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

Jun 19, 2012

A well-deserved nod to the Bass

Posted by Anne Tschida

The park and the Bass Museum.

Wynwood gets most of the attention these days as the art hub of Miami. And rightly so, as the amount of galleries and studio spaces far exceeds any other place not only here, but in the Southeast and likely any place south of New York. The newly formed ArtPlace, a national collaboration of foundations, banks and government agencies that has begun giving significant grants to help develop art districts, has just awarded the Wynwood Arts District a business development grant of $140,000 to upgrade the neighborhood, and awarded a whopping $385,000 to the The Light Box at Goldman Warehouse, the Miami Light Project's new home in Wynwood.

But a little overlooked in this all is the art neighborhood surrounding the Bass Museum, a Knight Arts grantee, on Miami Beach. It too just got an ArtPlace grant in the not-small sum of $225,000. While Wynwood is the hip and gritty placeholder for contemporary art, the area around the Bass is in all honestly a better place to develop a pedestrian and art friendly community.

With the completion of the park that rolls out from the front doors of the museum and runs over to the actual sand beach, this is simply a nice, comfortable place to walk and take in art. The temporary sculpture park in this area that took place during last December's Art Basel was a taste of things to come. With this recent grant, the Bass will instigate the "TC: Temporary Contemporary" public art projects program, which will bring well-known contemporary artists to the Beach to create site-specific installations in the 40-block area being called "City Center/Arts District." These will include sculpture, sound installations, video and other interactive works that will try to engage the passersby.

And unlike Wynwood at present, it's likely that many people will indeed experience the art, as there is a constant stream of pedestrians, local and visiting, who actually walk around this area, a beach-front district that is unique in the country.

Even before the outdoor art takes its place, you can get a good feel for the potential that ArtPlace has recognized. Walk to the museum from the Miami City Ballet's home, or from the fabulous Frank Gehry-designed New World Symphony building, or even from the Art Center/South Florida on Lincoln Road — really, you'll enjoy it. And then make sure you visit the wonderful Charles Ledray exhibit currently on display at the Bass, which runs through August 12. His works  — ceramics, knitted objects and the like  — are often described as "exquisite" and especially, "exquisitely crafted." In his case, it's not an exaggeration.

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