Words by Liz Tracy
On the surface, it seems like a clever move: getting rich developers to cover the costs of public art. But scratch the veneer, opponents say, and a new phase of the City of Miami’s Art in Public Places plan is at best a mess of unnecessary red tape — and at worst a means for the city to snatch funding from the hands of local artists.
“The city is adding a lot of hoops to something they think is going to create more business,” says Books Bischof, co-founder of the local gallery Primary Projects.
City Planner Efren Nunez, who wrote the ordinance, says Phase I of this legislation was created in response to Miami-Dade County’s Department of Cultural Affairs, which was set to suspend funding to the city because the city wasn’t meeting requirements for public art. City commissioners approved that phase with little resistance.
The second phase of the ordinance, though, has drawn concern from prominent local artists. Phase II — which will be voted on by city commissioners possibly next month, according to Nunez — would require developers to display public art worth .5 percent to 1.25 percent of their construction costs, depending upon the total cost of the project, or pay between .25 percent and 1 percent of their construction costs into the city’s Art in Public Places fund.
Nunez says the plan would cost taxpayers nothing and could raise as much as $8 million to inject visual art into Miami’s public spaces. Many other local governments in South Florida, including Miami Beach and Miami-Dade County, have similar programs. Nunez says he pulled language from other public art ordinances, both locally and from cities with comparable construction volumes such as Los Angeles.
“Public art is a reflection of the city’s identity and its place in time. Public art inspires and activates everyone’s imagination. It encourages people to think and pay attention,” Nunez says. Through this legislation, he believes, more art will be created in and brought to the city.
But some prominent local artists say Miami’s proposal would give the city far more control than most other municipalities. The rule would give developers an ultimatum: buy art for their private land or pay a fee to the city. Developers would also have to get artwork choices approved by a nine-member city board, which currently includes Dacra developer Craig Robins and a representative of Pérez Art Museum Miami, and use professional appraisers to prove the value.
Bischof is concerned with the power the board would have to decide public art. “What influences this board? Wouldn’t that create cronyism? The art world is already run by the elite,” Bischof says. “This is not going to benefit the local art community unless there’s an incentive-based program.”
Today many developers work with local galleries to place pieces by up-and-coming artists in their projects. Under the new rules, developers would have to either work with the city board instead or opt out by paying the fee. That money would go into a fund also controlled by the city’s board. Opponents say the rules essentially turn the city into a meddling middleman, incentivizing developers to give cash to the city and penalizing those who select their own art by imposing a bunch of red tape. Either way, critics argue, local artists, designers, and gallerists who might otherwise have had the opportunity to work directly with developers to sell their works will lose out.
“What developer would want the city to select art on their behalf?” Nina Johnson says. “It’s less costly to pay the 1 percent to get them off their back. It’s going to be hugely detrimental to a huge source of income to all of us.”
Requiring appraisers could also hurt local artists, opponents say. Local, up-and-coming artists aren’t likely to be valued high enough to meet the city’s benchmarks, which could lead developers to select works by more established artists instead. That makes the plan “about dollars and not art,” argues Adam Gersten, owner of the bar Gramps in Wynwood. He is also on the City of Miami Planning, Zoning and Appeals Board and Wynwood Business Improvement District (BID), which met with Nunez to discuss this legislation.
“It’s really about putting money into a fund that is to be administered by a board with no track record,” Gersten says. “More than that, there were numerous examples given by our board in which the system could be gamed and which would be of no benefit to our community or artists in our community.”
Nunez says the city would use independent appraisers. “Art banks let us know what a work is trading at… It’s like a Kelly Blue Book for art,” he insists. “There’s nothing in the legislation that prohibits local artists’ work from being integrated into development sites.”
Gallerists such as Bischof and Johnson, of the eponymous Little Haiti gallery, both already have relationships with developers to provide artwork, and stand to lose that business. “The devil is in the details,” Johnson says. “They’re trying to levy this tax to rob the local galleries, everyone from emerging to midcareer galleries, from new clients. Condos and hotels buying art is a huge way we make money down here.”
Even arguably Miami’s most famous public art — the murals of Wynwood — wouldn’t technically fit the city’s standards for the program, Johnson says. Graffiti wouldn’t be considered to have value according to the originally proposed ordinance, which spurred some pushback and a six-month conversation with the Wynwood BID. Nunez says that as a result, the city “gave Wynwood the ability to approve their own guidelines, requirements, and review boards for approval for public art.”
But the vice chairman of Wynwood’s BID, Albert Garcia, says exempting his neighborhood doesn’t solve the underlying problem. “The way the legislation is drafted today, most of the art in Wynwood wouldn’t qualify as art. So this legislation would remove the chance that a new Wynwood would be created, and it would not let Wynwood continue to be Wynwood.”
Garcia says the community knows what it needs in terms of developing culture. “The artistic progress in Wynwood is a collaboration between the artistic community and private sector, and it’s a grassroots, organic process. The Wynwood BID doesn’t have any say on what art is. We believe art is an expression [and] that the government should stay out of it. We want to incentivize, to protect art, and encourage developers to incorporate it as they see fit.”
But local artists could suffer more, he continues. “They stand the most to lose if they aren’t recognized as legitimate artists whose work doesn’t qualify by [the city’s] standards of what art is. It’s a slippery slope for government to define what art is.”
City commissioners will vote on it in late summer or early fall, possibly September 7.
Excited to announce Autumn Casey recently started her month long residency at La Sierra.
La Sierra Artist Residency brings art and nature together to inspire new works of art and to generate dynamic ideas around its core values of creativity, sustainabilty, cultural exchange and wellness. By supporting the work of artists, writers, designers and thought leaders in these areas, La Sierra Artist Residency dedicates itself to changing lives in Colombia and beyond. La Sierra programming includes an artist residency, educational initiatives, projects in partnership with international cultural organizations, and more. From its base on the Caribbean coast of Colombia, La Sierra Artist Residency is a nexus for cultural production and activities in Latin America, the Caribbean and the United States.
La Sierra Artist Residency is intended to support artists working professionally in all mediums, including painting, drawing, photography, film, sculpture, performance installation, architecture, industrial design, permaculture, music and writing. Artists are encouraged to create new work inspired by their experiences here or continued from their existing studio practice.
La Sierra Artist Residency is an opportunity for emerging and established creative professionals from all over the world to link their inspiration and creativity with the raw, natural environment that surrounds us all. This Artist in Residency program will provide the opportunity to cultivate creativity while seeking solitude, connecting with nature and facilitating a cultural exchange on the Caribbean Coast of Colombia.
La Sierra takes its name from its unique location on the Caribbean Sea in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta in northern Colombia, South America. Here you will find the highest coastal mountain range in the world, with peaks of 5,700 mts (18,700 ft) above sea level only 42km away from the sea. This drastic change in elevation cultivates a variety of ecosystems in direct proximity of each other, harboring an incredible amount of diversity in flora, fauna and culture. In fact, every single ecosystem that exists on earth thrives in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Hence why the native people refer to this area as “The Heart of the World.”
Surrounded by jungle, mountains and virgin beaches, artists are welcomed to create, study and explore. We provide accommodation for one month, allowing the artist in residence to leave behind routine stress and focus on their immersion and connection to the land. The intention for this time is to slow down, reconnect with the rhythms of the earth and awaken the depths within.
More About Autumn Casey
Autumn Casey (b. 1987, Dallas) draws on a variety of personal relics and pop-cultural ephemera, both abject and singular, to challenge and question her own subjectivity against the world at large. Her practice, which moves from sculpture to collage, as well as video performances, considers the history of the found object and assemblage—redeploying existing materials or moments in unexpected, idiosyncratic ways. The result is a body of work that vibrates along the tense cord between the personal and the vernacular. She studied sculpture at the New World School of the Arts (BFA 2011). Her work is collected by the Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami, where she won the 2010 Optic Nerve XII,the Perez Art Museum Miami. Casey currently lives and works in Miami, where she is represented by PRIMARY.
Please join us on Friday, August 11th from 7pm – 10pm for MOBILIZE!, an exhibition and silent auction of curated protest signs by local artists. 100% of all proceeds raised at the silent auction will be donated to the ACLU of Florida to defend our civil liberties.
Participating artists include Adler Guerrier, Alan Guitierrez, Alessandra Mondolfi, Amanda Keeley, Antonia Wright, Autumn Casey, Bhakti Baxter, Brian Butler, Corrie Rice, Cristina Gonzalez and Books Bischof, Karen Starosta-Gilinski, Kelly Breez, Loriel Beltran, Melanie Oliva, Patricia Engel, Rodrigo Londono, Stuart Sheldon, Susan Lee-Chun, Typoe and Westen Charles.
Please RSVP directly to https://standardmobilize.splashthat.com/
To take part in the silent auction, please bring a CC or check and register upon check-in.
by Ahmed Fakhr
Miami may conjure up postcard-perfect images of sunny beaches and sexy nightlife for many people, but for the past decade, the cosmopolitan South Florida city has quietly become a mecca for those on the prowl for cutting-edge art. With new museums and Art Basel Miami Beach attracting jet setters and art-world insiders, Miami is becoming a destination for global collectors looking for a multimillion-dollar Jeff Koons sculpture or one-off by Gerhard Richter. While some opt for the hallowed white-walled galleries to sip white wine, other local artists continue to gain notoriety when by taking to the streets to paint huge murals on bare walls with cans of spray paint. This graffiti explosion was the creation of the street art scene in Wynwood
In 2007, Wynwood was a rundown textile and manufacturing area. Then a cohort of street artists decided to bring attention to their neighborhood, but as a way to establish their own art. Slowly the area transformed into a haven for creative people looking for a way to express themselves. Soon enough, a developer purchased the properties and capitalized on the growing art culture in the gentrifying area now known as the Wynwood Arts District. While some were thrilled with the newfound injection of capital, others remained skeptical about the change.
Native Robert de los Rios, founder of the RAW project, has been entrenched in street art scene in Miami for years, so he used this opportunity as a way bring art to underfunded schools in the area. “Art budgets for schools in the Wynwood area were slashed to zero,” Rios says. So he decided to approach the area school district and street artists from around the world to paint murals on the indoor and outdoor walls of the school. By doing so, Rios hoped this would jumpstart the issue of funding art in schools again and to inspire kids’ creativity. “They felt like they were coming to a prison before,” he says. “But now they come to school excited and happy.”
The outdoor walls at Wynwood’s Jose De Diego Middle School have been transformed into huge canvases, each meticulously painted, with some murals focusing on typography – inspirational statements, like “Believe” – and others featuring more illustrative work. While Rios prides himself in being able to bring an international graffiti scene together to transform the aesthetic of the school, he also collaborated with multiple Miami artists – Ahol Sniffs Glue, Typoe, Santiago Rubino and– to bring challenging concepts to the school’s campus.
Typoe, one third of an art collective known as Primary Flight, along with Cristina Gonzalez and Books Bischof, started in Wynwood when Art Basel launched in 2007. Having no luck at the fair, the trio decided street art was more lucrative. “We were just getting the exposure for ourselves,” Bischof explains. “It was born out of necessity, and that’s the foundation of its success. It was needed.” Now they have a gallery space in the Design District and Typoe receives commissions to create art for various clients, while Bischof and Gonzalez have moved onto to artist representation.
Ahol Sniffs Glue (real name David Anasagasti), whose signature mark is repeated spray-painted droopy eyes, started painting “for the fun, for the fame, for the rush.” Santiago Rubino, born in Argentina, has a more melancholic tone and he attempts to explore the mysteries of life, leaving the viewer to question everything. “I always challenge myself … it’s all problem solving,” he says, referring to himself as a “masochist.”
While Typoe, Ahol and Rubino have switched mediums and currently focus on selling their artwork to collectors via indoor galleries, some street artists still prefer creating their work in a quasi-legal environment. FL.Mingo, for example, still works in the streets by tagging in Miami train yards.
has remained anonymous to this date since, for her, tagging is her primary medium. “This is illegal, and I’ve already been to jail for it,” she tells Rolling Stone, while keeping her face covered and asking for her identity to be kept secret. “I have to stay anonymous, my face especially. I can’t put my face out there. … They’d be knocking at my door tomorrow.” She continues to use her flamingo with a crown symbol because she says she needed something more recognizable and more “Miami.” artwork is still featured at the Wynwood Walls area, but to Mingo, that’s not the real Wynwood.
“It’s mostly out-of-towners painting murals,” she says. “When we were painting it, it was illegal graffiti all over the place. You can have Wynwood, but we still have the rest of Dade County. … I’m not going to forget where I came from.”
Community. It’s always been at the core of this magazine’s existence. It’s what has helped get us to our eleventh printed issue; it’s what inspires us to keep creating; it’s what fuels our desire to collaborate. While amadeus started off as a small project, it’s always been a project based on community and collaboration, and has always functioned as a space for artists to present their work and express their creativity, and to design a network through which people working in different disciplines can easily access new information, ideas and each other. We see this magazine as an opportunity to associate and share resources with other like-minded artists and creatives who are interested in the collaborative nature of what we do. Three years later, we’re happy to continue to propagate our thriving community and culture, and are even more elated to see the roots of this magazine grow deeper, as the de nition of what amadeus truly is expands beyond the label of just a ”print magazine.”
Bijou Karman, Bonethrower, Boo Johnson, Edward Cushenberry, Group Partner, Kelly Breez, LA Qoolside, Never Made, Scotty Stopnik, Sean Maung, Tag Christof
Purchase your very own copy to cuddle with at the link.
Excited to have Jay Howell in town for our Artist in House Residency Program at Soho Beach House.
Jay Howell is an all around kind dude that lives in Los Angeles with his rescue dog, Street Dog. When he’s not illustrating for Vans or drawing skateboards he can be seen on the streets fuckin’ around and sayin’ classic shit. Jay designed the main characters for Fox’s hit show, Bob’s Burgers. He is currently working as an Executive Producer, Co-Creator and Art Director on Sanjay and Craig an animated children’s show for Nickelodeon.
Exposed to punk music early in life by his older sister, the Punk community immediately inspiredHowell to develop a deep love for skateboarding and D.I.Y. ethos. Jay began making his own art, self-published zines, and drawing graphics for skateboards. His unique style, irreverent humor, and funny characters are recognized internationally and have been exhibited around the world, from Slow Culture Gallery in Los Angeles to Colette in Paris.
“Punks Git Cut,” an anthology that includes reprints of his work from his punk-themed zines from the past 20 years has recently been published and currently available through Last Gasp Publishing.
Soho’s Artist-in-House residency program is organized in partnership with Primary, a multifaceted creative organization / art space that explores and promotes various forms of aesthetic expression from both established and emerging contemporary artists, within the gallery context and beyond. Based in the Miami Design District, PRIMARY works to continually expand the expectations of the contemporary art world, and to foster new, unexpected conversations between artists and the public.
Primary, Miami presents a group exhibition titled ‘The Motion of Movements’, through June 24, 2017.
The exhibition showcases new works by Carlos Betancourt, Ronald Moran, Deon Rubi, Ben Pederson, Wade Schaming, Gavin Perry, Manny Prieres, and Keenen/Riley. Through an ongoing series of internal conversations at the gallery, the nature of movement(s) is once again explored. English documentarian Adam Curtis sums up our age as having “retreated – possibly into culture – but also into a never-never land where everything has been emotionalized, rather than confronting issues of power.” With a revived fascination for various forms of balance and movement(s) – creatively, socially, and politically – these works consider the tipping point and challenge the idea of movement(s) or the lack there of. True to form, movement(s) will continue to fluctuate, through the rejection of logic and reason, in the name of artistic expression, responding to inequality, in an effort to advance a power struggle, regardless of its nobility.
Photo Courtesy of Monica McGivern
The stone building on the corner of NE 39th Street and North Miami Avenue looks just as swanky as any other showroom in the high-end haven of the Design District. But there’s one major difference: Inside, instead of handbags and shoes more expensive than your monthly rent, there’s art. Really good art, actually. This is the new home of Primary Projects, the space started by the Primary Flight crew shortly after it made waves by bringing a massive installation of murals to Wynwood. (Look how that worked out.) Primary Projects ran a small space on the other side of the Design District for several years and then spent a brief time in downtown Miami before returning to its original neighborhood in a newly luxurious form. Few local artists have the chance to exhibit their work in a gallery with tall, retail-style windows and a prime position among the 1 percenters, but that’s exactly what Primary offers. Since it opened at its new address in September 2016, it has shown works by Miami stars such as Autumn Casey, Kelly Breez, and Beatriz Monteavaro. And though the building melds effortlessly into the Design District landscape, Primary’s artists and curators aren’t trying to blend in. Just imagine high-strung shoppers with Louis Vuitton bags accidentally wandering into a recent exhibit of fake newspaper pages with political headlines reading “Fuck It Will Set You Free.” It’s a lovely idea.
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