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interesting things in the new times

Post #397 • October 28, 2004, 9:00 AM • 12 Comments

First interesting thing, to me, anyway, is that Alfredo Triff reviewed my show at Dorsch. He rather liked it. Thank you, Alfredo.

Franklin Einspruch's "Following the Weather" at the Dorsch Gallery reveals an artist fighting his own demon: figuration. Realism rescues him. Einspruch's exploration became clear to me at his show "Presence" in 2003 at Dorsch, where he tried to break loose from the iconography he is known for, realized with a detailed spatula work akin to pointillism.

Then, the artist wrestled with form and medium; only his canvases were too big to effectively translate his hand-and-body gesture effort and the form looked contorted. This attempt helped him understand that he can go small - or smaller, for now - and carefully measure his style progress. With "Following the Weather" Einspruch moves on to a very personal and somewhat abstract Expressionist figuration with the self-portraiture genre as leitmotif. Nothing is closer and safer than one's face. Yet, here lies the risk.

Frantic at times yet deliberate, Einspruch obstinately works tone and form. The sequence of little paintings makes you see how hue and gesture can alter sameness. What begins overtly ends introspectively, the realist self fades while a truer, deeper, likeness grows. My favorite self-portraits are: Mysterious Instructions, Howard Cimabue, Blue Negative, a wounded portrait-collage, Leafy Greens, a disintegrating mass - as if eaten by some mad force from the inside; Giotto, an effective minimalist contorted grimace and finally Backlight - strong and dark. Einspruch's effort has achieved a deliberate and intense chronicle of the many masks we wear and uncover in this multitude we call self.

Second interesting thing: on the following page, Martin Z. Margulies has taken out an advertisement opposing Bond Question #8 because of the funding it would grant to Museum Park. In an effort to settle this, I have developed a list of questions that I will send to the Miami Art Museum and to Margulies this morning. I post them here to demonstrate that I'm treating both sides with equal toughness, and to solicit information regarding these questions from insiders. Comment below or contact me by e-mail - I will withhold your name at your request. Answers appear first thing Monday, along with my recommendation on how to vote on Question #8.

Questions for Martin Z. Margulies

You claim in your advertisement that "$275 million of Bond Question #8 is slated for the construction of two private art museums." The facts indicate that Museum Park will consist of one art museum and one science museum, and that both museums will be public institutions. Do you want to clarify this?

You list a number of woes afflicting Miami, and suggest that the $275 million slated for Museum Park would be better spent on them. One of them is the fact, according to your ad, that 100,000 children do not have health insurance. We do not have socialized health care in this country (in fact, it only ever becomes increasingly privatized), so it seems that those children will continue to have no insurance even if Miamians vote No on Question #8. Why would having no museum and no insurance for those kids be preferable to having a museum and no insurance for those kids, since this is what the choice boils down to?

You also list a lack of parkland, a deficit at Jackson Memorial Hospital, 29% of people living below the poverty line, and uncompensated police and firefighters. Question #2 (Construct And Improve Parks And Recreational Facilities) will go towards increasing parkland, Question #5 (Construct And Improve Emergency And Healthcare Facilities) is aimed squarely at Jackson, Questions #6 (Construct And Improve Public Service Outreach Facilities) and #7 (Construct And Improve Housing For The Elderly And Families) are intended for the poor, and Question #4 (Construct And Improve Public Safety Facilities) seems directed at police and firefighters. One item on your list remains - a need to shore up the infrastructure of the schools. No ballot questions directly address this issue, but the one that comes close ("To construct and improve libraries, cultural facilities, and Head Start learning centers for pre-school children to offer multicultural educational opportunities and activities") is the same Question #8 (Construct And Improve Cultural, Library, And Multicultural Educational Facilities) that you would like us to vote No on. With most of your issues being addressed to the tune of millions of dollars by the other referendums, what's the harm in building Museum Park, particularly if its ordinance will begin to take care of some educational needs as well?

To what degree is your opposition to Museum Park prompted by animosity towards MAM director Suzanne Delahanty, MAM's board, or staff?

Questions for the Miami Art Museum

Margulies' advertisement points out that the words "museum" and "park" do not appear in the wording of Bond Question #8, and characterizes that as "an unethical attempt to deceive voters into paying for something they [meaning you] are pretty certain we would vote against were it properly disclosed." Indeed, according to a July 24 article in the Miami Herald, Mayor Penelas wanted to turn Museum Park funding into its own ballot question. Why did MAM lobby against that, and why is there no mention of Museum Park in Question #8 even though it accounts for half of its $552 million allocation? Is it for the reason that Margulies says - you knew that voters would oppose funding Museum Park if it were presented as a separate issue?

As of July, according to the same article, construction on the Performing Art Center on Biscayne Boulevard was nearly two years late and $240 million over budget. Why should Miamians want to risk voting another boondoggle into existence?

In an article for the New Times, Celeste Fraser Delgado characterized Museum Park supporters as behaving inscrutably about the total price tag. According to my own observations, this figure never appeared on the Museum Park Fact Sheet page of the MAM website until sometime after Penelas delivered MAM an ultimatum to produce some numbers and promises for fiscal responsibility; apparently, not even he knew how much it would cost or where the money would come from. Why did MAM try to keep this number a secret as long as possible?

Margulies has pointed out elsewhere that four of the top 200 collectors (presumably as chosen by ArtNews) live in Miami, and none of them are on the board at MAM. MAM has demonstrated a disturbing inability to connect with these prominent collectors, all of whom seem intent on showing their work to the public in privately owned spaces. Outside observers might reasonably conclude that MAM isn't worth supporting in either its present or expanded form, and that lack of cooperation from these collectors bodes ill for the future of the expanded museum. How would you respond to such a conclusion?

Many people support the idea of the new museums but fail to understand why it must be built on extremely valuable space in Bayfront Park. MAM promised to preserve parkland, but the American Airlines Arena next door reneged on similar promises. These people suggest keeping the park a park and putting the new museums on one of the many derelict and underused spaces within a mile of Bayfront. How would you persuade them that the museums must go into Bayfront Park?




October 28, 2004, 4:41 PM

I commend your efforts to get the Museum Park players to come clean, but don't hold your breath. You have no real leverage with these people, and if they can stonewall or dance around Penelas, they can surely blow you off. Yes, it will look bad to those who read the blog, but we're not the crucial target audience for the opposing forces you're addressing. That would be the general public, which is highly unlikely to find out anything about what you're trying to do before next Tuesday, even assuming you get anything resembling a real response from MAM or Margulies.

Get ready for the same old PR, the spin cycle, or maybe a form letter.



October 28, 2004, 4:42 PM

I think it is dandy that Triff appreciated your pictures. but i don't think he gets them as art, and there are some strange things in his review. Your "demon" is figuration? Why is figuration a "demon"? Figuration is what you do, that's all. Your "demon" is doing it well, just like it is for anyone who paints anything. And weighing in with "the masks we wear and uncover" in response to a show if self portraits should be a punishable crime.



October 28, 2004, 4:49 PM

By the way, Franklin, you neglected to bring up one of the key objections raised by Margulies: MAM's collection, such as it is. If MAM can't get the support of the Big 4, who are the most obvious and likely source of significant donations to improve MAM's distinctly underwhelming holdings, whose support do they expect to get?



October 28, 2004, 6:12 PM

I was surprised to find that ad in the New Times this morning, too. It doesn't really present anything new to any of us - it's his same old argument. I've concluded that Marty's reason for opposing the initiative is a sort of art laissez-faire: the scope of government should not extend to building art museums. (He had a guest speaker a while back from the board of the New York Guggenheim, who's main point was along those lines.) I think whatever bad blood there is between him and the Museum is a result of those beliefs, not a cause of them.

For what it's worth, I disagree. I buy into all the talk about Miami needing a world-class art museum, and the park seems like a pretty great spot for it. It's going to cost some money; big deal - New York just spent over $600 million renovating the MoMA. Milwaukee and others have also made major investments in art museums (a famous one just opened, it escapes me where). I've lived in Miami for twenty five years, and the park has remain unchanged, and mostly unused, that entire time. The people who want it to be a plain old park have had that long to make it so and haven't done squat. Let's spend the money - we'll get two cool new museums, and a nice park to hang out in.

Regarding the language of the proposition, I think whoever drafts ALL of these propositions needs a swift kick in the pants. It's impossible to give the pros and cons of each item as part of the ballot (or is it??), and people should do their research before they go vote, but I think the unprepared voter should be able to read a proposition, get a sense of what its intent is, and make a vote on the basis of his beliefs. The way they're often worded, it's impossible. I don't think you can blame groups who lobby the process - It's a given that everyone will want the language to be slanted their way. It's up to the staff, whose salaries voters pay, to come up with language that serves those voters. They rarely do.



October 28, 2004, 7:08 PM

Franklin, in my opinion it is very clear what needs to be done to improve your paintings. Triff , once again has proven to me, atleast, that he is unable to look at a painting and determine what is good or not so good. Bear down and make the paintings better !



October 28, 2004, 9:58 PM

As I see it, there's a difference between what Miami deserves and/or needs and what MAM (as it now stands) deserves. Just because there's a real need for an extremely expensive new medical research facility does not mean it should be turned over to just any doctors or scientists who ask for it. No reasonable person would go along with that. MAM is asking for one hell of a lot, the risks of financial problems are quite high, and MAM's track record is hardly dazzling. For them to claim or imply that if they only got their coveted new museum, then they'd dazzle, does not wash with me. Dazzle me first, or at least seriously impress me, THEN get the new museum.


Jerome du Bois

October 28, 2004, 10:44 PM


I don't know why you have such a tough audience. (This is about your posting on Q#8, not your paintings.) You post a clean, clear, cogent analysis of both sides of a complicated municipal issue, set out a range of pungent questions for specific folks, and you don't get any props for it. It reminds me of the proverb, "What's the matter, is the bride too beautiful?" Don't people appreciate this kind of thinking and writing? Well, I do: well done, man. Great post, great range. It's right there, on the record, for the record, anytime, with links.





October 29, 2004, 1:59 AM

While I agree that the Margulies ad in New Times is clearly manipulative (a hallmark of all politics), there is NO excuse for the vagueness of the wording being offered to the public in Bond Question #8. I cannot believe this vagueness was not deliberate, which makes it dangerously close to deceit. Over half the money is for Museum Park, so how could they possibly "neglect" or "forget" to specify that? I'm all for the arts, but if somebody wanted $275 million for yet another sports facility and conveniently "forgot" to tell me, I'd sure as hell scream bloody murder. If this isn't trying to pull a fast one, it sure looks like it.



October 29, 2004, 4:04 PM


Great write up by Alfredo, you should be proud. His lucid writing enriches the experience of viewing your paintings while not overshadowing it. He writes well about Tao and Bhakti as well, not just descriptively, but puts the work into context, which is the task of the critic. Cheers!



October 29, 2004, 4:28 PM

Thanks to proppers for the props.

I decided back in grad school that anyone was allowed to like my art for any reason, including potential matches between it and their living room decor, so I'm not going to argue with Triff on this one.

I'm not such a big shot that I'm assured of a response from Marty or MAM, but even if they don't respond I wanted to parse the issues involved.



November 1, 2004, 6:39 PM

I think it's awesome that you're asking the questions, F.

I'm sure MAM will respond soon, but it was not thier idea to not use the words "museum" or "park"; in fact they would have loved it were those words used! Also, MAM had the financial numbers available long before Peneles asked for them, they would have had to, in order to even be able to talk to the budget office for consideration as part of the bond effort.

I'm a Miami native, and have seen that park space sit empty and unused for a good number of years. Aside from Marguelies assertions, some folks have recently likened it to Central Park in order to convince residents that bond issue 8 should not be passed. It's a ridiculous argument. Miami is a car city. Few walk here. Unless there is a reason to go to the park, no-one will. There's certainly no reason to go through the park, as in NYC! I think that MAM and the Museum of Science are great reasons to go there, and both draw many thousands of schoolchildren annually. Even if the sculpture park is not counted as free park space, there will still be 13 acres of open park to explore and enjoy. Kids will eat thier lunches there, visitors will make more of a day visiting the museums; it will be great.

In order to ensure that the design and construction phase is not a boondoggle, residents should participate in the design process. I believe that presentations will be open to the public because of our Sunshine laws. So vote for 8, ask for charettes, and go to the presentations.

Additionally, if you vote no on number 8, nothing will happen. That money will not ever get spent, the improvements will not be made, no jobs will be created, and the tax rate will not be lowered. The money simply won't be bonded. It's not like there will be any money which can be reassigned toward anything else; the idea that we could spend the money on other things is a total red herring, and the people on the other end of the fishing line absolutely know it.



November 2, 2004, 6:04 PM

if this item #8 passes, i recommend you start a new, semi-permanent column on dedicated as forum for Museum Park. We have to hold all parties accountable for this potential large purse of money. We should criticize LOUDLY the process of choosing an architect, a design, materials for the building, the landscape design, the openness of the park, the amount trees, the angle of the buildings to the street, the water, to each other, to the metromover station,... there's a lot to pick at. If we don't , we'll get nightmare.
I, for one, don't want another mediocre Pelli-esque building. the f***ing eye-sore gets me so mad everyt time I drive by it.



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