Articles by Juan Carlos Pérez-Duthie

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    Knight Arts Challenge winner Cannonball propels artists and a broad mix of ideas

    February 24, 2015 by Juan Carlos Pérez-Duthie

    Knight Arts Challenge winner Cannonball propels artists and a broad mix of ideas

    Executive director of Cannonball, Christopher Cook. Photo by Tatiana Hernandez. 

    In a four-story, 1924 industrial building in downtown Miami, creative ideas are being developed and launched. That’s only fitting, since this renovated former warehouse is the home of Cannonball.

    The name alludes to one of the word’s meanings as “a jump in the water with the arms holding the knees tight against the chest.” And that is what Cannonball has done: Dive into the South Florida arts scene with a major splash.

    From its foundation in 2003 as LegalArt, whose original purpose was to provide free legal services and professional development programs to emerging artists—something it still does with its LegalLink initiative—Cannonball has grown into a full-fledged arts organization; it supports innovative art creation and those who make it happen, and fosters educational opportunities to engage in a dialogue with the community (there is a classroom in the building where courses and seminars are held as part of a non-traditional study program called  r.a.d, for research.art.dialogue).

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    Choreographer Uri Sands, ready for his homecoming dance in South Miami-Dade

    November 5, 2014 by Juan Carlos Pérez-Duthie

    Choreographer Uri Sands, ready for his homecoming dance in South Miami-Dade

    Photo courtesy TU Dance. 

    To dance. Uri Sands has carried that desire deep within his heart since he was a kid in South Miami-Dade. As he grew up, he transformed the great passion of his youth into a way of life.

    Like so many other burgeoning artists from South Florida looking for opportunities, though, he left home to find his place in the world. His talent flourished in New York, where he would meet his future wife, Toni Pierce, at Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Later on they moved to the Twin Cities, where they opened the TU Dance (TU for Toni and Uri) studio and school in 2004.

    On Nov. 8, Uri Sands returns to South Florida as an internationally renowned choreographer and dancer for the debut of TU Dance at the South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center.

    “The visit to Miami is the start of the company’s 11th season, and it’s a homecoming for me,” says Sands, who lives in St. Paul, Minn. “After that, we have our season here in St. Paul, and then we go on to a regional tour. So this is the first performance of a number of performances that will be leading up to the holiday season.”

     

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    Seeing the world through the lens of Zoe Strauss

    September 3, 2014 by Juan Carlos Pérez-Duthie

    Seeing the world through the lens of Zoe Strauss

    Zoe Strauss. Photo by Flickr user Susan Sarmoneta. Zoe Strauss looks at things differently.

    For years, the self-taught photographer, installation artist and community activist, has been capturing reality through her lens in ways that others often don’t see. Or don’t want to see.

    Strauss, who began her professional career as a photographer in 2000 by taking pictures of fringe and marginal communities in her hometown of Philadelphia, will be in South Florida on Sept. 4 for a conversation with Dennis Scholl, vice president of arts for Knight Foundation.

    “Zoe sees the disenfranchised, and embraces their existence. In a way, she celebrates it,” says Scholl. “She really embraces the idea of reaching out to people, and connects with them in a profound way.”

    Scholl has not been immune to that power of connection. As an art collector himself, he has followed Strauss’ career for several years now, and felt that her work would resonate with South Florida audiences.

    “I’ve known Zoe for a long time. In fact, before I was at Knight Foundation, I commissioned Zoe to create something for the Scholl collection,” remembers Scholl, referring to a slideshow and a series of photographic prints that were exhibited at an art space, World Class Boxing, that he and his wife Debra founded.

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    Unlikely artistic duo composes a successful partnership

    June 28, 2014 by Juan Carlos Pérez-Duthie

    Unlikely artistic duo composes a successful partnership

    Photo: Justin Peck and Sufjan Stevens with Knight Foundation President Alberto Ibargüen at the National YoungArts Salon. Credit: World Red Eye.  

    For any artist, working with a colleague can open new doors of creativity, as successful collaboration entails compromise. It is an art in itself, after all, to make it happen. And precisely on “The Art of Collaboration” is what the latest installment in the National YoungArts Foundation’s Salon Series was all about, with a discussion that took place on Thursday evening at the organization’s main campus in downtown Miami.

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    A Caribbean backdrop for ‘Antony and Cleopatra’

    January 9, 2014 by Juan Carlos Pérez-Duthie

    A Caribbean backdrop for ‘Antony and Cleopatra’

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    Sarah Niles as Chairman, Joaquina Kalukango as Cleopatra, Chivas Michael as Soothsayer and Charise Castro Smith as Iras in Antony and Cleopatra. Photo by Hugo Glendinning.

    Last January, Tarell Alvin McCraney’s streamlined version of Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” considered by some to be the most difficult of the Shakespearean tragedies, debuted under his direction at GableStage in Coral Gables.

    This year, the Miami playwright and actor directs his own adaptation of another tragedy of Shakespeare’s, the complex “Antony and Cleopatra.” Tackling the Bard’s work can be daunting for anyone, but McCraney thrives on the challenge.

    “Every great piece of literature should be scary, exciting, demanding,” says McCraney a few days before the U.S. opening gala (tonight at the Colony Theatre in Miami Beach) of “Antony and Cleopatra.” “If it were boring, tedious, or easy, it would not be worth one’s time.”

    By changing the setting of the play from Alexandria and Rome to Saint-Domingue (the future Haiti) and Napoleonic France, “Antony and Cleopatra” should feel much closer to home for South Florida audiences. For the city’s theatrical community, meanwhile, it could be a watershed moment, as the spotlight focuses on a production with local roots, which will eventually move to New York after its Miami run.

    “This is something we’ve been working on for a couple of years,” says Joseph Adler, producing artistic director of GableStage, now in its 16th season. “As this evolved, it became bigger and bigger.”

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    In Miami salon, Redfords advocate using art to inspire social change

    March 14, 2014 by Juan Carlos Pérez-Duthie

    In Miami salon, Redfords advocate using art to inspire social change

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    Above: Robert Redford and Sibylle Szaggars Redford at the Young Arts Salon Series Wednesday night. Photo credit: World Red Eye. 

    Winning hearts is half the battle when it comes to saving the environment, and art can be one of its strongest allies.

    That’s the message iconic Hollywood actor Robert Redford and his wife, artist Sibylle Szaggars Redford, delivered to a crowd gathered at the headquarters of the the National YoungArts Foundation in Miami Wednesday night.

    The event, moderated by Dennis Scholl, Knight Foundation’s vice president for the arts, was the second in the YoungArts Salon Series, which brings together renowned creative minds to discuss issues about the cultural landscape and to interact with the audience.

    That interaction actually began the night before at the YoungArts’ Biscayne Boulevard campus, the former Bacardi Museum and Tower, with the world premiere of “The Way of the Rain Miami.” The collaborative artistic performance pays tribute to the Earth and—through abstract art, dance, film, music and words—calls attention to the damage being caused by man. Directed by Sibylle Redford, it also starred YoungArts alumni, other Miami artists and her famous husband, a longstanding environmentalist, in a special reading. The artist was born in Germany and had a successful career as a trader before turning to art full time.

    The seeds of the project were planted last year, with an earlier and less elaborate version of “The Way of the Rain” presented in Albuquerque, N.M., where the Redfords own a home. The desert landscape and its weather inspired the artist, who then expanded the scope of the work originally created with David Thor Jonsson and adapted it for Miami.

    “So, what we did last night, what we tried to convey, is a tiny, tiny little drop,” Sibylle Redford said during the YoungArts Salon. “But I believe there is a chance to save this planet.”

    The couple admitted that chance faces many obstacles, from money pressures to political interests, but Redford considers change inevitable.

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    Making movies the Miami way

    April 9, 2014 by Juan Carlos Pérez-Duthie

    Making movies the Miami way

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    Above: Sundance Knight Fellow Monica Peña. Photo credit: Flickr user Miami Film Festival.

    The work of up-and-coming Miami filmmaker Monica Peña is generating some serious heat.

    And that’s due to her cinematic debut, “Ectotherms,” a 65-minute feature film that takes this scientific term, which refers to cold-blooded organisms dependent on outside sources for warmth, and gives it a Miami spin. The “ectotherms” in Peña’s movie are this city’s culturally cross-pollinated and disaffected youth.

    Shot locally over just five days, with no budget, no script (other than the director’s conceptual guidelines) and with a cast of non-actors, “Ectotherms” had its world premiere at the recently held Miami International Film Festival. Then, Variety, one of the most respected entertainment industry media outlets, ran a glowing review of the movie.

    That a seemingly noncommercial movie like this one can elicit such positive response is encouraging to South Florida’s independent film community—and reinforces the position that you don’t need to move to Hollywood to make interesting cinema.

    “Knight Foundation grantee Lucas Leyva said something really smart a while ago,” remembers Dennis Scholl, Knight Foundation’s vice president for the arts. “He said, ‘You can go to L.A. and pull cables on somebody else’s film, or you can come to Miami and make your own film.’ That has resonated with a number of very interesting, young, dynamic, independent filmmakers, and Monica represents that. She’s chosen to come back here, try to find a way, make the film she wanted to make, and the results are astonishing.”

    The 31-year-old Cuban-American director and writer was born and raised in Miami. She attended UCLA film school but never doubted that she needed to be in Miami to give life to her creative vision.

    “Whether intentionally or not, what’s coming out in a lot of the works from here is sort of this intersection of cultural heritage,” Peña says, “where our connections to our families’ past and culture have been transplanted and transformed here. That intersects with this experience of … growing up in an urban environment and the hardships that can come with that. And then, that also intersects with this very particular landscape that is like no other landscape in the world.”

  • Article

    Unlikely artistic duo composes a successful partnership

    June 28, 2014 by Juan Carlos Pérez-Duthie

    Unlikely artistic duo composes a successful partnership

    Photo: Justin Peck and Sufjan Stevens with Knight Foundation President Alberto Ibargüen at the National YoungArts Salon. Credit: World Red Eye.

    For any artist, working with a colleague can open new doors of creativity, as successful collaboration entails compromise. It is an art in itself, after all, to make it happen.

    And precisely on “The Art of Collaboration” is what the latest installment in the National YoungArts Foundation’s Salon Series was all about, with a discussion that took place on Thursday evening at the organization’s main campus in downtown Miami.

    The talk with rising star choreographer and New York City Ballet soloist Justin Peck, and songwriter, singer and musician Sufjan Stevens, was moderated by Alberto Ibargüen, president of Knight Foundation.  The foundation provided support to launch the YoungArts Salon Series.

    The latest fruit of Peck’s and Stevens’ joint efforts debuted this May with “Everywhere We Go,” a 42-minute work danced by New York City Ballet, with choreography by Peck and music by Stevens (his first original orchestral score). Next spring, Peck will have the world premiere of an as-of-yet-untitled piece for Miami City Ballet, with iconic visual artist Shepard Fairey in charge of the set.

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    Zoe Strauss, capturing unexpected moments in time

    September 8, 2014 by Juan Carlos Pérez-Duthie

    Zoe Strauss, capturing unexpected moments in time

    "Unscripted Art Chat" with Zoe Strauss and Knight Foundation VP/Arts Dennis Scholl. Photo courtesy Nathan Valentine/WorldRedEye.com. In spite of the bombardment of images and information that have become a mainstay of life today, Zoe Strauss still believes in the power of that one single image that cements a moment in time and touches lives in unexpected ways.

    Strauss, a 44-year-old self-taught photographer who first picked up a camera at age 30, was the focus of the third art chat sponsored this year by Bal Harbour Village’s “Unscripted Art Projects,” a public arts program started three years ago to bring arts to the community, commission works to make Bal Harbour a creative destination and to foster critical dialogue.

    The Philadelphia native was interviewed Sept. 4 during the event at One Bal Harbour Resort & Spa by Dennis Scholl, vice president of arts for Knight Foundation and an art collector who, along with his wife Debra, knows Strauss’ work well.

    Against a background of her photos, the unassuming and casually dressed Strauss spoke with Scholl about what motivates her, how her photography actually happens, about the reality that she wants to share through the lens of her camera and how what she photographs is related to a particular person or place or moment.

    “There are very specific images that mark periods of time for people,” said Strauss, “where one can say, ‘This is where I was at this particular time,’ and invoke something very different from the constant barrage of images and videos that we are normally inundated with.”

    People can refer to those images to evoke an emotion or feeling, or relive a particular chapter of their lives.