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Words by Nate Rabner  |  Photo by Monica McGivern

Two walls of windows make Primary Projects’ new Design District gallery feel a little like a storefront, blending into the rows of furniture stores around it. But this is a showroom from another dimension. Monoliths clad in carpet swatches, glass, and flowers sprout from the floor in one corner, a little horse with a twisted wax mane stands in a bowl, and a black hoop hangs from the ceiling like some sort of fantastic portal. It’s such an eclectic mix of media that you might begin to question what is and isn’t part of the show: That table in the back? The potted plants shading the speakers in the corner? The bathroom sign? When you really think about it, is anything not art? Whoa. It’s a cool sort of disorientation, and it seems to fit the theme — or, as Primary partner Typoe Gran says, the “anti-theme.” The Primary trio of Books Bischof, Cristina Gonzalez, and Gran has returned to the Design District, and their opening act is “MGWTF,” which eschews stylistic cohesion and narrative in favor of “gut instincts, positive vibrations, and instant attractions.”

“We’re kind of just moving along with the idea of emotions and, like, instinct, and just… what visual aesthetics turn us on or what kind of attitude turns us on,” Bischof explains. “Or maybe just… the individual — like, are they cool, are they hardworking, are they the kind of energy that I want to surround myself with?”

That talent search led to artists with many backgrounds. The monoliths are from Alejandro Guzmán, a New York-based sculptor they met through a friend in Argentina. Miami’s Magnus Sodamin — “one of our heavy-hitters for a while,” Gran says — filled a seven-foot canvas with a vibrant forest of cannabis leaves. And Beatriz Monteavaro and Gavin Perry, both Miamians (and “just fuckin’ rad people,” Bischof says) help anchor one end of the gallery with a series of sci-fi rock ‘n’ roll paintings and the big black hoop, respectively.

“It kind of seems like these things all talk to each other in a way,” he says. It’s kind of like a “living room I would want to live in.” Maybe Primary really is the Design District’s newest and weirdest furniture showroom. It was in this same neighborhood a decade ago when the partners came together to introduce some artists to an area that didn’t have so many at the time. The Primary Flight public art project had its official start in 2007, inviting 35 artists to create murals around the Design District and Wynwood. “We just wanted to bring art to the people in a different way,” Gonzalez recalls. “We did it during Basel, and we felt like, at the time — I’m not saying it’s the same way now, but at the time, you know — it was hard for… some artists to get exposure.

“During that time, there’s a lot going on, so maybe not everybody’s going to get to shine, so we said, ‘You know what? Why don’t we take it to the streets so that everybody can enjoy it?’”

Primary Flight grew to include 150 artists in 2009, and the partners decided they wanted to get a gallery space and more control over their brand. They set up in the Design District for a few years, popped over to Chicago for a project, spent a few years in downtown Miami, and then headed to Los Angeles this summer for what Gonzalez calls “our take into… an art fair” before settling at North Miami Avenue and NE 39th Street. Gonzalez is happy to be back in the neighborhood. “We obviously love the location,” she says. “Excited to… really bring some amazing art to this area again.”

After a couple of years, they’ll move to another space. Gonzalez isn’t giving any hints as to the location, but she says she hopes it will be a permanent home. In the meantime, the Primary partners will continue to keep things fresh. “We get bored really easily; we like to challenge each other,” Gran says. “We get comfortable, and then we’re like, ‘Fuck this — let’s do it another way!’… Next time, I don’t even know what we’ll do, but we’re probably going to do something weird.”

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Pleased to welcome a great friend and amazing artist, Cole Sternberg, to Miami for our Artist in House residency program with Soho Beach House.

Cole Sternberg works in a range of formats including painting, installation, video, and writing. Series’ of his work have focused on a variety of social issues, from current human rights activism and it’s relationship to the law, to the environment, to the media and concepts of content overload. The works tend to be subtle or subversive in nature, driven by elegant visual concepts and poetry versus overt political statements. He is interested in the intersection between humanity and humankind and how their lack of congruity hinders social progression and development.

Sternberg has exhibited nationally and internationally, including exhibitions at The American University Museum (Washington, DC), El Segundo Museum of Art (El Segundo, CA), Hochhaus Hansa (a Ruhr.2010 Museum, Dortmund, Germany), Primary (Miami, FL), David B. Smith Gallery (Denver, CO), Los Angeles Nomadic Division (LAND, Los Angeles, CA), Paris Photo | LA (Los Angeles, CA), e105 Gallery (Berlin), Arted House (East Hampton, NY), LA><ART (Los Angeles, CA) and MAMA (Los Angeles,CA). His works are held by major collections throughout the world.

He is currently working on a documentary about his journey across the Pacific on a shipping vessel, the reconstruction of Ray Johnson’s infamous Room 247 of the Inn at Baron’s Cove, editions with LAXART and Exhibition A, various exhibitions and dreams.

Looking forward to a great week of projects at the house.

Availability is filling up, if you would like to attend an event, please email us at rsvp@thisisprimary.com. Enjoy!

PINGER

 – O, Miami‘s  Play Ping Pong for Justice.

  • Free beer & pizza
  • Play ping-pong against Donald Justice’s ghost for glory and prizes
  • Record yourself reading a Donald Justice poem
  • Translate a Justice poem into Spanglish
  • Make a Justice MAD-LIB
  • Take a photo as Donald Justice
  • Hang out with people who read books

Who is Donald Justice? Read here, or just come and find out.

Saturday, August 20, 7:30pm
Primary
15 NE 39th St
Design District

FREE ZINE with RSVP to scott@omiami.org

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Pleased to welcome a great friend of ours, Nicole Jacek, to Miami for our Artist in House residency program with Soho Beach House. Jacek is a German, award-winning graphic designer (Red Dot, D&AD, Art Directors Club, Type Directors Club New York & Tokyo, etc.). She began at the feet of the masters; working together with Stefan Sagmeister at Sagmeister Inc. and also Ian Anderson at the Designers Republic™/UK. Her work has been published in numerous magazines, newspapers, and books around the world. She was winner of Print’s New Visual Artists, as well as an ADC Young Gun. She is the youngest ADC board member and is currently teaching at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. NJ was the Creative Director of karlssonwilker inc. in NYC for the past four years and just opened up her studio NJ(L.A.)™ in Venice Beach.

Excited to have such an amazing creative in town for our residency program, looking forward a great week of projects at the house. Availability is filling up ultra fast, if you would like to attend an event, please email us at rsvp@thisisprimary.com. Enjoy!

Wanted to congratulate our partner here at Primary, Typoe Gran, on his upcoming solo exhibition at Faena Art in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Excited to see the original sketches come to life. Here is more information about the exhibit if you are in the neighborhood. Enjoy.

Faena Art, the international nonprofit organization that supports and produces multi-disciplinary and time-based experiences, announces the commission of an immersive and participatory installation by Miami-based artist Typoe. The work, titled Forms from Life, will be presented at Faena Art Center Buenos Aires from July 20 through 31st.

When Faena Art Center hosts Typoe’s first exhibition in Latin America later this July, Sala Molinos will be transformed into a surrealist world of labyrinths and fantasy. Comprised of blocks and towers, Forms from Life brings to mind the both ancient Rome as well as the Art Deco facades of Miami, the artist’s hometown.

Typoe’s latest creation explores basic geometry, order and beauty of the physical world and reimagines basic building blocks of tropical colors and classic faux-marble that tease the imagination and invite visitors to construct new worlds for their wildest dreams, generating new experiences of communal creation and social interaction. At the same time, by conjuring up ruins and losses of deferred dreams, this work becomes a contemporary memento mori that elicits the inevitable passage of time and a personal journey through youth and beyond.

Forms from Life draws upon Typoe’s previous commission for the Faena Art Elevate series—a program of rotating site-specific commissions installed in the elevator of Casa Claridge’s in Faena District Miami Beach. For Elevate, Typoe created a playful and experiential work titled Getting Up that encouraged viewer participation and recalled the childhood pastime of playing with letter-shaped magnets; ultimately serving as a transgressive act of auto-definition and a reclamation of public space for social interaction.

Link | on FAENA ART

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Excited to bring our friend Alvaro Ilizarbe back to Miami for the Soho Beach House – Artist in House residency program. Join us all week for some good times with projects and dinner assembled by Alvaro. Space is limited. Please email rsvp@thisisprimary.com. Good times await.

INFINITE-PATTERN MAKING – JULY 19 | 7 – 11 PM – Originally from an advertising and graphic design background, Alvaro Ilizarbe’s work takes a systematic approach to recurring patterns and themes. In this session he will lead a masterclass teaching his process of infinite pattern making. At the end of the workshop, a zine will be collated featuring all attendees’ patterns to take home.

A NIGHT IN LIMA – JULY 21 | 8 – 11 PM – Alvaro Ilizarbe takes us on a culinary trip back to his Peruvian roots with pisco sours, ceviches and more. Expect a delicious family feast and good companionship. $40 per person, exclusive of tax and gratuity.

SAND DRAWINGS – JULY 22 | 6 – 8 PM – Use a rake, stick, or your bare hands to make your own interesting line-work at this meditative session led by Alvaro Ilizarbe.

DOODLE DAY – JULY 23 | 4 – 6 PM – Collaborate with fellow members by doodling and exchanging drawings, which will be rearranged by Xeroxing, adding and subtracting individual contributions, then finally collated into a zine for attendees to take home. Kids and adults welcome.

About ALVARO ILIZARBE

Alvaro Ilizarbe, a Los Angeles based artist, was born in Lima, Peru. Alvaro moved with his family to Miami, Florida (US) in 1989. He attended the Art Institute of Ft Lauderdale, Florida, acquiring an AA in graphic design. Ilizarbe’s work is influenced by pre-columbian art, textiles, tileable patterns, nature and color. Color adds layers of emotions conducive to prescribed feelings.

The absence of color in his work is a way of connecting with the viewer in an un-adulterate way. The work starts out as a clean slate for interpretation between the viewer and the artist. Ilizarbe’s installations transform spaces into different dimensions distorting perception and depth of field. Since his recent relocation to Los Angeles his work has taken on an attention to geography. Landscapes of a time long before civilization emerged.

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One of the telling signs of a successful artist is his mass appeal. Do people like his work? Are they purchasing it? Is his stuff found in museums across the country? But for an artist who occasionally uses the sides of buildings as canvases, the biggest question is: Will people take pictures in front of his mural? The answer to that determines everything in our social-media-conscious society. The work of artist Magnus Sodamin — New York-born, Miami-bred — is found all over the streets of the Wynwood Arts District, and everyone loves snapping photos. In 2015, when the shopping mall the Wynwood Block was ready to open, Sodamin was tapped to give the building’s exterior a bit of color. A combination of brilliant hues such as magenta, yellow, royal blue, and black all trickle down the walls. At first, they might appear like simple splatters of color, but plenty of thought went into the piece. And it makes for a memorable backdrop for your next Wynwood selfie.

Link | on New Times

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Words by John Thomason

The strongest compliment I can pay to Kenton Parker’s exhibition at the Art and Culture Center of Hollywood is that I forgot, if only for a few fleeting moments, that I was standing in an art museum. Parker specializes in walkable human-sized structures—experiential art projects that invite visitors inside. In spite of their self-reflexive flourishes, they transport museumgoers to other places—of warmth, of regret, of teenage community—far removed from the often-academic sterility of a gallery space.

The centerpiece of the exhibition, in terms of its visual, aural and tactile significance, is “My First Kiss,” an intimate treehouse with room for three or four temporary residents at a time. It comes across as a place of escape and refuge, fortified on all sides by planks of wood, giant fronds and foliage, suggesting an ideal hideaway for the exchange of furtive kisses, potent weed and off-key karaoke to the music your parents hate (some of it, from the likes of AC/DC and Nilsson, plays on a loop from somewhere in the structure). Inside, butterflies painted directly onto the wood walls complement chrysalides gestating in jars. And if you lay on your back, you can lose yourself in “Space,” a mesmerizing seven-minute video of the cosmos beaming from a flat-screen—a dash of the universal attained through an edifice that couldn’t be more personal.

If you never want to leave this enclave, that’s probably the point. Some visitors may long for treehouse experiences gone by, but the piece arguably works better for the treehouse-deprived majority, the city dwellers who never grew up with such structures, and who get to experience nostalgia by osmosis. “My First Kiss” feels like a lost memory newly recovered, even if it never existed to begin with.

The treehouse shares the main gallery floor with “Always Sorry,” a mock flower shop whose canny name is a commentary on the boneheaded, inevitably male mistakes that keep florists in business. It’s even more lifelike than “My First Kiss,” because it’s a full 360-degree effort: Behind the shop, chipped pots and crates contain logs, tree branches and watering cans, and there’s a wheelbarrow and open bag of Miracle Gro scattered among the detritus, waiting for their next project.

At the front of the shop, live flowers imprint aromas in the air that will signify different emotions for different people. Cacti and aloe sprout from a rooftop mini garden, and the inside of the cramped store is littered with arrangements (fake ones this time), seed packets, spray bottles and the occasional gewgaw. I’ve never seen a flower shop like that outside of “The Little Shop of Horrors,” but perhaps that, too, is the point: “Always Sorry” is a hyperreal evocation of a theoretical business.

Works in acrylic, oil, graphite and crayon hang on the surrounding walls, offering mostly abstract imagery that harmonizes with the centerpieces thanks to vivid, childlike, explorative strokes. Existential profundity imbues the deceptively simple “Infinity Clock,” Parker’s refurbished wall clock with the hands removed, which reinforces the outside-of-time ambience of the show.

By contrast, the need to recognize and catalog the passing of time colors the deliberate banality of “Traffic,” an hour-long montage of Parker’s work commute in L.A., filmed with a mounted camera and scored with whatever music he was listening to on his car stereo at the time. I appreciate the artistic sentiment involved, but it doesn’t make “Traffic” any more exciting to watch—especially when the sights, smells, sounds and false memories of “My First Kiss” continue to beckon, just a few steps away.

“Kenton Parker: Everything Counts in Small Amounts” runs through Aug. 21 at Art and Culture Center of Hollywood, 1650 Harrison St., Hollywood. Tickets cost $7 for adults and $4 for students, seniors and children ages 17 or under. Call 954/921-3274 or visit artandculturecenter.org.

LINK | on BOCA MAG

View Available works from Kenton Parker on ARTSY