THE ROAMING GALLERIST : NATURE AND ART OF MIAMIby Denise Bibro Fine Art
To take refuge from the labors of trying to put our house in Florida back together after the hurricane and to give ourselves a little treat for our anniversary, my husband and I ventured to Naples Botanical Garden. For years I have been curious about it, but since Sanibel was its own paradise and our visits were few and far between, we never had time. I should also admit that having been to the wonderful gardens that Brooklyn and the Bronx have to offer, I was misguided to have the jaded perception that Naples would not measure up. I should be embarrassed to admit that I was surely wrong. Never make assumptions. If you are in Southwest Florida, the Naples Botanical Garden is a must. It is a beautiful gem that provides not only the tantalizing wonders of topical nature but also quiet places for meditation, beautiful walking trails, special exhibitions of outdoor sculpture, and presentations. And if you have little ones in your life it also has a cornucopia of educational entertainment.
Naples Botanical Garden is a testament to the fact that there are well-meaning generous individuals, who have been successful putting their minds and hearts to important causes and putting their time and money where their mouths are. Despite the hustle and bustle of the modern day they care about what brought people here in the first place – nature’s beauty. And they have the foresight to preserve it. Board member Grace Evenstad and her late husband Ken have been Naples Botanical Graden’s benefactors for a long time, and they became the lead donors for the construction of Evenstad Horticulture Campus. With the help of other important donors and Henry Kapnick buying the 170 acres of land, they anchored the project. It is incredible that it only started in 1993. When visiting this wonderful place it feels like it has always been like this. It goes to show that the world needs visionaries like them and a stellar team made up of Ellin Goetz, Ted Flato, Raymond Jungles, Herb Schaal, Bob Truskowski and Made Wijaya, who completed a master plan of the project. Naples Botanical Gardens is a celebration of the Art of Nature. For me, being an artsy person and a nature lover, it was a tour de force!
FRIDA AND HER GARDEN IS ON VIEW THROUGH SEPTEMBER 10, 2023
In the middle of the Naples Botanical Garden we found a special exhibition honoring a 20th century visionary painter Frida Kahlo. She was the first female Latin American artist to be exhibited in Louvre in Paris, France, and is arguably the most recognizable female Latin American artist in history. In recent years her work has been greatly referenced and exhibited. During her tenure she was often overshadowed by the strength of character and machismo of her famous husband Diego Rivera, who is considered one of the most famous muralists of the 20th century. He is well known for his monumental works on the subjects of social inequality and political context around labor. His frank and powerful murals resonated the pain, toil, and humble character of the worker.
Frida Kahlo herself was also an activist, who fought gender inequity and exposed the struggles and hardships of an indigenous woman in her paintings. She was a woman plagued with her own constant medical pains, which reflected in her work as well. Kahlo transformed her pain and emotions into visual language that pierced through the angst and noise around her. Nature and its lush beauty were an important part of that language too. In her garden in Coyoacán, Mexico City, she found solace and inspiration for her work. Naples Botanical Garden provides a replica of it with its cacti, plants, and blooming flowers. Frida’s easel is placed in the garden as well, evoking the presence of the artist. Various pictures and descriptions provide the viewer a sense of place and history. When in the garden, you can’t help but to be affected by its beauty and the power of nature. It gives an understanding of how Kahlo used this space as a sanctuary for creativity, meditation, and thought. As if nature led her eyes, heart, and then her hands on the canvas.
Within this garden the curators have placed contemporary sculptures by artists influenced by the same colors and patterns that resonated with Kahlo. These works echo to the viewer how this environment lends itself to others and inspires unlimited creative interpretations. I believe that Frida Kahlo would have loved these wonderful works.
Also not to be missed is a wonderful natural sculpture installation “Sea Change” by North Carolina based sculptor and environmental artist Patrick Dougherty. He is well known for his site-specific designs. This piece can be visited and experienced on the Kapnick Caribbean Garden lawn and will be there for approximately two years.
It is made from Interconnected circles of Pussy Willow from Canada and Coastal Plain Willow from Naples Botanical Garden, the branches creating wavy shapes of woven saplings. The artist’s son, Sam, and handpicked local volunteers assisted Dougherty in transforming nature into a massive interactive work of art. The piece has a feeling of grandeur and openness. The large empty biomorphic spaces within the design structure invite the view to experience it from within. Children and adults revel at its beauty and are delighted to walk into it and experience a sense of inclusion and venture. I could not help but to conjure and compare the feelings that it evoked in me with those I felt when looking at works of the 20th Century master sculptor Henry Moore. Although very different in context, the innate sense of natural shapes, form, line, and beauty are present in both.
As my Yorkshire English husband often says when he is emphatic about something: This is a work that one cannot choose to ignore, “Full STOP”.
The grounds of the Naples Botanical Garden have an abundance of various sculptures of multiple genres. Ona can find lively, almost human sized and human like bronze animals, small and monumental mosaic installations, multicolored sculpted birds inspired by Caribbean and Latino cultures, modern biomorphic shapes, and iconic images of Buddha to evoke feelings of calm reverence and meditative peace.
Art Wynwood, a smaller but well established fair in Miami, was a pleasant surprise this year. The fair, established for a number of years, has always taken off from the coattails of Art Miami and Art Context in February. The fair is owned and produced by the same London based company, Informa Markets, which has just recently acquired it from the previous partners, including the founder Nick Korniloff.
Art Wynwood, to some extent, is a step child to the two bigger fairs that take place at the same time as Basel in December. It has often been foreshadowed by the bigger fairs. Many years, perhaps due to the crunch of filling spaces and financial pressure, its curation has not been the best. Which has always been a puzzlement to myself and to many others because the desire and number of applicants almost always exceeds the amount of space.
I am happy to say that this year was a more pleasant experience. Although there was a number of the same participants from the two fairs in December, it was better curated. The bad, and ugly bling was not as big of a factor. The bling that existed was palpable and, in some cases, even quite entertaining to look at.
As in Basel, Art Miami, and Context there was a contingent number of galleries focusing on Latin American art, most from Miami and the greater Miami area. As expected they brought with them a number of masterpieces of the well established living and dead masters like Roberto Matta and Wifredo Lam. Kudos to Latin Art Core, Miami, Fl, who made a large effort to feature contemporary female Latin artists. One in particular, Gina Pellón (1926-2014), was featured and inspired a great deal of interest. Pellón graduated from Havana’s San Alejandro Academy in 1954. A year prior, she exhibited at the Cuban Salon of the Beau Arts. To support herself she was a caregiver and later went to Paris and took care of small children. This theme permeates through her works. She was an artistic force in the early 50’s. She was influenced and informed by many art movements including surrealism and the wrks of Anton Breton, Roberto Matta, Wilfred Lam. She was also influenced by expressionism. Pellón was admired and talked about by many great visionaries. Her works reminded me of the works of Dustly Boyton who we showed in Art Miami and Art Context some years ago.
Gina Pellón (on the left) and Dusty Boynton (on the right)
It was good to see the works of other female masters like the noted sculptor Louise Nevelson, painter Lynne Drexler, who has recently been rediscovered and is now getting well deserved attention, especially from Berry Campbell in NYC. Drexler, an artist from Virginia, spent most of her productive life in New York and Monhegan Island, Maine, where she created. She was married to another great artist, John Hultberg, who showed with Martha Jackson Gallery in the past and DBFA in the 90’s. Drexler’s work were inspired by the natural beauty around her. Her colorful vibrant abstract compositions were explosive in color, they were electric and developed more into impactful abstractions with figures in her later life.
It was good to see artist friend, Art Students League Instructor, Bruce Dorfman, who we have featured in some of our special exhibitions at DBFA. He was featured by the Boston, NYC, and Miami based gallerist, Liz Clement. Alongside of Dorfman’s work were small paintings by Larry Poons, another connection with the Art Students’s League of New York. Poons rediscovery, thankfully in his life time, which is a rare phenomena, has skyrocketed in recent years. I have often seen his work shown in the Art Student’s League windows. A sacred place which, despite the claws of real estate entrepreneurs, has managed to avoid the temptation to cash in and the kiss of death.
Bruce Dorfman (on the left) and Larry Poons (on the right)
Frank Hyder, an artists friend and an affiliated artist of DBFA, had a stellar solo both at the fair. His new Janus pieces created in bronze and cement were featured with his paintings and mixed media works. This was arguably one of the best fair solo showings he has ever had. Recently, Hyder has also installed his large sculpture Janis – 2 Shades of Gray at the KuBe Art Center, Beacon, NY. It is located only a couple of minutes away from Dia: Beacon.
Frank Hyder’s booth at Art Wynwood, Miami, FL
Janis – 2 Shades of Gray by Frank Hyder at the KuBe Art Center, Beacon, NY
*To see other works of Frank Hyder visit our Artsy.
Art Wynwood had many wonderful things to look at, not only from the Miami and greater Miami area but from other states, Europe, and Asia. Many of them were viewing and acquiring worthy. You can see the examples in our collages.
We look forward to the fair’s continued success and do hope that as much effort will be made in curating as well as marketing it.
The Pérez Art Museum Miami and the nearby surrounding Maurice A. Ferré Park in downtown Miami, Florida, gives the world at large and Miami a wealth of culture and entertainment. It offers a wonderful outdoor space for recreational activities as well as a chance to observe the beauty of nature and revel at the surrounding artworks.
The Pérez Art Museum Miami has a number of exhibitions to celebrate fantastic women in the arts such as iconic contemporary Asian artist Yayoi Kusama, a filmmaker and artist Madeleine Hunt-Ehrlich, and a Brazilian-born artist Marcela Cantuária.
Yayoi Kusama, LOVE IS CALLING, 2013
Photo: Ernie Galan
© YAYOI KUSAMA.
Courtesy David Zwirner and Ota Fine Arts
Madeleine Hunt-Ehrlich, still from Too Bright to See (Part I), 2023
Courtesy the artist
Marcela Cantuária, Os mortos não estão mortos, 2020
Photo: Vicente de Mello
In addition to that they have a number of other wonderful exhibitions showing the works of Leandro Erlich, Christo, Hélio Oiticica, and Carlos Cruz-Diez.
The Maurice A. Ferré Park on Biscayne Bay also hosted a major exhibition of the renowned Costa Rican sculptor Jorge Jiménez Deredia. The exhibition is sponsored by the City of Miami, the Bayfront Management Trust, and the Museum of Cuban Diaspora. In this spectacular solo show a number of his works were displayed within the areas of the park. The city succeeds in its efforts to bring artists of various cultures and backgrounds, highlighting the beauty of the human creativity and how it relates to nature and the urban environment. All of this artistic and natural splendor at the footsteps of the Pérez Art Museum Miami is a triumph of the great use of public space, giving a respite to all from the hectic life of a vibrant city.
Hugo Rodriguez Loredo (on the left) and Sandra Victoria, Armando Blanco (on the right)