From New York City it is one thousand two hundred and ninety miles to Miami by car. In November, the sunroof only finally found its way open by South Carolina. Traveling between eighty and one hundred miles an hour, it dawned on me that I was no longer in New York City. Warm beaches, blue waters, flesh on gleaming bodies and a newly erected art museum are many of the reasons to make the two-day trip down south. Miami has a new museum and a new reason to come share in dialogue with its art, culture, architecture, beaches, ocean and with each other. The Perez Art Museum of Miami has been open a year now and in this short time the institution has established itself as a major force in the art world as well as a major force in the city. It is the first open building in what will become part of a complex of learning and sharing for the city of Miami and South Beach. PAMM is unlike any other museum that I have ever seen. Nowhere else does modern architecture and contemporary art meet with the blue Atlantic Ocean. The building and collection are a celebration.
Above: Beatriz Milhazes
As I move through the space of the museum I realize the function of Herzog & de Meuron’s design. It is a building that works for the walker inside, while adding new perspectives that are unlike other museums. A gallery space will lead to a corridor with a vast window, a twenty-foot ceiling and a modern space with seating fixtures and I have to take a moment, “MY GOD! They want you to sit!” There’s no art in this sitting space. Through the huge window is a view of the bay and back into the city of Miami. Rest, the space says, it’s hard work looking at art, enjoy the view, take a load off, and when you’re ready; go back and look at some more. Never has vision and functionality of architecture ever been so clear to me. This is not just a decorative space filled with expensive things meant to confuse, it is a haven of reflection into the self and into a culture.
From left to right; Lynette Yiadom-Boakye and Gerhard Richter
A younger version of myself has fond memories of visiting this museum in it’s previous form. This collection once was under a different name, the Miami Art Museum. I can recall even then being impressed by such a small institution with a strong collection with icons like Gerhard Richter, Morris Louis, Robert Rauschenberg, Aaron Siskind, Adolph Gottlieb and many others. To see how this original collection has been reimagined, grown, added to and moved into a new space is seemingly unimaginable. Suddenly South Florida has a voice that it never had before. PAMM’s collection clearly is meant to celebrate new voices and inspire a building culture thriving in South Florida. Most of the names on the walls are not familiar to me, this is a wonderful thing, and the other thing that strikes me is every nametag is coupled with a Spanish translation! This is the catalyst for a moving realization. Curatorially (a not so proper English word) this suggests something very bold, THIS ART IS NOT FOR ONE GROUP OF PEOPLE!
Efrem Zelony-Mindell is an artist who lives in New York. For more of his work click here …
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