The Miami Art Museum isn’t beating around the bush with its new show, titled “New Work Miami 2013.” Made up of commissioned work and site-specific installations by a dozen local artists (some Miami natives, while others are more recent transplants), it’s fitting that the exhibition will be one of the last at the museum’s current building. MAM gets a new name (Pérez Art Museum Miami) and downtown facility, designed by Herzog & de Meuron, next fall. While the show has been on view since Nov. 21, it officially opens tonight with MAM’s annual Art Basel Miami Beach celebration, Party on the Plaza.
The museum turned over much of the show’s design and presentation strategy to Emmett Moore, a young artist from Miami, and Consuelo Casteñada, who was born in Cuba but has lived and worked in Miami for the past 30 years. Both artists, according to MAM chief curator Tobias Ostrander, were selected for this role because their work typically blurs the line between art and design. For “New Work Miami 2013” they’ve come up with a “theatrical set” inspired by both ‘50s-‘60s architecture and a more ‘80s Miami Vice look: think playful design elements like glass brick walls and curving archways, hedges and patios.
Moore and Casteñada hadn’t worked together until curators Diana Nawi and René Morales paired them up for this exhibition. The design is “impregnated with art,” explained Ostrander, emphasizing that Moore and Casteñada collaborated with the other artists to come up with an exhibition scheme that is responsive to their work. One example is Loriel Beltran’s painted-over bus stop advertisements, which are hung along a row of adjacent archways reminiscent of Miami’s Fontainebleau hotel.
The show also includes Sinisa Kukec’s glittery furniture sculptures, which the Zagreb-born artist made by dunking chairs in resin and allowing them to dry upside-down, so that the gooey material dripped in the “wrong” direction. They’re installed, right-side-up and resting against each other, on a brick patio in the center of the museum’s space.
Some subtle interventions are also in the mix. Tom Sciculuna has moved the museum’s outdoor bike rack inside, which forced the museum to change the hours its lobby is open (the plaza, where the rack is usually installed, is open later than the museum). This intrusion has already changed the dynamic of the museum. As Ostrander pointed out, thanks to Sciculuna, people who previously used the bike rack but didn’t visit the museum are now drawn inside, at least for a few minutes.
Above, view of the exhibition “New Work Miami 2013.”