Monday October 15, 2012

South Florida Cultural Consortium exhibition 2012

south florida consortium

The South Florida Cultural Consortium is a peculiar thing. It was created in 1986 to share “strategies and resources” among the cultural arms of the governments of Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Monroe, and Martin counties, but one of the things it has yet to create is a website, so getting information on what all the consortium does or how much money is involved is not easy. The yearly Fellowship program is the Consortium’s most publicly visible program. It selects artists from the five participating counties for grants of $15,000. And every year there’s an exhibition, so we the public can see what we paid for. Unfortunately, the exhibition cycles between Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach, and for the latter it inevitably ends up at FAU’s rather un-ideal facilities. It’s an hour drive from Dade (where, on a purely quantitative level, most of the people who care about this stuff live) and offers limited hours. To see it, you’ve pretty much got to set aside a Saturday afternoon and $15 for gas money. And that’s exactly what I did. Let’s have a look.

south florida consortium

The entrance to the Schmidt gallery features pieces by Nicolas Lobo and Tom Scicluna. While their approaches are different, their work complements each other, and is not infrequently shown together. Scicluna frequently makes use of materials found on site, and his work masterfully walks the line between art and not-art. Here he’s taken the acoustical ceiling tiles from inside the gallery and mounted them on wall in the entrance walkway. It’s not nothing. It’s not a joke. But it also isn’t sculpture. (Scicluna teaches sculpture at FAU.) And yet it’s all three.

south florida consortium

The opposite of Scicluna’s approach, Nellie Appleby’s work functions additively, by an accumulation of elements. She’s thus at her best when she’s given free reign of an environment, as in her spectacular show at Dimensions Variable in 2010. This particular tableau had hints of the same whimsy, but it only just barely held together.

south florida consortium

I’m happier when I direct my gaze at just this grouping. This type of work makes a lot of demands of the viewer (to say nothing of the collector), but I feel like here she’s rewarding the effort.

south florida consortium

Clifton Childree is a master. And he’s that rarity — someone from a relatively distinct discipline (filmmaking) that got pulled into art in what seems like a relativel organic way. In any case, he always seems like he’s chasing his muse in a completely unselfconscious manner, which is sort of a breath of fresh air. Anyway, this is a big credenza installation, with a rear-projection of an original silent film.

south florida consortium

And here is a detail.

south florida consortium

And here is the back. (By the way, on the photos of sculpture I’m taking some liberties and jacking around the contrast and levels in software. Much more conservative approach on the 2D work.)

south florida consortium

In a previous incarnation of Artblog.net, Franklin had a quote from Cezanne in the footer, about how one day a carrot, “freshly observed,” would spark a revolution, and out of all the Dorsch painters, John Sanchez comes closest to making good on that promise. I don’t know how it works in reproduction, but seeing this painting in person, it’s possible to believe that no painter before him looked at the world with quite complete honesty.

south florida consortium

If this one on a facing wall is slightly less successful, it’s only because the details on the vehicles seem out of sorts with the otherwise relatively loose approach. But the mastery of light is in full effect.

south florida consortium

Umm… So, Domingo Castillo. This piece consisted of this text on the wall, and a wall label that reads “big bummer (     ), 2012 / duets / “People who come into contact with your art and want to know more will have questions.” / Source for quotes: http://www.artbusiness.com/artstate.html”/ Go ahead and check out that website for a clue if you like. Castillo is an artist with a pretty extensive reputation, and it would have been awesome to read some sort of justification for this piece, but the exhibition was not accompanied by any sort of printed piece (as the Consortium exhibitions of the past usually have been).

south florida consortium

Jiae Hwang made her name with precious little colored pencil drawings, like these at the Rubell collection. She’s been working in an abstract vein for the last few years (in fact, it’s all you’ll find on her website) and I have to say I find it rather less convincing. This piece brings the sound and the fury, but it all seems to revolve around a bit of emptiness.

south florida consortium

These paint on canvas pieces were a bit more satisfying, but I still have a hard time picturing most of them working on its own. A lot of art benefits from a cool and detached approach, but I think that to make a successful abstract painting you need to attack it with either reckless abandon or obsessive focus. By the way, we’ve moved to the Ritter gallery now. Another peculiar feature of the FAU art experience is that it’s split between two galleries on opposite sides of the campus. (Word to the first-time visitor: neither is particularly easy to find. Also: you’ll never know whether you’re parking your car where it won’t be towed.) The solution this year was for most of the artists to have work in both galleries, which worked out reasonably well.

south florida consortium

Here’s the other Nicolas Lobo piece. I usually approach Lobo’s work with skepticism, and I think you can see why in this ink on galvanized steel piece. I have to say, though, that Lobo gave an artist talk (with Tom Scicluna) the day I visited the galleries, and I was rather won over by his approach. The piece in the lobby of the other gallery is part of a series that describes the volume of airplane approach routes to airports, though I don’t know what the specific one is.

south florida consortium

Scicluna’s piece from the Ritter gallery. He’s used the paradigm of the counter in other site-specific installations. In fact, I believe it is the one object that he himself owns that gets reused in his work. I’d recommend going to his website to check out more of his work, but you’ll be missing out on his fabulously nonchalant descriptions of the pieces.

south florida consortium

Phillip Estlund showed a few of these at the Art and Culture Center of Hollywood (Where I work! And while I’m getting my full disclosures off my chest, let me tell you that I am, to varying degrees, friends with a number of the artists in this show.) earlier this year, and they’re wonderful and incredibly fun to look at. I wish there’d been more (the oversized postcards that you see in the background of the photo of Domingo Castillo’s piece above are rather less impressive).

south florida consortium

I don’t know why Ernesto Oroza’s video wasn’t working. Let’s head back over to the Schmidt to check out the rest of the show.

south florida consortium

I’ll put aside my embarrassment and just tell you that I don’t understand Oroza’s work. Never have. But I liked the heck out of this free-standing sculpture thing, which conjures up thoughts of highway overpasses, damned rivers, and nuclear waste storage facilities. There were a couple of photographs hung high on the wall, and this shirt:

south florida consortium

WORKERS, BUILD YOUR MACHINERY! / ernesto

south florida consortium

Finally, we come to these 6 photos by Eric Landes. I don’t really know what to tell you, except that going out at night with a camera on tripod and making photos that you couldn’t make hand-held is fun. I like the middle one on the bottom row. But presented self-consciously as a group like this they seem pretty forced. Next.

south florida consortium

I’m not showing you Mark Moormann’s work, because it consists of two videos. One is a montage South Florida scenes and people sent to completely non-sequitur rock music. The other is a rather touching excerpt from his film Klandestine Man, about Stetson Kennedy, who went undercover into the KKK. If you can brave a truly ill-behaved Flash site, you can check out a bit on Moormann’s website.

I’m leaving you, of course, with a view of the Schmidt gallery’s ceiling, sans acoustic tiles.

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