Posted April 29, 2014
By VALERIE LOPEZ
Wynwood is one of the fastest growing and most attractive neighborhoods in Miami. This expansion has been thanks to the arts and galleries that have positioned it as the new art district. Before its streets full of trash, there was police everywhere, violence and drug dealers. No one outside form the neighborhood would even think of going there at night and would avoid the area during the day.
It was Tony Goldman, who died more than two years ago, who was responsible for this transformation. He had an instrumental role in the urban development of major U.S. cities, and, of course, in Miami.
As an investor with privileged eyes, he saw business and art in the destroyed buildings in the abandoned neighborhood. As Wynwood, he also managed to revive New York’s Soho in the 1970s.
Wynwood was one of his last major projects. He began in 2004, when he decided to invest $35 million to buy entire blocks of the poor Puerto Rican neighborhood of rundown factories.
This was Wynwood way back in the day. Now these factories have become one of the corners of Miami’s art and fashion, one more interesting than the next, threatening to overshadow Miami Beach. with museums and private collections. But most importantly, it’s the home of more than 200 street art murals that cover not only whole buildings but also entire streets.
Picture it like this, Wynwood is filled with art galleries, of people walking, riding bikes and sitting outside at cafes reading a book. This neighborhood has created a cultural revolution in Miami and all the venues, restaurants, cafes and among all of galleries have been part of this achievement.
Every second Saturday of the month, the galleries open their doors until midnight showcasing their latest local, national and/or international artists. The event has become one of the most popular in the district and, for the month of April, three renamed galleries with fresh exhibitions caught my attention, Dina Mitrani Gallery, David Castillo Gallery and The Lunch Box Gallery.
Dina Mitrani Gallery is named after her owner Dina Mitrani. Mitrani has more than 20 years of experience in the art world and, after being based in New York, she decided to open her own photography gallery in Wynwood in 2008. The main focus of the place is to allow emerging photography artists to engage into artistic dialogue and establish their work in the art scene.
In this case, the show was “Towards the Sky Again” by the selected Chicago-based artist, Colleen Plumb. Plumb is a photographer that also dedicates time in videography. Her work focuses on the human interactions with the natural world. The images of landscapes and the mix between artificial life and nature are her signature, yet make the audience question, what is the meaning of her photos?
Don’t get me wrong, her images have a nostalgic feeling that make the viewer questions what is going on in the vast emptiness and depth of field of the images.
They have a good sense of space and color selection, the composition wasn’t outstanding but she tried to use the basic rule in photography composition, the rule of thirds. In overall, the images were cohesive and had a good rhythm. The curator selected them carefully to create a storyline, even though there was no story between them.
But what about the content of the images? If you don’t read the description and artist statement you can’t really figure out what is her intention. The pictures of trees on a parking lot, the reflection of a tree in a car or the front garden of a house don’t really say much or show a strong concept without an explanation. According to this, her objective is to question the limits between nature and humanity, but how can we know that? I guess art is really whatever you can get away with as Warhol said.
Unlike the Dina Mitrani show, David Castillo “Tender Game” exhibition by artist Luis Gispert was a success. The gallery is also named after its owner. It was established in 2005 and its now one of the most recognized spaces for conceptual art in Miami and the USA.
The artist, Gispert is a sculptor and photographer based in New York but was raised in Miami where he started his career. Gispert’s exhibition showed a mature and cohesive body of work that translated into his sculpture background and showed a new edge and angle in photography.
The images of landscape viewed through the windows of customized 20th century of American military planes. The pictures give the sensation to the viewer of being in the pilot’s seat and give the sense of flying thanks to the composition.
The size of the prints also helps the images to have that enormous impact and magnitude. When it comes to the intense colors used and editing, it’s obvious that the pictures are a mix of frames that allow the artist to create an HRD hyperrealist look.
The show was exciting; the crowd was interesting and young. In general, the exhibit was a mix of entertainment and the world’s natural landscapes that needed no explanation or artist statement to feel inspired and moved by, which made it stand out from the other show. It makes the audience question, what is really important in this scenario, is it the aircraft? The landscape? Or is it the mix of both? Whatever it is, it doesn’t really matter because it creates a world of its own to the viewer.
The Lunch Box is a small space, relatively new, and founded in 2011. It focuses on contemporary photography and its new trends. This was fascinating because the show was about a Miami based “iphoneographer,” Jaime Ferreyros. Iphoneographer? Yes, iphoneographer! Which made it captivating. So what is iphoneography? It’s the “art,” if we can call it that way, of taking pictures with an iPhone and editing them on the same device.
The images were a little over edited; the quality of the prints wasn’t the best due to the devices lack of sensor capacity and photo quality. Yet it was a fun crowd to be around, Miami style and in a way very trashy.
However, this made me think of the effects of mobile devices in our lives and especially in the world of photography. The dilemma that photography faces is that it’s been devalued to mobile use only and in the other, it had allows everyone to capture life.
The images were ok, they didn’t have an outstanding composition, they looked amateur due to the over editing and exaggerated textures but they had something that Plumb’s images or Gispert didn’t, life. Ferreyros was in the right moment, at the right time and captured the essence of Miami life, its people, tourists and traditions. His documentary pictures immortalized a moment in history, in Miami’s history.
Throughout this artistic journey, the best thing that it left me was to see my city grow and expand in a way it has never done before. Art is a crucial element for the development of any place; it gives liberty to its citizens to express themselves and share their concepts and believes. Regardless of how good were the exhibitions or how meaningful, the importance is that Miami is doing something, its people are moving and generating a social and cultural change.
- Gallery: Dina Mitrani Gallery | Miami
- Contemporary photography
- Current exhibition: Colleen Plumb “Towards the Sky Again,” 1997-2011
- Show dates: April 10 – May 31, 2014
- Address: 2620 NW 2 Ave., Miami, Fla. 33127
- Gallery opening hours: Tuesdays – Fridays: 1 – 5 p.m.
- Rating: ***
- Gallery: David Castillo Gallery
- Contemporary art and mixed media
- Current exhibition: Luis Gispert “Tender Game”
- Show dates: April 10 – May 31, 2014
- Address: 2234 NW 2nd Ave., Miami, Fla. 33127
- Gallery opening hours: Tuesdays – Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and by appointment.
- Rating: *****
- Gallery: The Lunch Box Gallery
- Contemporary photography and new trends
- Current exhibition: “A visual diary of Jaime Ferreyros”
- Show dates: April 10 – May 31, 2014
- Address: 310 NW 24 St., Miami, Fla. 33127
- Gallery opening hours: Mondays – Fridays 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
- Rating: ****