In 1984 ArtCenter South Florida opened its doors. Since then dozens of artists, untold visitors and students have passed through, seeing art and artists they, most likely, never would have been exposed to. Art Center is more than a stop for meandering tourists and locals strolling Lincoln Road. It is important for art in South Florida. In the mid-80s Miami Beach was not an art Mecca. It was still kind of, for lack of a better word, sort of “seedy.” There were lots of retirees. There were bars; there were few businesses and very little visible “art.” ArtCenter helped change that, although the folks there are loath to take credit for being at the forefront. “We have become an institution. People look forward to and look at art here. When they think of contemporary art and South Beach they think of us,” says Jacquenette Arnette, Director of Exhibitions for ArtCenter. “We introduced the idea of residency programs to people who might not have known about residency.” The Residencies are an aspect of ArtCenter that set it apart from other, similar, arts organizations. Applications for residencies, artists are “juried in” to these residencies, happen twice a year. Artists are accepted for a three year period. They can remain for two additional three year residencies; in these cases they have to be invited back are senior artists. Some residencies are completely funded. There are also 3-6 month residencies. “The main thing we try to get are artists who may not necessarily be commercial but are contemporary, pushing boundaries, working for themselves for awhile, out of school for awhile—not that you have to go to school” says Arnette. But isn’t just about the art “They have to have some sort of community involvement, people will be walking through.” she says You really don’t want a Diego Rivera sort of guy waving a pistol at tourists or prospective buyers. This isn’t just about the artists, it is about giving people access to art and, even more important, some insight into the creative process. The artists are working on their art right there for the public to see.
Below, A Video Of The Second ArtCenter Location
Artists come from all over the world for residencies at ArtCenter, and these artists broaden the type of work, the aesthetic of the art community. “We have quite a few from South America, all over the USA, Europe.” says Arnette. “William Cordova has said that coming here and dedicating himself led to the next steps to where he needed to go.” Other recent artists include: Justine Smith, Peter Hammer, Vicente Casan (Swiss ,getting masters at FIU). There are benefits beyond just having a space to work for artists as well. “The benefit, first, is the high visibility area. If there is an opportunity to sell work it happens here,” says Arnette. “Most residency programs are not so open, and this gets rid of any gallery or commission.” ArtCenter also have an infrastructure to support the artists with public relations, to bring artists together with critics, help them get picked for shows and, these days perhaps most important, help them interact with Art Basel. The last Art Basel in 2009 was the largest art show, anywhere, ever. It is one of the most important art shows in the world and it all happens in the vicinity of ArtCenter. And the atmosphere on Miami Beach changes during Art Basel time. “It’s geared up; there is energy around that time. It makes quality important,” says Arnette. “People are coming here to look at art. To be in the center of it is fortunate.” One of the artists in residence at ArtCenter South Florida now is Venessa Monokian. “Coming to the ArtCenter my work was primarily photography. I have maintained this craft but defiantly add several skills to my artistic arsenal,” says Monokian. “The ArtCenter has allowed me to become more daring with my work and branch into animation, sculpture and lately electronics. I find that with the support of the other artist and the staff I have not only artistically grown but personally blossomed as well.” Monokian says that since she is making her work for the public having their input as she develops new work is helpful. “It’s also not a bad thing to have a prime location during all the winter events that go on during the Basel season. I don't sell so much work that it pays my rent most of the months but that is not the real reason I came to the ArtCenter,” she says. “It has helped with my exposure and gained me opportunities to speak and share my work such as the recent interview on WLRN that won a Telly Award.” Damian Sarno, also in residence, likewise appreciates contact with the public. “I can say that the art center affected my work and my relation to the viewer. You are able to have constant feedback, at times a little too much,” says Sarno. “As a community of artists it has brought good friends within my field, painting could be a lonely job. It has also introduced my work to many galleries and private collections.” Luisa Mesa, just beginning her second three year term, has similar thoughts on how ArtCenter has helped and moved her work forward. She also believes it has helped her commercially. “Especially during the winter months Art Center receives a steady stream of visitors from all over the world, some of them art collectors. My work is in corporate collections such as Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines' Oasis of the Seas, as well as private collections in Israel, Switzerland, St. Louis, Missouri, to name a few,” says Mesa. “Not everyone is a buyer but almost everyone has something to say about the work and this is nourishing most of the time. Regarding our open-door policy and availability to the public, in the beginning of my residency it was a bit difficult to get used to. At this time, it does not make me feel uncomfortable. I just keep working and most people respect that. If they have a question they ask and if not, they politely walk in, look at the work and walk out.”
There are two ArtCenter locations on Lincoln road, at 810 and 924 Lincoln. The latter is where classes are held and is, regrettably, less noticeable. There is no drop off in the quality of the artists and it shouldn’t be missed.
Bringing art out into the public, essentially, is a large part of what ArtCenter is. Artists do want to sell art. Interaction is great but an artist is like a shoemaker or a dentist in that art is what they do for a living. So for any gallery or residency to be of the utmost value they have to sell some of their pieces. This is where the passerby really comes into the equation. As someone rambling by ArtCenter; when should you buy a piece of?
“The most intrinsic value of art is your understanding of it and if that artist speaks to you it is worth the money to you.” says Arnette. “When you see a piece of work that you think is amazing and you say ‘I can afford that.’ It is worth it.”
Sometimes a single piece of art seems expensive. But you are not just paying for that painting, that canvas, that sculpture or photograph.
“There is a lot of money that goes into becoming an artist: school, supplies…no one pays you back for that. It’s not like Athena coming out of Zeus’ skull. The painting isn’t the first thing they (the artist) did,” says Arnette. “You are paying for all the cumulative experience that leads up to the piece you are purchasing. People think of creating as a single thing but it takes a long, long time.”
One trap artists and galleries fall into is becoming focused on a small group of people and organizations.
“Art dealers and sometimes artists say; ‘We have collectors. These are the people we want to talk to.’ We forget about communicating with the rest of society and that is what art is, communication,” says Arnette. “It is about more than selling to an elite core. It is about connecting with regular people and interacting with them.”
That is the reason for places like the ArtCenter, to foster such communication. Part of the give and take is in the feedback the artists get but it is also in the opportunity for the general public to own art that moves them.
In the month or so it took to get this article posted Jacquenette Arnette left her position at ArtCenter.
I also spoke to, or was supposed to speak to, a number of other artists currently at ArtCenter. I regret I did not get the chance but you should look at these artists work right now: Jaime Gil, Anthony Ardavin, Hugo Moro, Susan Feliciano, Tony Chimento, Lissette Schaeffler, Kathy Kissik and Julie Lusson. Alekxey Sabido not only responded for this article and spoke of how ArtCenter has been important to him. He send an image of a recent painting inspired by 200 years of Mexican Independence and 100 years of the Mexican Revolution. It is, as he noted, very different from his other work.
Lavidava by Alekxey Sabido
by Wade Millward
Marky Ramone Keeps Ramone's Music Alive
Even after the break-up of his most famous group over 10 years ago, Marky Ramone is still one of the hardest working musicians around. Ramone, a Rock n Roll Hall of Fame member best known for his 15 years drumming with punk rock legends, The Ramones, has a pretty tight schedule nowadays. A documentary on his entire life and career is in production, and when he’s not DJing for his Sirius/XM Satellite Radio show, he is touring worldwide with his new band, promoting his new Drum Scholarship, promoting his clothing line started with longtime friend Tommy Hilfiger, and even marketing his own brand of pasta sauce. Yet Ramone’s numerous projects, bands, and punk lifestyle have not hindered his whimsical and personable nature as he offers some small talk before the interview. “Oh yeah, it’s a rainy day here in New York; I’m just taking care of some stuff before I go host the radio show,” says Ramone. “You say you’re calling me from Florida? Oh, Florida would be a welcome. You know, my grandpa lived in St. Petersburg; do you live anywhere near there? I remember going there as a kid.” The “radio show” Ramone refers to is his Sirius XM Satellite Radio show, Marky Ramone's Punk Rock Blitzkrieg. The show, which focuses on playing classic and contemporary punk, airs Tuesday nights on Faction. As Ramone approaches his sixth year as DJ of the satellite radio program, there has been speculation as to whether he will go on to host for another year. “I have DJed for five years already, and they keep asking me to continue. I do other things though; I have to allot my time. I can’t just be a DJ,” says Ramone. “But if they asked me to do a sixth year, I’d have to really think about it. I play punk to show the genre because other stations don’t. Faction is the number two station on Sirius, and there still are a lot of punk stations.” Much of Ramone’s time now is focused on the newly created Marky Ramone Drum Scholarship. The scholarship will be funded by an all-star concert organized by Ramone, and it will be held on October 8 at the Music Institute Concert Hall. Ramone voices his excitement at promoting the scholarship, which was created by the Music Institute in Hollywood. “I was asked do it by the former writer-producer for Dust, Kenny Kerner. I thought it sounded like a good suggestion, so I would visit him in California. My friend Nancy suggested it,” says Ramone. “I thought it was a great idea; I certainly could’ve used it when I was young. For all these kids in college, there are no music scholarships to help them out. So if it’s done right then it’s worth it; I mean there are already so many science and math scholarships out there.” Ramone reveals some details about how the concert will be organized. “At the show I’m going to be doing Ramones classics with my band and some special guests who know and love Ramones songs. I’ll give a heartfelt speech of course, ’cause this scholarship means a lot to me,” says Ramone. “When I was a kid I had nothing, and I just started playing drums and hanging out at CBGB. I got lucky and worked very hard, but without that type of work you need education to rely on. I feel fortunate to be asked to help with the scholarship.” Ramone is definitely prepared musically for his scholarship concert, as he has been extensively touring with his latest punk rock group, Marky Ramone’s Blitzkrieg. The group acts as a Ramones tribute band, and features former Misfits frontman Michale Graves on vocals, along with guitarist Alex Kane, bassist Clare B, and of course Ramone himself on drums. They will be touring Europe in September before heading to South America in October. “We’ve been playing everywhere: New York, Spain, South America, LA. Spain actually wants us to come back,” says Ramone. “I’m personally not into touring every day, but if we get a gig I’ll play it, because I enjoy playing.” Ramone recognizes the significance of Marky Ramones Blitzkrieg to fans of classic punk. “I entertain requests to play Ramones songs to the new generation, which I think is great,” says Ramone. “You know, unfortunately there will be no reunions since Johnny, Joey, and Dee Dee are all dead now, so this is the next best thing. I am proud of the band, I put together the band myself to ensure the quality of our performance is good.” When asked if there was anyone he had a desire to collaborate with next, Ramone affirms his satisfaction with his current state of affairs. “At this point, I enjoy playing Ramones songs; they’re just too good not to be played. If something came along and it wasn’t too burdensome, I’d think about doing it,” says Ramone. “But I enjoy this; it’s like playing in a brand new band. I just wanted to play the old songs and have fun, and sometimes you get what you wish for. And I really think Dee Dee, Johnny, and Joey would be happy with the group, since it keeps their legacy alive too.” Outside of Blitzkrieg, Ramone will be getting some significant coverage as the subject of an upcoming documentary, titled The Job that Ate My Brain. The documentary will include Ramone’s early days at the notorious music venue CBGB as well as his time writing punk history will such notable groups as Wayne County & the Backstreet Boys, Richard Hell & the Voidoids, and of course The Ramones. “Well, the book is written. And then a guy approached me from a group who sells movie rights and I agreed to the project,” says Ramone. “I think it would make a great film since there’s a lot of content. I was part of the CBGB crowd and I auditioned for The Dolls, I played for the Ramones for 15 years, we played 1700 shows and recorded 10 studio albums with them, I spent time with Phil Specter. There is a lot the camera can focus on.” Ramone gives some highlights from his exciting and lengthy career in making in being an active part of music history. “I liked Richard Hell. He and Tom Verlaine, they discovered CBGB. Well, not discovered, but without them it wouldn’t have catered to punk rock. Hilly [Kristal] agreed to allow punk to play at the club and I enjoyed doing Blank Generation with the Voidoids,” says Marky. “I also like when we toured with The Clash in Europe. Then in the Fall of ’77, Dee Dee Ramone alluded to me that Tommy was going to stop playing to produce. I knew them before this since they came to see Dust, so I knew Dee Dee well.” Ramone also mentions his own dabbling in amateur film. “I didn’t do anything for the documentary, they didn’t film me. I just made the movie deal,” says Ramone. “But I ran around for 10 years with cameras making home movies. I put out the Raw DVD [a collection of home video footage shot by Ramone], which, if it means anything, was the first gold DVD for The Ramones in their entire career. I am a camera buff, but a real movie is a lot more; there are other things that go with it.”
Punk Rock Spaghetti Sauce
There is yet another more project that Ramone has been working on, and this one is especially close to his heart. “It may sound corny, but I’ve got this pasta sauce coming out called ‘Marky Ramone’s Brooklyn’s Own Pasta Sauce’,” says Ramone. Being able to market his own brand of sauce holds great sentimental value for the Punk Rocker. “You see, I made it with my grandpa; he was a chef at 21 Club. I watched him as a little boy, and then when I got older, I lived alone at 18, and so pasta sauce and spaghetti was the cheapest thing around,” says Ramone. “I got really good at making it, and so I am excited I get to share my recipe with others. And I got to do the artwork on bottle, and it’s really cool looking. Soon it will be sold in stores; right now you can only get it online and in restaurants.” Despite the successful developments, Ramone has had his share of detractors for this latest project. “People I knew were like, ‘are you kidding me, you’re a DJ not a chef!’ And so I said, ‘why not?’ says Marky. “It always thrilled me to see him, my grandpa, cook. I had always wanted to do it, and so I went for the opportunity. It was new and I like doing new things. I tested the waters first, and people really liked it, so I’m saying ‘hey, if you want more you can have it!’” Ramone says that he will be donating the earnings from his sauce. “The charity I am going to send it to will be one that goes to the soldiers coming home from Iraq who need it. And some will go to the families who’ve lost husbands and wives in the war,” says Ramone. “I’ve always said, you don’t have to support the war, but you should always, always, support the troops.” Despite his busy schedule and submergence in Ramones mythology, Ramone still has his ear on the always evolving punk music scene. “I think it’s great. There are a lot of great new bands, and on my radio show I play a little new stuff, some classic stuff, some old school stuff. I mix it up,” says Ramone. “And a lot of these new bands are great: the Gallows, from London, and The Riverboat Gamblers are a couple examples. Rancid and Green Day are still out there and still good, and Green Day just had that musical on Broadway.” Marky makes further comments on American Idiot, the Broadway musical based on Green Day’s 2004 album of the same name. The Tony-winning show has caused a stir in the punk community, but Raome disagrees with these notions. “I think that is cool because it presents the punk genre to new people and a new audience,” says Ramone. “Some out there are saying it’s a cop out, but I don’t agree. Parents are bringing kids to the musical, and so this bridges the generation gap.If I hear something not representing the punk genre I know it immediately, I can hear it musically. It’s hard to say someone isn’t genuine, since you could call someone hard rock, metal, punk, heavy metal. Anything can be applied to any band, and there are so many categories.” Marky compares Green Day’s efforts to spread punk rock to the masses with his own. “That’s what I do with my band. I’ll look out into the crowd and see that fathers are with their sons, since they are too young to be at the show alone! You know, these kids need escorts, which is fine, that happened to me when I was playing with my first band Dust,” shares Ramone. “I couldn’t go into a club to play without a parent 'cause they were serving alcohol. I was in tenth grade at the time, and a lot of places sold alcohol and they could lose their liquor license if it was found out that there were minors present. You know, it’s the same way today.” Ramone also shares his thoughts on the changing state of the music industry as a whole. “It’s new; I mean there are so many new things. There’s downloading and iTunes, people are buying songs now instead of the whole album, which makes sense because albums usually feature these filler songs to take up space and they’re not usually very good,” says Ramone. “But you can buy the whole album too. Sure it cuts out the stores and retailers, but you can’t stop change. People thought it was crazy when the 8-track came out, but then there was the cassette, and then CDs. You just can’t stop progress. The only way you could stop it is to stop downloading and go back to vinyl, but c’mon, who’s going to do that?” Ramone gave some pivotal advice to any and all fledgling music groups trying to break out. “Bands need to find new ways to garner attention and produce their music to a mass audience which I hope they can do,” says Ramone. “They definitely deserve it.”
For more info on the Marky Ramone Drum Scholarship go HERE