Opening “Bridges” to overlooked art

Published on September 11, 2012 by in Miami

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Robert Flynn, “Spray.”

Bridge Red Studios/Project Space (a Knight Arts grantee) is up to its old tricks again: showing work from established artists that too often have fallen off the contemporary art map in Miami. In this case, it’s the work of Robert Flynn, who shockingly died at the early age of 39 from a heart attack several years ago. Flynn is one of those artists that you may recognize without knowing so. From 1994 through 2007, he created paintings, drawings and some sculpture, here in Miami and for his last years in Vermont.

Two incredible paintings, from a series called “Peeps,” of birds appearing and disappearing on the canvas, are two examples of Flynn’s work that may provoke an “ah ha, I know that work but didn’t know who made it” response. On one wall (facing the kitchen; remember this is an alternative art space) is another outstanding series, of cows – myriad breeds – all painted on 11-by-11-inch squares.

Flynn, “Dollar Weed.”

“Robert Flynn, Paintings and Drawings” is described as the first retrospective of this artist’s work, albeit a limited one. As one of  the directors of the gallery, artist Kristen Thiele, explains: “My main hope with this exhibit is that this is a ‘toe in the door’ for a future, full retrospective for Flynn’s work. We are a small venue and we do what we can, but I am hoping ultimately that this show will serve as a prompt for one of our major institutions to give Flynn the proper space for his work and to cull from his collectors to provide a full spectrum for a more complete retrospective.” That pretty much sums up the mission of Bridge Red in general – a space to remind people of quality work, and hopefully bring it back more fully to the fore of Miami’s art scene. An admirable mission.

Karen Rifas at Under the Bridge.

Also admirable – literally, in a visual sense – and wonderful to contemplate, is the work of another developed artist, Karen Rifas, which is showing downstairs in the accompanying Under the Bridge space (the studio home of several artists, including director Lou Anne Colodny). Rifas’ work was prominent at the now sadly closed Bernice Steinbaum Gallery, but this is new stuff. She has worked directly with the space, hanging her delicate threads – really wires  – in certain areas to create three-dimensional, optical illusion sculptures. But she also has mimicked the space with red and black, geometric wall paintings, making exhibit called  “interventions” an interventional experience.

Karen Rifas, “Red Torque.”

Bridge Red’s “Robert Flynn, Paintings and Drawings” and Karen Rifas’ “interventions” run through Nov. 11 at 12425 N.E. 13th Ave., North Miami, by appointment; contact Kristen Thiele at 305-978-4856  for Bridge Red, and Lou Anne Colodny at 305-987-4437 for Under the Bridge.

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