Art Basel Briefs

Published on December 6th, 2014

PRIMARYArt Basel has done amazing things for Miami. It’s more than about  the economic boost from tourists and art buyers visiting from around the world. It has also challenged the Miami art scene to step up its game. During Art Basel Miami Beach 2014 (Dec. 2 – 7) there are more local art galleries than ever offering innovative and edgy work from local artists. Below are just some highlights.

One reliable gallery has always been Primary Projects (151 NE 7th St., Downtown Miami). The inspiration for this year’s “International Friendship Exhibition” (Dec. 3 – Jan. 30; Basel reception Dec. 3 at 5pm) comes from Kim Jong-il’s gift pavilion. The irony of the oppressive, autocratic regime of North Korea displaying gifts to the Kim family from other despots as an exhibit is the tip of the iceberg. A total of 19 local artists present their own works informed by irony, like Gavin Perry’s rainbow made of rebar. His partner and collaborator in the sludge metal-inspired band Holly Hunt Beatriz Monteavaro also has a piece in the exhibit. Other artists include Autumn Casey, Jim Drain, Asif Farooq, Magnus Sodamin, Cole Sternberg, Cody Hudson, and Michael Vasquez.

Yuri Tuma Portait

Yuri Tuma

Butter Gallery (2930 NW 7th Ave., Allapattah/Wynwood West, Miami) has “Departure” (Now – Jan. 8; Basel Reception: Dec. 2 at 7pm), a solo show by Miami photographer Yuri Tuma. These are not ordinary snapshots taken via cell phone, they are a way for the young artist to calm his OCD. Tuma re-imagines images into geometrically symmetrical patterns that appear like mirror images using mobile aps. It’s a kind of purity of form that speaks to an almost literal sense of finding “inner beauty” of everyday buildings and objects both manmade and natural.

Tim Okamura in studio May 2014

Tim Okamura in studio May 2014

But Miami’s art scene is more than Wynwood and the Design District. Head over to Little Haiti and visit Yeelen Gallery (294 NW 54th St., Miami ) for contemporary urban art on the fringe. Currently, Tim Okamura’s “Love, Strength, and Soul” (Now – Jan. 10;  Fade to Black /Black Basel: Dec. 6 at 10pm) decorates its 10,000-square-foot space. The Brooklyn-based portrait artist’s large-scale, hyper-realistic paintings of African-American women features new pieces alongside more familiar works and are truly a sight to behold.

READ> Tim Okamura’s Show ‘Love, Strength, & Soul’ is an Ode to African-American Women… The Brooklyn-based Canadian artist’s sensitivity to his subjects is informed by Rembrandt’s oeuvre by Abel Folgar for Societe Perrier

~Hans Morgenstern | The Independent Ethos |