The Dying Light

A neo-hippie art collective slams into the 21st Century

The way they tell it, the country got more conservative around then, and South Florida was no different. And all good things must come to an end. It was a shame, they thought, but legally necessary, and they stopped the shows.

In 2005, they stuck a toe in the public water. They put on a short installation show in a small gallery, the Coral Springs Museum of Art. "We were pleased," Dorothy says. "We didn't know what to expect really, and it wasn't horrible by any means." The show did not receive much media coverage, however. As one critic put it, the big players in contemporary art aren't exactly racing out to Coral Springs, Florida. "That show wasn't anything like [Art Basel]," Billard says. "It was more kind of on our terms, doing our thing."

By Sunday at Art Basel, the traffic was gone again and the Edge Zones gallery was empty. A dragonfly flew in and buzzed a long, bright, neon orange painting with blue butterflies by an artist named Robert Miller. It hummed over a radiant-yellow canvas covered with dancing monster figures, each with curving genitalia, by a Peruvian artist, Jesus Rosas. Then it flew into the dark, cool space inhabited by Lumonics. It went to a sculpture called Rondo, a two-and-a-half-foot open sphere of interweaving, curling, lit ribbons of blue, red, and translucent plastic. For the first time, the dragonfly rested, on the black stand supporting Rondo. It stayed for a moment in front of the sculpture, which looks like a human heart, with tubes going in and out in a circular harmony. Then it flew away.

c. stiles
Dorothy Tanner, 84, doesn't just want you to view her art; she wants you to experience it.
c. stiles
Dorothy Tanner, 84, doesn't just want you to view her art; she wants you to experience it.

When Art Basel began, Dorothy and Billard had talked about what they might do if the Miami art scene wasn't for them. They discussed packing up the art, the tools, and the Lu Cru and hitting the road again, like the good old days. Maybe move to a city like San Francisco or Vancouver.

Charo Oquet, the Edge Zones curator, said that no matter how Lumonics did at Art Basel, she'd like to have them back for another show soon. She also said she was thinking of producing a coffee-table book of their work.

"Sales were down all over Art Basel this year," Billard said afterward. "There were only so many people, they could only go so many places, and there were so many galleries. A few artists sold a lot, but not many."

At Lumonics, where so many hopes were kindled, where so much art was pioneering, a few people inquired about prices, but there were no explicit offers and definitely no red "sold" dots.

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