Mana Contemporary Stuns With a Trifecta of Major Shows in Miami
The high-octane evening featured the Miami Symphony, and lured actor Adrian Grenier.
“Originally, I was a mover of art,” said Moishe Mana, “but today art is moving me. I’m committed to it, and I love it.” So said the Mana Contemporary founder at an impromptu speech during a dinner celebrating the art center’s new Miami exhibitions.
The loquacious Mana, who took to the mic with copious handwritten notes despite not officially being on the evening’s program, spoke at length about his namesake’s institution history and mission. When Mana began a long digression on inventor Nikola Tesla, his business partner Eugene Lemay, with whom artnet News was seated, could only shake his head, admitting that Mana’s penchant for long speeches was well-known.
Still, the crowd couldn’t help but appreciate the success story of Mana’s New Jersey flagship, an outgrowth of Mana’s art storage company. “All of a sudden, the artists have the power back in their hands,” explained Mana, noting that the institution gives artists a place to work, exhibit, and even meet with collectors. Now, Mana Contemporary is bringing that same magic to Miami, which they see as a gateway between Latin America and the US.
The evening, which included performances by the Miami Symphony Orchestra and pianist Lola Astanova, marked the first look at Mana Miami’s current slate of programming, an impressive trifecta of exhibitions drawn from major public collections: “A Sense of Place,” from the holdings of major Miami patron Jorge M. Pérez; “Everything You Are I Am Not,” from the Tiroche DeLeon collection, and “Made in California” from Frederick R. Weisman’s Art Foundation.
Representatives from all three collections addressed the crowd, which included Entourage actor Adrian Grenier, with Pérez noting that Mana has been able to “blend the best of business and the best of art.”
In talking to Mana Contemporary president Eugene Lemay, the truth of that statement quickly becomes apparent. Hosting three wide-ranging museum-quality exhibitions at once would normally be a monumental task, but Mana has an easy in: “We store about 1,000 collections,” explained Lemay. “We have the data, so we go to them.”
Unlike the infamous Le Freeport in Switzerland, where world-class art can lie unseen for years, part of Mana’s mission is to act as a museum for the country’s great private art collections. The current effort, housed in a massive warehouse with staggeringly-tall ceilings, is stunning.
Pérez may have donated his entire art collection to the Miami Art Museum in 2013 (it was then renamed Pérez Art Museum Miami in his honor), but he’s such a prolific collector that his holdings have since been entirely replenished.
The show features 50 works from 46 artists, which is “not even five percent” of his entire collection, Anelys Álvarez-Muñoz, Pérez’s curator, told artnet News. Highlights included a stunning photograph by Vik Muniz of an architectural Old Master drawing by Piranese that he recreated in thread; a subversively reimagined ceramic of a 1920s ad from the streets of Madrid (paired with a photo of the original) by Carlos Garaicoa, and the show’s introductory work, Jóse Bedia’s Estop del cubanito en territorio ajeno, a highly personal piece about the challenges of moving to a new country.
The Weisman foundation may have a dedicated Los Angeles museum, but much of the collection is only seen when it is loaned out to other institutions. “Made in California” is a highly instructive look at the development of the state’s art scene dating back to the 1950s. Bold-face names on view include John Baldessari, Sam Francis, Robert Irwin, and Ed Ruscha. One show-stopper was Vasa’s Column, a gem-like, multi-colored acrylic block.
“Everything You Are I Am Not,” a presentation of Latin American art, counted two large-scale vehicular works among its standouts: Os Gêmeos’s Sem Titulo and Paulo Nazareth’s Banana Market/Art Market.
The evening also afforded an unexpected look at the Pinta art fair, which happens to be in the same massive building as the dinner and exhibitions, in the Mana Wynwood Convention Center. Wandering the completely empty aisles was a trip. Be sure to check it out.
Mana Contemporary, 318 NW 23rd Street, Wynwood, Miami, December 3–6, 2015.
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