As seen in issue 54 of Closer Magazine, published on 2008-10-19 in the "LocalArt" section.
HOMES IN THE WORLD, HOMES IN THE MIND
Juan Antonio Gonzalez a/k/a Erman solo at Diaspora Vibe
By: Beth Feinstein-Bartl
If artistic vision counts, perhaps Juan Antonio Gonzalez should be the country’s new housing czar. The upcoming one-man show by the Cuban-born artist also known as Erman could well qualify him for the job.
As the real life housing crisis swirls around us and cripples the country’s economy, Gonzalez is creating an isle of calm at the Diaspora Vibe Gallery, a second floor walk up in Miami’s Design District that’s devoted to artists of the Latin and Caribbean diaspora.
The exhibition, “Stitches in Time,” consists of two new site-specific installations: Casas Viajantes and Through the Eye Of the Needle. Gonzalez sews together the essence of the two with the finely honed hands of an expert tailor, not entirely surprising given his many years in the fashion industry as a professional designer, tailor and pattern maker.
Diaspora Vibe is the latest stop in Erman’s career as an artist, one that’s thrived and gone global, including exhibitions, lectures and fellowships in New York, Miami, Brazil, Puerto Rico, Granada, St. Maarten and the Bahamas.
Casas Viajantes (Traveling Houses) consists of several mixed media sculptures: homes on wheels, some with wings, others with floating palm trees, and hand fabricated earthenware clotheslines. Each “casa” measures 19” tall, 14” long and 10” wide. The installation is accompanied by a video done in collaboration with Dinorah De Jesus Rodriguez.
Through the Eye Of the Needle, involves treating the gallery’s walls as a textile,
to be sewn, stitched, embroidered, sutured and appliquéd.
The houses of Casas Vianantes are intended to depict the dual meaning of home--as abodes where we eat, sleep and entertain and as the inner abodes of our minds.
In their tranquility, each is filled with memories, identity and history, a metaphoric representation of our bodies, shelters of each person’s very existence.
Through The Eye Of The Needle, Erman has written, continues his intent to “present sewing as an art form, speaking of stitches as links that create history and have memory, but more so, honoring my family’s roots in the garment industry.”
“Stitches” is an evolution of Cocoon, a large interactive installation Erman created in
December 2007, for “Safety Zones/Art Basel.” It also serves as a thought-provoking follow-up to Diaspora Vibe’s previous exhibition, another think piece titled “Space is the Place.”
That show’s focus on time-based art finished its month-long run Sept. 25. Ayanna Jolivet Mccloud, guest curator, assembled 20 artists with roots in the Caribbean and Latin America to present in-your-face installations that reached out to visitors with their combination of interaction and intimacy.
“Space” achieved an avant-garde diversity, from Jorge Rojas’s wax piece Sonic Sculpture # 1, infused with an MP3 of chants by Tibetan Buddhist monks, to Claudia Joskowicz’s 12-minute video Drawn and Quartered, which depicts the public execution of 18th century Bolivian rebel Tupac Katari.
Mccloud’s intention was to challenge traditional conceptions of art, culture and technology that’s part of an ongoing evolution in which paintbrushes have
been replaced by iPods and mouse pads.
The examinations of bodies and borders in “Space” commanded attention, kicking ass and grabbing hearts. It’s an ongoing theme at Diaspora Vibe that’s been carefully, lovingly overseen by its founder, Rosie Gordon-Wallace, who’s also the curator
Now entering its 13th year, Diaspora Vibe grew out of Gordon-Wallace’s 1996 encounter with a Jamaican-born mixed media artist by the name of Tall, who told her of
“He wasn’t the first person to mention his problems breaking in at galleries,”
she says, “but this somehow resonated with me,” she says. “I asked him if he wanted to get his work shown, and a group of us started meeting.”
Tall introduced her to his friends and a collective of six artists was born, eventually evolving into renting a space at the Bakehouse Art Complex.
As Diaspora Vibe, the group re-located to the Design District seven years ago. In 2003, the gallery established a non-profit incubator to nurture and promote emerging artists from the Caribbean and Latin America. The incubator has received several grants, including ones from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and the
National Endowment for the Arts.
“Space” and “Stitches” continue Gordon-Wallace’s effort to push the limits of
creativity by experimenting with new forms and cultural themes. “I don’t select work because I think it’s going to sell,” she says. “I select it because it’s good. We’re a small space, but we offer a safe place where artists can house their ideas.”
“Stitches in Time” A Solo by
Juan Antonio Gonzalez aka Erman
Thursday, October 9th, 2008. 7pm-10pm
Artist Talk: Saturday, October 11th, 2008. 2pm-4pm
Exhibition Dates: Thursday, October 11th,
2008 Diaspora Vibe Gallery is at
3938 N. Miami Avenue, Miami.
For more information call 305-573-4046,
or visit www.diasporavibe.net