Five years ago, I was lamenting the dearth of the black art experience during the Miami Art Basel international show, now in its twelfth year. The first Miami Art Basel was in 2002; a small show by comparison to today’s outpouring. We didn’t expect much back then, in the beginning.
During Basel shows past, the search for ‘black’ art and ‘black’ artists was daunting- a piece here and there throughout the major shows. An artist sighting was hit or miss. Locally produced shows were passed over, neglected, and went mostly unsubscribed, with few exceptions.
Countless black folk who travelled to Miami in search of themselves in artistic expressions were repeatedly frustrated. There was so little to see. So few places to go.
Fast forward to 2009, and the scarcity of aesthetic depictions of my experience was glaring in their absence.
Now, that has all changed. And it seems rather suddenly.
Something wonderful has happened. There is an abundance of Afro-centric art events during Miami Art
Basel 2014 aka “Miami Art Week.” For a comprehensive listing go to: http://www.miamiherald.com/entertainment/visual-arts/art-basel/article4200990.html
But this phenomena did not happen overnight.
No. It took the right mix of energy and near magical timing.
I attribute this outpouring to the following: persistent effort; political corrections; ‘mashing’ up of culture, language, interethnic cooperation amongst the local residents from throughout the African diaspora; 2013 opening of PAMM; organization of the PAMM African American Ambassadors; re-opening of the Lyric theater; Overtown redevelopment initiatives; Prizm; KROMA; Opa-locka’s Art of Transformation; FUSION MIA; N’Namdi Contemporary; Diaspora Vibe Virtual; Little Haiti Cultural Center; Haitian Arts Alliance; MOCA; Art Africa Collective; Peter London Global Dance Company, and many more.
Kudos to the pioneers. The KUUMBA Artists Collective, originated by Gene “Dinizulu” Tinnie, has been pushing the agenda since the 1970s.
There is fine art, music, dance, fashion, performance art, panels and workshops, food and festivals-all expressing an afro-centric sensibility- something for everyone.
I am overjoyed, but overwhelmed thinking about how to navigate the entire scene.
I’m starting early and going until. After all, it’s not art without the parties.
Day One: I’ll arrive late on Thursday and hit PRIZM to see what Mikhaile Solomon has curated at the Miami Center for Architecture and Design, followed by the PAMM party on the Plaza to listen to Future Brown.
Day Two: I’ll begin at the north end of the county, in Opa-locka, where Willie Logan has lead the Art of Transformation; next up, North Miami to MOCA, where Barbacar M’Bow has a curation of art up from the motherland- Africa; then I’ll go down to Overtown, to the Lyric Theater to see the Purvis Young exhibition; I will catch a meal in mid-town- Cheese Course here I come.
While in mid-town, I’ll check out Richmond Heights native, Chery Edwards’ Cuba series at SPECTRUM Miami; swing up to Wynwood to enjoy the exhibits at Fusion MIA and N’Namdi Contemporary- both curated by George and Jumaane N’Namdi; and end up the evening at the FUSION MIA BET awards event.
Day Three: I’ll hit the Beach for the official Basel show and SCOPE. I’ll relax over coffee in Wynwood at the Perkulator Lounge (sponsored by Black Art in America) where I’ll rendezvous with my Najee Dorsey and my friends from Black Art in America at Briskey Gallery. Check out Najee’s Leaving Mississippi series.
Late afternoon: the gallery at the Little Haiti Cultural Center in Little River, followed by Carol Jazaar’s studio in Miami Shores.
Of course, I’ll close out the day back at the BET Lounge at Fusion MIA.
Day Four: No rest, yet. Starting off with brunch and a panel discussion in Overtown at Jackson’s Soul Food Restaurant to hear more views about the African diaspora and art, hosted by Robbie Bell, Rosie Gordon Wallace, et al; fried fish and grits; then I’ll head down to the University of Miami to catch the panel at Ludlow Bailey’s 5th annual workshop; head over to spend a little time with my friend Jihad Rashid in Coconut Grove at KROMA, one of the newest additions to Basel. It’s filled with artist studios, galleries, where I’ll check out paintings by Bettye Wright!
Dinner? I’ll consult Robbie Bell’s Scrumpterou®Report for the best spots: www.gotorobbiebell.info
Oh yes, I’ll finish up at the BET Lounge for the last party.
Join me? Hope to see you all out enjoying Miami Art Basel from the black side.
Antonia Williams-Gary is a consultant with Miami-based Savings and Grace Enterprise. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org