ArtSpace/Virginia Miller Galleries
By Candice Russell
South Florida Times, December 2003
for what's good and a nose for what's new distinguish
Virginia Miller, owner of Artspace/Virginia Miller
Galleries in Coral Gables. Next May this trend-setting
woman of vision celebrates her 30th year in the business
of showcasing artists from around the globe.
The first to spotlight Latin American
art before other galleries jumped on the bandwagon,
Miller has been an active participant in the Miami
art scene. She launched the Coral Gables' Gallery Night
thirteen years ago, attracting people to the area and
taking them by trolley from one gallery to another.
In January, she participated in the prestigious Art
Miami art fair at the Miami Beach Convention Center.
She also makes continuing contributions as president
of the Coral Gables Gallery Association.
"I do things that excite me," says Miller, who
is proud of her new website www.virginiamiller.com. "It
is very eclectic. The defining element is quality. I've always
believed that a dealer in contemporary art has more than
a responsibility to sell. To open your emotions and mind
to art, to see through the eyes of an infinitely gifted artist
is an enriching experience. There's great satisfaction for
me in finding artists who are or who have the potential to
be historically significant."
The gallery launched this season with Arturo Correa from Venezuela, featuring his new paintings, works on paper and an unusual installation meant to bring attention to the plight of the homeless called "Art House," now on view at Pineapple Grove ArtWalk in Delray Beach. Miller also arranged for Correa to paint a 120-foot mural of a carousel on the exterior fence of a building in Coral Gables.
ArtSpace's activities continue with "Matt Carone: New
Paintings," December 5 to January 29, 2004. Carone is
the owner of the Carone Gallery, Fort Lauderdale's oldest
commercial space. His large-scale paintings, inspired in
part by his friendship with the late Chilean painter Roberto
Matta, were recently shown at the Boca Raton Museum of Art
and Georgetown College in Georgetown, Kentucky. Next up is "Gunther
Gerzso: 1935 to 1941," February 6 to April 30, 2004.
Miller describes him as Mexico's first abstract painter,
though a selection of early figurative work will also be
shown. The season finishes May 7 to 30 with an annual event
called the "Latin American Invitational."
Highlights in the gallery's life include Miller's retrospective
of painter Alice Neel in 1978, a 1985 show for Richard Pousette-Dart,
the youngest member of the New York school of Abstract Expressionists
and a show on Aboriginal art from Australia in the 1990s,
featuring Rover Thomas of the Turkey Creek School. Groundbreaking
exhibitions devoted to contemporary Russian artists and digital
photography are further examples of the broad-based approach
that this farsighted owner takes to art.
From her unique perspective, Miller
is able to reflect on changes in the Miami gallery scene. "It has evolved
dramatically from 1974 to today," she says. "There
are many more collectors who are much more sophisticated
and knowledgeable about art. Their collecting habits are
more diverse. They'll come in and ask about a specific style,
category or medium of art, like glass.
"When I started showing Latin
American art in the mid-1970s, nobody knew anything about
it. Because my husband's a travel writer, we started going
to Latin America where I visited schools and art studios,
then brought back art. Now art from more countries is here
in great numbers. If Miami is the gateway to Latin America,
Coral Gables is the portal to Latin American art."
The burgeoning number of art galleries
in Miami now is a far cry from the scant handful of galleries
in Coconut Grove and Bay Harbor Islands' Kane Concourse
three decades ago. "Miami's
hot," says Miller "The art scene exudes a positive
energy. Art stars live in south Florida, including José Bedia,
Edouard Duval-Carrie and Ruben Torres Llorca, among others.
What's going on is exciting. Art Basel brought more galleries,
dealers and major collectors to the area. The Rubells moved
here and opened their collection to the public. Miami collectors
have established themselves to the point that they're loaning
sculpture, photography and avant-garde art to museums. In
1974, there was only one collecting museum, the Lowe Art
Museum at the University of Miami. Now there are five major
collecting museums in Miami."
Miller prides herself on not falling
into the traps of some gallery owners and curators who
exhibit new work of little value. "So much of it is a fad," she says. "People
show it for shock value. Curators have to have new things.
"I show what I believe in. This is art that people place in their homes and offices. I'm so rewarded when I hear from my clients who bought art from me years ago and tell me it's the art they love the most. This makes it all worthwhile, because it is art that has enhanced their lives."
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