Having covered the local art scene in Miami for a few years, this writer has been fortunate to have met some extraordinary talents the city has helped foster. I’m in extreme awe with the works we have gathered for the silent auction part of our event happening this Thursday at Borscht is Dead: Curated by Indie Ethos & Collab With Choose954. Below you will find out a little something about the artists who have contributed works for our auction, which will be key in helping us match our 2015 Knight Arts Challenge grant.
I first met Farley Aguilar about five years ago at his first solo exhibition for Spinello Projects. Anthony Spinello was setting up his then new gallery space west of Wynwood, on the west side of Interstate 95. Spinello has long been a pioneer in the Miami art scene, and his studio has moved several times since its humble beginnings in the Design District well over 10 years ago. He was championing a then little-known Aguilar. Two years later, Aguilar was selling out shows in New York and Switzerland.
The self-taught painter from Managua, Nicaragua, has a way of painting beyond the surface. Taking cues from old photos mostly from American history, he seems to paint the dark or vibrant souls that lie beneath. He uses vivid colors and impressionistic techniques. For instance, turning eyes into Xs or swirls. His paintings are never “fleshed out.” There’s room for impression, and they often depict the dark side of America’s history in a manner that forces the viewer to acknowledge the taint that defines it. It’s harsh, volatile and ever-shifting, exuding a passion that is far from the amiable man who Aguilar is. The work he has given us, “The March,” is a signature piece. He’s a fan of cinema. He loves film noir and German expressionism. You can see it in his work. He also loves to talk about it in person.
As for his accolades, Farley has become “internationally recognized and has exhibited at venues including Spinello Projects, Art and Culture Center of Hollywood, Fondation Frances, and The Orlando Museum of Art. Aguilar’s work has been featured in publications including Artforum, Hyperallergic, The New York Times, El Nuevo Herald, The Miami New Times. In 2015, Aguilar was The Orlando Museum of Art’s Florida Prize in Contemporary Art Winner, an award and exhibition recognizing the achievement of Florida-based artists. Aguilar lives and works in Miami. His work is held in the private collections of Susan and Michael Hort, Beth Rudin DeWoody, Fondation Frances, Eileen and Richard Ekstract, and The Orlando Museum of Art.”
Aguilar’s auction can be found here.
Ahol Sniffs Glue
Ahol Sniffs Glue has been an important partner to this event. Not only did he design our flyer and create a work especially for our silent auction, but his short, “Biscayne World,” inspired my consideration of what were the best shorts Borscht Corporation has had a hand in producing. I met him in 2016, at the Standard Hotel in Miami Beach, where he has a mural of his famous eyeballs. It was during the Miami Film Festival. The festival had shown a short documentary about him that year as part of its Olympia event “I’ve Never Not Been From Miami.” I was on the board that recommended artists and filmmakers to pair up for these documentaries.
After we met, he urged me to check out his own short “Biscayne World.” He said people had been complaining about his throwing up in the camera lens (he might have called them haters). He explained it was a gesture he had to include in order to convey his empathy for the people who inspired “Biscayne World.” I was immediately intrigued. It made sense to me. His bio, after all, states, “He often draws inspiration from the urban environment and systems of society which dehumanize its inhabitants.”
We have since spoken in depth about his short, his life and his art (a feature article is coming soon). After hanging out with him in his Edgewater condo with his French bulldog Spiro, it wasn’t long until he offered a piece to help the cause in raising our Knight Arts Challenge match. He offered to paint a canvas with those eyeballs that made him so famous. “No one wants to be pigeonholed into doing one thing, but at the same time you can’t be the band who has the hit and then you don’t want to play the hit,” he told me before agreeing to make the painting. I only suggested the colors of our Independent Ethos logo.
Though “best known for his soaring urban murals depicting expansive fields of drowsy eyes, reflecting his unique vision of life, labor and unrequited love of the mean streets of Miami,” Ahol has since branched out into art installations that have included sound and video as well as digital art. Our flyer is an example of that breadth of this artist’s talent, not to mention his recently released digital collage book Cellular Fuckery.
Ahol’s auction can be found here.
I first saw Aramis Gutierrez’ large scale paintings at Spinello Projects in 2013 during his solo exhibition “End Game Aesthetics.” The theme, at least partly, was Soviet-era ballet. There was something about the shade of the predominantly, ethereal pastel coloring and the visibility of the canvas along the borders of the figures and gave a vibrancy of strength, energy and movement. Lighting, be it moonlight, spotlights or sunlight coming through huge windows seen and unseen, glowed with intensity on the muscles of such famed dancers as Baryshnikov, Nureyev and Amodio (in front of an observant, reclining blackcoat officer). Among these paintings were empty dance studios that still exuded a similar expressive energy.
Gutierrez has a penchant to capture motion and has a great understanding of it. You can see it in the early work he so generously donated to us, “Study” (1998), which he based on Nicolas Poussin’s “The Abduction of the Sabine Women” (1637-1638). You can find the source material at the Louvre. Though based on a late-era Renaissance baroque painting, the harsh lines and expressive gestures of “Study” recall the “movement” of futurist paintings of the early 20th century. It’s a beautiful work with dense activity of a violent act in the foreground against a hazy Romanesque backdrop.
If there is one thing Gutierrez is popularly famous for it’s his Instagram account, which ties in to his love of cinema. @anti_cgi has been covered by such websites at The Fader and Vice. It’s something the artist began for fun and affection for cinema sans digital effects, capturing everything from practical effects from horror movies to beautifully composed shots of actors. It currently has over 70,000 followers. As an artist who captures various disciplines in painting, Gutierrez shows a great eye for the expressive side of practical effects on his illustrious Instagram feed.
According to his bio, Gutierrez “has exhibited both nationally and internationally with solo exhibitions at Big Pictures L.A., Spinello Projects and David Castillo Gallery. He has been included in group exhibitions at the Perez Art Museum Miami, the Institute of Contemporary Art Miami, Vox Populi, Diverse Works and Galerie Balice Hertling. From 2008-2009 he participated in the Studio Residency Program at the Deering Estate in Palmetto Bay. In 2017 he was awarded the South Florida Cultural Consortium. In 2013 he co-founded the internationally acclaimed artist run gallery/artist group Guccivuitton (later changed to Versaceversaceversace and then to Noguchi Breton) that focused on the presentation of colloquial aesthetics in South Florida. In 2017 he co-founded Tile Blush, an artist run gallery/design space. His works can be found in numerous private collections as well as the Institute of Contemporary Art Miami.”
Gutierrez’ auction can be found here.
Norberto Rodriguez, a South Florida native, was an early subject of Independent Ethos’ local artist profiles. It was his collaboration with Miami musician Ed Matus that first allowed me into the mind of this multimedia artist (Spielberger hold torch proud for ambient music). He has since moved to Los Angeles where Isaac Simpson wrote in LA Weekly about him, “Like many of the greats, he sees art in the ugly and the ordinary.” Rodriguez has long cut against the mainstream to create events and performances that have consistently surprised audiences. Though much of his notable work has been performance-based, including setting himself up as a psychotherapist in his 2008 Whitney Biennial installation in New York, his most recent act included retiring the name Bert Rodriguez with a self-styled retrospective of his entire collection of work at the Bert Rodriguez Museum. The artist is also the subject of a feature documentary called Making Sh*t Up, which was shot over several years and will see public release in the Spring of 2018.
He is now Norberto Rodriguez and working even further beyond the borders of art. Though still creating works for museums and galleries, he is developing “A School of Thought: a center for exploring how ideas give life meaning, + IP Division: A company providing creative solutions + services to consumers everywhere.” His studio in Los Angeles features a space called “The Waiting Room,” which is described as “an experimental, collaborative space for private reflection + public exchange, currently open to the public.” Always an open artist, he shares his journey via social media where you can sometimes find him meditating or working on various projects. You can friend him on social media by looking for @norbertoinc.
For our auction he has donated a drawing on paper called “Everywhere, all at once, forever” featuring a hand with the letters G-H-O-S-T above the lower knuckles. Art is as much about coincidence or serendipity as it is intention. Though there is cinematic inspiration here from The Night of the Hunter adapted in a style familiar to those of the art of Bert Rodriguez, it also reflects his state of transition. Death is of course the theme of “Borscht is Dead,” and the finality of death allows scholars to consider the catalog of an artist. So maybe this is part of the end of Bert Rodriguez. As for the serendipitous aspect of this piece, it arrived into this writer’s in-box just as he had published a review of A Ghost Story (A Ghost Story offers beautiful meditation on love after death — a film review). With three layers at work, it’s safe to say we got quite an art piece here.
Rodriguez’ auction can be found here.
“When you call yourself an Indian or a Muslim or a Christian or a European, or anything else, you are being violent. Do you see why it is violent? Because you are separating yourself from the rest of mankind. When you separate yourself by belief, by nationality, by tradition, it breeds violence.” The Indian philosopher J. Krishnamurti wrote this in his book Freedom From the Known, published in 1969. It’s so fitting to the awareness of the Argentinian artist Agustina Woodgate, who also calls Miami home. For many years she has dedicated her craft to dissolving the borders that divide us, from her online nomadic radio station she co-founded in 2012, radioee.net to her sanded maps. Her radio station recently traveled to Fordlandia in the Brazilian Amazon jungle to continue its series of transmissions about local culture and concerns in a multilingual format while also focusing on mobility, migration and transportation.
Her sanded maps are labor intensive works that produce colored dust from the hand sanding of the surface that often obliterates words and borders, leaving ghostly images of past nations that often bleed into each other or simple shadows. This is a violent act but also a gesture that removes the harsh violence of divisions between nations while also alluding to the futility of creating borders and divisions that will ultimately erode as time creeps forward with constant, inevitable change. We are fortunate to have one of her maps to offer in our auction.
During our screenings of “Borscht is Dead,” you will hear Woodgate’s voice as the computer in Bleeding Palm’s short “El sol como un gran animal oscuro” or “The Sun Like a Big Dark Animal.” She is currently working on large public commissions for the design of Miami-Dade County sidewalks. She is represented by Spinello Projects where she will exhibit her work this upcoming December.
Woodgate’s auction can be found here
Borscht is Dead screens Oct. 19, 6 p.m. – 10:30 p.m., at Savor Cinema, 503 SE 6th St, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301. Tickets are $13 and $25. A silent art auction/reception begins at 6 p.m., featuring a DJ set by Poplife’s Aramis. The films start 7:30 p.m. with a Q&A with the filmmakers after the screening. Get tickets by following this link. And if you can’t come, please donate to us: follow this link and hit the “DONATE” button via PayPal. We thank you so much for your support.