Wynwood District - Second Saturday Art Gallery Walk
I had the immense pleasure of touring the Wynwood Art District this weekend and realized what I’d been missing. As much as I appreciate art—I’ve spent many hours at major museums in other cities – I’ve never really explored the Miami art scene. I cringe when people criticize Miami for lacking culture because it simply isn’t true, but I’m no better than them if I don’t get out and enjoy what museums and galleries have to offer here in my own backyard. Wynwood looks desolate from the outside, but behind those warehouse walls is a world of amazing creativity.
Here’s what caught my eye on Saturday.
Kevin Bruk Gallery
Kevin Bruk is a young gallery owner who is bringing the work of significant emerging artists to Miami. Currently on display are Midori Harima’s paper sculptures and Richard Butler’s paintings.
Midori’s process involves making photocopies from print media on archival paper, which she then shapes into three-dimensional sculpture or framed pieces. The muted black and white tones of the photocopies appear as brush strokes; in a sense, she is “painting” with the paper.
Midori draws her inspiration from a longing to connect with nature. “I grew up in the suburbs in Japan. I could only see real nature in pictures. It felt artificial since it was always a visual experience,” Midori explained.
For me, Midori’s work will make me think twice the next time I hold a piece of paper in my hands. What she has done with the medium is delicate, tender and evocative of the nostalgia she feels for the natural world. The statues – one is a tiny woman and the other are deer suspended from the ceiling—convey a fragility that is simultaneously earthy and ghostly.
Richard Butler’s portraits are also haunting. Richard is a man of many talents – you might recall he’s also the lead from the Psychedelic Furs—but prior to his music career, he was already a classically trained painter. I’m glad he returned to his earlier passion for art because his painting sings a different and very beautiful tune.
Richard hesitates to call his work portraits because they’re not portraits in the traditional family living room sense. Yes, it’s going to sound corny – but Richard has a way of capturing the eyes as windows to the soul, which truly captivated me. The style is nearly monochrome, “I’m English,” the affable Brit joked. But the muted, gloomy landscapes behind the figures are simply backdrops to human landscapes of deeply expressive eyes, necks, hands and masked faces.
One painting, “Benzene Poster Girl in Weisbaden” was particularly soulful. The portrait shows former model Marla Hanson, whom you may remember was the unfortunate victim of a heinous crime when a landlord hired two goons to slash her face back in 1986. As Richard explained, “she’s putting on a brave face.” And indeed she is. In the painting, her gaze speaks volumes of untold pain and resilience.
Hey, I’m not writing about Xavier Cortada just because he’s an old friend from college. We recently reconnected through his mangrove project and I can’t praise him enough for his spiritual connection to nature, which he has turned into a beautiful art form. This is a Miami boy with an amazing vision.
At Kunsthaus, you can see Xavier’s ice paintings, which he “painted” while on tour of Antarctica. These paintings were literally made from adding paint to ice core samples from the remotest area of Antarctica. (As if Antarctica wasn’t already remote?) While stationed at McMurdo Station, Xavier created over a dozen works that, upon first impression, look like abstract watercolors. As the ice melted, Xavier treated the ice as a tool – brush, sponge and pastel technique – and in the process, sediment from the samples latched on to the paper. The effect is stunning. You’re not just looking at a painting, but literally a piece of our earth from many, many thousands years ago.
As Xavier put it: “I’m doing what nature does on a macro level, examining the process.”
While in Antarctica, Xavier also “planted” a mangrove seedling in the true South Pole, which he estimates, will take over 150 thousand years to make landfall as the ice breaks and melts and travels to some warmer coastal territory. The gesture represents setting an intention for wholeness and healing in the planet. We joked about how we’d have to reincarnate and come back to see the mangrove take root, but of course the gesture is symbolic. “It represents cycles in nature and how all is connected.”
At Go-Go Gallery you’ll see the paper installation of Andrew Ross, member of the Brooklyn-based, Atlanta-born art collective Dos Pestañeos. I found this particularly interesting, considering how unaccustomed so many of us have become to writing with pens on paper. “Paper is a metaphor on how we create culture,” Andrew explained. Think about it: how many crumpled pieces of paper would you throw in the trash bin if you weren’t publishing electronically? What happens to the detritus of our thoughts after we hit the delete key? Good stuff to ponder. Mosey on over to David Castillo Modern and Contemporary Art
to enjoy a book lover’s favorite: Eloisa Cartonera’s work consists of mock-books with hand-painted covers in big, bright letters that tell a story. And right next door to Kevin Bruk, you’ll see what looks like an abandoned lot, but it’s really Timothy Buwalda’s installation at Fredric Snitzer Gallery and a must-see for people who hate Miami traffic. Artful depictions of totaled cars inside an old caboose, featuring a real totaled, dusty and dirty jeep at the entrance.
Art walks take place every second Saturday at Wynwood and the Design District just north of the former. I only just mentioned a few spots … there’s a great deal more to enjoy and explore!
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