.Away from the Miami convention center and the massive white art fair tents was the Artist-Run show at the now derelict Ocean Terrace Hotel, an art deco building awaiting demolition or redevelopment. The unairconditioned corridors and rooms-turned-galleries of the old hotel were nevertheless a breath of fresh air on the heels of a day at the sparkling big money fairs.
Each room of the Ocean Terrace Hotel had been transformed (to a varying degree) by the gallery, nonprofit, or artist-run space that occupied it. The decidedly non-white-cube conditions of the building demanded an installation approach. Most rooms dealt not only with the walls of the rooms themselves, but also made use of bathrooms, floors, ceilings, windows and doors. In this sense (and augmented by the heat and humidity of a Miami evening) Artist-Run was an exhibition that consciously engaged the body of the viewer. Likewise, explicitly performative events that took place in the hotel were intimately intertwined with the space itself. A few examples are summarized below.
Beast Boutique, Yellow Peril Gallery (Providence, RI)
Artist Jennifer Avery’s Beast Boutique was a composed clutter of photographs, photocopies, and hybrid doll-stuffed-animals-garments. She called it “the chaos of the forest”. Walls, floor and all corners were inhabited. Upon entry into the boutique, the artist would ask if the viewer would allow her to choose a garment for her, assuring, upon a friendly sizing-up, that she would “choose the perfect one.” Through this interaction, the viewer noticed that the installation was, in fact, populated with these wearable artworks in brightly-colored, frankenstein-stitched silk, lace, wool and fur, often displaying vestiges of their former use as more conservative garments.
Some were full masks, others shawl-like necklaces adorned with oversized talismans made of stuffed-animal parts. Hand-made stuffed dolls (all alike) were lined up along walls and in corners looking like a cross between 19th century children’s toys and the mummy cats of the ancient Egyptians. Walls were plastered with images of these props and the artist (fully painted and adorned as a human-animal fairytail character, performing in a wooded setting), layering objects with images and creating a complex visual mythology. Beast Boutique was at once scary and exuberant. It had the enclosed, non dream logic of a fairytale and the sense of humor of a neon forest.
Stupid Bar // Open Space at Artist-Run Miami // images by Q. Dukes
Stupid Bar, Open Space (Baltimore, MD)
Stupid Bar was the creation of Baltimore artist-run gallery Open Space at Artist-Run in the Ocean Terrace Hotel. This was an actual bar complete with a few varieties of drinks, a stripper’s pole and constant Karaoke performances. It was impossible to tell whether these were performed by friends and associates of the gallery or visitors to Artist-Run, as everyone was invited to participate while enjoying canned beers and cocktails and reading the myriad handmade signage adorning the walls and shelves of the installation like so many neon signs and beer posters at a dive bar.
Because of the hotel room setting, Stupid Bar also held a tinge of nostalgia for a teenager’s room where a secret party might place after parents have gone to bed. A large chalkboard hung on the wall immediately to the right upon entry stating: “Postmodernism is just a cool word for Postmodernism.” Another in red, green and black advertised the fact that all drinks were $11 while another commanded, “Notice this notice.”
In spite of the jokey atmosphere of Stupid Bar, it was a locus for the free spirited exuberance of TSA’s Satellite Art Show, a taste of what actually makes people love art. Stupid Bar’s funny signs, its dildo microphones and underwear-clad gender-bending karaoke divas generated something profound that viewers and artists could participate in and sink their teeth into. As Paddy Johnson put it in Art F City, “[Artist-Run] gives artists a voice, and somewhat counter-intuitively that’s most needed here in Miami, during the biggest art fair week in the country.” Stupid Bar was a gathering place and a way station for this energy. - Alexandra Hammond, Miami Art Week Correspondent
artist-run shout outs!