Copyright Vladimir Kagan 2010You want some culture…come to Palm Beach! In the face of overwhelming competition from Basel Miami, Palm Beach is carving out its own niche in the art world. Last month, we had the 4th Annual Contemporary Art Show in the Coliseum.
Erica and I were invited to opening night…That is not a good time to see art… it is a time to see people. We went the day before it closed. A nice quite time for viewing but not so great for the Exhibitors, who would have preferred more buzz in the aisles.
Was it a great show? Probably not…. Savvy critics may have panned it…but we liked it! It was a potpourri of, styles, medium and subjects. Frankly, we like that better than a cohesive show with a mission. This one is a Bazaar, a Souk, with one difference: Prices are high and bargaining is a no no.
Compared to last year's show, there was more public space dedicated to food and less to exhibits…a sign of the economy. However, there were numerous exhibits that caught our eye, made us linger and admire the ingenuity of the artist. Interestingly enough, many of the artists were Latinos, which brought more color and imagination to the exhibits.
Loving works in wood, we were enthralled by a dinosaur-sized caterpillar-structure, that loomed 10' into the air and undulated over 50 feet of exhibit space. A work created Jose Landoni, an Argentine sculptor living in New York. The exhibit displayed exquisitely executed miniature mockups in polished woods waiting for interpretation into architectural sized public sculpture.
We were blown away by an installation entitled RISK by Colombian born artist, Federico Uribe. The organizers of the show devoted 500 Square feet for this monumental statement. It was plopped into the far right corner of the Hall. (Those visitors bored with the show probably missed it and left after a Cappuccino in the smartly decorated coffee bar.) We persevered and stumbled upon it like a marathon runner reaching the 26-mile mark. At first it had a cartoonish Disney-esque quality of a surreal rain forest with a barnyard thrown in. Clouds, rain and sunshine coming from the 40 foot high ceilings, garden paths leading you to a menagerie of domestic and wild animals interspersed with background sound effects of nondescript gurgles…. It could have been a precursor to Avatar… I dismissed it at first glance and opted to move on, but sagacious Erica hesitated…”Look. Do you see what it is made off!” The entire exhibit was constructed with recycled materials, hundreds of Puma running shoes, pencils, wood scraps, textiles, clothes pegs, flip-flops and Popsicle sticks. Uribe is to the art world what the Campara brothers are to furniture. Wildly imaginative…no holds barred and with an in-your-face statement.
The Artist, Federico Uribe, with his menagerie.
Remarkably, the installation took on a new perspective and we doubled back …not once or twice but countless times. Each time discovering new nuances, messages and statements. It became a child's nightmare, Picasso's Guernica revisited. There was a beheaded horse reminiscent of Damien Hurst's gruesome visions. There was a tiger chasing a petrified Possum up a ladder. There was havoc in the barnyard. Anatomically correct Animals were skillfully interpreted in Uribe's imaginative mix of materials.
We wondered how the artist could mount so complex a show for such a fleeting moment in time (four days) with virtually no time to dismantle before an industrial exhibit took over the space. It was an installation worthy of the Biennale in Venice…and I sincerely hope that it will have a long afterlife and end up in Venice.
Accompanying the installation, was a neatly hung exhibit of Federico Uribe's constructionist paintings ranging from abstract to realist images…all executed with the mundane materials of every day life. Happily, these sold for hefty prices. The impresario of this exhibit was Pablo Dona, who owns an art gallery in the hip section of Miami called Praxis International Art. Check him out at praxis-art.com and if you're in Miami at 2219 NW 2nd Avenue, in Miami.
For more on this exhibition check out this webpage: http://miami.artisgaleria.com.ar/artistas/landonij/index.htm