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Mette Tommerup and Karen Rifas featured in MiamiArtZine

November 30, 2020

By Irene Sperber

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What Would December in Miami Be Without Art Week?

No Worries, My Dears, It May Not Look The Same, But Things Are Happening

By Irene Sperber

photo credit: J. Perea

Our town, the country, the world, is trying mightily to carry on as the pandemic has the same tenacious “stick-to-it-tive-ness.” If you are doggedly in need of a genuine humanity “fix,” I have included a few ideas that will keep you sane (assuming you started off that way) and intrigued.

Art Week Miami has been gut punched for Miami’s 2020 seasonal extravaganza as that pink, spiky virus ball continues to roll through/over every plan without hesitation.

The virtual Miami Book Fair just concluded, successfully bringing authors from their houses directly into our homes, exciting and educating potentially dormant brain activity. We have had the added thrill of seeing many authors kitchens intimately, some much nicer than my own, I noted. (Not that I wasn’t paying rapt attention to every morsel of conversation, mind you.)

On the heels of Book Fair is always Art Week, occurring Dec. 2 through 6, 2020.
It’s here! Though what “it” actually “is” in 2020 may be an ever changing vaporous adventure.
Put that egg-nog down and I’ll try to help nudge this along.

Keep in mind, most actual activities require a time-slot reservation — ergo doing homework is extra important this year. It may also be prudent to realize that the up-and-down nature of the virus saturation in a given area can affect week to week access to pretty much everything.

I consider Locust Projects in Miami’s Design District one of my personal favorite art spaces, proving time and time again that Miami has a mind willing to go into untapped corners. Speaking of which, I cornered Executive Director Lorie Mertes for thoughts on Locust Projects’ pertinent exhibitions and live events. Mertes took over Locust Projects in 2017 after her role as director of public programs at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C.

miamiartzine: What current issues did you wish to address for the all important Art Week even in its amended version? And how are they relevant to these times and locale?

Lorie Mertes: On view at Locust Projects are three shows. Together, they are a powerful group of works on creation, transformation, and being in the present, immersive moment, something we all very much need in this deeply unsettling time.

  • Mette Tommerup’s project created for the Main Gallery inspired by Freya, the Nordic Goddess of love, war, beauty, gold and transformation, continues Locust Projects focus on women artists in 2020 in conjunction with the centennial of the women’s vote. Titled Made by Dusk, Tommerup’s installation reflects on the “healing and transformational potentials of pausing in the liminal space of twilight to reconsider meaning and purpose.” Honey Baby (2013) by Janine Antoni and Stephen Petronio is a “mesmerizing, provocative video inspired by motion in utero of a folding and tumbling body suspended in a honey filled environment from 2013 that plays with our notions about birth, the body, movement, and eroticism.”
  • Paula Wilson’s On High features Living Monument, a two-channel video made in 2017, documenting the removal of a Confederate sculpture on one channel and a covert performance by the artist dancing at dawn atop the remaining plinth before she was forced to leave the premises by law enforcement. Now, some three years later, the urgency of the current moment brings Wilson’s Living Monument forward for reflection. “Wilson highlights Black joy, moving us away from static effigies of Western power, demanding a creative and triumphant orientation to the now.” Also featured is the video Salty & Fresh from 2014 accessed via a QR code as a nod to the act of looking through screens, “which are ubiquitous as it is, but have predominated our lives since the start of the pandemic.” It was filmed at Historic Virginia Key Beach in 2014.

maz: Are there live events occurring during Art Week? Virtual events?

LM: Yes, live performance, no virtual events. Mette Tommerup’s performance “Liminal” will take place on Tuesday, Dec.1 from 6 to 8 p.m. in Locust Projects’ rear parking lot. Reservations required. capacity is limited and social distancing and safety protocols will be required. Reservations can be made here.

Note: VIA Art Fund and the Wagner Foundation announced Locust Projects is one of five national awardees to receive a two-year incubator grant.

On one of your many day walks, stop by the Bass Museum, a Miami Beach contemporary art stronghold since 1964. The Bass is utilizing the Collins Park locale, for extra outdoor events. This year “Art Outside” takes the form of a curated parcours, explains the Bass, expanding beyond the museum campus area to South Pointe Park, Pride Park, the Miami Beach Convention Center Campus, The Wolfsonian’s northwest exterior, and Lincoln Road.

The reflecting pool (Park Avenue / 22nd Street), is showing Too Much I Once Lamented (2019) by Susan Philipsz. Permanent and temporary works from the collection at the Bass are shown along with a temporary commission by Miami-based artist Karen Rifas.

Relevant topics include sea rise levels (we noticed) consumer culture (noticed that, too), climate change (yup), and lost love (not lately). Expect sculpture, neon, sound and video; i.e. Abraham Cruzvillegas’ commissioned sculptural installation “self-construction.”

Utilizing numerous species of flora, fauna and mineral with performers mimicking native birds, the artist constructed seating from locally sourced materials. 23 different local species create the installation of more than 1,000 plants. Many of the included species, like the Salix Caroliniana (Coastal Plain Willow), have medicinal properties and are regularly used by the Seminoles, introducing notions of care and restoration to the installation. Cruzvillegas’ “Agua Dulce” juts straight out east from The Bass museum’s front door (free).

The Sagamore Hotel is noted for its Saturday Brunch during Art Week. With the necessary 2020 era “adjustments,” its 19th brunch event will go on, along with the art this hotel has long been known for.

The art hotel, begun by Cricket and Martin Taplin, was purchased in 2016 by current owner Ronit Neuman, who will honor Art Week 2020 with a dedication to local artists. Three curated exhibits, titled: ”Everyone has a story to tell…” “The Gaze” and “The Sagamore Walls,” exhibited in bungalows, are augmented by live art including music, dance and fashion. This will be a ticketed/timed event. Saturday, Dec. 5, 9 to 11a.m.

Another Sagamore event is The AFFM (Art, Fashion, Food, Music) Experience opening Miami Art Week at The Sagamore Supper Club. Expect a four-course concept dinner by Celebrity Chefs, Jeff McInnis and Janine Booth. Wednesday, Dec. 2. 6  to 10 p.m.

MUCE (The Miami Urban Contemporary Experience) will lob several events into the atmosphere of Miami’s Art Week featuring the group exhibition “Dispersed, a Mythological Journey to the Center of the Universe Where Black Gods, Black Mermaids & The Ancestors Come to Life.”

Opening reception: Wednesday, Dec. 3. 5 to 9 p.m.

Gallery hours: Thursday through Sunday, Dec 3  to 6. 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. (free) and 6 to10 p.m. ($10).

Art Basel is strictly virtual this year, but make sure you catch a few galleries in the Online Viewing Rooms or Conversations from anywhere in the world in artbasel.com.

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