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

Jan 18, 2013

What art is trying to say

Posted by Anne Tschida

"Ash" by Daniel Milewski.

 It’s not always easy to comprehend what some of contemporary art is saying, especially without some explanation. Sometimes that’s the point, as repeating simple representational imagery is what many wanted to get away from in the contemporary era.

For instance tonight, for the 10th in a series of 12 one-night-only art events called The Nightclub, what will be said during “I’m Open to the Idea” seems a bit of a mystery. It will include work from five artists and is curated by Domingo Castillo and Carlos Rigau, who always has something interesting to say in his own art, if you can figure it out.

"The Umpire" exiibit, Gallery Diet "The Umpire" exiibit, Gallery Diet.

Opening at another truly alternative art gallery, 6th Street Container in Little Havana, is a solo show from Karen Starosta-Gilinski called “Outside In.” In this narrow space that feels like a train car (or a container), she has decided to play with the value of objects. “There's something about objects that you want to own, and objects you want to destroy. Also objects that don't exist yet, until you create them in your mind simultaneously with your hands,” she writes. “I break beautiful objects, mostly because it is hard to do it, it is really hard to let go a valuable material … but I decide to break it or by the opposite assemble it.”

Daniel Milewski has arranged and assembled found and personal objects at Gallery Diet for “The Umpire.” Again, without some explanation it might be hard to find the rhyme or reason to some of these assemblages. He has lined up 45 photographs, details of imperfections in his home, and manipulated a tiny black-and-white photograph of Henry Flagler. In the sparsely populated and minimalist show, the sculpture on the floor with a small gray square, made from ash, which is mounted on a birch plywood platform, stands out. Called “Gram,” Milewski says there is an obvious reference to a type of measurement (a gram), but there might also be reverberations of a particular urban myth involving Joshua Tree and the cult singer Graham Parker. And of course ashes can be the remains of a body and therefore hold a meditative quality.

A very quiet and lovely piece is an (imperfect) pencil stenciling on paper, called “Metta World Peace” – that’s the new name of the NBA player Ron Artest, a man who has tried to “reassemble” his own image from a controversial brawler to a man of peace. The results of imperfections and rearrangements are part of what Milewski is trying to get at here.


“I’m Open to the Idea” takes place tonight from 7-11 p.m. at 3900 N. Miami Ave., Miami; “Outside In" opens tonight, 7-10 p.m. at 6th Street Container, 1155 SW 6th St. (in the rear), Miami. “The Umpire” runs through Feb. 16 at Diet Gallery, 174 N.W. 23rd St., Wynwood;

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