MIAMI - A love Story
If you are driving on Interstate 95 toward Miami Beach while the clouds roll in from the Everglades to the west and the blinding Florida suns gives in to them, a most miraculous thing happens. In matter of minutes, a clear day can turn into a torrid storm of Biblical proportions. Streets and storm sewers flood. Humidity hugs everything in sight and then without notice, the whole event miraculously ends and the sun begins to rear its head. This experience is a meteorological metaphor for how mercurial Miami is as a city, how quickly the ambiance of the city can change--not permanently but on its way to morphing into something else.
To understand the cultural landscape of Miami, one needs to grasp a few guiding principles. First, it is a city that champions self-invention. In the New World, New Age sense, one can literally just decide to be something, and the social fabric will expand to accommodate one's desires. Second, even extreme misery is mitigated by exceptional sunlight, swaying palm trees, inexpensive housing and genetically gifted beauties. Its diverse mix of Latins, West Indians, Jews, African-Americans and Europeans (a hybrid group who mostly arrived via Argentina and Brazil) ensures easiness on the eyes, as well fiery tempers in traffic. Fortunately, Miami is also one of the most forgiving places on the planet, supported in part by Florida's lenient personal bankruptcy laws and no-fault divorces.
Ah, what an exceptional place to create! Fickle, yes, but fecund for sure. While the canons of New York, Los Angeles and pre-1960 Havana are referenced constantly, Miami is really happy to live by its own loose rules. One never feels those pangs of insecurity about not living in one of those other great places while living in Miami. An artist can really decide to stay and make work in Miami, live a quality of life more dignified than most upper middle class New Yorkers, and be sure that one's work, even if it is only marginally serious will likely enjoy an audience by visitors to Art Basel Miami Beach. And there is a loyal local audience that is pleased to see youth and talent in any form.
It is hard to know exactly when the vibrant art scene in Miami really began. I moved to Miami from New York in 1994, left intermittently for love and work, but never really left for any period of time until I moved back to New York full time in Fall 2001. When I arrived in Miami as fledgling curator, green and inexperienced, people treated me like a hired caregiver, as if I were administering care to those afflicted with a terminal disease. People would often say to me, ?Oh we are so glad you came here to do your work? or ?We are really so lucky to have you here.? By the time I left, Miami was attracting broad attention for its world-class exhibitions and cultural events. The city was also receiving accolades for its curators, artists, collectors and dealers. Art Basel Miami Beach was the final imprimatur for a city perpetually finding its way to stardom and limelight.
Miami Nice, curated by George Lindemann, one of Miami's most important believers, brings together works by 11 artists all making work in Miami, at least part of the time. The artists are as different as their work. Some are very young and unknown; others have broadened their reach and made names for themselves, locally, nationally and even internationally. Collectively, they are not united by generation, subject matter or media, but rather by a belief in the future. When we look back on this time in the cultural development of Miami, I am certain this Miami moment will be defined by an internationalism and positivism among its artists. This bright, abundant and expansive period will hopefully stay lit like an endless torch, or at the very least, like a trick birthday candle that one can never blow out.
Daniel Arsham, Untilted (sculpture), 2004, EPS Foam, mixed media, (130 x 150 x 100 cm)
Daniel Arsham, "The M-House got lost found itself floating on the sea, affecting salination levels in the North Atlantic" (blue), 2004, gouache on Mylar, frame, (82,5 x 97,5 cm)
Martin Oppel, CrateZiggurat (cedar), 2004,
aromatic Cedar and Cherry Wood, (57 x 113 x 81 cm)
Naomi Fisher, Untitled, 2004, tracing Paper, Ink, frame, (141 x 83 cm)