ARTLURKER

A Miami based contemporary art newsletter / blog

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Critical Voice of Frankie America (2009) by Harry Crofton. Performance with framed works.

Coming across contemporary art exhibitions in unlikely places is getting to be somewhat of a common occurrence in Miami’s Design District. As the struggling economy continues to suck the life out of institutions, emerging talent is banding together independently to create work, open project spaces and curate. All summer we have been sustained by artistic pot-lucks cooked up in warehouses, a far cry from the haute cuisine chez Perrotin and others that we got so fat on not too long ago, but even now as our lean minds and large appetites salivate at the prospect of the bounty of Basel it might still be sometime yet before our taste for summer fare wains.

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Installation view including works by Martin Oppel, Richard Haden and Sydney Schrader and Joe Verril.

Oftentimes, existing outside of the pretense of a gallery is enough to make a collaborative artist run show successful. The mere absence of boutique mentality, Hors d’œuvres and the premise of importance versus ‘finger-on-the-pulseness’ can make all the difference between slow walking around a white cube practicing conversational haiku’s with fair weather friends and really enjoying the experience of art. Suspending the power of a masterpiece for a moment there is something absolutely refreshing about experiencing new art with a few people versus the dirty feeling one can derive from being just one of a thousand people that day to have been ‘moved’ by a work in a museum. Ironically, the art at kick-back-and-enjoy/be-yourself events, despite being of a lesser grade of communication is actually more engaging because of its setting than a venerated work by a renowned artist in an established venue.

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Screen shot of P.opular S.ky (section ish) by Ryan Trecartin. High-def digital video, 39 min. 2009.

The work in Cutting Edge Framing, however, is by and large not of a lesser grade, although not all of it was new. With a tight crop of emerging and established local and national talent including newcomers to South Florida who have yet to make their marks and those who are busy carving a name for themselves, curators Lola Sinreich and Win McCarthy made something very digestible, despite one particular nauseating element.

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Foreground: The Other People Behind Our Other Products (2009) by Zak Kitnick. Die-cut aluminum sheet, MDF and other media. Background: Inside Out Headshots (Skeleton and Lotion) (2004) by Jamie Isenstein. Pen and lotion on black and white photographs.

The space, loaned for the purposes of the exhibition by Craig Robins, formerly housed Urbania Fine Art Frames, a professional (albeit somewhat cheesy) frame shop. Using the history of the venue – part studio, part exhibition space – as a conceptual starting point and critical subtext the exhibition flowered as a site specific vignette, touching upon, whilst simultaneously avoiding, media specificity. On Urbania’s expensive, but not particularly innovative foundations the show’s eighteen artists have built notions that among other things draw a comparison between the reality of creation and the trappings of a disillusioned art world. Even when appropriating available resources – inhabiting and changing the space using materials found within it, including the carpet – and occupying and adapting the function of a now defunct business the artists paint (and sculpt) themselves beyond the tired image of valuable, but monetarily disadvantaged poets to a more realistic, readily available and respectable standing of professional communicator.

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Left: Emitter & Shield (2008-2009) by Paul Salveson. Digital C-print and aluminum ready-made. Right: HOJ (2008) by John Seal. Acrylic on canvas, coffee table legs.

A reflection on this show would of course not be complete without mention of Harry Crofton’s moon landing performance entitled Critical Voice of Frankie America for which a slim and relatively smooth bottomed Crofton staged a Paul McCarthy-esq support group come historical reenactment. Beginning by renaming the show amidst a rantish assessment and assertion of the nature and importance of self expression the enigmatic and by this point naked from the waist down Crofton proceeded with his head in a globe and an effigy of the moon (drawn on a sock) dangling from his nether regions to reenact the Apollo 11 mission with a series of cartwheels and pelvic thrusts. Apart from a few bemused individuals who passed before the store front’s window, but dared not enter, the general consensus, despite the whole affair being almost as pornographic as a John Waters film seemed to be one of vibrant appreciation. When, at rare moments, one was able to tear their mind from the inside of Crofton’s gaping colon it became apparent that his at times violent catharsis was not only a breath of fresh air for Miami, but also the most simultaneously appropriate yet inappropriate event of the night. Despite the transgressive nature of the performance and the way it jarred with the other works, Crofton’s role was the critical voice of the show and as disparate and unrelated as the moon landing might have seemed, the intention was to involve the audience in a conversation about context, a consideration that ultimately defined the whole exhibition[.]

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Critical Voice of Frankie America (2009) by Harry Crofton. Performance with framed works.

Cutting-Edge Framing includes works by: Harry Crofton, Jim Drain, Richard Haden, Charles Harlan, Zak Kitnik, Erik Lindman, Samara Golden, Jamie Isenstein, Win McCarthy, Martin Oppel, Anna Rosen,
Samuel Salter Snowden, Paul Salveson, Sydney Schrader, John Seal, Ryan Trecartin,
Joe Verril and Addison Walz.

The exhibition which is open by appointment runs until 27th, 2009 at 11 N.E 39th St. Miami FL (formerly Urbania Fine Art Frames). To make an appointment please call Win McCarthy on 917 584 1674.

This post was contributed by Thomas Hollingworth.

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