As summer heats up, the Miami art world tends to cool down as the rising temperature sends everyone into hibernation. Still, you’ll have plenty to do at this Saturday’s Art Walk in Wynwood and Design District. Here are five of the exhibition openings on our radar.
Starting early next week, the annual onslaught of events surrounding Art Basel Miami Beach begins (and with it our #beachedbasel photo contest). Inarguably the high point of the Miami social calendar, we can all admit that at least half the fun comes from observing the human zoo that pours into town from ever corner of the globe. At the center of it all, of course, is the massive ABMB fair itself, housed in the cavernous Miami Beach Convention Center. But even that only represents a slice of the action.
This Saturday’s Art Walk in Wynwood and the Design District is the last before Art Basel hysteria begins in full force. As such, many galleries in the district are either leaving up shows that opened in October, or just waiting to roll out the big guns in early December. That said, here are a few exhibition openings on our radar.
After a sluggish summer, and with Art Basel Miami Beach not far off, Miami’s cultural scene promises to swing back into high gear this Saturday with the first Wynwood Art Walk of the fall. It is also another, more somber first: the first edition of this open gallery night since the death of pioneering developer Tony Goldman.
Yunior de las Casas, that fast-talking, philandering Dominican Jersey boy, is the one addiction that author Junot Díaz just can’t quit. Díaz’s first book, Drown, was technically a short-story collection, but one that largely chronicled de las Casas’ stumbling towards maturity. The follow-up to that, the novel The Brief, Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, focused largely on the title character — but even then, his story unfurled mostly as narrated by Yunior.
In the Miami art scene, August is usually even deader than July, with every sane moneyed person traveling elsewhere during this brutally hot month. So it’s surprising that galleries in Wynwood and the Design District have plenty of new exhibitions opening in time for Art Walk on Saturday. Another pleasant surprise: the shows aim squarely at locals. Here are the exhibitions on our radar.
Last year, the invitation-only, joint Art Basel Miami Beach kickoff party thrown by MOCA LA and Deitch Projects was possibly the most buzzed-about party for the Venn diagram overlap of cool kids from the art and music worlds. The occasion, then, was a private set by LCD Soundsystem, then already rumored to be on its way out as a regularly touring band. Though the Raleigh’s sandy back pool area was set with round banquet-style tables, soon the crowd crammed between them and resourceful crashers snuck in from the beach by the dozen.
Last night’s edition of the same fete, again at the Raleigh, was nowhere near as frantic. The messier door situations were next door at the Shelborne, where a sceney Susanne Bartsch-produced party for local photographer Seth Browarnik blared high-NRG from the pool. This time around, revelers could enter the Raleigh with little-to-no wait, with plenty of elbow room inside — but still enough of a crowd to keep the atmosphere warmed up. (The free Grey Goose helped on that front, too.)
Update (11/30/12): Looking for an Art Basel 2012 Guide? Look no further. And make sure to gander our ABMB 2012 Music Guide. Finally, check out our ABMB Instagram contest to learn how you can win one of several awesome prizes (including a $499 Republic Bike) just for sharing your Art Basel photos. Update over.
Planning your event attack during the onslaught of Art Basel Miami Beach requires military-style logistical planning. There are events upon events upon events, some higher-than-highbrow and others with only the most tenuous connection to art. Heading into the thick of things on South Beach can be exhausting, and though a trip through the actual fair in the Convention Center is required, it’s also a way to feel poor and unwashed pretty quickly. Luckily, there are always a few standout events during the week that are free, low cost, “edgy,” “alternative,” or whatever else that makes the aching feet worth it. Here, in no particular order, are 10 offbeat suggestions for your Basel circuit. Some veer towards the party side of things, but all include art (as opposed to music, which we covered in the Art Basel Music Guide).
Max’s Kansas City at Art Basel Miami Beach
Max’s Kansas City is one of those legendary New York venues where pretty much every cool person of the period hung out. It was a favorite haunt of Andy Warhol, Lou Reed, Betsey Johnson, and other impossibly hip and legendary people through the late ’60s and early ’70s.
If you make it into the convention center for the “real” Art Basel Miami Beach, check out stand F104, where the New York-based Loretta Howard Gallery will devote its entire booth to a show paying artistic tribute to the club where pop, minimalist, and conceptual artist went to hobnob and hang loose. Works presented include those by Robert Mapplethorpe, Vito Acconci, Frank Stella, and even Willem de Kooning. The stand itself is designed by Victoria Ruskin, daughter of Micky Ruskin, the club’s owner.
Stand F104 at Art Basel Miami Beach, Miami Beach Convention Center, 1901 Convention Center Dr., Miami Beach. ABMB Tickets cost $23-$85 (weekend pass). Admission is free for children under 16 when accompanied by an adult. To learn more, visit artbaselmiamibeach.com
With Hip-Hop America, his popular 1999 book, Nelson George deftly packed cultural criticism and a wide-ranging history of 25 years of hip-hop into a slim volume. The book served as a love letter to the music, but also a broad-viewed look at the culture surrounding it. Now, more than a decade later, George has taken up many of these themes again, but, this time, with fiction.
The Plot Against Hip-Hop, due out this month from New York-based independent publisher Akashic Books (“dedicated to the reverse-gentrification of the literary world”), boasts an eyebrow-raising title and a murder within the first few of its 174 pages. By the end of the second chapter, Dwayne Robinson, an old-school hip-hop critic who’s a thinly veiled effigy for George himself, lies stabbed to death in a Soho office building. Staggering to the office door of his old friend, the younger, successful entertainment world body guard, D Hunter, Robinson stammers a famous Notorious B.I.G. line as his last words.
The murder initiates a fast-paced, kaleidoscoping world of intrigue as Hunter searches for Robinson’s killer, opening up in the process a Pandora’s box of shady dealings in the hip-hop industry. Conspiracy theorists, aging record executives, gang members, and other shadowy figures abound, all with an apparent interest in an archival document that set out the first tenets of marketing to the hip-hop generation.
Yes, there is some of the Illuminati talk long popular in Internet hip-hop circles. But George’s novel is very much a snapshot of the industry right now. There are scenes set at Russell Simmons-hosted charity events, Kanye West name-checks, and even a relatively protracted passage detailing the beef between Flo Rida, DJ Khaled, and the Rick Ross camp.
To casual pop fans in the United States, there’s no question that Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark — OMD for short — is best known for its 1985 synth power ballad “If You Leave”. Full of New Romantic vocal melodrama and crescendoing keyboard, it was the song that famously launched Molly Ringwald towards James Spader’s arms at the end of Pretty in Pink (see video below).
But it would be a mistake to tuck OMD away in the nostalgia files. What many Americans may not realize is their now seminal position in the history of electronic music. Though “If You Leave” and other chart hits like “Enola Gay” stand out for their earworm melodies, the band’s beginnings around its native northwestern England were truly avant-garde.
OMD’s earliest shows, for instance, consisted of founding members Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphreys performing backed only by a four-track named Winston. Other early releases were based heavily on the latest electronic tools of the time, from home-made synthesizers to circuit-bent gadgets to collaged tape. The songs themselves were built based on a graphic notation system McCluskey and Humphreys invented. The symbolic series of slashes, dots, and lines would be stylized by iconic graphic artist Peter Saville (of Factory Records/Joy Division fame) on the cover of their first single, “Electricity”.
These days, the pop world seems to have finally caught up with OMD. The visual, modular style of songwriting is now the de facto method of choice in current production programs like Logic and Ableton, and heartfelt, soulful singing coupled with chillier, danceable electronics was long ago folded into the mainstream.
More than 30 years after the group’s inception, OMD is experiencing a rise in its stock. Not only are their original fans still turning out in droves — the band’s North American tour earlier this year sold briskly — but younger gear heads are coming to pay homage to the masters.