If art reflects life, the art world has had a lot to do over the past year. It’s no surprise that the programming of many local arts institutions reflects the identity crisis sweeping the nation. A good example are two shows that ended the previous year of Wolfsonian-FIU programming: “Wit as Weapon” and “Constructing Revolution.” Jon Mogul, associate director of curatorial and educational affairs at the museum, notes that the two investigations into propaganda during historic periods of political upheaval really resonated with museum visitors.
Going forward, however, the museum is looking to reach out in more tangible ways. From October 19 to April 28, 2019, “Deco: Luxury to Mass Market” will explore an architectural style and design close to the heart of Miami.
“The ‘Deco’ show is, for us, an opportunity to connect the museum more strongly to our South Beach neighborhood,” Mogul said. “People who come to the exhibit will be able to stroll the nearby streets and look at the buildings with an appreciation for how they were part of a much larger design movement in America, as well as the values and economic conditions who are behind this movement.”
In a city like Miami, the notion of “community” may seem out of reach, especially given the diversity of low-key cultures that find refuge there. FIU’s Frost Art Museum strives to unite these cultures in “Relational Undercurrents: Contemporary Art of the Caribbean Archipelago”, a sweeping survey of 21st century work by artists from across the Caribbean. The exhibition, which runs from October 13 to January 13, 2019, attempts to make connections between diverse identities across cultures and populations.
Exploring another type of connection, the Institute of Contemporary Art will exhibit two retrospectives by artists Judy Chicago and Larry Bell. Chicago and Bell are longtime friends who rose to prominence in the ’60s in seemingly unrelated disciplines: Bell is a minimalist sculptor and Chicago is a feminist artist. But a major strength of institutions like art museums is the power of proximity, of what arises when different approaches come together. “Larry Bell: Time Machines,” on view November 1 through March 10, 2019, marks the first comprehensive survey of the artist’s work in an American museum in nearly 20 years. “Judy Chicago: A Reckoning”, exhibited from December 4 to April 21, 2019, shows the artist’s interrogation of the roles and skills generally considered feminine or masculine.
Tobias Ostrander, chief curator at the Pérez Art Museum Miami, says the conversations between exhibitions are deeply considered at his institution.
“There is a great diversity of programs going on at the same time,” he notes. “We always try to look at these connections between projects so that different ideas come together between exhibits. People can kind of connect the dots between different projects.”
The resonances of this season’s upcoming programming touch on two major themes. For works such as the Ebony Patterson installation … While the dew is still on the roses… (November 9 to May 5, 2019) and Arthur Jafa’s film Love is the message and the message is death (until April 21, 2019), audiences can clearly draw parallels between the consideration of black experiences of celebration and oppression in close and often painful neighborhoods. On the other hand, exhibitions such as “Grids: A Collection of Paintings by Lynne Golob Gelfman” (until April 21) and “Christo and Jeanne-Claude: Surrounded Islands: A Documentary Exhibition” (from October 4 to February 17 2019) tell pieces of Miami’s distinct art history. It’s a fitting lineup for PAMM to ride in its 35th year.
The Bass will also be no stranger to birthdays this season. Celebrating a year in its newly renovated space in October, the museum will begin its own outward movement as it strives to make its programming more accessible through audio tours and a possible digital archive. Upcoming exhibitions, such as Paola Pivi’s “Art With a View” (October 13 to March 10, 2019) and the Haas Brothers’ “Ferngully” (December 5 to April 21, 2019), demonstrate Bass’s commitment to constantly testing the limits of contemporary art, whether through interdisciplinary works or cutting-edge practices. Curator Leilani Lynch recalls that although the museum grew, it was a process.
“I think a lot of the fear has been figuring out how we work internally,” she recalls. “There’s been a lot of moving in and living in the space, which I think is important to do first. So instead of looking out, he looked in. From there, yes, we settled into our space. It came full circle after a year.”