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Welcoming the practical nomad: Spinello Gallery in Design District

Spinello Gallery’s new space (right). Locust Projects’ new space (left).

By Victor Barrenechea

The word nomad (from the Greek νομάδες) translates as ‘those who let pasture herds.’ These pastoralist hunter gatherers, who often raise herds and move with them, have by far the longest-lived subsistence method in human history. While Miami’s art scene is a little too young to be drawing time-based comparisons with age old World peoples, one cannot fail to notice the striking similarity and comparable success with which one gallery here has thus far been carving out its existence.

Since its humble beginnings in young gallerist Anthony Spinello’s own apartment, Spinello Gallery, an institution that prides itself on exhibiting intelligent works in every medium by emerging contemporary Miami based artists, has blossomed in quite a short time and through numerous transmutations and location changes into one of Miami’s most vital galleries. Its latest setting (the fourth in three years) is a new 1,600 sq. ft. space in Miami’s Design District. Leased by Dacra Realty and located at 155 NE 38th St. it not only boasts four times the size of its previous setting in the MiMo District, but is also nestled next door to Locust Projects, Miami’s number one contemporary art project space, which also recently fled Wynwood for the greener pastures of the Design District.

Inside the new space prior to installation.

“I’ve never really felt that Wynwood was conducive to having a successful business on a daily basis. No one comes in during the day.” Spinello argues, making exception for the throngs of crowds that fill the streets on Second Saturday Art Walks – an increasing fallacy in themselves. By contrast Spinello hopes that the strings of boutiques, restaurants and sidewalks bustling with pedestrians that constitute the Design District will ensure more exposure for his roster of artists.

Lee Materazzi, “Ladder” (2009). C-Print, 40″ x 30″, Ed. of 5. Courtesy of Spinello Gallery.

Ironically Spinello moved out of Wynwood this past January into an even more isolated, albeit temporary space in the MiMo District. He characterizes the short-lived move by saying, “I was just basically feeling out my options.” Now however, the months of relative obscurity seem far behind him. Happily situated on the same block as freshly re-located Locust Projetcs’, the recently re-opened Bas Fisher Invitational and many prominent Miami artists’ studios it seems like new and exciting things are the horizon for both the gallery and this corner of town.

Exhibition logo and Agustina Woodgate, “Bear Skin Rug” (Detail) (2009). Teddy Bear Skins. Courtesy of Spinello Gallery.

This Saturday the gallery will be unveiling the new space with a soft opening, which Spinello light heartedly describes as a “house warming”. The show of the occasion is called “SPINELLO 101 – How to Make a Gallery a Home,” and features new work by gallery staples Sandra Bermudez, Blackbooks, Lee Materazzi, Christina Pettersson Santiago Rubino, TYPOE, and Agustina Woodgate, together with newcomer Tatiana Vahan. And despite the fact that the space which was recently partitioned does not yet have front access the gallery will be opening this Saturday in conjunction with neighboring Locust Projects’ inaugural fundraising event. Spinello adds: “I just thought it would be important to be open and let people know I’m here.”

Perhaps the gallery has finally found its home. Having become somewhat of a playground for unorthodox and experimental artists, it and Locust are clearly well paired. The only disadvantage to the new location versus the previous one is the apparent lack of a garden, however, considering the buzz surrounding the migration of these two key spaces to the Design District – not to mention the rumors that others will follow – it is unlikely that Spinello Gallery will be scratching its itchy feet any time soon[.]

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Welcoming the practical nomad: Spinello Gallery in Design District