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Curatorial Practices
Interview with Cheryl Hartup, Associate Curator Miami Art Museum
by Javier de Pison

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Ivan Depeña

Philip-Lorca diCorcia

Todd Hido

Craig Kucia

Maria Martinez-Cañas

Maria Martinez-Cañas

If you think of Soto, Botero they are also working with line and space but they are sort of planes. Sheí­s also done a number of large-scale public art and videos, which are fabulous. Her piece required her to be in the space to put it together, and it goes well with the works. When she was here she got to meet a number of artists, and there were a lot of art openings going on.

Thatí­s also what I try to do. It's part of our philosophy: helping make connections between people from different countries, people of different generations, people who work with different materials, and to try to create these interesting dialogues in the space. For somebody coming through here it seems like it's a show that perhaps just happens in Miami -- and I like that -- where you have this mix: artists from New York, artists from Miami, from Latin America, and it seems to work. You may not see a show like this in other parts of the country.

JP: When did MAM began to commission works for its exhibits?

CH: Usually we use works only from our permanent collection. Then when we did a big show called "Miami Currents," where we showed almost our entire collection as well as borrowed works from the community, it was sort of presenting our vision of not just what we had, but what weí­d like to acquire in the future, giving people a sense of where we were at the six year mark building our collection, and how we are shaping it. From that show we started looking more carefully, and a number of themes came to the surface. We couldní­t do everything we wanted to do, we had certain areas that we picked -- the natural world, the immaterial world, the material world -- but we also saw a very strong language in art. So that brought us to a show called "Visual Poetics," and in that exhibition I worked with the Sackner Archive of Concrete Poetry ( as well as with our collection.

Then Associate Curator Peter Boswell did "Between Art and Life," ( in which he did commission Guerra de la Paz to do an installation with used clothing, and they created a piece called "Eden," all made up of clothes and a huge tree and stones and a stream of different fabrics because they live in Little Haiti, which is kind of the garment district here, where a lot of used clothing comes and is packaged up and either sent to South America or thrown in dumpsters.

And then came "Light and Atmosphere." Each show that I do I like to add complexity to it. I had a discussion with Fabián Marcaccio about this as he uses this term while adding complexity to his work. For me, it means doing things that I havení­t done or that the museum hasní­t done, or just thinking about something that goes further. For this show it was doing three commissions, and working with one artist in Latin America.

JP: Which was the most difficult piece?

CH: Mark Kovení­s "Turn," because it is a complex environment made with lenticular photography, which is very expensive, and it was the more labor-intensive piece in the show. We are still learning how to take care of it. His imagery is visually often symbolic of historical events. There are so many layers to Markí­s piece and he often works from personal experience or memory, so he decided to re-read the Book of Ecclesiastes which he had read as a boy. He re-read it at a difficult time for him, and so among the imagery of moving palms and skies and clouds are some verses of the Ecclesiastes that you may see if you look very carefully.

JP: Richard Pasquarelli's work has a pop art kind of reminiscence.

CH: Yes, I was thinking of Edward Hopperí­s train station, and also of Magritte. I had just seen a big show of Magritte in Europe and one of the pieces was a dark house, and thereí­s a street lamp on, and the street is in the dead of night. I read this piece of his in which he talks about how you see works in different contexts, and how you read things. Then I went to New York, to one of my favorite galleries, Luxe Gallery on 57th St., and saw his show. I didní­t know who he was but I was thinking about "Light and Atmosphere". His show was called "Last Sites," and it had a really film noir feeling to it.

JP: The Philip-Lorca diCorcia photo seems out of place here because of its urban landscape and depiction of a punk L.A. aesthetic, doní­t you think?

CH: Well, believe or not I used to have a jacket like that (a leather jacket with pins) in the late 80s to early 90s. I chose the photo because when you think in light and atmosphere DiCorcia is one of the artists who come to mind. I like this work a lot because ití­s from this sort of drifter series that he did and heí­s so famous for, that really augments an exhibition and is also a work that gave a big burst to his career. He had gotten an NEA grant at the time and gone to Hollywood, and now you look at Hollywood ten years later, on Sunset Boulevard and its totally different — all cleaned up, beautified.

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