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Home: Dream Home – Living Room. Paintings – Mette Tommerup, Birdcage w/ bird video – Troy Abbott, Painting – Kristen Thiele, Sofa and chairs – David Rohn. Coffee table – Emmett Moore, Sculpture – TYPOE and Newspaper drawing (on news print stock) Moises Sanabria. Image courtesy Grela Orihuela, exhibition curator and Executive Producer Wet Heat Project LLC.

Louis Sullivan’s modern design principle “form follows function,” suggests that an object’s form should be dictated by its functional purpose. The oft-used slogan has been contested, debunked, exalted and misused within debates on contemporary art and architecture, and is currently being explored by artists in Home: Dream Home, at Praxis International in Wynwood. Curated by Wet Heat Project’s Executive Producer and art collector Grela Orihuela, Home: Dream Home is a fictional representation of an idyllic collector’s home. This lofty group exhibition transforms Praxis into a carefully mapped out domestic living environment complete with designated rooms for the kitchen, bedroom, living room, etc.

The majority of the artists in the show are local, highlighting Ms. Orihuela’s commitment to the Miami art community. The ‘collection’ is not only a product of its fictional buyer, but also of the creative pulses that radiate throughout this city and what can be considered the growing “Miami aesthetic” – a term that is still writing its own definition. One of the focal points in the show is Augustina Woodgate’s Peacock, a lush carpet that could be the prismatic stain of the bird as road kill. And let’s face it, with the way these non-native birds like to stroll into oncoming traffic, makes this an unavoidable tragedy waiting to happen.

Home: Dream Home – Den. Taxidermy sculpture – Enrique Gomez de Molina, Rug – Agustina Woodgate, Fireplace Mural – Daniel Young (New World School of the Arts High School student), Sculpture above fireplace – Michael Loveland, Table – Nicholas Arehart, Sculpture on table – TYPOE, Painting – Brian Geffen, Chair – Graham Hudson, Desk – Laz Ojalde, Family Portrait installation – Guerra de la Paz. Image courtesy Grela Orihuela, exhibition curator and Executive Producer Wet Heat Project LLC.

The exhibition is as much eye candy as it is a call to relax and go ahead and touch the art. In an interview with Claire Breukel, Grela admits her desire to “sit on a piece of art,” a dream that she has made a reality in the show. The casual installation of each “room” dislocates any trepidation an average visitor may feel navigating a cold gallery space. In effect, the casualness of the show as whole welcomes you not as a visitor but with the intimacy of an expected guest. You can literally pull up a seat for a better view of Guerra de la Paz’s muppet-like Family Portrait. During the opening the “kitchen” – a little gem of a room – became the perfect place to duck in and chat with a friend while Nicholas Arehart’s Autonomy, a mesmerizing digital animation of an ominous little chopping knife, radiated in the corner.

Home: Dream Home – Kitchen. Wall sconce – Dan Walker; Video – Nick Arehart, Paper towel roll – BooksIII Bischof. Image courtesy Grela Orihuela, exhibition curator and Executive Producer Wet Heat Project LLC.

The inspiration for the exhibition came from looking for (as Grela describes it) a “meaningful environment” that combines a passion for art with all the comforts of home. Whether playing at notions of gendered space as seen in David Rohn’s His and Hers bathroom towels and Elena Lopez-Trigo’s Steel Stilettos, or calling back into question Sullivan’s original design credo with works like TYPOE’s Love Seat, that totally defy functionality in their form. There is meaning to be discovered in every corner of Home.

Home: Dream Home  - Bedroom (project room at Praxis). Photograph – Teresa Diehl; Bed, Nightlight and Bench – Bert Rodriguez, Painting – Kristen Thiele. Image courtesy Grela Orihuela, exhibition curator and Executive Producer Wet Heat Project LLC.

The curatorial organization of the exhibition successfully captures the intent addressed in its title –a dream habitat where you can float in an art-ladled haze from one corner of the gallery to the next. Transition, one of the key components of interior design, is that ever-elusive guide that unconsciously forces our eyes to glide from one area of a house to another. In many of the rooms in Home Dream Home, objects work in unison to create a rhythmic approach to organized space. For example, in the “living room,” guests are invited to relax on one of David Rohn’s Extinction armchairs as they admire TYPOE’s melting bust or Mette Tommerup’s canvases of adorable costumed pugs.  In the “dining room,” you can pull up one of Emmett Moore’s Spatially Constructed chairs to eye Brian Burkhardt’s cubed strawberries under the neon glow of Bert Rodriguez’s Where My Eyes Meet You. In this respect, Home Dream Home begins to feel like a choreographed dance between the objects on display and their environment.

Home: Dream Home – Dining Room. Wall stencil mural – BooksIII, Dining Room set – Emmett Moore, Sculpture  on table – Brian Burkhardt, Neon piece – Bert Rodriguez. Image courtesy Grela Orihuela, exhibition curator and Executive Producer Wet Heat Project LLC.

The punctuation mark at the end of the show is Loriel Beltran’s Bancarrota placed on the sidewalk just outside the gallery’s back door. A bus bench broken in half, the work’s title, literally translated to ‘broken bench’ or ‘bankruptcy’ is a play on its form and (lack of) function. The piece is left outside (maybe peering in) on the pristine, high-end world of Home. “Bancarrota” is a term that we all fear and has become synonymous with the current economical climate, especially in the wake of the bust of the South Florida real estate market. It is a sobering reminder that all the creature comforts of home, wealth and taste are just as much subject to collapse as the rest of our fragile world. While the exhibition offers us a fabricated sojourn from the reality that Home is pretty out of reach for most people, we are in the end reminded that it is all just a dream after all[.]


Home: Dream Home is on view from July 9- August 13, 2011 at Praxis International Art in Wynwood, 2219 NW 2nd Avenue.

This post was contributed by Melissa Diaz, winner of this year’s Miami Writer’s Prize.

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