DWNTWN Art Days is a welcome, long overdue effort to bring the arts to downtown Miami – presumably from Wynwood’s Art Walk and the Design District. Consider the Adrienne Arsht Center and the number of artists’ studios, and the area makes a good, unsown venue for art display.
While DWNTWN Art Days is two days too short, that short time will require those involved to quickly and radically utilize every layer of downtown’s haunts and public spaces: Misael Soto’s giant picnic blanket in Bayfront Park, Beached Miami’s bike tour, and the aforementioned open studios. In addition, Key West-born, Miami-bred art collective Southernmost Situations will transform the popular late-night/early-morning bar the Corner into a legitimate, bustling gallery space with their Audio/Visual Situations exhibition.
Liz Ferrer and Alan Gutierrez, co-founders of Southernmost Situations, explain the formation of the collective as “a product of a trip to Key West” during which a group of friends “learned the importance of freedom, self-reliance, and community.
“Those revelations were brought back to Miami, where they filtered and distorted through the cultural community, and manifested as Southernmost Situations,” says Ferrer. The result: “The collective is an open-forum ideology for experimentation and collaboration.”
This is what they hope to bring to their DWNTWN Art Days event. As Ferrer and Gutierrez explain it: “Southernost Situations believes in creating new methods of interaction and presentation, often in an interdisciplinary situation.” While the two curated the event beautifully, the “situation” implies less a tightly-wound gallery opening and more of a live happening, in the sense that it is intended to naturally unfold. The local artists they selected to display and perform their works at the Corner come from a variety of mediums (dance, audio, visual) and represent the kind of experimental fluidity that allows for open collaboration and a resulting dialogue — precisely the realm in which Southernmost Situations exists. “We decided to invite sound and visual artists who we were not only fans of,” the curators explain, “but [who] also have an experimental and flux approach to their aesthetic, which works well in this non-traditional setting.”
Both Southernmost Situations and DWNTWN Art Days are non-traditional ways of contextualizing art — and of viewing it — but utilizing the Corner is perhaps most unorthodox, if only because the dimly lit space is where you end the night, not where you participate in anything beyond conversation (generally speaking).
“Given that this situation is happening in a non-gallery setting,” explains Ferrer, “it is more of an intervention for those who are going to the Corner just to hang out and drink. The works will add to the conversation or spawn new ones. Within an already heavily social context, the audience will undoubtedly converse about what they are experiencing in the moment.”
Again, this really is a situation — a happening — but happenings have their history in the spontaneous events and “be-ins” of the 1960s; bars as venues for dialogue have their history, too. So says the event’s press release: “Throughout the history of art-making, bars have been a pivotal meeting place for bohemian cultural savants to meet, drink, unwind, discuss, inspire, argue, and vent. Typically these interactions are interdisciplinary by nature.” There’s no better way to celebrate both these ideologies and DWNTWN Art Day’s own manifesto by temporarily giving one of downtown’s most well-loved mainstays another role for the evening. And, agree both creators of Southernmost Situations: “Hopefully [guests] will be inspired to buy us a drink.”
Southernmost Situations Audio Visual/Situations will take place as part of DWNTWN Art Days. Friday, September 7. The Corner, 1035 N Miami Ave, Miami. 8 – 10 p.m. Free and open to the public. The exhibition is one night only.