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This Black History Month, instead of passing the time like you would any other month in this already long year, why not use the time to learn and experience Black culture in new ways? In addition to maybe watching Judas and the Black Messiah on HBO Max or One Night in Miami on Amazon Prime, venture out into the city — safely — and see some art.
Through art, you can experience someone else’s emotions, even if only for a brief moment, and imagine how they see the world.
“These exhibitions are only a small part of a much a larger history of [Black] artistic production that deserves to be studied and shared all year round,” says Miami-based curator Marie Vickles, who also serves as education director at Pérez Art Museum Miami. “It is from this history, passed down through the generations of Black, brown, and indigenous peoples, that exhibitions like ‘Local Global’ and the others can be born.”
As Vickles says, this list is merely a slice of what’s out there, and Black artists should be celebrated throughout the entire year. But to get you started, here are five places in Miami where you can check out work by Black artists this month.
Reginald O’Neal’s As I Am at MOCA.
Photo by Diana Larrea
Reginald O’Neal’s As I Am at Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami
As part of MOCA’s new Art on the Plaza series, a fresh mural painted by local artist Reginald O’Neal is stationed boldly on the wall near the fountain. The mural, titled As I Am, is on view for all to see through March 7. Painted using white, black, and gray tones, the mural depicts scenes from O’Neal’s native Overtown. On one side, a group of young kids sit on the porch of their home. On the other, a large group of adults gathers, standing proudly. Dividing the two scenes is the profile of a man with flowing dreadlocks, presumably the artist himself, visually bridging the gap between past and present. O’Neal’s work is a powerful representation of his origins and an homage to his hometown. 770 NE 125 St., North Miami; 305-893-6211; mocanomi.org. Accessible free of charge outside the museum.
“Local Global,” at Little Haiti Cultural Complex
Still on view at Little Haiti Cultural Complex is its 2020 Miami Art Week exhibition “Local Global,” curated by Marie Vickles. The exhibition is on view through February 28, so you can surround yourself with a bevy of brilliant Black artists. Among the 30 artists featured: Morel Doucet, Carl-Philippe Juste, and Najja Moon. Additionally, the Cultural Complex boasts a fantastic outdoor mural by Haitian artist Ralph Allen. 212 NE 59th Terr., Miami; 305-960-2969; littlehaiticulturalcenter.com. Admission is free. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Purvis Young’s Untitled Book #1, circa 1996.
Courtesy of David Castillo Gallery
“Purvis Young: The Painter of Modern Life,” at David Castillo Gallery
Overtown native Purvis Young was perhaps one of the most prolific and renowned artists to emerge from Miami in the last century. Young’s art predominantly focused on his culture and experience as a Black man living in the South. Posthumously, the artist continues to marvel. Gallerist David Castillo’s latest exhibition, “Purvis Young: The Painter of Modern Life,” is a sprawling display of some of Young’s never-before-seen works. The exhibition includes 25 paintings and 11 books by Young, all part of a private collection acquired directly from the artist. The exhibition is on view through March 31. 3930 NW Second Ave., Miami; 305-573-8110; davidcastillogallery.com. Admission is free. Tuesday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons’ Finding Balance (2015).
Photo courtesy of El Espacio 23
“Witness: Afro Perspectives,” at El Espacio 23
Jorge M. Pérez of Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) fame opened El Espacio 23 during Miami Art Week in 2019. The philanthropist essentially had too much art and decided a warehouse space in Allapattah was the solution. For Art Week 2020, the space exhibited more works from Pérez’s personal collection, this time centering on the theme of the African diaspora. El Espacio 23 worked with South Africa-based curator Tandazani Dhlakama to organize “Witness: Afro Perspectives.” That exhibition, still on view, includes more than 100 artists with African roots, including Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons, Carlos Martiel, and David Koloane. The exhibition will be on display through the end of the year, by appointment only. 2270 NW 23rd St., Miami; 786-460-4790; elespacio23.com. Admission is free; by appointment only.
“Déjà Vu,” at IPC ArtSpace
Photojournalist Carl-Philippe Juste cofounded Iris Photo Collection (IPC) as a way to bring together fellow artists of color and elevate each other’s works. The organization runs the IPC ArtSpace in Little Haiti, where its current exhibition, “Déjà Vu,” displays the works of 25 artists, including Edouard Duval-Carrié, C.W. Griffin, and Juste himself. The exhibition was originally set to conclude at the beginning of this month but has been extended through February 26. IPC is also highlighting Black voices in the community via its Instagram account, @ipcartspace, all month long. IPC asks, “What does your Blackness mean?” and features photos taken by Juste. 225 NE 59th St., Miami; 305-796-4718; irisphotocollective.com. Admission is by donation; days and hours vary.
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