The Night Lands, a new installation by Sri Prabha.
The Night Lands, a new installation by Sri Prabha.
Artwork by Sri Prabha

"Punky" Curator Jane Hart Resurfaces With an Ambitious All-Media Show

If South Florida's art scene has a loving fairy godmother, Jane Hart is it.

Hart has carefully watched over the South Florida art world, as a good godmother would, since moving to Miami nearly 13 years ago, just before the inaugural Art Basel Miami Beach in 2002, which is credited as the kickstarter of what is now a solid arts community.

After working in major markets at galleries in London, Los Angeles, and New York City, the free spirit made Miami her home and has enjoyed nurturing and grooming the careers of a slew of local emerging artists.

She spent roughly a decade curating nearly 100 cutting-edge exhibitions at the Art and Culture Center of Hollywood, leading up to her controversial departure in late June. But that's OK with Hart, as the self-described "punk hippie" and daughter of a bona fide hipster father and artist mother has since moved on and is ready to share her love affair with the local contemporary arts scene with a new, expansive, all-media show, "100+ Degrees in the Shade: A Survey of South Florida Art," opening Thursday at Girls' Club in Fort Lauderdale and Friday at Carol Jazzar Contemporary Art in Miami. Seven other venues will host the show with varying opening dates.

"100+ Degrees" is "a love letter," according to the blue- and silver-coifed snow-cone lover. To commemorate "100+ Degrees," Hart has published a 224-page, hardcover book through [Name] Publications that features the majority of the 100-plus, selected participating South Florida artists. The survey includes works of sculpture, site-specific installations, paintings, photography, mixed media, works on paper, and video and performance.

The show concerns the innovation and inspiration that embraces a tropical-urban environment, an undercurrent theme that Hart dubbed during a recent evening in her Miami home.

When she opened the door dressed in an array of bright hues, she was giddy and delighted to welcome me. Her cockatiel, Harry, was nestled atop her strands of silver and bright-blue-tinted hair during the entire interview. "I just found out that Harry is actually a girl," she mused.

She showed me over to her dining-room table and offered a catered meal of risotto and an artfully presented veggie plate, made by French chef Christophe Bibard, who was a finalist on Europe's Top Chef and now owns Miami's L'Editot Restaurant, which will provide the cuisine at various events during the span of her show.

Untitled #67, #69, #42 and #66 from the Comus Series by Francie Bishop Good
Untitled #67, #69, #42 and #66 from the Comus Series by Francie Bishop Good
Artwork by Francie Bishop Good / Courtesy David Castillo Gallery

To know Hart is to know a nurturing but edgy personality with a flair for being what New Times affectionately referred to as a "spunky tastemaker" in her win for Best Curator 2015.

As we sat in her living room, Hart leafed through the mock-up of her exhibition book, recounting tales of how she met and worked with each artist.  The book is dedicated to her father, because he was the one who introduced Hart to galleries and museum happenings in New York City. "For me, art was a refuge. I was always encouraged in it," she says. Her mother struggled with mental illness and still does today, which led to a difficult yet unique upbringing. Her stepmother owned a gallery and was a painter, so it's safe to assume art is in Hart's blood. Her family sent her to Europe at age 13 to study weaving and allowed her to later go to the Arts Academy in the Netherlands to further her studies.

 The book is a fair snapshot of the local art scene, which wasn't an easy feat, Hart admits, as she would have liked to have added more artists. Longtime colleague and friend Misael Soto helped lay out the book.

"Here's Leah Brown, a Broward artist, and Monica McGivern, who won the Cannonball residency, and oh, Francesco Lo Castro. His work is off the chain," she recounted, page by page. "Jill Weisberg is in the show. And Francie Bishop Good — oh, how I love her new works... and... "

Since the "100+ Degrees" exhibit is held at numerous venues, Hart decided not to pair the artists with their usual associations; for example, gallery director Sarah Rupert of the Girls' Club, where the Broward opening is and where one of the book-release parties will take place during a chic Art Basel brunch, will not have her work shown there but rather at another location. Never a bore.

"I'm not placing artists who are associated with their space," Hart says. "I'm mixing things up."

The list of participating artists and full event schedule and venues — Swamp Space, Bridge Red, Design Sublime, Laundromat Art Space — are featured on 100degreesintheshade.com.

Collages that Hart made on the back of record-album jackets and covers, created by the independent curator and arts adviser, will also be shown, though under her alter-ego alias, TJ Ahearn. "I'm inspired by all kinds of music, but mostly punk and rock."

 Broward resident Sri Prabha, a major installation mixed-media artist who was named New Times Best Visual Artist 2015, is showing new work called The Night Lands, featuring other-worldly video projections and actual geological samples such as optical calcite, volcanic rock from craters of the moon, and fossils he collected during a summer artist residency at Brush Creek Foundation for the Arts in Wyoming.

"If you take someone and put them on a different planet — we are 50 years away from manned expeditions on Mars; it's not too far away — you realize it equalizes our ethnographic differences," Prabha says. "The Night Lands looks at geology, time, consciousness, and how they all interplay in our daily lives. The idea is to feel like you are on an archaeological survey on some planet somewhere."

His installation will be shown at 3900 N. Miami Ave., in Miami's Design District.

"100+ Degrees in the Shade: A Survey of South Florida Art"
On view at various arts venues from November 12 through January. No cover. Visit 100degreesintheshade.com for details.

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