenhigh, an American who really understands this kind of art, made one of the most challenging, nearly abstract, pieces in the show. Like a Cirque du Soleil acrobat falling and flying, she is a painter who evokes both the apocalyptic and the angelic.
"Imperfect Innocence" is a bitingly apt title for most of this PBICA show.
Something like the Japanese anime-inspired art at the Norton, many of the photographs here spring from a childish innocence interrupted or one drifting away. That's not to say that collectors Debra and Dennis Scholl have chosen work weighted with nostalgia, and cuteness isn't a part of this often discomforting art. Instead the couple, since 1992, have striven to acquire photography--and now film, video and some installation art--that reveals the most adventurous forms of visual expression.
They experimented with ways photography could reflect a cinematic preoccupation with role-playing tinged by feminist transformations of good girls. And, like Gregory Crewdson, many artists loved to manipulate the artifice of tableaux slyly modeled after film sets.
Timely themes in contemporary photography weave smartly through this show. Many works have to do with the body, beguiled or beleaguered. In an anime-influenced video by Mariko Mori, she's a blissfully ethereal princess, reigning over a mind-numbing, futuristic fantasy in pink and silver. Then there are delicate portraits of girls on the cusp of maturity by Rineke Dijkstra and especially Hellen van Meene--whose gauzily dressed girls with self-inflicted bruises and bitten-down pink nails seem to say that what they really want is more time to grow up.
Anna Gaskell's hypnotic film "Untitled (floater)" wonderfully sets the stage for such sharp imperfections. It shows a girl floating in a pool of turquoise water. She could be a dead body or swimmer--and then it's clear she is alive, treading water, tilting her head back farther and farther.
As the camera comes closer, the top of her head fills the screen. Briefly, it offers the startling sight of a baby's head crowning, on the verge of birth. Then her head swings back farther so that all we see is a red mouth. At last it opens onto a kind of rabbit hole, a frighteningly dark chasm inside as her young self vanishes from sight.