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Post #454 • January 14, 2005, 10:27 AM • 32 Comments

Anne Tschida for the Miami Herald: Updated palmbeach3 carving own identity.

Street's nearly empty website posted responses to last week's article by Carlos Suarez de Jesus, including one from MoCA Director Bonnie Clearwater.

Alfredo Triff for the Miami New Times: Politics and Art and Risk: Mix the first two and you will encounter the third.

Miami New Times: Current Art Shows.

Michael Mills for the Broward/Palm Beach New Times: The Square Root of Louise: One of the American giants of the 20th Century comes in boxed sets.

Broward/Palm Beach New Times: Artbeat.

Gary Schwan for the Palm Beach Post: Lorenzo Rudolf the Don Juan of art.

Elsewhere, via Goodreads, The Classics in the Slums. Ammo.

See you there: palmbeach3. Why the hell not. Plus, my San Diego gallery, Scott White Contemporary Art, is going to be there.




January 14, 2005, 7:40 PM

Bonnie defended herself well.



January 14, 2005, 8:31 PM

Yes, she appears to have. Although I liked the idea of a hard-hitting expose account - especially to counter all the gee-whiz-aren't-we-great kind of thing we usually read - I was disturbed by the repeated use of non-specific sources. Anecdotal, second-hand and hearsay evidence is not uncommon in journalism but it there is good reason why it is and should be frowned upon. That Othoniel show was bad enough all on its own anyway.



January 14, 2005, 8:37 PM

Regarding the letters in Street, I would advise the French cultural attachto try harder, though she may have little say in what washes up on our shores from her country. However, if Othoniel and his dubious glass trinkets are the best France can do for us, it would be better to rest on old laurels. In other words, thanks, but no, thanks. We have more than enough domestic drivel.



January 14, 2005, 9:54 PM

Re: the French cultural attaché...

I've got a feeling she didn't really mean to say that Clearwater's "work has contributed to Miami's recent notoriety in the world of contemporary art."

Lost in translation?



January 14, 2005, 10:10 PM

Lost in translation, or Freudian slip?

Cheap shots 'R' us...



January 14, 2005, 10:21 PM

Alright, I was curious about this, so indulge me... though Google and other online word-to-word translations pair up the English "notoriety" with French "notoriété," the words are actually a case of "faux ami."

Both, no doubt, come from the same latin root, with the English "notorious" taking on its negative connotation, according to the Online Etymology Dictionary, in the 17th century "from frequent association with derogatory nouns."

Good enough.

Now, back to your regularly scheduled Artblogging.



January 15, 2005, 12:57 AM

I have heard "notoriety" used in a non-pejorative sense often enough, though I think that is not the right usage. I think in this case it simply meant repute, renown


that guy in the back row

January 15, 2005, 1:24 AM

Franklin, there seems to be a problem with the Ware / Scalise Dorsch post from two day ago. Looks like some one may have posted invalid characters or the like. The link results in a blank page.



January 15, 2005, 1:28 AM

Shows up okay for me. Try it again.


that guy in the back row

January 15, 2005, 2:14 AM

Its working, not sure what was wrong. back to the art.



January 15, 2005, 7:20 PM

A friend came back from the PB Fair and said it was much better than Art Miami. (He is a photographer, note)
But it did sound like they are getting it right up there...
Good just one more place to see something from somewhere else...

Bonnie defended herself, of course, though she was merely stating the facts in a chronological order, which can be very useful in sorting out the drival. This quoting of unnamed sorces made the article sound like a personal grudge and someone's last chance to vent in a dying paper, last gasp.
Personally I am appalled by all the factionalism in this town. I guess it is in all towns but who really cares that so and so hates Bonnie, and Rubell hates so and so, and so and so hates Marguiles... etc. ad nauseum.
Thankfully the majority of people who visit all the myriad of venues here don't know anything about that trivia and could care less. For once the art, whether it is to your personal liking or not, wins out!

And like it or not, we are lucky to have a Bonnie Clearwater in this town. Her credentials give her opportunity in much tonier places. And even though you may not think every show is a gem she has been very instrumental in putting Miami on the map. MoCa gets more play in the natioinal press than any other venue in town. Rubell does a good job too. If that brings envy then you are missing the point. Any praise for any venue in Miami only trickles down as credibility for all Miami has to offer in the arts. It has to start at the top but the rewards do trickle down. I think a little perspective and less resentment may be in order.
Maybe Bonnie hasn't been to your studio or gallery, but she has been to many. And if she came to yours and offered you a show, voila, she would be a saint.....



January 15, 2005, 8:24 PM

One thing that excapes most people's notice is that Clearwater actually originates and curates most of her own shows. Almost all the other shows we see in this town are rented. This is a distinction that museum people pay attention to but that the general public usually doesn't even notice. It is a definite point in her favor, in my opinion.


that guy in the back row

January 15, 2005, 8:35 PM

The Charles Burchfield exhibit comes down this weekend up in Boca. I'll report in tomorrow with some sort of review. (might be a worthy rented show)



January 15, 2005, 9:08 PM

You may like the Bruchfield show, Guy. Very odd, almost folk artish, but better. landscapes mostly.



January 15, 2005, 9:54 PM

you are correct about Bonnie's curatorial aplomp.
The Stella comes to mind. The Louise Bourgeoise that is slated this winter is touring Europe but as I understand it, only stops in MOCA in the states. And it can only get better now...
So we may have some wonderful things to look forward to...
I'm just trying to be positive in a critical world...



January 16, 2005, 1:23 AM

Coming up with and putting together its own shows is a mark of the maturity, confidence and seriousness of a museum. All other things being equal, that is certainly preferable and more praiseworthy than renting shows. However, the bottom line, at least mine, is the end result: How good is the material put before the public? What is the fashion-to- quality ratio? Is the show primarily motivated by how "hot" the artist is at the moment, or by the work itself?

If a self-generated show is lousy, I don't care how it got into the museum--it's still lousy, and it raises obvious questions about the person responsible. Yes, a bad "home-made" show is more honorable than a bad rental, but that's small comfort. MOCA's track record is rather poor lately, in my estimation, and I'm not just talking about the ridiculous Othoniel frippery. The fashion-to-quality ratio has been too high, and that irritates me. I don't want the museum equivalent of the typical art mags.

This is not about Bonnie Clearwater personally. I don't know the woman, and I'm not sore she hasn't visited me or offered me a show because, in my case, those things don't apply. I'm looking at her position and what she's been doing with it. No doubt she's active, energetic and ambitious, but again, the bottom line is the bottom line.



January 16, 2005, 1:53 AM

No doubt, some of the shows have been awful, and i think she is stuck with a certain amount of fashion. but i do think of we did a side-byside list of our several museums MoCA would come out on top, even in our very critical estimation.

I say this in full consideration of what amounts to starvation here in a culture-free zone. We just don't have much to get excited about except an annual high-level international street fair.


We LUV Bonnie!

January 16, 2005, 6:15 AM

Bonnie is #1!
She is the only true prof. museum curator in town.
shame on miami art museum curators, especially for their bland-filled rented shows.



January 16, 2005, 8:34 AM

Oldpro, judging MOCA's performance by local standards is not that different from judging a given politician by local standards in that arena. It doesn't take much to be at the top of the list using such criteria, and consequently it's not worth that much, even if it's a better showing than some. The point is not MOCA's or Clearwater's performance relative to other Miami institutions and museum people, which are hardly stellar, but relative to considerably higher standards.

My personal experience is that, for some time now, MOCA's offerings have generally been getting weaker, more superficial, more trendoid, more glossy-slick, more predictable--like the art magazines. It's not a matter of an isolated show or two, but much more like a pattern. This may well be clever or pragmatic if one is jockeying for position in the official art world pecking order, or in getting national magazine coverage, or in being in good standing with the Church of Basel and its adherents, but none of that matters to me, and it sure as hell doesn't impress me.


that guy in the back row

January 16, 2005, 8:58 AM

Charles Burchfield who painted mostly landscapes are indeed more folk art naive than first rate high art. None the less, this show was worth the trip. His hit or miss style seems unconfident at times, but in some cases his paintings really impress. His watercolors were better than his oils. (an unlikely trait for a painter) The unpredictable nature of watercoloring and the brilliance of the white paper seems to have helped this often heavy handed oil painter. Many of his oils felt cluttered and dark, while his watercolors were light and breezy. It seemed at times that two different artists were at work.

Burchfield had a real homemade aesthetic and style. This led to some bizarre solutions for landscape painting. One piece towards the back of the show (the name escapes me) had a most original horizon line. It was a painting of a field in front of a wood, and between these, a row of bushes. The bushes were composed of two or three lines of varying shades of green drawn across the page in a manner a child draws waves. This is in itself is nothing, but the fact that it helped to complete the picture provided an unexpected enjoyable shock.

A large watercolor, with what appeared to be poppies, stole the show.

Today is your last chance to see the show. Anybody else see it?

The Boca Raton Museum of Art has what could be a good line up for the rest of the spring. Andrew Wyeth opens next week and South Florida will have a rare chance to see paintings by Belcome Green at the end of April.



January 16, 2005, 9:09 AM

Guy: Did you get a catalog?

That would be Balcomb Greene, not Belcome Green, unless there is someone by that latter name I don't know about. Balcomb Greene showed a lot in NY in the 40s & 50s. Interesting painter, especially his figures and his "fractured" painting technique.



January 16, 2005, 9:11 AM

I know, Jack. I'm certainly not going to disagree with you. It's just that it is all we've got.


that guy in the back row

January 16, 2005, 9:17 AM

that might be why I couldn't google him. thanks.


that guy in the back row

January 16, 2005, 9:22 AM

no catalog sorry, didn't see any for sale either, but then again I didn't look too hard. Not sure one was even published.



January 16, 2005, 4:27 PM

Guy, on your recommendation, I'm going to go up there today. Here's a link if anyone's interested.

His watercolors were better than his oils. (an unlikely trait for a painter). I love watercolors. But the history of Western art is written in oils and I've always felt a certain amount of pressure to do the same if I want to engage with it. Maybe I should blow that off.



January 16, 2005, 8:03 PM

I went to see the Martha Rosler talk at MAC (Miami Art Central) on Friday night. Martha was amazing; she really demystified a lot of things for me. But the MAC's handling of the event was pretty sad.

For those of you who haven't been there, the place's wealth is apparent from the moment you pull into the parking lot - the place is fancy; they appear to have (and I've been told) major bucks. Well.

1. Martha talked from a slide and video projector set up in the middle of a group of about fifty occupied chairs, with no PA, so that, in the big cavernous gallery, there was no way for most of us to hear her. She kept turning to face different "quadrants" of the audience, and everyone else had to strain like crazy to hear what she was saying at that point.

2. The first part of her talk was with a regular slide presentation. The lights over part of the gallery were off, but immediately to the left of the screen, and behind the audience, some bright-ass lights were on, and the slides were difficult to see. Several times during the slide show, Martha remarked that the slides were difficult to see, but none of the at least FOUR staff people who were there made an attempt to dim the lights.

3. Next Martha showed two VHS videos through the video projector. There was no sound system, so the 50 of us had to try to listen to them through the computer-speaker style sound of the projector itself. Martha by that point seemed pretty peeved (here I will just say that there is something sublime about watching "Semiotics of the Kitchen" (a video I was familiar with but had never actually seen before) while listening to Martha Rosler gripe repeatedly about the sound "It's supposed to assault your ears . . . I'm not sure there's any point to watching it this way" etc.), and rightly so.

4. The Kicker: For the last part of the show, Martha wanted to show some new work which she had on her ibook. The MAC couldn't produce the cable to plug it into THEIR projector.

As Mencken said, "The older I get the more I admire and crave competence, just simple competence, in any field from adultery to zoology." It is lacking in spades at the MAC.

Oh, another thing - the show seemed interesting, but the best piece, an eight-channel rear-projection slide show all the way in the back, had two of the slide projectors apparently broken. Or maybe just somebody neglected to turn them on?



January 16, 2005, 8:29 PM

I identify with that Mencken quote, in spades. The problem is that "simple competence" is never rewarded as much as it should be.

This is not to take MAC off the hook, but someone should tell Marthe NEVER accept any invitation to do anything at all in any venue without first personally talking to the technical people there. Art outfits, from museums on down, are laced with artzy people who think they are above it all, and this gives them a goose and makes them function. And when they do a good job thank them and compliment them.


that guy in the back row

January 16, 2005, 9:44 PM

yeah, lots of bucks rarely equals lots of brains.



January 17, 2005, 1:25 AM

Hey, Alesh, thanks for reporting on the Martha Rosler talk. I wanted to see it, but couldn't make it that night.



January 17, 2005, 2:54 AM

I would've liked to as well, but I'm a thousand miles away. Frankly, I'll be happy when the Miami hubbub blows over since it only makes me envious.



January 17, 2005, 3:04 AM

I got up to the Burchfield show. They also had a collection of drawings on display - a very nice afternoon. I'm going to write something on them, probably for Wednesday so I can get some images.

They had a Burchfield catalogue for sale but it cost $30 and had 15 color plates in it.



January 17, 2005, 4:11 AM

Since people are talking about shows in the area outside Miami, I'll mention the Nevelson show in Hollywood, which I saw today. It's less substantial than I'd imagined, although it is a small venue. There are few of her signature pieces and more of her earlier works, as well as several paintings (too many). Painting was obviously not her forte, so the curatorial decision on that score is questionable.

A white totemic piece from the late 50s ("Dawn Column") and a late wall assemblage recalling a 3-D Cubist painting, using mostly unpainted wood, were highlights. The latter was very visually successful in its combination and interplay of warm and dark colors, stimulating spatial relationships, and complex yet coherent composition, both dynamic and harmonious. It is, of course, formalist work, but not in a dry academic sense. I never cared much for her theatrical persona, which to me is counterproductive, but at least it wasn't all posturing.



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