The Fountainhead Residency program, under the inspired leadership of “foundress” Kathryn Mikesell, who founded it in 2008 with husband Dan, has been positively shaking up the art scene since it started. They bring in artists from all over the globe, to introduce them to Miami, and to have them in turn broaden Miami’s artistic scope. The results, seen in galleries and museums, have been great. Some of the work made by the visiting artists — from Berlin, New York, L.A., London and many other thriving centers — has been the best around town, succeeding in its mission to bring new energy and voices to our scene.
If there was doubt that this successful parade had slowed down, it was dispelled with an open house last Wednesday showcasing the latest crop of artists who took up residence in the Miami Modern 1950s house in Morningside.
The Mikesells pick artists who work in various forms, but whom they think will also interact, bounce off each other creatively during the several months they live and work together. They have produced painting, sculpture and video that have been absolute stand-outs, and many of the artists have returned, physically and with their work, over and over.
On this night, the intense painting and drawing from New York-based Aaron Gilbert created quite a buzz. The characters were depicted in deeply intimate embraces, but also shown at times as disturbingly removed. Very figurative, with no abstraction, these were both beautiful and difficult to observe. In one painting, a man hold a baby in his hands — but the fingers could resemble a cage, trapping the infant, and his gaze is far from the child he holds.
Abstraction held the day, on the other hand, in the videos of L.A.-based Matt Sheridan. Lovely pieces that are moving images of actual paintings that the artist first created, or as the residency notes state, a re-imagining of “how the mediums of painting and video are combined through use of movement, location and re-materialization in animated painterly abstractions.” In the past, Fountainhead artists popped up rapidly in Miami spaces soon after their stint in the house, and that will be the case with Sheridan as well — he’ll be in a show at the ArtCenter/South Florida in June.
This is precisely the interaction Miami needs to continue to grow and progress — and it’s a pretty good deal for the visitors as well.