The Miami Art Week warmup is best spent on or near the water. For many years, it’s been on my bucket list to visit the De La Cruz house on Key Biscayne, and today it finally happened. And WOW! I don’t even know how to begin talking about it. Except by saying it was a work of art itself. There were so many gargantuan paintings it made me want to rent a studio warehouse and start painting bigger and it was just room after room of eye popping, gente bending and often playful work. And I’ll leave it at that and write about it another time, because it merits a tribute post. It really does. I replenished my Felix lucky mint, snuck a few photos of Glenice in front of a Robert Indiana mural of AIDS designed like a step and repeat and I’ll probably spend the next few months just thinking about the space. As I’ve recently been telling people, my favorite collections are in homes and one of the reasons I’ve been enjoying painting in postcards is that you don’t need a huge mansion wall to experience the art. But I still love big fine walls. What can I say.
After our emergency sandwich and a Uber from hell back, which is unfortunately normative this week, we found ourselves recaffeinated and at my favorite Monday afternoon haunt, Untitled, a few hours before sunset with dying phones because as I mentioned before, I promised myself if I lived through COVID, dammit I was going to watch a sunset here. Glen managed to charm his way into some charge and yes, not only did we get to witness the spectacular sunset, but we got some photos too. Now onto the art highlights.
Like most art fairs, at Untitled, there’s really something for everyone. There’s more to write about, especially the vivid Bounty imprinted portraiture of painters like Osaretin Ugiagbe showing at Sarah Crown, and the duct tape and oil works of Serge Attukwei Clottey at Gallery1957, but I only made it 2/3s through and I need to get some sleep. But for the sake of time, here are a few other mixed media pieces that really spoke to me and I recommend you linger over.
Richard Ibghy and Marilou Lemmens, “Alternative Facts of the 21st Century.” Untitled Art Fair. Jane Lombard Gallery, C2.
Just because Trump is out of office doesn’t mean that we’re not still living in a world of alternative facts. The Canadian duo ‘s latest works on both paper and sculpture provocatively question current “facts” that have been commemorated in culture. From Obama’s birth to the St. Louis Toddler Fight, as shown above, the artists recount the misinformation of our modern world with wry humor and savvy craft. Highlights include a ceramic recollection of the Tokyo Olympic Anti-Sex beds from the last Olympics, single beds that were crafted to be too unstable for two to Greta Thunberg’s story. This has been documented by a green ceramic braid that details how, “in 2019, it was discovered that 16 year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg who gave new momentum to the environmental movement, was a fictional character played by a young actor named Estella Renee.”
You won’t be able to miss the 50 or so rainbow framed text pieces from Colombian artist and critic Juan Uribe. They pop. They’re hilarious. They will put a smile on your face. They’re the inside baseball of contemporary art told from the perspective of an astute witty observer. I’ve been totally in love with them since 2019 when I walked by his last series with its Kippenberger reference and spent 2 hours in the booth that ended with me on a Facetime call with the artist talking about the meaning of life and my obsession with Kippenberger’s hotel paintings. Uribe is back with his truisms like, “Anything sold as art is art,” and “I studied art to decorate your storage unit.” As well, he’s added some topical(isms) to his milieu including “geriatic millennial,” “scrolling is our cardio” and my favorite, “buy my art before you’re dead.” It’s affordable, it’s funny and it makes me happy. And as a painter myself who likes words, it’s a direct inspiration in the quiet of my studio.
The Mexican-American artist’s hand embroidered portraits depict families affected by US immigration policies. Parents and child are represented together, but all the children look invisible in the light. Except when darkness arrives, their outlines glow in the dark. According to the artist, the adult figures “symbolize the fear of family separation and deportation. But in darkness, the separation is made visible as the child absorbs the light and becomes a beacon of hope.” The images will linger long after you walk away. Correa Valencia who migrated to the US illegally at the age of three is a DACA recipient with an MFA from California College of the Arts and an Emmy winner for her short film, “Portraits of Napa Valley Workers,” which chronicled stories of undocumented workers from her hometown. Organized by the non-profit the Ant Project, it’s a transformative series and reminder that art can challenge the status quo and make us all more realized, empathetic humans.
Untitled Art Fair runs until December 4, 2021. Entrance is at 12th Street and Ocean Drive.