A Miami based contemporary art newsletter / blog

Loriel Beltran at Locust Projects

Installation view of Loriel Beltran’s solo exhibition at Locust Projects, Miami. Courtesy Locust Projects.

The current solo exhibition at Locust projects by Miami based artist Loriel Beltran poses one very important question: Why would an artist open another solo exhibition having only just closed one literally a block away?

From September 13th to October 4th of last year Beltran presented at Fredric Snitzer Gallery—by whom he is represented—a solo exhibition entitled Process/Processed. The show featured mainly organic sculptural forms made from paint. Created through a process of dribbling and layering, the forms, which resembled tree branches, roots and piles of [acrylic] compost, were often cut in half, revealing the layers of paint within the forms and so the process by which the artist had created them. The nature of the work made the show very popular and Beltran, whose name we began to hear a little more, was consequently elevated in the Miami art community.

Installation view of Loriel Beltran’s solo exhibition at Locust Projects, Miami. Courtesy Locust Projects.

Why then is Beltran, who we would expect to be enjoying the afterglow of a successful show, cutting his honeymoon short to get back to work? The answer relies partly upon the assumption that Miami’s art community, despite being small, contains various worlds and that an artist, if at liberty to participate in other shows outside of their gallery, has the potential to capture the attentions of different audiences.

Because Locust Projects, a key Miami gallery, is a non-profit even artists represented locally are allowed the freedom by their galleries to participate in shows there. When this happens the artist, the artist’s gallery, Locust Projects itself and ultimately we the patron (whether invested financially or not) all benefit. The artist is given free rein by the project space to develop their work; the gallery enjoys the added press that their artists warrant from more unconventional exhibitions touted by the project spaces; the project space has a steady influx of popular artists and we are treated to the fruits of the ‘artist at play’.

Patrons at the opening of Loriel Beltran’s solo exhibition at Locust Projects, Miami. Courtesy Locust Projects.

The currency here is attention, which being ideally positive in nature adds value to the work. Now that Beltran’s second solo show in almost as many months has opened the answer to the question ‘what else does Loriel Beltran have for us and why wasn’t it included in the exhibition at Snitzer’s?’ is clear: Exhibiting at an experimental non profit space in addition to a leading commercial gallery enables Loriel Beltran to (A) draw additional attention from and galvanize the interests of both Miami’s mainstream and alternative communities and (B) (perhaps more importantly) work on a site specific project at a space that allows him the time and reign to fully express an idea. In this case, stripping sheet rock from a room to create a stunning exhibition in which the creamy ashen hues of sedimentary panels complemented the dilapidated chocolate of gutted walls as much as the overall elegance of the gesture did the unprocessed nature of venues’ programming.

Patrons at the opening of Loriel Beltran’s solo exhibition at Locust Projects, Miami. Courtesy Locust Projects.

Interestingly enough, despite the fact that this current exhibition seems to be a natural, even exciting progression from last fall’s Process/Processed at Fredric Snitzer Gallery, it was actually scheduled to open first. According to Locust Project’s Director Claire Breukel, Process/Processed which featured sculptural forms was originally intended for exhibition later this year but was brought forward soon after Locust Projects had finalized their January dates. What Fredric Snitzer Gallery hoped to achieve (if anything) with this move and whether or not they were successful remains unclear. What is certain, however, is that the unguaranteed success of the first exhibition happily accentuated the adaptability of Beltran’s aesthetic and ultimately focused people’s interest on the more innovative work.

Loriel Beltran at the opening of his solo exhibition at Locust Projects, Miami. Courtesy Locust Projects.

It would seem that despite their best efforts to appeal or at the very least be accessible to the spectrum of the community in their own way, some Miami based artists can never quite anticipate the string pulling, money shuffling mechanisms that serve to regularly present their ideas for our digestion in the most economically viable way. For better or worse systems are in place and whether an artist is focused commercially or not, at the end of the day that’s the name of the game and the best that they can do is simply try to ensure that each last move is made to their advantage.

Concurrently with Loriel Beltran at Locust Projects this month and next is a solo presentation by Mike Swaney in the project room and a special video feature by Christy Ghast.


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  • Ron Ginenthal

    Presumably Snitzer gallery thought it would be better to show the sculptures first? Switching the dates of the show after Locust had committed could be seen as spiteful but was probably just a smart move. In that regard, whether Snitzer gallery wanted to establish this artist as a sculptor or avoid a follow up show which didn’t measure up is their business, either way it worked out for everyone. I am more curious about the implications of the switch rather than the possibility that Locust Projects was forced to get sloppy inappropriate seconds.

  • I was there

    ….much ado about….?
    I saw the work and would like someone to illuminate my mind regarding what the “hub bub” is all about.

  • canefan

    The work at Locust projects is truly impressive and ground breaking in my opinion. This space has years of history which are detailed in each layer of paint that was removed by the artist and delicately installed on panel. Beltran is a young artist who has had his first solo show, which was a success and this institution show which “I was there” is the first person that I hear that has a negative opinion. I guess you can’t make everyone happy, the work is interesting and open to interpretation, so my advice is to personally view the work in person.

  • I was there

    I should rephrase, I am not being negative, actually more curious.
    Is this topic interesting because the work is really good or because he had two shows in a row?
    I recently was in two exhibitions in a row (a group show and a solo show) and they were generally met with silence.
    Silence is Golden, or so they say.

  • domingo

    Well, I have a love/hate reaction to this show. Because I saw his first show at Snitzer and then seeing this one. It seems to me that he really did solve all the problems from the Snitzer show in this Locust exhibition. Possibly because the snitzer show was done prematurely and the work was still not solved.

    I noticed with the pieces at locust as opposed to the ones at snitzer that the composition, placement and installation were completely thought out. It almost made the snitzer show look like a joke.

    however i was disappointed in the show because the artist really didnt take advantage of the floor space or present other works that related to the same idea as the paintings on the wall. so he solved one problem, but at the same time he didnt take advantage of the freedom to ask new questions within his process.

  • Ron Ginenthal

    I think what is interesting here is not just that there were two solo shows by the same artist or that the dates of those shows were changed, but rather that there were two solo shows so close to each other in both senses. It seems that what is being said is that there are types of audiences in Miami. Two exhibitions by the same artist whereby work was made accordingly illustrate this. The date switching, although its broader implications are mildly interesting, is essentially a moot point.

  • Richard Haden

    I liked the show very much, especially when I found out the wall sculptures were made from the walls they hung on. He encoded many seasons of Locust’s 2-d history into a monumental 3-d record–in a post-historical fashion that rendered the narrative mute. I like the idea of working within the frame of the “found” and framed again by his gesture….other locals do that: Tom Scicluna by making installations from objects near the site of the exhibition and Nick Lobo has, in the past, ground up his own work to produce something new. I am sure there are others…

    I think Ron Ginenthal’s comment about (a) gallery deciding how an artist is to be perceived is perceptive and somewhat ominous. Because, there is truth to the fact that many art galleries treat the artist an exploitable commodity whose output has to be carefully controlled, like the Bourgeoisie industrialist controlling factory output. Much of art history has tried to counter this by insurgent art production.

    As far as I can see, Beltran’s work at Locust is sculpture. Most of his work that I can remember from the show at Snitzer’s was sculpture. So the Idea that a gallery is deciding his fate as 2 or 3-d artist is somewhat ambiguous. I can think of many artists who do not even bother with such classification any more. Thomas Schuute comes to mind. He doesn’t even follow a linear path to image involvement at all, but works in series that do not relate to one another.

  • MiamiDanny

    The comment ‘much ado about nothing’ obviously refers to the weird idea that is hinted at in this post that there is something nefarious going on. Snitzer is an art dealer who represents Beltran. Locust Projects is a non-profit that is not involved in commissions. They are 500 feet from each other. It only makes sense that Beltran’s show after Snitzer should be at Locust. Incidentally, they were two completely different shows, and served both artist and dealer (and Locust of course, which hosted an amazing show) well. Also, Snitzer’s gallery was closed that night-another plus for him, as he has railed against the 2nd Saturday drunk-a-thon, and could simply attend Locust and relax. Well, he looked about as relaxed as I’ve ever seen him.

  • herocious

    Just wanted to say hello. I discovered your blog yesterday, and have learned a lot since about the miami art scene. I saw Beltran’s work last month, and I also know its context.

    The idea of creating a semblance of history in your art is fascinating, and to accomplish this by layering paint is, for me, an interesting take on history.

    That said, here’s another post on the art scene in miami:

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Loriel Beltran at Locust Projects