Art Basel Miami Beach festivities kick off tomorrow or tonight, depending on how super-super VIP and early the events on your schedule might be. And as we’ve outlined here, those festivities come with plenty of musical add-ons. But while you might hear a live performance at an artsy party or as a stand-alone event, few works during the week really attempt to combine the two disciplines.
Happily, one group of artists attempting to truly cross those boundaries this week are local. Local art-scene-watchers will recognize Patricia Hernandez from her work with the end/Spring Break, and Tuesday through Thursday, she’s teaming up with her brother, the composer Oscar Bustillo, and multi-instrumentalist/producer extraordinaire Aaron Fishbein. During their group piece, Concept Album – SINGLE, they’ll collaborate with local musicians to produce one track, recorded and mixed down on site. (The piece is part of the Storefront group show at the De La Cruz Collection, which includes works by many other exciting Miami-based artists).
Part one-off musical supergroup performance, part performance art, Concept Album surely promises some serendipitously cool results. Consider the cast of additional performers: Ferny Coipel (of Humbert and the Shack North fame), Leonardo Valencia on vocals, Belinda Ho on violin, Conga Ray on percussion, and Tomas Diaz “El Moreno” on vocals, along with an additional horn section made up of players to be announced.
Salty Eggs caught up with Hernandez, Bustillo, and Fishbein last week to talk about the project. Here’s what they had to say.
Performance hours are 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday, December 4 through Thursday, December 6 at the De La Cruz Collection Contemporary Art Space, 23 NE 41st St., Miami. Admission is free. Call 305-576-6112, or visit delacruzcollection.org
Salty Eggs: How did the three of you link up for the project? Obviously Oscar and Patti are related, but how did you two decide to collaborate, and how did you get Aaron on board?
Aaron Fishbein: From my end, I can say that the guerilla-style recording is a fun challenge and I love the idea of making a recording in public with tight time and gear budget constraints. We have three short recording days to capture and mix live percussion, an old piano, vocals, and possibly horns, with a minimal microphone selection. We have a big, echo-ey gallery and a small display booth that people will be walking through. Hopefully all that winds up on a download at the end.
Oscar Bustillo: Aaron is an award-winning producer, and we are lucky to have him behind the control wheel. This is my first collaboration with the De La Cruz Collection, and my first work during Art Basel Miami Beach.
Patricia Hernandez: My brother and I have collaborated on several site-specific performances. I invited him to play several of his arrangements during a series I was working on called Bedroom Concert Series. Then I invited him to perform with a sound artist named Newton in front of the Adrienne Arsht Center during DWNTWN Art Days as part of a site-specific online radio station I perform/broadcast sometimes called the end | RADIO. Depending on the location that I am given I change the radio’s name. For example, I am broadcasting once a week from the Freedom Tower, therefore it’s called RADIO | FREEDOM TOWER. Oscar has also played at the Freedom Tower.
In researching different sound engineers in Miami I came across Aaron through Belinda, who I have worked with in the past. Aaron understood what I was going for as an artist and was just as excited as we were. Just in one conversation he schooled me on sound and gave me different options.
Patricia, the press release for the exhibition mentions something about your grandparents’ and families’ musical background. Can you tell me a little bit more about that, and why you wanted to explore that now?
PH: As a first-generation Cuban-American, I have never looked into my history and identity. The only things my grandfather left my when he passed was his four-track, a copy of his book, and all his music he composed. I am not a musician, but in working with my brother, we have gone into our grandfather’s compositions and I aim to create a concept album that reflects that research. My grandmother was an opera singer who inspired many of my grandfather’s compositions.
Why just one song?
PH: Why just one song is simple to answer: budget! It began as Concept Album, then Concept Album | EP, and now Concept Album | SINGLE. We are working/performing for four hours a day over three days. The third day, the song will be finalized and left in the space to be heard through the remainder of the exhibition.
What appeals to you personally about such process-based works?
PH: As an artist I am interested in site- and situation specific-performance, focusing on platforms, interaction, and communication.
Do you plan to produce any actual artifacts from the performance to exhibit afterwards, or do you plan to actually release the resulting single somehow?
PH: I plan for the tracks that get recorded to be available for download on the De La Cruz web site.