ARTvisions International

ARTvisions International Showcases Widely Varied Painting Techniques

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Two dozen paintings by twelve international mid-career artists featured in ARTvisions International at ArtSpace/Virginia Miller Galleries present diverse examples of their technique and subject matter, according to veteran gallery director-curator Virginia Miller. An opening reception will be held from 6:00 to 10:00 pm on Friday, April 7, 2017 with additional receptions at the same time on May 5th and June 2nd.

“This exhibition offers an opportunity to see how paintings by highly accomplished and very individualistic artists from different countries, using widely divergent techniques and subject matter, can enhance each other, creating a scenario that is more than the sum of each work,” Miller said.

Highlighting the gallery’s current exhibition are six midcareer contemporary Chinese artists who premiered in previous gallery shows.

Dominating their works is a 21-foot triptych by Liao Zhenwu. His “Times Tag Series No. 16” depicts a smoky street scene crowded with pedestrians and motorcycles needed to navigate its hilly streets in his region of Sichuan. Liao takes the viewer into the gritty ambiance of its locale by his predominantly brownish-gray and black impasto on a flat, pale gray background suggesting smog. Another painting by Liao, “Meditation,” is a softly focused five-foot facial portrait with hands gently cradling part of the face, done in a cool gray-on-gray palette.

“These paintings successfully transcend their medium and transport us into the realm of feeling,” said Miller.

Other Chinese artists represented include a six-and-a-half foot horizontal painting by Li Bo, who selects his widely varied subject matter from the Internet and paints each item in the same size, and Wang Limin, whose six-foot portrait of a young woman wearing a large red flower is being showered by pink blossoms, colored symbols of life and celebration.

Two oils by Kang Can, typical of his works, show a tiny baby precariously astride a water buffalo and a baby delicately balanced on the stem of an enormous cherry about to be engulfed in a wave of water. “Some critics think placing the baby in hazardous situations represents the emergence of the new China and its place in the world,” said Miller.

Zhu Yan’s “I Love Tiananmen Square” has a chorus of nearly identical men performing in front of a curtain opening onto the Mao Zedong mausoleum—clearly a sarcastic commentary on national regimentation and adulation of  the late chair of the Chinese Communist Party.
A five-by-six-foot oil by Xiong Lijun, a well-known Neo-Pop artist, portrays three frolicsome young women dressed in skirts and sweaters against an eye-catching lime green background. The artist says that her works “combine brilliant colors, water and fluid motion with vibrant content and energetic subjects on large-scale compositions to declare our belief that our future is bright and cheerful. My work embodies the human spirit and flaunts an unencumbered and carefree individual freedom of expression.”

One of the masterful techniques that always draws comments is shown in two colorful abstractions by Puerto Rican artist Michelle Concepción. “The surface of her paintings present an amazing illusion of texture and depth,” said Miller. “These paintings are wonderful examples of her work, which is widely shown in European art fairs.”

German artist Florian Depenthal, a master colorist, is represented by seven paintings: six 16 x 20-inch abstractions in teal, black and white, and “Eurasia,” a five-foot canvas abstraction in tones ranging from brick to lime and purple. “Florian is a glider pilot,” Miller noted, “and sometimes you look at his paintings and feel like you are in the plane with him.”

Two six-foot canvases painted in the 1990s by the late Antonio Henrique Amaral, a prime member of Brazil’s “Tropicalismo Movement,” show off his extraordinary technique, which causes their surfaces to glimmer with thousands of shaded brush strokes. “Half Hidden,” a 1992 oil, exemplifies his luscious emerald green coloration, while “Urbanities and Weapon,” done in 1990, typically contrasts undulating biomorphic blue areas against sharply depicted prisms in jewel-like colors.

Included in ARTvisions International is “Burnt Swamp,” a six-foot painting by the celebrated American artist Richard Lytle, whose work was in “Sixteen Americans,” a 1959 exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art. Others in the legendary exhibition included Jasper Johns, Ellsworth Kelly,  Louise Nevelson,  Robert Rauschenberg, and Frank Stella. Miller, whose gallery is entering its 42nd year, calls Lytle’s work  “a superb example of contemporary American painting.”

Other paintings in the exhibition include four new watercolors by Argentine artist Mario Segundo Perez. “His paintings  are excellent examples of Latin American magic realism, spiced with his personal touch of whimsy,” Miller said.

Winding up the exhibition is Lew Wilson’s “Arizona Stratus (Sunset Series), a spectacular seven-foot painting predominately in shades of merlot, garnet, and brick with highlights in bright blue and yellow. “Pure abstraction,” said Miller, “with a wonderful sense of depth and delicious colors.”

Located in the heart of Coral Gables’ business and restaurant district at 169 Madeira Avenue, ArtSpace/Virginia Miller Galleries is open from 1 to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and by appointment. For more information, please call 305-444-4493.

Culinary Adventures: Bronze Sculpture and Paintings by Luis Montoya and Leslie Ortiz

CULINARY ADVENTURES
Bronze Sculpture & Paintings by Luis Montoya and Leslie Ortiz

Nov. 4, 2016 – Feb. 24, 2017

Luis Montoya & Leslie Ortiz: Culinary AdventuresThe new exhibition at ArtSpace Virginia Miller Galleries, “Culinary Adventures: Bronze Sculpture and Paintings by Luis Montoya and Leslie Ortiz,” opens with a reception for the artists from 6-10 p.m. Friday, Nov. 4th.

Each of the partners is well known in international art circles; both have exhibited widely in leading galleries and museums, Montoya since 1972 and Ortiz since 1996. Partners since 1994, Montoya and Ortiz are the extremely rare bronze sculptors who handle every phase of their work, from design to casting and patination, which gives them total control of the creative process.

“We do everything together,” said Montoya, “from the designs to the modeling and casting, but these days Leslie does the patinas.” “I learned from Luis,” Ortiz says, adding that while many formulas for bronze patinas have been known for centuries, she and Montoya have developed their own techniques, particularly for the little-used pastel patinas.

Both have extensive credentials: before opening South Florida’s first commercial bronze foundry in South Florida in 1972, Montoya was awarded his BFA and MFA from the School of Fine Art of San Fernando in Madrid, followed by independent study in Florence, London and New York, along with postgraduate studies in sculpture at Kent State University. His sculpture has won two Hortt Memorial Competition awards, the James J. Akston Foundation Award and the Francisco Alcantara Award in Spain.

Ortiz joined him in 1985 after being awarded the F.C. Uriot Prize from Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten in Amsterdam, where she received her MA, and from Boston University School of the Arts (BFA), where she graduated magna cum laude in sculpture.

“With those backgrounds, it’s no wonder that they see sculptural forms in organic matter like fruits, vegetables and shellfish,” said Virginia Miller, owner and director of ArtSpace/Virginia Miller Galleries in Coral Gables, Florida.

“The phenomenal aspect of their work is that when you take a subject like cherries or an artichoke, and you cast it as a monumental bronze and add an exquisite patina, it transcends the original object and becomes a fascinating piece of sculpture,” Miller adds. “If you are open to the sensual possibilities stimulated by these works, I guarantee they will alter your perception of their subjects.”

Wherever they have been exhibited, the sculptures of Montoya and Ortiz have received critical acclaim. According to Dr. Agustin Boyer, Saint Cloud State University, Minnesota, “Luis and Leslie wield their promethean creative instinct to push the boundaries of perception, and continue to balance their playful humor and fine sensitivity with a unique technical perfection that allows them to impose the most sublime nuance of the biological world into the staunch telluric world of their craft.”

While interim executive director of the Tampa Museum of Art, the distinguished museum executive Ken Rollin noted that “Whether on a modest or monumental scale, these works of art engage the viewer in a dialogue of form, color, and materiality that offers a lasting impression.”

Greater Miami’s longest-established contemporary fine art gallery, ArtSpace/Virginia Miller Galleries is located at 169 Madeira Avenue in downtown Coral Gables, Florida. Gallery hours are 12 to 6 p.m. Tuesday-Friday and 6-10 for Gables Gallery Night, every first Friday of the month, and by appointment. For more information, call 305-444-4493.

Linda Touby: Sensuous Surfaces

Linda-Touby05“Linda Touby: Sensuous Surfaces,” a one-person exhibition of selected paintings from the past ten years, opens at ArtSpace/Virginia Miller Galleries from 6-10 p.m. Friday, May 6th.

Touby’s multi-layered abstractions have been acclaimed in every corner of the nation as well as in prestigious galleries around the world, having been exhibited in such public venues as Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY; America Haus and the Museum Fur Konkrete Kunst Ingolstadt, both in Munich, Germany; American Embassies in Algeria, Estonia, Jordan, Kuwait, Nassau, Paris, and Tunisia; Museum Of Realism And Atheism, Lvov, Ukraine; Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase, NY; and Provincetown Museum, Provincetown, MA.

After completing the art curricula at New York’s Pratt Institute and the National Academy of Art, Touby was transitioning from the figurative oil paintings that she sold as a student to more abstract canvases when she became a student of Richard Pousette-Dart, youngest member of the first generation of the New York School of abstract expressionists.

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According to art critic Susan Inniss, “Pousette-Dart first came to her attention in the mid-1980s, when she saw an exhibition of his paintings at the Virginia Miller Gallery in Coral Gables.” His first exhibition in the south, that 1985 show, titled “Richard Pousette-Dart, Paintings From the 1940s to the Present,” was heralded by Dr. Philip George, a prominent local collector, who told Miller “This may well be the most important exhibition ever held in the history of Miami.” Miami Herald art critic Helen Kohen called the Pousette-Dart show “a highlight of the season.”

Inniss writes that later, when Touby joined his class at the Art Students’ League, Pousette-Dart “slowly demystified this visual language for her. His existential philosophy and faith in the primal or ‘first intensity of feeling’ in one’s painting…directed Touby to reconnect with her expressive instincts intuitively felt as a child.”

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Many of Touby’s most recent works at ArtSpace/Virginia Miller Galleries were from her series, “Homage to Giotto,” and featured the textures and colors of the frescoes of the Italian master. Several of those will be included in the current exhibition.

Writing about Touby’s “Homage to Giotto” series, the well-known Ed McCormack states that “By troweling one color over another in broad horizontal swaths, broken here and there by scumbled see-through patches that create a kind of purposeful pentimento, Touby even suggests the erosion that time has wrought upon the surfaces of Giotto’s great frescoes.”

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McCormack goes on to note that rather than “making too much of the relation to landscape-space in the horizontal bias of Touby’s compositions…better one should see these elements in her work for what they are: tactile subtleties and felicities attendant to lush, vibrantly autonomous areas of color that require no justification beyond their undeniable beauty and the sensual pleasure they provide.”

Describing an earlier but not dissimilar series of Touby’s works, Susan Inniss states “What first strikes one about these paintings is the clarity of structure, purity of the luminous rich colors, the confident handling of lush paint and the abundant surface textures which produce an illusion of depth and ambiance……Raw emotionalism is expressed by gestural marks, which Touby executes with brushes, spatulas and cloth.”

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The notorious Wikileaks files disclosed that Touby’s week-long visit to Kuwait sponsored by the U.S. State Department’s ART in Embassies Program was the subject of a series of cables. One notes “Energetic and charming Ms. Touby conducted outreach to hundreds of Kuwaiti youth through her popular lectures to art students at the Women’s College at Kuwait University, the American University of Kuwait, Gulf University of Science & Technology, the Universal American School and the PAAET College of Basic Education and Interior Design/Arts.”

Other cables state that she was featured in an interview with “Kuwait Review: Literature, Culture & the Arts,” a local art and literature monthly magazine, as well as appearances on two popular television programs and in articles in the daily newspapers “Kuwait Times” and “Al-Seyassah, ” concluding:

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“Ms. Touby’s fascinating displays of her work and energetic lectures before hundreds of students on the topic of “The Journey of an American Artist” were polished, riveting, and so well-received that she continued to make new contacts until just hours before her return flight to the U.S.”

Her latest works pay homage to the late Sidney Geist, an American author, sculptor and art critic, whose warehouse studio shared the same floor as Touby’s. Whenever she came or went to their elevator, she passed by the battered white door to his area. It inspired her to title her most recent series of paintings “Sidney’s Door.” The exhibition will continue through September 2016.

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Greater Miami’s longest-established contemporary fine art gallery, ArtSpace/ Virginia Miller Galleries is in the heart of the Coral Gables business and restaurant district at 169 Madeira Avenue, which is eight blocks north of Miracle Mile. Gallery hours are noon to 6 p.m. Tuesday-Friday and by appointment . For more information, please call 305-444-4493.

View Gallery Installation here>

Divergent Illusions

“Divergent Illusions,” an exhibition of paintings and sculpture by an acknowledged master and four highly accomplished mid-career artists from five countries, will open at ArtSpace/Virginia Miller Galleries with a reception from 6-10 p.m. Friday, Nov. 6th.

“Each of these artists offers the sort of unique, personal statement that I am constantly seeking in the art that I choose to exhibit,” said Virginia Miller, owner and director of Greater Miami’s longest-established contemporary fine art gallery, now in its 42nd year.

Artists selected by Miller for the show include Michael Roque Collins, an American painter; Michelle Concepción, a Puerto Rican working in Europe; Carlos Garcia de la Nuez, a Cuban artist working in Mexico; the late Armando Morales, a major Nicaraguan painter; Mario Segundo Pérez, an artist from Argentina; and Richard Taylor, an American sculptor.

Roque Collins’ utopian and dystopian subject matter, rendered in his heavily impastoed canvases, were last shown in the gallery in his 1999 one-person exhibition, “Gardens of Terrible Beauty.” Along with participating in numerous group exhibitions, he has held more than three dozen solo shows in prestigious museums and galleries in Cuba, Germany, and Peru as well as this country. His list of awards is longer than most artist’s biographies.

Concepción’s dreamy abstractions have been included in a number of the gallery’s solo and group exhibitions, notably the gallery’s spectacular one-person show of her paintings in 2008, “Volver: Recent Paintings,” and in such group exhibitions as “Five Abstract Visions” in 2008 and “Joyas Latinoamericanas” in 2009. Sometimes described as “visual meditations,” her flat canvases present uncanny illusions of depth and texture that leave other artists baffled.

Garcia, a member of the renowned 1980s generation of Cuban artists whose works subtly criticized the Castro regime, is considered the founder of Cuba’s historical “4 X 4” group, an important collective of abstract artists in the early 1980s. Miller included several of his paintings in her gallery’s historic 2013 exhibition, “The Silent Shout: Voices in Cuban Abstraction 1950-2013,” and in the following year, “Panoply: Paintings, Photographs and Sculpture.”

Considered one of the most important Nicaraguan artists, the late Armando Morales was awarded the Joachin Diaz Del Villar award at the Second Spanish-American Biennial in Havana in 1954, a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1958, “Best Latin American Artist” at the 5th São Paulo Biennial in 1959, a first prize in the Art of America and Spain competition in Madrid in 1963, and numerous other honors. Along with being widely exhibited in leading galleries and major museums, such as the Museo de Arte Contemporaneo and the the Rufino Tamayo Museum in Mexico City, the Museu de Arte Contemporanea de Universidade de Sao Paulo in Brazil, and the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes in Buenos Aires, his paintings are in numerous stellar collections, including those of the Museum of Modern Art in New York; the Art Museum of the Americas, Washington, D.C.; Harvard University Art Museums; the Saatchi Collection in London; and the Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach, California.

The magic realism of Pérez has won the artist such international honors as the Cecilia Grierson Award at the Salón Nacional de Pintura in La Plata in1992; the Marco A. Roca Award at the Salón Pro Arte, Córdoba, also in 1992; and the first prize in the LXXXVIII National Salon of Painting in Buenos Aires in 1999. Recipient of a Pollock-Krasner Foundation grant, one of his most recent honors was to be curated into the national exhibition, “200 Years-200 Masters of Argentine Art” commemorating the nation’s bicentennial. His work often features tiny figures in immense landscapes and uniquely impastoed background. His work is regularly featured by such leading auction houses as Christie’s and Sotheby’s in New York and Leslie Hindman Auctioneers in Chicago.

Monumental outdoor sculptures by Taylor may be found at the Milwaukee Public Library and the Milwaukee Youth Arts Center, Wisconsin; Hardy Ivy Park in Atlanta, Georgia; City of East Lansing, Michigan; City Park in Beaverton, Oregon; the City of Dowagiac, Michigan; collection of the State of Wisconsin; Urban Ecology Center, Milwaukee, Wisconsin; and Southwestern Illinois College, Belleville, Illinois. His work is included in such major collections as those of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, Nieman Marcus, Visa, General Electric Medical Systems, Rockwell International, Rouse Properties in New York City, and Hewlett-Packard. Taylor feels that his works reflect his interest in “the cadences, rhythms, and syncopations of music and poetry.”

“Divergent Illusions” will be exhibited through February 2016 at ArtSpace/Virginia Miller Galleries. Located at 169 Madeira Avenue in downtown Coral Gables, Florida, gallery hours are 11 to 6 Tuesday-Friday and by appointment.

See Gallery Installation here.

Leon Berkowitz: Cascades of Light, Paintings from 1965-1986

South Florida’s longest-established fine art gallery, ArtSpace/Virginia Miller Galleries in downtown Coral Gables, registers another entry in regional art history on Nov. 7 when it opens an exhibition of important paintings by Leon Berkowitz.

Leon Berkowitz: Cascades of Light, Paintings from 1965-1986,” features a cross-section of his most important body of work, ranging from the earlier striped canvases to his mature, misty abstractions.

According to the New Art Examiner, “Berkowitz was the primary impetus behind the founding and development of the Washington Color School,” whose leading exponents include his close friends and colleagues Gene Davis and Morris Louis. The internationally renowned art movement grew out of the Workshop Art Center, an art collective started by Berkowitz and his wife, the poet Ida Fox, in 1947. Other notable artists associated with the workshop, either as teachers or participants, included Kenneth Noland, Howard Mehring and Thomas Downing.

Leon Berkowitz, Untitled, Oil on Canvas, 70 x 77 inches, 1966
Leon Berkowitz, Untitled, Oil on Canvas, 70 x 77 inches, 1966

The collective was “Washington’s earliest alternative space,” Berkowitz notes, and in 1953 it heralded the direction of contemporary art by featuring a retrospective of Willem de Kooning and the first one-person exhibition of Morris Louis.

“This is a rare opportunity to see a number of major works by this historically significant artist,” said Virginia Miller, the gallery’s owner and director, who gave the artist his first one-person show in Greater Miami in 1978. Paintings by Berkowitz also were included in the three-person inaugural exhibition of the gallery’s Coral Gables location in 1981 as well as in its “Master Works 1969-84” show in 2002.

After travelling for ten years in Spain, Wales, the Middle East and the Arizona desert, Berkowitz changed his style from bars of color to the soft, radiant canvases that characterize his late work. “For months on end I worked in nature, intently observing its secrets,” Berkowitz wrote. “Out of my concern with overcoming the materiality of pigment and the conversion of paint to light, I gave up all earth colors.”

Leon Berkowitz, Transition, Oil on Canvas, 100 x 82 inches, 1979
Leon Berkowitz, Transition, Oil on Canvas, 100 x 82 inches, 1979

“Light became a vocabulary, perhaps a language,” he said, describing his paintings as “the idea of the continuousness of space and light and form –it’s a time involvement. And it doesn’t exist in any of the so-called color school people.”

“Living and working as I did during those years in Europe in the open air under expanding skies, light itself became an ultimate goal. I became concerned with the dissolution of matter, the fragmentation of light, the conversion of ‘matter into spirit.’ I wanted to look into color, not at color. I was drawn to artists like Monet (his water lilies) and the American Luminists, particularly Martin Heade and Fritz Hugh Lane. Gradually I came to think of myself as a latter-day luminist.”

According to Berkowitz, his luminous, atmospheric canvases carried light, and through their inner light, exuded spirituality. Describing his work for a one-person show in 1976 at the renowned Phillips Collection, he said “I am endeavoring to find that blush of light over light and the color within the light; the depths through which we see when we look into and not at color.”

Writing in “Art in America” in March 2014, critic Mary Proenza noted that “Though Berkowitz’s hand is restrained, it’s not the “post-painterly” anti-signature of many second-generation Abstract Expressionists. In fact, his sumptuous, canny but subtle painterliness is key to the success of these late works, for which he is best known. In part, that’s because his techniques, stripped of inessentials, align well with his often-stated purpose: to see through color and light a transcendental interconnectedness in all things.”

Leon Berkowitz, Ten Lost Tribes of Israel, Oil on Canvas, 78 x 100 inches, 1972
Leon Berkowitz, Ten Lost Tribes of Israel, Oil on Canvas, 78 x 100 inches, 1972

Like Cezanne and Monet, Berkowitz described himself as developing “a religious sense of nature that grew clearer as these artists grew older. Both let the objective world drop out of their work as they discovered what was real and essential. And of course there was Turner, who surrendered the world of objects to find a single unity about him, a breath of sky interrupted by a single star. Radiance became the milieu in which their work existed, an enveloping containment of light—as though nature were a single continuum.”

Over the years, Berkowitz developed an innovative technique, applying as many as 30 or 40 thin layers of paints with a brush, blotting the layers with rice paper or painting through the paper so that all are blended seamlessly. “The surface of (my) painting is like the surface of my skin,” he noted, because the skin is indicative of the living matter beneath it.

Born in Philadelphia in 1911, Berkowitz studied at the Pennsylvania Museum School and the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, the Art Students League in New York City, the Academie Grand Chaumiere, in Paris, the Academie de Belles Artes in Florence, and Mexico City College, Mexico, where he first exhibited in 1949. During World War II he was stationed in Virginia, and in 1945, after completing his military service, he moved to Washington, D.C.

Leon Berkowtz, Galilee, Oil on Canvas, 56 x 54 inches, 1965
Leon Berkowtz, Galilee, Oil on Canvas, 56 x 54 inches, 1965

He painted and taught art for more than ten years in D.C. high schools and later, in 1969, at The Corcoran Gallery’s School of Art, where he was chair of the painting department. He continued to teach there for almost twenty years, until his death in 1987.

Paintings by Berkowitz are included in some of the world’s most prestigious museums, including Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, Ridgefield, Connecticut; Boca Raton Museum of Art, Boca Raton, Florida; Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Golda Meir Collection, Jerusalem, Israel; High Museum of Art, Atlanta Georgia; Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; Museum of Modern Art, New York City; National Museum of American Art, Washington, D.C.; Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach, Florida; Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.; Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, Florida; and Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, Connecticut, among others.

Since its opening in 1974, ArtSpace/Virginia Miller Galleries has been the site of more than 300 art exhibitions, many historic, such as the 1982 show by Washington Color School painter Sam Gilliam, whose painted canvas draped across a 35-foot wall was considered radical at the time. Highlights of key exhibitions may be found under “Gallery” at www.virginiamiller.com.

Leon Berkowitz, Unity 31, Oil on Canvas, 64 x 86 inches, 1973
Leon Berkowitz, Unity 31, Oil on Canvas, 64 x 86 inches, 1973

A public reception for “Cascades of Light” will be held at ArtSpace/Virginia Miller Galleries from 6-10 p.m. Friday, Nov. 7th. Located at 169 Madeira Avenue in downtown Coral Gables, the gallery is open from 11-6 Monday-Friday and evenings and Saturdays by appointment.

South Florida’s two New Incredible SITES

On the Creative Edge Retailer Puts Stock in Odd Facades
By Helen L. Kohen
Special To The Herald
The Miami Herald
Sunday Nov 25th, 1979
ART REVIEW

SiteSITE, the New York-based multidisciplinary art and architecture organization, has recently completed two structures in the Miami area. Both buildings (plus a score of others, equally outlandish in concept) were commissioned by Best Products Co. Inc., a retail firm committed to housing their standard catalog-showroom business behind uncommon facades. As latter-day Medicis, that corporate entity has managed to attract attention not only for its patronage of living artists, but for what is slowly happening to the face of your common, ordinary, ugly suburban shopping area. For that particular uplift, SITE has been on the creative edge.

Building from a theoretical basis composed of ideas gleaned from the critical “painted word,” art historical scholarship and Dada musing, and working those ideas through their own heightened sensibility to the built environment, the four principals of SITE (Emilio Souse, Alison Sky, Michele Stone, and James Wines) design their architectural projects as confrontations. In sight of Fragmented Facade (19600 S. Dixie Highway, Cutler Ridge), or Aquarium Showroom (5301 W. 20th Ave., Hialeah), the casual bystander is immediately involved in some kind of dialogue

Architectural-Exhibition-2AS THE SITE folk say (and they speak with four tongues, in a composite way), “The public is obliged to connect.” They continue, articulating their personal credo: “Architecture is our subject, not our object.” They aim for all those human reactions that fine art—including architecture—should effect. Humor, irony, and contradiction constitute the current colloquy, but like all conceptual art, theirs has meaning beyond what is visualized as a finished work of art.

There is the facadism itself. They know we believe in that, that “it’s what’s up front that counts.” It is all we tend to see and therefore all we experience. By fragmenting that facade (as in the Cutler Ridge project), so that it exists in four parts which together make a whole, we have to deal with other questions: Do you open a door when you know it leads to nothing except the general direction of a real door? The psychological factor, that of “making an entrance,” is involved, as is the physical sense of feeling oneself inside a surreal landscape.

THE SITES FOR these SITE projects are not surreal, or even distinctive, at the start. Asphalt, building brick and cars are the common ingredients, so the up-ended terrarium which is the Hialeah facade comes as a shock. It comments on what we have destroyed to create the usual shopping plaza, while at the same time it re-creates that natural environment in an eccentric form. Water constantly bathes the encapsulated plant life, producing a moving and misty view, much like that experienced when driving through unspoiled Florida.

Architectural-Exhibition-1The theme of “nature taking back its own territory” figures in other SITE projects which can be viewed in architectural renderings, photographs, original drawings and models at Virginia Miller Galleries (3112 Commodore Plaza, Coconut Grove). This documentary exhibit will also introduce, through the print media, a matrix of philosophical materials integral to the SITE concept. The show is interesting on its own, and an important adjunct to experiencing the buildings themselves. See them all.