September 2009, Volume 13, Number 7

Cultural Spotlight

Art exhibitions meld the old and new

The new season of the College’s Art Gallery System will open with a retrospective on the works of the late Cuban master Cundo Bermúdez.

The exhibition, to be held at the Freedom Tower at Miami Dade College, will give South Florida audiences an expansive look at Bermúdez’s work – from his earlier classical pieces to his later abstract work.

Bermúdez had an intensely productive artistic life, said Jorge Gutiérrez, director of MDC’s Art Gallery System. The artist’s later works, which have never been displayed in an exhibition of this scope, are particularly noteworthy because of the way he “proposes the use of form and color,” Gutiérrez said. “Every important artists has different stages in the development of his artwork. This exhibitions gives us an opportunity to understand his entire body of work.”

Under a Brilliant Sun: Cundo Bermúdez Into the 21st Century opens this month. This is a fitting place to begin the Art Gallery System’s 2009-2010 season, because Bermúdez, who lived until he was 96, was a bridge from the classical to the modern, Miami to Latin America.

And for nine months beginning in September, the galleries and art spaces at MDC’s eight campuses will serve as venues to connect South Florida to the rest of the world through art.

A total of 28 installations are planned, among them 10 special exhibitions at the historic Freedom Tower at Miami Dade College’s Wolfson Campus in downtown Miami. These exhibitions will display some of the best in architecture, painting, sculpture, photography and mixed-media that Miami and the world has to offer. With references to politics, religion, graphic novels and history, the total effect is indeed impressive. A highlight of the season will be MDC Legacy, a special exhibition that coincides with MDC’s 50th anniversary celebration.

“When you have an art gallery or museum in a higher education institution, you develop exhibitions as you would an art lab,” Gutiérrez said. “You take greater risks, look at trends, what’s coming. It’s a luxury most museums don’t have.”

Gutiérrez and his staff like to present a balance of local, national and international perspectives. During Art Basel, for example, the Art Gallery System will present a Josef Koudelka exhibition simultaneously with an exhibition of the photography of María Martínez Cañas. The juxtaposition of Koudelka’s stark historical photography against Martinez Cañas’ contemporary works will give viewers an opportunity to experience both artists in a new way.

“An important job of the gallery or art space is to give the viewer cultural and humanistic references,” Gutiérrez said. “Particularly in the academic setting, this building up of reference points and ideas is central to the experience. You’re examining how other people look at the world while building up a sense of criticism and analysis.”

Related Story: Fall events at Miami Dade College

— Gariot P. Louima

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