The “Smoke Signals” emanating from the latest entry in the artist-run space category, Under the Bridge, are all suggestions of or references to portals, hence the exhibit’s name, “Smoke Signals: portals y passages.” Both the show and the space are welcome complements to the art scene.
The 14 artists’ works were chosen by William Cordova, who has curated several shows around town in the last year or so, another positive for Miami. He has a keen eye and sharp vision, which will become clear when visiting what is essentially the front end of some studio spaces in North Miami, opened up for the third time as an exhibition space by artist Lou Anne Colodny.
The works here are all small, as portals tend to be. In one special corner are three works, from Jorge Pantoja, John Espinosa and Luis Gispert, all three top-notch artists. Pantoja has pictured a 35mm slide, which is empty, with white space filling in where an image usually would be. What, then, do you see in this empty space? Next to it are two little “pill boxes” from Espinosa, containing the images of the back of two heads — where are they looking? And Gispert has created an incomplete graphite drawing, which looks like a spinning disc (in the past, Gispert has used boom boxes in his sculptures): the actual shape of a vinyl record or a CD is inherently related to a portal, as we spin into another world.
In the main room, Glexis Novoa also has a circular, graphite drawing, on canvas in black and white, which is cold and severe, in reference to cold and severe authoritarian structures, and is distinctly a lens. But the white canvas is smudged, showing cracks to that total control. Also in the main room is a nice example of Robert Thiele’s work, who has a studio in the building and runs the other exhibition space in the Bridge Red complex (a Knight Arts grantee), along with his daughter and son-in-law. And a stand-out piece is a video from Onajide Shabaka: Framed within a small screen and called “Total Disappearance 1905,” it is a strange tale of a bayou.
These are just some of the interesting portals investigated in this exhibit, which is worth further exploration.
“Smoke Signals: portals y passages” runs through June 8 at Under the Bridge, 12425 NE 13th Ave, North Miami; 305-987-4437 (by appointment).