Miami's large tree has long overshadowed other artistic enterprises in South Florida. But if the tree image is to be pursued, then it is safe to assume the tree has entered the fall season and the leaves have begun to fall.
With the flagship Art Basel now known more for its parties than its art, Broward County institutions have piggybacked during the fair, with increasingly successful results. The new light cast unto other zones is not hitting new ground, but it is at least letting some rightful entities enjoy the splendor of the sun.
This, of course, would be pointless if there weren't a year-round follow-up to establish a strong local and international profile. The Art and Culture Center of Hollywood, now in its 40th year, has long been at the forefront of Broward's art scene with its promotion of contemporary arts and programs. Housed at the Kagey mansion since 1991, it was designated a Major Cultural Institution for Broward County in 2005.
The center's recent exhibition "Echos Myron" was a deft and incredibly savvy maneuver, showcasing the administration's sharp eye for local trends and the overall creative scope of art in South Florida.
"Echos Myron," cocurated by Beatriz Monteavaro and Priya Ray, was an innovative look at South Florida's contemporary art scene through the works of artists who double as musicians -- a connection most locals have ignored.
For spring 2015, the center has an ambitious exhibition that will coolly carry it into the routinely slower summer months. Opening with its eighth-annual exhibition and fundraiser, "Abracadabra," the dizzying number of participating artists is a veritable who's who of established and up-and-coming locals like Adler Guerrier, Farley Aguilar, Sinisa Kukec, Jillian Mayer, and the TM Sisters.
Tickets cost $375, and holders will participate in a "first come, first pick" drawing with each ticket purchased guaranteed a winner. This has been a successful model for other institutions like Locust Projects and, at the under-$400 mark, a bargain in the art world for established collectors looking to boost their arsenal with movable pieces and for those starting off with modest budgets.
The Kagey mansion's floor plan makes for good use of gallery space, and running in concert from February 7 to March 13 will be three other curated projects in the Middle Galleries, Project Room, and installation space the Landing.
Kubiat Nnamdie may now reside in New York City, but his formative years were shared among his native Nigeria, Texas, and South Florida. His new site-specific exhibition, "Looking Glass," is the young photographer's most ambitious yet. He did a five-year immersion with his subjects that has created a record of interconnectivity, à la Dirk Gently, between the artist's psyche as projections of its inner and exterior self with the depiction of "fragmented moments that collectively merge into one another." And all this through the fracas of 13 lives' ups and downs.
Continuing the international flavor is Ernesto Kunde's "Intertwined" in the Project Room. Kunde, a Brazilian who spent time in the Northeast, has coursed through different muses in his work, and while he might be glad to live and work in South Florida these days, his recent paintings continue to hold the underlying concerns with politics and violence in the modern era -- this he brings now to a collection inspired by Florida's mangroves with which he "hopes to raise awareness of the changing landscapes he depicts," according to a news release from the museum. "His intricate paintings aim to involve and inspire viewers to realize we are all responsible for the natural surroundings vital to our survival."
Rounding out this opening salvo for the center's 2015 season is Tom Virgin's "Open Book." The Miami-based Virgin has been a longtime collaborator with the main players of South Florida's burgeoning letters and literature scene. Understanding the tactile need of poetry and the associated ephemera of words in the digital age have been hallmarks of his collaborative group projects. This installation, created for the center, "will expand on a number of his recent artist's books that look at public schools," according to the news release.
Scaling back a bit before the summer, the museum will have two shows on display from the end of March to May 24: Jose Alvarez's "As Far as the I Can See" and Regina Jestrow's "Linens." The center will also host a number of peripheral and symbiotic events, like panel discussions and school programming, to strengthen the impact of the shows. 2015 poses a novel slate for the arts in Broward to flourish and, more importantly, to strengthen the base for serious art to get the proper recognition it deserves when removed from the glitz and pretension of laptop music and corporate booze sponsorship.
To keep it within the cheesy confines of the tree analogy, growing plants need sunlight to grow.
Art and Culture Center of Hollywood. For more information and a full listing of event dates and times, call 954-921-3274 or visit artandculturecenter.org.