This week it was announced that Alex Gartenfeld, recently brought in as chief curator of MOCA North Miami, will also now be serving as interim director. That’s because the founding director of MOCA – which opened up in 1996 – Bonnie Clearwater is moving up to Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale to take over as director there. Both developments have the potential to enrich the South Florida art scene.
Let’s start with Gartenfeld. He’s a very young curator, writer and editor out of New York who has already left an impressive trail that has had people extolling his eye, his energy and his dedication to promoting quality contemporary art. He recently organized “Empire State,” which plopped 25 New York artists down in one of the capitals of classical and Renaissance art, Rome, to much acclaim, this past April. We’ll get to measure his vision with the first exhibit he will curate for MOCA, “Love of Technology,” which opens Sept. 27. The show will include 14 international artists. Through using and referencing technological objects, the artists address traditions of minimalism and conceptual exploration in current art, with some site-specific and commissioned works.
Gartenfeld will be taking the reins from Clearwater, the most influential museum director in Miami and a hard act to follow. (MOCA is in the process of a nationwide search for a permanent director; the museum today is big and important enough to demand both a director and chief curator, it’s too big a job for one person.) Clearwater will be revamping a museum that needs her spirit – her presence can speed up what is already happening in Broward that is turning it into a serious art center. One of the advantages that Clearwater will find is that, unlike MOCA, the Ft. Lauderdale museum is connected to a university, Nova Southeastern, which opens up many research and collaborative opportunities. There will be a welcoming night for her at the end of August, which will also be a chance to catch the always intriguing and top-notch South Florida Cultural Consortium Exhibition. The recipients include artists from Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade – of the latter, Gideon Barnett, Naomi Fisher, Adler Guerrier, Patricia Hernandez, Jason Hedges, Juan Travieso and Agustina Woodgate are represented.
Both institutions on either side of the county line should be infused with new energy with these changes.
And of course, we will see what the Pérez Art Museum Miami will offer, with its relatively new curating staff and building, as it reveals itself later in the fall. These are all changes we can’t help but look forward to.
The “End of Summer” celebration featuring new museum director Bonnie Clearwater and the artists of the South Florida Cultural Consortium Exhibition will take place at 7 p.m. on Aug. 31 at the Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale, One E. Las Olas Blvd., Ft. Lauderdale; 954-525-5500; www.moafl.org.