The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Jul 22, 2011

The act of art work worship

Posted by Anne Tschida

These paintings in the ground-floor entrance area of the Bass Museum (a Knight Arts Challenge winner) are figurative, seemingly bucolic, most of them small. They are punctuated by a triptych in the middle, facing the ramp that leads to the Bass's main galleries upstairs. The works are from Madrid-based Peruvian artist Sandra Gamarra, part of "At the Same Time (Al Mismo Tiempo)."

On first impression, the green-infused pieces feel like unassuming, updated interpretations of "Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte." But then something strange happens; you realize you are looking at little painted versions of others looking at art, maybe a littler version of you. Gamarra snapped photos of people studying art, then painted them. The ones featuring the objects of admiration that are large, outdoor sculptures are the best — the various scales, including from you the observer, add a bit of a disorienting quality.

Gamarra's premise is that museums are their own place of worship, where people make pilgrimages to honor, pay respect, look on in awe at art works … or relics.

The previously mentioned Bass ramp has already been covered in incredibly bright-colored vinyl tape, in a piece from Jim Lambie, in preparation of the upcoming show upstairs: "Vanishing Points: Paint and Paintings from the Debra and Dennis Scholl Collection," curated by Gean Moreno, which will open Aug. 5.

Also of note: the museum was just awarded the Our Town grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, a $100,000 grant to place site-specific, public art works around the arts district of Miami Beach — about a 40-block area. Pieces should start popping up around Art Basel time.

"Sandra Gamarra: At the Same Time" runs through Oct. 16 at the Bass Museum of Art, 2100 Collins Ave., Miami Beach;

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