LoCastro | Scarves & Scope

Natology artist Francesco LoCastro brought his signature Miami palette to its sandy beaches this year with a solo installation at Scope Art Fair, while his Geo Scarves launched exclusively at the Perez Art Museum Miami (PAMM). LoCastro, who represents the steady progression and presence of a lifelong visionary, greeted the week of Art Basel Miami / Miami Art Week with subtle geometric undertones in two of the its most significant locations. His work, which presents the kaleidoscopic interpretations of structure through layers, shapes, and enamel has taken an evolutionary step into the world of fashion. LoCastro’s latest venture is in creating textile prints of his most iconic pieces, further expanding the way we experience contemporary art.

Jessy Nite | No Strings Attached

Natology’s Jessy Nite brought her unapologetically fly style to the Wynwood Arts District last week with her solo pop-up exhibition, No Strings Attached. The space featured some of Nite’s most iconic works, including selections from her recent show Behavioral Patterns at the Arts and Culture Center of Hollywood. Expanding on her latest designs, Nite created a new series of prints and a limited edition jewelry line made from her signature pills (seen in Roll Model). 

The Art of Getting Weird

Getting weird is as common to the west coast vernacular as warehouse parties are to underground subculture. Often used within that context, the expression defines the experience of fun for the sake of fun. It’s the je ne se quoi of saying fuck it and allowing what is to be. Within this lies a moment in which inhibition and invisible constraints are bypassed. That’s where the magic happens. In breaking away from normative patterns we are able to vibrate at a frequency conductive to expanding creativity.

Originally using the expression within the context of partying, I realized that what it actually describes is a state of existence similar to that from which we are inspired to create. The Art of Getting Weird is a new series I’m exploring in redefining the act of getting weird through spontaneous and unstructured collaborations. Curious by its cognitive and creative value, I asked friends for their reactions to the term “let’s get weird.” The responses went hand in hand with sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll while containing a liberating element present in cultural shifts. These are not foreign concepts as there’s a reason for their presence within the formative years of creative movements.

Painting by Caroline Geys

Speaking of sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll and the je ne se quoi of saying fuck it, I’d like to share my latest spontaneous collab with a new friend named Jawny. I met Jawny a couple months ago walking down Spring Street in Downtown LA. Jawny is a photographer, stylist, and art director who is currently building his creative baby / project Pronounced XEEX. Actually pronounced sex /seks/ it is a lifestyle brand / agency / blog focusing on his particular subcultural aesthetics aka Versace-inspired weird. I invited him over last week for our first hang and here’s a peak of what we came up with.

Ten cuidado con las Colombianas...

Contemporary art is a constant reflection of culture. Its story lines are based on existing topics that dance around the approval or disapproval of what is and what is not. This waltz circulates around the nucleus of the collective consciousness where aesthetics don’t stray too far from home. There is no doubt that great work can come from that center, but it can only be as great as that which it surrounds. In order to do things differently there needs to be space for an untapped inspiration that can only be found when stepping away from the central thought. I recently had the honor of seeing what I consider to be one of the best  solo shows, not just all year but in general.  Cause living just isn’t enough, solo exhibition by Hugo Montoya at Guccivuitton Gallery in Miami, Florida.

First, let’s discuss the location. Guccivuitton Gallery is an avant-garde creative space tucked away to the north of Miami's art districts. Its location feels real and integrated within the city of Miami in a way that really allows its cultural inspirations to fill the space, while creating a distance from the nucleus that allows for the expansion of thought. This is a hidden treasure in the Miami art scene that should not be overlooked. In fact, all eyes should play close attention to what will take place here.

Hugo and I have been friends for nearly ten years. We went to school together and I have forever been a fan of his work. It’s been a long time since he’s had a show and I can see why. There’s been a nursing of thought and an evolution of ideas that are far ahead of their time. He gave me the honor of a personal walk through the show last week, sharing the story behind each piece, all of which are found objects adapted and placed with careful precision. For an exhibition strong enough to stand any interpretation, the stories behind the scenes are what add to its value. It’s the culmination of details and the perfection of every angle in which you experience the art.

There’s a small center for worship next door to Guccivuitton, which creates a magical entrance into the space, should you catch it at the right time. We arrived at the space around 7:30pm, well after sunset but still in time for the church choir. As we walked up to the gallery the echos of Haitian gospel increased in volume and you could feel the energy surround the gallery’s entrance. Hugo spent six weeks in the gallery, something that artists don’t regularly have a chance to do. The energy of the gospel choir filled the space that night just as it did throughout those six weeks. From every angle this show presents a new perspective, regardless of the stories behind it or the academic interpretations. It has the ability to stand alone.

I took my first steps into the gallery and immediately halted at the sight of a giant neon boulder suspended by an iron rod in the front center of the room. Stolen Boulder is a 300lbs concrete rock on a thin steel rod. Its placement is as organic as the story behind it and as intuitively calculated as the rest of the show. A reference to the late artist Franz West but with the physical might of what it takes to carry a 300lbs boulder, which takes things a step further than the constructed paper mache versions by West. Three of its four sides are painted with neon colors, giving it a playful feeling of weightlessness, like the tiny stones in an aquarium of tropical fish. One side of the stone was kept unpainted and organic, it’s pores and grains bring the reality of its natural state back to the piece.

Directly behind Stolen Boulder is Black Beach, a floor to ceiling wall created with clay off the coast of Key Biscayne. Excavated from the Jim Crow-era’s “colored-only” beach of Virginia Key, the piece was made entirely by hand and completed within a single night. The clay is a sustainable material that can be recycled, reproduced, or returned back to the land. The exhibition itself comments on race and contemporary culture, but that’s just one of the many layers to the whole. The sun rose when he plastered the last piece of the wall with his hands allowing it dry as a whole to reflect earth’s natural patterns.

“It’s skin, it’s the earth. That’s how water dries. These are natural patterns created by the loss of water.”
— Hugo Montoya

The next piece is my favorite of the show. It’s so White it’s Wong, a mixed-media piece of two found photographs as controversial as their placement. Mounted on two white pillars that come down from the ceiling, the photographs are placed facing each other at eye level. The first image is a thrifted find of a family portrait with layers of wong. “There’s seven layers of white in this one image, I can’t even come close to understand it,” explained Hugo. The white frame, white matte, white background, white shirts, on a white family, etc. Their faces are unapologetic and made to stare directly at the chimpanzee photo in front of it. Its corresponding image is a photograph of a chimpanzee behind zoo bars. This particular image comments on the artists' disapproval of captivating any species, an underlying element to the discomfort he creates for his audience with the piece. The chimpanzee’s facial expression and body language reflects defeat, disinterest, and solitary confinement. Issues of race, class, and structure circulate the piece with a yin and yang balance that juxtaposes its implied reactions. I live for the way Hugo shakes his audience through his work, what he says, and the way it says it. There’s a highly sophisticated approach to tongue-in-cheek humor that is refreshingly light despite the adverse subjects explored.

To complete the series is Oscar’s Mom, a name that brings the whole thing together and a piece that Hugo has always wanted to include in a show. Oscar’s Mom is a giant print rendition of a painting made by his friend’s mother. Oscar was always reluctant to the idea of Hugo showing his mom’s painting as he felt it would be exploited, but that just adds to  adds its perfection in the show. Hugo would be the guy that creates an obnoxiously large print of your mom’s painting and places it as the center piece. The painting was originally made by a Colombian woman and echoes Hugo’s  grandmother’s most noted piece of advice. Her last words (but not really) were “ten cuidado con las Colombianas, esas si son arrechas,” (be careful with Colombian girls, they’re wild). Did I mention I'm Colombian?

The Symmetry of Yuri Tuma

There is a universal formula at the basis of all design. Whether it’s in the three-dimensional structure of an atom or the blueprint of a building, a beautiful mathematical equation lays at the foundation of all form. To see the world in shapes, colors, and lines is a blessing. To capture it, mold it, construct it and deconstruct it is another story. Yuri Tuma sees the world in the form of abstract symmetry, which he’s applied to creating a visual language where images replace numbers and patterns shape the conversation.

Yuri Tuma is a Brazilian artist based in Miami, Florida whose art matches the balance of his personality and the vibrational frequency of his name. In other words, Tuma has a harmonious nature that is reflected in his work. He is a photographer who uses shapes and linear structure to develop symmetrical patterns that mirror the nature of design. There is a left-brain and right-brain balance in his work that merges math and intuition to illustrate an understanding of universal geometry. Represented by the established and rebellious Butter Gallery, Tuma has had four solo exhibitions (2008 – 2013) alongside group shows and art fairs in New York and Shanghai. In his fifth solo exhibition, Tuma presents Headlights at Product/81 Gallery, opening Saturday August 10, 2013 in Miami, Fl.  Commissioned by Fordistas, Headlights presents the study of formulaic patterns and optical-symmetry. Tuma sees the application of nature’s patterns in man-made structures, which he presents through a kaleidoscopic lens that makes the inorganic, organic. I’d like to see his work evolve into textiles, where I’m first in line for a turban collaboration and dream of seeing his prints on a Proenza-Schouler runway. Lots of exciting stuff for the charming Yuri Tuma, who is an eligible bachelor for the sophisti-gays.