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Written by Anne Tschida, BT Arts Editor   
July 2017

PAMM reproductions have been turning up in unexpected places

OArtFeature_1n the banks of the Snake Creek Canal in North Miami Beach, on a patch of tended grass plotted with trees in bloom, an artwork is also planted: a reproduction of a 2002 abstract painting from Odili Donald Odita.

As ducks and geese waddle around and the water slaps the embankment at what is actually a small park, the painting takes on a life of its own. Freed from the confines of a museum or gallery, it seems to have become part of the natural environment.

That is the intentional effect, the purpose of a project called “Inside/Out,” in which reproductions of art from the Pérez Art Museum Miami are put on view throughout Miami communities, many of them with limited access to art, and placed in public areas.

The idea is to encounter them as part of everyday life, not as works exclusive to an Ivory Tower or austere museum. The reproductions range from high-profile names such as Roy Lichtenstein, Ed Ruscha, and Robert Rauschenberg, to newer international artists like Guillermo Kuitca and Kiki Smith, and to locals, including Christina Pettersson and Glexis Novoa.

The project began last year, and has moved to three communities at a time, for three months at a time. Thirty reproductions were first placed in Homestead, Hialeah, and West Kendall. The second installment, from February through April of this year, added 20 more pieces and moved to Opa-locka, Overtown, and Biscayne Park.

In June, “Inside/Out” rotated to Surfside, Little Haiti, and North Miami Beach.

The concept originated with the Detroit Institute of the Arts in 2010, and with Knight Foundation funding expanded to Philadelphia, Akron, and now Miami.

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Once the communities were chosen, “we arranged an on-site plotting and planning meeting with each community individually,” as to where the art should be displayed, says Anita Braham, manager of Adult Programs and Community Partnerships at PAMM.

“Selecting the exact locations of the works was a group effort, and we encouraged the community to take the lead,” says Braham. “The final deciding factor of installation locations was securing permission from each property owner to install on their land.” So, for example, most of the artworks used for Opa-locka were placed within the historic city center, where paintings from Hernan Bas, Carlos Alfonzo, and Wangechi Mutu mixed with the quirky, Moorish-themed architecture and streets named Ali Baba and Aladdin.

In Surfside, all of the pieces are lined up in the space between Collins Avenue and the ocean, from 88th Street north to 95th Street, where walking-path strollers may encounter a Lichtenstein and Kuitca, plus locals Mette Tommerup and Loriel Beltran.

In North Miami Beach, aside from the works set along the Snake Creek, people can stumble over a piece from Ruscha and a rare painting from Fernando Botero on the grounds of the beautiful Ancient Spanish Monastery.

“PAMM’s permanent collection of international modern and contemporary art aims to reflect the diversity of Miami-Dade’s population and represent our singular position in the world, at the crossroads of Latin America and the Caribbean,” says Braham in an e-mail exchange with the BT. “We like to find a balance between local Miami artists and artists that are nationally and internationally renowned to create a well-rounded collection that can fit the context of the many culturally rich communities of Miami-Dade County.” Once the PAMM committee decided on specific works, the artists then had to agree to have their work reproduced.

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The art pieces have unique frames, and there are accompanying texts with brief descriptions of the work in English, Spanish, and Creole. It’s startling and beautiful to see them perched on posts in unconventional places. There’s the stunning black-and-white photo Hands Diptych from Consuela Castañeda set against palms on 92nd Street and the beach. Or the dystopian cityscape from Glexis Novoa placed within a North Miami Beach walking/bike path, surrounded by more blooming trees, in a meridian -- there are four artworks on this stretch of NE 13th Avenue from NE 151st Street up to NE 159th -- charmingly named the Philippe Derose International Flowering Tree Garden.

But while happening upon this art is exciting, “Inside/Out” has made a point of interacting with the neighborhoods, says Braham. “All of the communities have brainstormed innovative ways to incorporate the program into both new events and preexisting programming. We helped support a kick-off event in Biscayne Park with over 200 attendees, [an] Opa-locka Paint Nights, a special walking tour for the Overtown Children and Youth Coalition Youth Commissioners,” she says. “Community engagement is at the heart of the goals of our institution.”

Braham has been part of the engagement, remembering one particular event. “One of my most fond memories is when I assisted seniors of the City of Hialeah Adult Centers with a watercolor painting inspired by Ed Clark’s work Pink Wave on a warm summer afternoon at Hialeah Park. We found that word got out and a few groups of seniors made sure to get their respective centers to bring them to PAMM to see Pink Wave hanging in the galleries.”

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The works, however, only stay up for three months, by design. They are meant to be surprises, chance encounters; as Braham explains, the temporary status “makes the installations exciting art ‘pop-ups’ rather than signs to be taken for granted.”

Back on the Snake Creek Canal, at around NE 165th Street and NE 16th Avenue, joggers, bikers, and inline skaters were taking advantage of the paved path that stretches 6.5 miles along the canal up to Miami Gardens, defying the rising midday temperatures on a steamy Sunday.

Again surrounded by geese and ducks, an exquisite graphite drawing by one of Miami’s most talented artists, Christina Pettersson, is interwoven into the landscaping of the bank of what looks here like a river, not a canal. It’s a realistic depiction of a leafy tree, but since originally drawn in graphite, it is two-toned (she has several pieces displayed in the various neighborhoods).

The piece is titled Zora Neale Hurston’s Grave, and as you can read from the plaque, it is an homage to the African-American novelist and anthropologist, who traveled the South and Caribbean for her research.

I for one didn’t know that this extensive waterway pathway existed, so the search for Pettersson’s work turned out to be a discovery of a fascinating neighborhood -- the art bringing together myriad communities in unexpected ways.

While I stood gazing at the work placed in an old-fashioned frame, a jogger stopped and pulled out his ear buds. “This is my favorite one,” he proclaimed.

 

Inside/Out will be up in Little Haiti, Surfside, and North Miami Beach through August. Go to pamm.org/insideout for maps of the specific art locations.

 

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