South Florida museums and galleries strut their stuff during Art Week. Some institutions are debuting new shows; others are offering a last glimpse of stellar shows. December is prime time for seeing great work.
PROGRESSIVE BRUNCH, UPPER EAST SIDE
Get a jump on Art Week Dec. 1 at the Progressive Brunch hosted by 11 of Miami’s top galleries located north of downtown. Highlights include the opening of the new Upper East Side by N’Namdi Contemporary (showing Robert Colescott drawings), Tomas Esson at Fredric Snitzer Gallery, Mette Tomerup at Emerson Dorsch, Eugenio Espinoza at Piero Atchugarry Gallery, the group show “Grounded” at Spinello Projects and “Dirty Words” (featuring work by Mark Flood and Sam Jablon) at Mindy Solomon Gallery.
10 a.m.-4 p.m. Find a map and the full list of participating galleries at progressiveartbrunch.com
20 YEARS OF MARGULIES WAREHOUSE
Resting up against I-95 on the dingy western edge of what would become the Wynwood Arts District, Martin Z. Margulies opened up his private collection to the public in a warehouse in 1999, and over the next 20 years, with the guidance of longtime curator of the collection Katherine Hinds, turned it into a must-see international destination, especially for sculpture and later for installation and video. Throughout these two decades, the Margulies has amassed an assortment of stunning and memorable work from many of the world’s best artists. Visitors will remember the George Segal and Sol LeWitt, the Olafur Eliassons and Ernesto Netos, and the exhibit of magnificent and monumental sculptures of Anselm Kiefer. And this year’s exhibit “Can It Really Be 20 Years Already?” won’t disappoint — dozens of big names from Willem de Kooning, William Eggelston, Leandro Erlich, Thomas Hirschhorn, Barry McGee to Isamu Noguchi, Tony Oursler, Cindy Sherman, Shinique Smith and Jennifer Steinkamp. There are too many to list here to do justice to the variety and depth of what’s on display. Through April. Special Art Week hours, Dec. 2-7, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Dec. 8, 9 a.m.-2 p.m.
Margulies Collection at the Warehouse, 591 NW 27th St., Miami; margulieswarehouse.com.
TERESITA FERNANDEZ, GEORGE SEGAL AT PAMM
Miami’s public museum indulges us with two heavy hitters this upcoming season. “Elemental,” a retrospective showcasing more than 50 works from Miami native Teresita Fernandez, includes large-scale installations and sculptures from the mid-1990s onward — pieces such as the thousands of silk threads forming a flame-pattern in “Fire” to the evocatively titled “Charred Landscape,” referencing the elements of a world scarred by climate change. Through Feb. 9. PAMM also showcases the great contemporary sculptor George Segal’s restored “Abraham’s Farewell to Ishmael,” whose life-size subjects tell the wrenching tale of the Biblical Abraham reluctantly banishing his mistress Hagar and son Ishmael to roam the desert. (Thus came the split between the Arab and Jewish worlds.) Through July 6.
Pérez Art Museum Miami, 1103 Biscayne Blvd., downtown Miami; pamm.org
CECILIA VICUNA AT MOCA
Words don’t truly describe the multi-disciplinary compositions of Chilean artist Cecilia Vicuña’s beautiful and complex, room-size installations. Over 40 years she has woven together various materials — often discarded objects and textiles — in conceptual art and poetry as she has explored displaced peoples, corroded lands and seas. Often the works are tied to feminist theories and forms. The works have been both performed and exhibited in such august venues as Documenta 14, the Tate London and the Whitney Museum in New York Locally art lovers can see the work in the show “Cecilia Vicuña: About to Happen.” Dec. 2 - March 29. Performance, 10 a.m., Dec. 7, followed by a conversation with the artist. Art Week hours, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami, 770 NE 125th St., North Miami; mocanomi.org.
STERLING RUBY AT ICA
The Sterling Ruby survey at the Institute of Contemporary Art - Miami spans 75 works and two-decades of the American-Dutch artist, who delves heavily into craft forms — such as ceramics — and combines disparate elements. His goal: to highlight American traditions, such as Amish quilting, and also express modern tensions between masculinity and violence, urban living and defacement. Much of Ruby’s interest in this “cultural archaeology,” stems from his upbringing in Pennsylvania Dutch Country and his early years as a construction worker. Through Feb. 2.
Institute of Contemporary Art - Miami, 61 NE 41st St., Miami Design District; icamiami.org
KUSAMA IN DESIGN DISTRICT
Crowds have flocked to LED-lit infinity mirror room installations by Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama in cities from Los Angeles to Cleveland. For the first time, Miami visitors can explore Kusama’s autumn appropriate “All the Eternal Love I have for Pumpkins,” courtesy of the Institute of Contemporary Art - Miami. The installation’s mirrored chamber centers on a series of yellow acrylic gourds covered in black polka dots. Attendees wander amid the forms, becoming part of the artwork — and its obsessiveness. Through Jan. 31, Thursdays-Sundays. from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Admission is free each Thursday on a first-come basis; timed-tickets are available Fridays-Sundays for $15. The installation is at an outpost rather than the main museum.
Yayoi Kusama installation, 112 NE 41st St., suite 106; www.icamiami.org
— JANE WOOLDRIDGE
OCEANS MEET AT MOAD
Geography has always been Miami’s centrifugal force, driving the city’s growth and defining it as a point of convergence. “Where the Oceans Meet” explores concepts inherent to border cities: identity, diaspora, race, hospitality and cultural crossover. The show’s entry takes a historical view through the eyes of Cuban painter, scholar, and ethnographer Lydia Cabrera (1899–1991) and the Martinican philosopher, poet, and literary critic Édouard Glissant (1928–2011), incorporating works of Roberto Matta and Wifredo Lam. A contemporary section features work by Theaster Gates, Jack Whitten and Tania Bruguera, to name but a few. Its setting — in the Freedom Tower at Miami Dade College — underscores the theme. Through Jan. 12. Art Week brunch Friday, Dec. 6, 9 a.m.-noon.
Miami Dade College Museum of Art + Design, Freedom Tower, 600 Biscayne Blvd., mdcmoad.org.
— JANE WOOLDRIDGE
EAST PLUS WEST, AT LNS
The theme of nexus continues at LnS Gallery near Coconut Grove, here with an emphasis on connections between Europe and the new world. “The Roses of Fibonacci” showcases three massive canvases and 1,000 small drawings by French-American artist John William Bailly. In the accompanying catalog, Deering Estate cultural arts curator Melissa Diaz writes: “Drawing on a wide range of art historical references, Bailly’s approach to painting is a process that is as meticulous and methodical as it is expressive and intuitive. His mark-making is a layering of an adroit awareness of disegno of the Renaissance masters, charged with the spontaneity of American Abstract Expressionist action painting.” Through Jan. 11.
LnS Gallery, 2610 SW 28th Lane, near Coconut Grove; lnsgallery.com.
— JANE WOOLDRIDGE
CORAL GABLES MUSEUM
The Coral Gables Museum has upped its art presence in recent years. Dec. 3 marks the launch of three complimentary shows related to diaspora: “For Now” showcases work by Venezuelan artists in Miami. “Venezuela: Serious Humor” brings levity to the nation’s grim situation through graphic work of cartoonists Roberto Weil and EDO (aka Eduardo Sanabria). “El Viaje” presents a book-portfolio that contains visual work by 18 Latin American artists reflecting on personal exile. Through March 15.
Coral Gables Museum, 285 Aragon Ave., Coral Gables; coralgablesmuseum.org/home/
AFTER STONEWALL, AT THE FROST
The 1969 Stonewall riots in New York city changed the gay world forever; though birthed in violence, the struggle that ensued gave lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and queer (LGBTQ) people rights never imagined before. Coinciding with this ground-breaking event, the Frost has brought in a huge exhibit, “Art After Stonewall, 1969-1989,” with more than 200 works. The presentation underscores the impact the LGBTQ movement had on visual culture, including performance, film, photography, painting, film and other genres. According to Jordana Pomeroy, the director of the Frost Art Museum, “The exhibition acknowledges the guts and grit of these artists, gay and straight, to make declarative and public visual statements about gender and sexuality in a predominantly homophobic world.” Through Jan. 5. Annual brunch, this year with artist Petah Coyne, 9:30 a.m.-noon Dec. 8.
Patricia & Philip Frost Art Museum-Florida International University, 10975 SW 17th St., Miami; frost.fiu.edu.
DIAGO AT THE LOWE
Juan Roberto Diago, who represented Cuba in the 1997 Venice Biennale, has long been consumed by themes of identity, in particular his view of potent Cuban historical revisionism when it comes to race. Through his visual language of graffiti art, Diago challenges the official account of a Cuban society forged in racial harmony by presenting a past built on pain, rape, greed and the enslavement of millions of displaced Africans. As “DIAGO: The Pasts of this Afro-Cuban Present” demonstrates, it’s a story still affecting Cuba today. Diago’s quest is to construct new pasts that can explain the current condition. Through Jan. 19. The museum’s annual Art Week brunch is Dec. 8, 10 a.m.-noon, followed by an artist talk by Ursula von Rydingsvard (limited space, registration required at attend.com/bubblesandbrunch).
Lowe Art Museum - University of Miami, 1301 Stanford Drive, Coral Gables; lowe.miami.edu.
OOLITE ARTS: “ON THE ROAD II”
Inspired by Jack Kerouac’s iconic Beat novel, curator Larry Ossei-Mensah has circled the globe seeking out artists who, like the author, explore issues of mobility, freedom and identity during times of political and social change. In this second iteration (the first exhibit was held in Brooklyn), Ossei-Mensah focused on artists from Detroit and Miami, two cities whose music, languages, demographics and art reflect the transformative moments in which they find themselves. To better understand both present and future, the curator asks: “How [are] artists participating in, responding to, or questioning their immediate environment?” The answers appear before your eyes. Through Dec. 15.
924 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach; oolitearts.org.
DAVID CASTILLO GALLERY
Along with a significant presence at Art Basel (a booth in the Galleries section and in the new Meridians area, Pepe Mar’s monumental “Varla TV” (2018-19), Castillo is hosting a solo show of new work by Sanford Biggers in his Lincoln Road gallery. The show focuses on Biggers’ new quilt paintings and sculptural quilts in which he explores the U.S. legacy of slavery and social injustice.
David Castillo Gallery, 420 Lincoln Rd.; davidcastillogallery.com
— JANE WOOLDRIDGE
WOLFSONIAN-FIU: MICKY WOLFSON COLLECTS
With stained-glass windows, paintings, prints, posters and books, mostly from the first part of the 20th century, the Wolfsonian-FIU has gathered a collection that is unique in the country. The pieces that have been grouped together for exhibits and scholarly purposes reflect the singular vision of Mitchell “Micky” Wolfson. For three decades, the collector and world traveler has amassed ephemera that speak to design, culture and propaganda — a message that seems prescient in the current age. What better time to mark “A Universe of Things: Micky Wolfson Collects” than on the occasion of his 80th birthday? The exhibition features his vision with favorite items and rarely shown works. Through November.
Wolfsonian-FIU, 1001 Washington Ave.; wolfsonian.org
LARA FAVARETTO, MICKALENE THOMAS AT THE BASS
Two women who work in different contemporary expressions are featured in separate exhibits at The Bass.
Favaretto creates paintings, sculptures and installations that can be both somewhat playful but often play with the idea of a world in constant flux. “Blind Spot” includes recent and older pieces, such as “The Library,” with 2,200 donated books about the Italian artist’s practice, a sort of retrospective in pages. A site-specific work commissioned for the museum, “Gummo IV” is comprised of five automated car-wash brushes that eventually wear themselves down. Through April 19.
Photographer Mickalene Thomas’ “Better Nights” is an immersive installation loosely based on a 1970s play performed by her mother and family. It’s an apartment reconstructed with the décor of that decade (faux wood paneling, wallpaper, you remember) and adorned with the artist’s own work and other pieces from people of color. The installation will host performances, DJs, and a live bar at various times. Hang on for quite a gallery ride! Through Sept. 27.
The Bass, 2100 Collins Ave.; thebass.org
MIRA LEHR, AT JEWISH MUSEUM
For more than 60 years, Mira Lehr of Miami Beach has been creating important work and championing women artists. The eco-feminist’s new show, “Mira Lehr: A Walk in the Garden,” features her latest paintings and 180 aerial sculptures and emphasizes her dedication to nature and protecting the planet. The show was created specifically for the Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU, housed in a former synagogue. Said Susan Gladstone, museum director, “Lehr has combined her art with that of the stained-glass windows and the play of light they create together. The result is truly magnificent.” Through Feb. 3.
Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU, 301 Washington Ave.; www.jmof.fiu.edu.
— CHRISTINA MAYO
GET HAPPY IN LAUDERDALE
Throughout history, art has acted as a mirror commentary on the human condition, often shining a cathartic aesthetic light on dark times. “Happy!” takes this a step further, offering up literal and whimsical pieces from prominent artists depicting a happier, brighter world — a perfect elixir to our troubling times. The artworks were made between the mid-20th century and today. They include two early Mark Rothkos (one of which is a children’s celebration) and works by Cory Arcangel, Tracey Emin, Félix González-Torres, Keith Haring, Kenny Scharf, Jeff Koons, Takashi Murakami, Ernesto Neto, and Yoko Ono; along with local favorites FriendsWithYou, Adler Guerrier, Jorge Pantoja and Frances Trombly. Through July 5.
NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale, One East Las Olas Blvd.; nsuartmuseum.org.
Editor’s note: Some of this material was previously published in the Miami Herald.