John Hood

Tatyana Fazlalizadeh Drops the Smile:



Forget the reset-the-record street art campaign “Stop Telling Women to Smile.” Not that it’s forgettable, mind you (a torrent of media coverage will tell you otherwise), but because it’s simply something born between the subway and the studio and not any kinda ultimate goal.

What would you do if your mind was set on one thing and troglodytes insisted on making you respond to their unwelcome advances?

Figure out a way to stop it, of course. While there’s no hard evidence “Stop Telling Women to Smile” actually stopped knuckleheads from telling women to smile, the campaign did make the matter of some conversation. With luck, it also made a few men do what’s good.

A year later Tatyana Fazlalizadeh is herself doing what she’s set out to do all along — and that is paint portraits. With oil. In a scale she’s found sufficient to be revelatory. And of folks she’s found to be in some way or another inspiring. That there are no smiles among them is probably not a coincidence; for as much as Fazlalizadeh doesn’t wanna be told what to do, she’s equally unlikely to tell others.

And Thank Zeus for that too. Because rather than a portrait painted in some manipulative light, we’ve portraits guided by the inner light of those Fazlalizadeh has sighted. The capturing of that secret, all too elusive essence that portrait painters have been pursuing since the beginning of the form.

And make no mistake about it, with the portraits Fazlalizadeh is continuing on a sacred and profane tradition, a tradition that neither asks to nor warrants going viral or becoming part of the pop culture landscape. Yet a tradition that still exemplifies what it looks like to be who we are right this minute, whether we smile or not.

Tatyana Fazlalizadeh’s Recent Work. Curated by Carter Jackson-Brown. Through February 28. At Butter Gallery. 2930 NW 7th Avenue Miami.

For more information contact: Francisco De La Torre 305.303.6254

Words by John Hood


Entering the dArk with Alejandro Franco

It’s rooted in one of the greatest myths ever told, by Christians, Muslims and Jews, as well as Mesopotamians, Sumerians, Ancient Greeks and Hindus. Granted the names have been changed, but in this case it was indeed to protect the innocents.

By innocents we mean the birds and the bees and the rest of their brethren, whether they walk, fly, slither or crawl. Those beautiful creatures which inhabit our beautiful planet and who may one day find themselves on the receiving end of Armageddon. That’s if they don’t go extinct beforehand.

Yes, you’ve guessed it, the subject is Noah; particularly his Ark, and all the beautiful creatures he kept safe from The Flood. But this ain’t Russell Crowe’s Noah; it’s more akin to something created by Joseph Cornell, had he crafted rather than sought out his treasured keepsakes. Yet in the hands of Medellin-born, Miami-based visualist Alejandro Franco, it’s still somewhat epic.

It’s also seriously whimsical and astutely concerned with the way we live now, and how the way we live now may just give way if we don’t make some serious changes. And if we don’t, well, we don’t. But no matter what we do or don’t do, Franco’s come to assure us that the things worth preserving will prevail. They just may need a bigger boat.

The story’s all there in “Entering the dArk”, a moving piece of static theater backed by the good folks at South Florida Ford and Fordistas, and soon to be seen at the inimitable Butter Gallery. This won’t be Franco’s first rodeo, but it will be his most animalistic. A round-up as dizzying as myth itself — and spun just right.

Here’s what Franco has to say on the subject at hand:

For those who don’t yet know, just who is Alejandro Franco and what does he do?

I am [a visual artist who’s] very passionate about miniatures, elements that are full of detail, theater scenography, craftsmanship, nature and subtle colors. I’ve been nurturing these passions and I incorporate them into my work.

If you had to sum up what you stand for in a single sentence, what would it be?

I stand for vocation, for finding beauty in places where it wasn’t so obvious it was there, for the poetry of the aged.

How ‘bout a single sentence summing up what you believe the purpose of art to be?

To leave a testimony as an individual who is aware of his environment.

Speaking of which, what’s the big idea behind Entering the dArk?

I’ve been developing this language of creating figures with fragments of wood and found objects. To put it into practice I am recreating the biblical scene of the animals entering the ark. The ark was replaced by a black hole, because the installation is about animal extinction; the animals closer to the hole are those closer to extinction, without being too scientific about it. The animals are created with discarded objects which represent the impact of humans in the ecosystem. The Bible can perfectly be appreciated as literature; that distances it in most cases from reality.

So The Ark is indeed the reason why you’ve capitalized the “A” in dArk?

Yes, Entering the Ark :: Entering the dArk.

Does your employing Noah as a spur, so to speak, have more to do with being Biblical or with the constellation of natural beings?

Noah represents human beings, which in many ways accelerate the process of extinction in the species. I wanted to advocate for animals in this installation because they are some of my greatest inspirations.

From where does Entering the dArk’s constellation of creatures spring from anyway?

I am very fascinated by animals, particularly in the sense of design; that was enough motivation to carry on with the work of depicting them in their physical aspect.

Are there any other particular creatives that influenced the creation of such creatures?

Yes, I am very inspired by the works of Joseph Cornell, David Hockney, Charles Matton, Robert Rauschenberg… and it shows in my work, always.

If you had to create a home for this constellation of creatures, what would it look like and where would it be located?

I really like the way the installation looks at Butter Gallery. The fact that you see the motion of the animals going in the same direction before you get to find out that they are heading towards a black hole. I like the idea of telling a visual story in more than one step. But ultimately, I would love for it to go to a place where it can be conserved as a whole.

Do you envision the creatures procreating into an even larger constellation?

No, I envision myself talking about other subjects with this same language.

Last, but not least, if you had to place a name on the entire brood you’ve created, what would it be?

Fragments of Today.

Alejandro Franco’s Entering the dArk, presented by Butter Gallery and South Florida Ford #Fordistas: August 8, 8pm at Butter Gallery 2930 NW 7th Avenue Miami. 

WORDS BY John Hood 

Art Miami Takes New York!

They didn’t just take it to another town; they took it to a town without pity. They didn’t just set up in a marquee spot; they set up in one of the most marquee spots in the entire city. They didn’t just pick a date and stake a claim; they picked a date when the stakes are highest and the claims came with unfathomable reward. They didn’t ask permission, beg pardon, or offer any sort of apologies. What. So. Ever.

They didn’t change their game to fit the occasion; nor did they change their name. Not at first. They simply added the appropriate qualifier and had at it. Then, having proven themselves more than qualified, they proceeded to exceed all expectations. And when all that could be said was said and all that could be done was done, they went full speed ahead and added all that and then some.

They are Art Miami, and they just blew away the Big Bad Apple, if not in our name, then certainly in our namesake. And in so doing showed the whole wild world the city on the Bay of Biscayne can hold its own among anyone.

Art Miami New YorkBy now you know the story, or at least a good portion of it. Art Miami, the longest-running and most successful Miami-based art fair, took their show on the road to Manhattan. There, under the guise Art Miami New York, the fair went head-to-head with the onslaught of top shelf art expos which make up the phenomenon known as Frieze Week, including of course the seven-day-dash’s eponymous fair itself.

Actually, going head-to-head is a bit of a misconception. From the beginning Art Miami Fair Director Nick Korniloff insisted that Art Miami New York would complement rather than compete with Frieze.

[Art Miami New York and Frieze] are two distinct fairs,” he told artnet, “and in that way we really do complement each other. Frieze is clearly more international and often saturated with conceptual works with a distinctively European flavor. We seem to offer more homegrown works by American artists and that of blue chip secondary market works from around the world. I think that each fair has its own turf and distinct personality, which also logically promotes and emphasizes our differences.”

Former Armory Show Director Katelijne De Backer, who’s been recruited to helm Art Miami New York, adds that sentiment goes for the rest of Frieze Week as well.

“The goal of Art Miami New York is to complement other art events happening in the city that week,” she told Art Daily. “It is a fair unlike any other taking place in New York that week because of its breadth: it is the only fair in the market that has a strong mix of fresh secondary market works by top artists integrated alongside previously unseen primary works from emergent to mid-career cutting-edge talent from leading galleries from around the globe.”

De Backer and Korniloff weren’t kidding. The inaugural Art Miami New York featured “100 international galleries representing nearly 1200 artists from 50 different countries.” And the line-up of offerings didn’t just complement Frieze, it augmented the week, attracting over 19,500 art fans, 5000 of them for AMNY’s VIP opening alone. Sales were through the proverbial roof, and the consensus among everyone was purely positive. In fact, so successful was Art Miami New York, that Korniloff and company have already announced the dates for next year.

They’ve also announced a new name: Art New York. Presented by Art Miami.

The re-branding has some precedence. In addition to Art Week Miami mainstays CONTEXT Art Miami and Aqua Art Miami (and, beginning next March, CONTEXT New York), Art Miami’s Family of Fairs also includes July’s Art Southampton and October’s Art Silicon Valley. This was the first time though that Art Miami chose to play an away game leading with their own name. It was akin to going on the road and keeping home field advantage. But not since The Heat couldn’t be beaten has anyone succeeded to such an extent on someone else’s turf under our city’s name.

So Art Miami New York will return rechristened Art New York presented by Art Miami. And it’s likely year three will see it billed simply Art New York. But no matter what they’re called or where they’re being called it, the fact remains: Art Miami made its name right here in the MIA. And the increasing success of their Fairs is as much a testament to the family’s capacity to wow as it is to the increasing wowfulness of the town upon which their name was based in the first place.

That wowfulness is something the good folks at The New York Times might wanna consider before they decide to ask another wow-less writer to sum up a city that continues to defy all misconceptions.

WORDS BY John Hood


Hop on The Electric Highway with WDNA

Jazz is a many-splendored art, whether it’s in the form of Ragtime, Swing, BeBop or what not. And when you wanna tune in to all that Jazz and hear all its many splendors, there’s no better option than Miami’s own WDNA. Licensed in 1977, the PRI-affiliated station has long given South Florida the opportunity to glean the best and the brightest of every aspect of America’s own classical music — and you can bet it’ll continue to do so for a long time to come.

Hayes at WDNA

Mark E. Hayes at WDNA

But WDNA goes well beyond being an exemplary listening experience; in fact, you could say the station’s become a Jazz benefactor to the entire community. Among the many endeavors the station’s instituted to ensure South Florida maintains its swing is the annual Jazz History Lecture Series, which provides in-depth looks at the many splendors the art form has to offer. This month the Series looks back at that rad development known as Fusion, which, according to the lecturing programmer Mark E. Hayes, has not only salted more than a few rock classics, it just so happens to be rooted in rock itself.

Culture Designers got with WDNA’s Critic-at-Large, who also happens to host both Passing Notes and Sunday’s Time Warp, and asked him to fill us in on what’s what. Here’s how he played it:

Would you please tell us a bit about WDNA’s Jazz History Lecture Series?

The series is in its second year, and offers a range of lectures over a typical academic year — September to May. It’s part of WDNA’s ongoing efforts to be more than a radio station, but a cultural institution. WDNA’s performance space, the Jazz Gallery, is a place where the station hosts concerts during the day and evening, shows movies, has dances, and, of course, showcases art. The Jazz History Lecture Series is a part of giving the WDNA community what it wants — a cultural institution that supports all things jazz.

Who’s the mind behind the Series?

Jim Gaisor, a wonderful pianist and teacher at New World School of the Arts, has been the curator of the lecture series since the beginning. He’s been great to work with this year my first time around, as I had several ideas of what I might want to talk about, and he found a way to fit my interests in cultural history and music into the framework of the series. I’m thrilled to be included — there’s some real heavyweights in the speaker series.

Who’ve been some of this season’s featured speakers?

Chuck Bergeron talked about the music of the big band era, Fernando Ulibarri about the history of jazz guitar, Donald Spivey about be-bop and the counterculture, Ed Calle about Michael Brecker. The great trumpeter Brian Lynch went through all the great trumpet players who were in Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers. And Jim Gaisor himself presented on the Great American Songbook.

Isn’t there a very special guest program slated for this season’s closing?

That’s right. Loren Schoenberg, the artistic director for the National Jazz Museum is going to lecture on the rhythms of jazz and how they can be traced back to their roots in West African music.

This month’s Lecture is all you though — what have you planned for jazz fans?

We wanted to present a topic that was a bit more contemporary, so the notion of jazz fusion — what is it, exactly, and where did it come from — is the subject of my lecture. It has the somewhat audacious title of, “The Electric Highway: Wah-wahs, Moogs, Marshall Stacks, and the Road to Fusion.” I talk a bit more than the other lecturers about technology and economics than some of the other experts, but there’s still a great deal of music to listen to. I had a chance to interview John McLaughlin and Wayne Shorter for this project, so that’s a feature of the lecture as well. I mean, both of those guys played on Bitches Brew!

How’d you come to lecture on this particular genre of jazz?

My musical interests, going back to when I was a kid, came out of my love of rock, progressive rock, and the guitar. My weekend music show on WDNA, the Sunday Time Warp, is known for having a wider range of musical styles than the more “straight ahead and in the pocket” programs. So fusion is just part of the crazy mix of music I play every weekend.

Might this also be something you’d feature on your WDNA feature, Passing Notes?

When I’ve had a chance to interview what you might call contemporary “fusion” artists, I’ve featured them on Passing Notes and my occasional music feature, Segment3, which is part of the Sunday Time Warp. So all of my conversations with guys from bands like Snarky Puppy, Medeski Martin and Wood, Kneebody, and the Jazz Punks help me frame my thinking for the lecture.

This isn’t your only weekly foray into the wild world of pop culture, is it?

Passing Notes, which runs every Friday on WDNA, is the place where I get to talk about anything I want — new books, movies, comics, sports, you name it. If I have a particular interest — zombies, for instance, I might start another blog along those lines. [For instance] I have a blog, Mort-Vivant, that deals with the undead.

What prompted you to embark on that side of the cultural equation?

Zombies are awesome. Except when they’re after you, of course.

Do zombies ever feature in your Sunday Time Warp?

No, but there is a full cast of characters on the show who are completely made up.

What other odds and angles might you bring into play each Sunday?

The premise of the Sunday Time Warp is that I’m the captain of a polytemporal pirate ship that sets out each week to explore the musical galaxy. That’s an odd angle itself, but we get listen to some great music.

And for Tuesday’s Jazz History Lecture?

If you like Jimi Hendrix, you’re going to appreciate just how central he really was in the creation of jazz fusion. The wah-wah pedal is the zombie of jazz — you might not want one in your band, but they’re awesome.

WDNA Jazz History Lecture Series: “The Electric Highway: Wah-wahs, Moogs, Marshall Stacks, and the Road to Fusion” with Mark E. Hayes takes place Tuesday, April 28th in WDNA’s Jazz Gallery 2921 Coral Way Miami.

WORDS BY John Hood

Emerson Dorsch Gets MADA

The Miami Art Dealers Association, more concisely known as MADA, “is a non-profit organization founded in 2009… to promote excellent professional practice[s] and to develop awareness of the visual arts in our community.” Furthermore, “MADA members are responsible, credible and knowledgeable, and are held to a high standard of professional accountability.”

We know this because MADA’s site tells us so. More importantly perhaps, we know that MADA members include some of the most esteemed gallerists in Miami, and we don’t need no Mission Statement to know that the likes of Ascaso, Cernuda, Shienbaum and Oxenberg are held (and hold themselves to) the highest standards.

So too Emerson Dorsch, the Wynwood art house run by (and named for) husband and wife Brook Dorsch and Tyler Emerson-Dorsch. For nearly a decade now, the tag-team has helped to make Miami one of the most esteemed cities on the planet — art-wise and otherwise. And it is they and their MADA co-horts who the world turns to when seeking the way to navigate this very vivid landscape.

This Saturday, the equally esteemed New York gallerist Edward Winkleman will stand forth and offer his insights re this increasingly wowful art scene. The talk’s called “Running a Gallery in an Emerging Market”, and it’ll touch upon in detail what it takes to make it on both sides of the easel. Sponsored by the good folks of the ever-expanding Art Miami (who next month launch Art Miami New York), Winkleman’s walk-through will mark the first of what promises to be many more MADA made nights to remember.

Culture Designers got with good gallerist and and had him fill us in. Here’s how he did so:

In a sentence (or three), who exactly is Edward Winkleman?

Edward Winkleman is co-owner of New York’s Winkleman Gallery, co-founder of the Moving Image Art Fair that has taken place in New York, London, and Istanbul, author of the book How to Start and Run a Commercial Art Gallery, and author of an eponymous blog about the contemporary art gallery system. He is currently working on his second book, Selling Contemporary Art: How to Navigate the Evolving Market.

Where would you say he (that is, you) fits in the Art Racket?

I am a mid-level gallerist, an emerging level art fair organizer, and old-fashioned art appreciator (meaning I believe that art’s cultural value trumps its commercial value), and someone who gravitates toward newer ways of communicating about contemporary art and expanding the discourse about it.

What’s your overall view of the state of today’s Art Scene anyway

The “art scene” today is perhaps best viewed as being two distinct but intersecting worlds, in my opinion: the commercial world and the world of ideas and innovations. When they overlap it can be magic, but I think too many people entirely conflate the two, which helps create an unfortunate, but widely held perception that sales alone are the best metric of success, which is of course ridiculous. Speaking of the commercial world, like much of the rest of the world, it’s a tale of rising inequality, with the top of the market doing extremely well, the bottom of the market doing what it can (often very interesting and exciting) at its price points, but the middle being squeezed by pressures from both ends. We’ll discuss what I mean by that in more detail during the MADA talk.

Will that view set the tone for Saturday’s MADA talk?

The view that will set the tone is one of learning from other dealers and understanding that things are moving so quickly there is no one right way to adapt to the evolving market. It’s a good time, actually, for experimenting with the tried tropes of selling art.

Who would you say the talk’s meant to directly address?

The talk is addressing dealers and artists who work with or wish to work with dealers most directly, touching repeatedly on how changes in the market impact the artist-dealer relationship. There are shifts in the dealer-collector relationship (and by collector I mean anyone who purchases art, whether a private collector, a museum curator, or other dealers or artists), as well, that we’ll discuss.

Who else might benefit from the issues and answers to come?

I think journalists who cover either of the art scenes mentioned above might also benefit from the discussions. The discussion will be fairly high-level in terms of vocabulary used and issues being examined, but I would think anyone with some basic understanding of how the commercial art world works will enjoy it.

What got you involved with MADA? (And how much does MADA mean to Miami’s Art Scene?)

I was introduced to MADA’s newly re-energized mission by Mindy Solomon. As for how much MADA means (and could mean) for the Miami Art Scene, I’ll recount that at the international and highly regarded Talking Galleries symposium I attended and lectured at in Barcelona last October, one topic that emerged again and again was the benefits of galleries collaborating. That’s not always easy for galleries who feel they “do their own thing” or prefer to focus on their own business, but the evidence is clear that dealers can benefit themselves and their artists much more by collaborating to increase the overall size of the art market pie than they can by protecting their personal slice of it.

How’d this come to be at Emerson Dorsch?

That’s a good question. I believe they kindly volunteered. We have known and worked with Brook and Tyler for a few years and, as anyone who knows them can tell you, they’re so generous and friendly, I’m not at all surprised they agreed to host.

What brought Art Miami to the table?

That’s another good question. I believe Mindy Solomon can answer that one. I am a huge fan of Art Miami. It’s one of the most energetic and clearly beloved art fairs that take place in December, and the way the company is expanding around the country is a perfect example of the role art fairs are playing in increasing opportunities for their core participating galleries.

Will you be in any way involved with the inaugural Art Miami New York?

We won’t this year, other than to visit it. May is an incredibly busy time for us as we prepare to return Moving Image to Istanbul.

Have you any last words before you go-go?

Everything about my career as an art dealer and author has intersected with my love of discourse, particularly about the artwork contemporary artists are creating, but also about the entire contemporary art world, how it works, where it’s heading, where it’s failing, where it’s soaring, etc. etc. The ability to have such a discourse globally is one of the best outcomes of the information age, in my opinion, but nothing beats the sort of intimate gathering of like-minded folks that MADA is making possible next weekend. I’m looking forward to it immensely.

MADA Talks: Edward Winkleman “Running a Gallery in an Emerging Market” Saturday April 25th 6pm at Emerson Dorsch 151 NW 24th Street Wynwood. For more information log on here.

WORDS BY John Hood