Within the flourishing art community of Miami, lies…well, one of the most fierce, fabulous, fashionable, intelligent and simply “it” boys in town. At the mere age of thirty, he has created a destination that is now home to some of this city’s most talented artists. Not only is he a gallerist, he is a curator, and not only does he rep the artist’s, but he works with them and they grow together, as a team. I saw the perfect example of this yesterday as I headed over to the gallery to see what was going on inside of those concrete walls on the outskirts of Wynwood, and I met two artists he has worked with to create what one could consider to be magic.
You are likely wondering “who is she talking about?” Anthony Spinello of Spinello Projects, the one, the only.
This relatively new project space has been up and running since 2000. It shares a common building with Panther Coffee and Project 81. Multi-purpose? Of course, and even has a set for performance artists, created by lovers and local artists Antonia Wright and Rubin Millares. The set is a library full of books with comfortable seats and curtains. With a purpose of community engagement, the space is used for performances, and children’s readings, but what is most interesting is that the loaned books all come from credible collectors including the Miksell’s and the Marguiles families and from institutions like MoCA and the Bass Museum. Coincidental with what is happening in Miami with the public library scandal? Spinello certainly believes so. His eyebrow raised.
The space is large and quite interesting. There is a room downstairs that was built-out for the current exhibit at the gallery by Franky Cruz, a rebellious gravity-loving Dominican uber-cool artist from Hialeah. Then there is the upstairs, containing numerous artist’s works, from Antonia Wright to Aramis Gutierrez, Farley Aguilar to Sinisa Kuksec and Naama Tsabar in mediums including sculpture, paintings and ‘sanded’ paper works by Agustina Woodgate, who’s studio we visited late in the afternoon. Incase you missed the memo, she is the hottest thing happening in our city.
Below, see what Anthony, Franky and Agustina have to say about art, art and art…
E: So, Franky, you are from?
F: Hialeah, but I was born in the Dominican Republic.
E: And you were educated where?
F: I am a New World graduate, but during my BFA, I had a problem. I was kicked out of the art space they provided for me because I invited people to my studio and photos were released.
E: What in the world did you do?
F: I love gravity, and I became fascinated by human suspension. During my thesis, I got suspended from my back.
E: Ouch, what do you mean? They put holes in your body and hung you?
F: Yes, and I needed a studio to finish my thesis, so Anthony invited me in. The rules were I was not allowed to hang myself. He gave me space in exchange for a piece of art.
E: Tell me what it feels like (as I cringe)?
F: It wasn’t painful because your psyching yourself up for the moment. It’s a high. Then they poke you it feels like a pinch…I hung for 15 minutes. Your body floods with endorphins, it’s very blissful. It’s intense. I knew I wanted to do it just for a week before I did it, but I knew about it. I was influenced by it.
E: So, is that why this video installation has a television screen hanging from the ceiling?
F: No, but the experience has resonated through the work and my life since. I’m still very intrigued by the suspension ritual, defying gravity and the forces around us. My works vary from figurative to extreme abstraction of the figurative… My paintings show the gravity experience through the paint as it drips, it shows the illusion of what I felt hanging suspended
Put on the headset and look up. I had a video capturing me on the turntables.
A: This is Franky’s debut show. I met Frankie in Berlin doing a residency at Homebase. I noticed in his studio that the things he was playing with became his work. Then after Berlin, I went to his home in Miami to meet him. He was busy tattooing his friend so I took it upon myself and I snooped around. All of his disregarded objects became art. That is what you see today in the space at our gallery. The plant and the chair were found in a garbage dump in Hialeah. Another part this piece is a sledgehammer that sits on the red chair and it also serves as weight and there is limestone that holds up the chair. It was part of an aquarium that was given to Frankie. There is also a “The World is Yours” Scarface poster that is intended to sit on the couch. It works well because it is the same size as the plasma television video project, hence the name of the project “The World is Yours.”
E: So, Spinello, you created this room in your gallery space for Franky?
A: Yes, Franky thought it would not be feasible to have a pepper plant here because it couldn’t live, but we made a hole in the ground for it, and it gets the sunlight it needs to strive from the only window in our gallery. Do you see the cup it is planted in? That was also garbage, but its funny, it’s a money tree if you look closely.
“I don’t work for my artists, I work with my artist.” – AS
So, post Spinello Projects, Anthony, his gallery manager Alex and Dale (my fab momma and art aficionado), we headed over to the studio space of this Argentinian, brilliant, beautiful and conceptual artist named Agustina Woodgate, and what an experience. She and Anthony have worked together since 2004, and now her career is stronger than ever between local public space commissions and creating works for the who’s who that collect her art.
E: So, these huge carpets you make are all from stuffed animals?
AW: Yes. I don’t discard anything. I work with what is present, I fully respect the object, you actually still see the stuffed animal… I recycle memories.
E: How do you create these colorful masterpieces?
AW: I sketch everything first in a book and then I arrange the parts until they match, like pieces of a puzzle.
E: I notice you have many maps and atlas’ around but they aren’t in original shape, so you also deconstruct maps?
AW: You still see the trace of the territory. I sand maps and globes, I collect the dust and use it to create other works! I love the song seven seas.
AS: Agustina, the song is by Eurithmics and it is called “Sweet Dreams are made of This.”
We all laugh.
E: So you really don’t disregard anything?
AW: All my used things come with awesome vibes. In the Atlas, the dust became a landscape, I separated the dust by color and then placed it all together in color layer on one single surface. With my last dust experiments I created chalk sticks that are exhibited at Ft. Lauderdale Museum of Art. Every part of the objects I deconstruct, become used somehow. Even the tags! Sometimes when I opened the bears to unstitch them, I find love notes.
E: Where did you study art?
AW: Buenos Aires at the Instituto Universitario National de Arte. I moved to Miami in 2003 and started working with Anthony in 2004.
E: How long do your rugs take to make?
AW: The rugs, they each take 3-4 mos. to make.
E: How does someone get a tour of your studio?
AW: To get a tour, just email Anthony Spinello at [email protected]
E: What is the coolest project you have done?
AW: Well, in April I went into thrift stores and sewed poems into clothes. No one knew. I did it for me, and to make people happy when they saw the surprise. I was kicked out of 3 shops in the process! Then the Miami New Times found out what I was doing and documented me in a video that they called “Poetry Bombing” and now the video has gone viral!
E: What about your most recent public art projects you are working on?
AW: I am working on the completion of a public art project on Lincoln road that will follow the legacy of the man who founded Lincoln Road, I. Stanley Levine. I was chosen because they loved how I proposed the project. Morris Lapidus who designed Lincoln Road used black and white stripes on the street. Did you ever notice it? Now you will. I used the same black and white stripes and I followed in his line of thought. The street turns into benches! The project will be up one day, it’s been in the works for the past two years. It’s currently in fabrication.
Mark your calendars, next up at Spinello Projects in September is Aramis Gutierrez’ solo show.
Check out the video “Poetry Bombing” here: