Lower East Side Manhattan museum shifts to Miami with a sister gallery in Wynwood.
By Michelle F. Solomon
In New York’s Lower East Side, the Judith Charles Gallery is turning heads in the NYC art scene with its current exhibit, Immediate Female, in what the gallery calls an interdisciplinary group exhibition. The Huffington Post was a little bolder about the exhibit. “Thanks to Judith Charles Gallery,” art lovers will get a chance to discover “10 badass emerging female artists you should know.”
Lucky are we in Miami because some of the folks who are the visionaries at Judith Charles have headed south to open the Blueshift Project inWynwood.
“One of the owners of Judith Charles Gallery wanted to open a space in Miami, so here we are,” says Blueshift Project’s co director Sofia Bastidas.
That “owner” is Eduardo Burillo, an art collector and Mexican entrepreneur, who has recently taken up residence in Miami. His Blueshift Project gallery is housed in the former Now Contemporary Art space in Wynwood at 175 Northwest 25th Street, Miami.
The associate director at Judith Charles Gallery, Robert Dimin, who also curated the inaugural show “Made in New York” at Blueshift Project, says that Burillo — who was not available for an interview by press time — wanted to put together a team of “great thinkers” for Blueshift, a sort of southern extension of Judith Charles Gallery. Most likely, the New York gallery will eventually be rebranded Blueshift, too.
“These great thinkers, such as Sofia, will be people who understand art and the Miami art scene. We’re new eyes and new voices who are really trying to share some of the best free-thinking artists out there who are making art and are becoming part of the history of art,” says Dimin. The associate director/curator says that in his conversations with Burillo he knows that there will be a focus on Latin American artists in the Miami gallery, as well as European artists — and of course, the gallery will work with local Miami artists, too.
The mission, according to a published statement, is that through multi-faceted exhibitions, programs, and collaborations, Blueshift Project aims to support artists’ production, foster public engagement, and bring significant national and international art to Miami audiences. In speaking of Burillo, the gallery’s mission statement says that his “interest in the ways contemporary art practices shape our environment and change a city is central to the gallery’s vision and approach.”
IN THE SPACE
For the launch of Blueshift Project, the first exhibition focuses on trends in contemporary sculpture in the group exhibition, “Made in New York” — created by a group of “under 40-year-old” artists who live and work in New York.
“Even though there are eight different artists, all of the work seems to ‘talk’ to each other in the space,” says Bastidas.
“Made in New York” includes work by Genesis Belanger, David Brooks, Jen Catron and Paul Outlaw, Caitlin Cherry, Nick Doyle, Irini Miga, and Dana Sherwood.
“When Eduardo ask me to curate the inaugural exhibition, as a New York-based curator, I only thought it appropriate to do what I do best. And I wanted to create the best possible exhibition that I could and make it as strong as the space is,” says Dimin.
The 6,000-square-foot space “is amazing,” says Dimin, and describes when he first visited what is now the Blueshift Project. “I walked around it, knowing at the time that it was going to be our sister gallery, but I had no idea it would be a space I would be curating in. When it was presented to me, I knew I had to do something monumental. I said to myself, ‘This inaugural exhibition needs to be sculptural – paintings will get lost in here.’ For this exhibition, we need to put our fingerprint on the Miami art world. The works needed to be really smart, museum-esque, private-collection type pieces that people can walk in and enjoy and look at and contemplate.”
Dimin explains that his recent visit to Miami for this past Art Basel opened his eyes to something about the city and eventually would lead to what kind of pieces he would bring to Miami for the exhibit. “I saw a lot of new development. It was striking to me. Since I’m not here every day and don’t see the changes, it seemed that this year, there was a boom happening — in building, in neighborhoods — and I somehow wanted the work I was selecting to reference all that surrounds that, from the very standard environmental issues of urbanization to the positive flip slide of new jobs, business, and money, and all that would bring to Miami.”
He found that in the works of Brooks and Sherwood, for instance, who happen to have South Florida connections. Brooks often works in the Everglades and Sherwood’s piece “Banquets in the Dark Wildness” features videos that were filmed in Loxahatchee, Fla., in Palm Beach County.
Complementing the sculpture, abstract paintings by Justine Hill are on view in the gallery’s project space.
“It was important that I make the project space a comfortable place for an art audience that maybe isn’t as well versed in the rigorous academic of contemporary art,” says Dimin. Hill’s work, according to the curator, is perhaps more accessible than the sculpture in the main space. “I went with an artist who is making work as intellectually sound as the sculptures, but maybe with a more accessible entry point.”
The conversation inside Blueshift Project is one of being more than just another gallery space opening in Wynwood. “Because of the quality of the works is why we can resonate with people who have seen just about everything, and they’ll know that when there’s something fresh and special and new that needs to be seen, we’ll be presenting it.”
In addition to the “new that needs to be seen,” there’s also the element of exposure for the artists, a place for collectors, and an aspect of education through interaction.
“We really want to be a place that educates and shows what’s going on in the contemporary art world. We want to bridge the gap between collectors and Latin America and the Caribbean. What sets this gallery apart is that we have a strong curatorial purpose to offer the community. We are going to be doing a lot of programming. Most of the artists that will be exhibiting will be participating in artist talks throughout runs of exhibitions. We’ll be hosting lectures and performances,” says Bastidas.
Dana Sherwood, David Brooks, Jen Catron, and Paul Outlaw will be hosting talks during the run of “Made in New York.”
THE ARTISTS OF “MADE IN NEW YORK”
Necessary shows often come together through their own fruition. “Made In New York” grew from reoccurring themes, including such topics as humanity’s struggle with the worlds they inhabit.
The use of cement and steel as the dominant material in her graceful abstractions defines Belanger as an artist. These materials have often been associated with works made by men. She subverts this notion by claiming the material as hers.
A simple act of placing a cherry picker with palms on its platform in the center of an art gallery gains the desperate attention to talk about the encroachment of urbanization on natural habitats.
Jen Catron & Paul Outlaw
The artists take a child’s amusement park ride, the merry-go-round, and replace the fiberglass horses with taxidermy goats. This act of alteration, of replacing something fantastical and innocent to something that in its nature questions mortality, delves into spiritual and moral issues.
A constructed pool with a painting submerged under water is, mysteriously, both a sign of wealth and of above-ground, lower-middle-class monstrosities. Its scale is key to its message of abjectness.
The works, themselves, are parts of a created narrative of the artist’s alter ego, Steven — a suburban misanthrope. This is the world humanity dreamt of creating, but no one now wants to claim it.
With a sculptural assemblage of the abstracted human form or a simple sweater made from porcelain, the artist directly references the delicate nature of life. Her choice of fragile materials and their ultimate execution further echo these ideas.
The artist sets up interventions in nature in the form of opulent feasts. Sherwood documents these miraculous moments with night-vision sensor cameras. She blurs the division of the natural and manipulated by serving her “artwork” directly to the natives in their natural habitat.
“Art is a global language and especially in a place like Miami,” says Dimin.