A Miami based contemporary art newsletter / blog

AT LARGE: Matthew Schreiber

A guilloche laser work from Matthew Schreiber’s old studio in Miami in 2007.

Migration used to be a necessity for artists from Miami. Now, however, thanks to the many efforts of those invested in Miami arts it is realistic for artists to stay and fashion legitimate careers here. For the first time in Miami we are seeing a mass staying-put of artists. This is reassuring not just because these individuals are here and contributing, but because their existence speaks volumes in defense of Miami’s fertility.

Since the likes of Mark Handfroth, Robert Chambers and Dara Friedman passed prepared the ground for other home grown talent such as Hernan Bas, Clifton Childree, Bert Rodriguez, Daniel Arsham and Naomi Fisher, to name a few, the thirst for culture which so many artists for so long have sought to quench further a field is finally being quenched here; and even those who hail from afar and wield established careers fostered in the World’s culture capitals are moving here – Jim Drain, for example, who is represented by Green Naftali in New York, now resides here where he helps to run Bas Fisher Invitational, an artist run gallery that for years has been a mainstay in Miami’s burgeoning art community. And yet, in spite of Miami’s current standing and the incredible sense of solidarity that those that have lived and worked here feel for the place, some artists are still moving away; still searching – or so it would seem – for something which they feel is not yet available in Miami.

Over the course of the next few weeks in a feature appropriately dubbed AT LARGE, ARTLURKER will be tracking down those that flew the coop and having them fill out a standardized questionnaire. The aim here is not to paint our talented brothers and sisters as deserters, but rather to ascertain what it is that drew them away and when, if ever, they intend to return. Through doing this we may expose not only quiet poetic truths about the lifestyle of the contemporary artist, but also attain an understanding of what vital nutrients are still yet absent from the cultural soil of our naturally radiant and increasingly fecund home.

The first AT LARGE artist we visited was Matthew Schreiber. Having lived and worked in Miami for decades producing inimitable and inventive sculptural forms with the use of lasers and managing the often intimidatingly grand projects of art icon James Turrell, Matthew moved both his studio and significant others to New York where he now works in close proximity to fellow nomad Daniel Arsham. As ever, Matthew is producing technologically symphonic and beguiling art, a piece of which entitled Incense Burner – which is perhaps somewhat smaller and less mesmeric but by no means less interesting than previous ventures – is currently on exhibition at INVISIBLE-EXPORTS, NY, in the all Miami group show, Miami Noir. (Incidentally, one artist in Miami Noir, namely Clifton Childree, is showing a film entitled ‘It Gets Worse’, which features a broomstick that shows how many people are moving from Miami to New York. The work is accompanied by an installation component built from washed-up flotsam and jetsam that the artist salvaged from the waterways of New York with his urban explorer friend.)

Matthew Schreiber’s New York studio – almost finished.

Why did you leave Miami?

To wake-up, make a change for myself and my family. Have my son go to a good public school. Take a chance and see what could happen with my art in NY. Feel the seasons again, show this to my son.  Get lean. Miami (or any time in my life I get used to), became routine, easy, transparent, no-contrast, could see the end. That’s how it felt for me, not all the time, but enough.

Was it worth it?

I can’t tell yet.  I am less comfortable, stressed out, pale.  Many days I still walk down the street and look at a person and can’t believe I am here…in a good way.  This is exciting.  And it is very different than traveling. I travel my brains out still, but this is different.

Are you coming back?

I still have my house in Miami, and my holography lab is in the house, so I come often. But I am not planning on coming back to live permanently.

If so why?

I would come back if I am nearly dead broke.  And if something was important or needed for my family.

If not why not?

Same reason we left.

Mock up for Incense Burner, 2009.

If you have maintained healthy ties to Miami please discuss them stating how this was important.

I hope I have ties to Miami and can keep them, (besides family), friends, art folks, etc.  I need to work on this and hope to keep it together…time passes, things drift.

Please compare and contrast your current city and Miami in an original way.

Uhhhh…People in NY are altered by a strong gravitational pull towards the center of Manhattan because of its condensed Mass. In Miami the energy is more evenly distributed with the water and air.

Incense Burner, 2009. Plywood, aluminum, Miami sand, Haitian incense, laser, mirrors. 31 x 28 x 12 inches. Image courtesy INVISIBLE-EXPORTS, NY.

What is the most significant difference you have found between professional practice in Miami and where you are now?

New studio, new everything.  A lot more people making art and involved with art.  MASS.

Has that affected the way in which you work? If so how?

Not really.

How has your work responded to the move?

I have a lot of new ideas.  Same word as above, I feel more “awake”.

A recent drawing (2009) from a group of studies for a wall relief sculpture using laser and lots of other stuff based on platonic solid forms from Kepler.

Is the scene as incestuous as in Miami?

I am not deep enough in yet to get laid….and I not sure if I did in Miami either.  Maybe I was raped when I was passed out?

Do you value Miami more or less having moved away?

More.  I love Miami.  It’s definitely made me see it much clearer. In a “new light”.

Are you more stable financially?

Not at all!


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  • I was there

    Personal perspective is an interesting thing. While reading the names mentioned in this post it gives us a sense of time that the artluker has been focused on Miami.
    There was a major exodus to California of creative individuals, artists and musicians in the mid 90s. David Kudzma left for Art Center College of Design in Pasadena and worked for Mike Kelley for almost a decade. John Espinosa also moved to LA. Bill Orcutt of the seminal Miami band Harry Pussy moved to the west coast to raise a family. East to West is difficult, or so I’ve heard. Artists moving East from the West seem to have a easier time assimilating. It is nice to hear for these individuals. Matthew Schreiber will be missed, but it is good to know that he took a leap of faith.

  • Gregg Heine

    Trying to get in touch with Matthew
    Schreiber for Ed Ruscha. Do you have an email address. His web page is not yet set up.

    Many thanks,

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AT LARGE: Matthew Schreiber