THOMAS RUFF, Substrat 6III, 2002, Inkjet print with diasec face, 85 7/8 x 62 3/4 in. [218.2 x 159.4 cm.]

In 2011, I moved to Miami from my native NYC. Admittedly, my choice to pack up and head to one of the southernmost cities on the East Coast was mostly whimsical and certainly not well-planned at all—the latter being a personality trait that has continued to this day. When first I arrived in this land of eternal summer days and nights, I worked in a university, which was not much of a leap for me having just dropped out of a PhD program. I stayed at that university for just over 5 years. Once I left those rarified halls for my first “real world job,” I had a rude awakening. I realized that, in the words of a friend of mine who is herself a Miami native, superficiality and anti-intellectualism are mainstream here. The fact is that if arts and culture are something like your lifeblood Miami can be a very challenging place to call home. However, in the Wynwood Art District (among other well-hunted for places), you may find your salvation.

Undoubtedly, one of the reigning gods of this famed, international arts hub is Gary Nader. For almost 40 years, Nader has been one of the most successful gallery owners in the U.S. and Latin America. Many credit him for enabling Miami to become an international arbiter of art, which certainly is no stretch. He is an authority on Latin American works and for years has assiduously created tremendous opportunity for his artists and collectors alike. Located in the heart of Wynwood, the Gary Nader Art Centre showcases a wide-ranging collection of exhibitions with works by renowned modern and contemporary artists. He recently established the Nader Art Museum Latin America.

Fortunately for me, Gary Nader Art Centre is located not 15 minutes from my apartment! Also fortunate for me is the fact that my friend Roger, aka my self-proclaimed Miami cultural attaché, is a relation of Nader’s through marriage. On September 8, I accompanied said friend to Nader Contemporary’s exhibition “Approaching Photography.” This showcase featured a dazzling array of photos from artists such as Mikhail Baryshnikov, Vanessa Beecroft, Dino Bruzzone, Peter Fischli & David Weiss, Nan Goldin, Andreas Gursky, Nathan Leight, Dora Maar, Clara Martinez Thedy, Chiara Mecozzi, Vik Muñiz, Guillermo Muñoz Vera, Pablo Picasso, Thomas Ruff and Andy Warhol. As a lover of dance, naturally I made Roger help me find the ever-versatile Baryshnikov first, but, ultimately, we found his colorful, stop-motion like image of an older couple embraced in a dance last. This was a gift, since, for me, the stand-out pieces in this show were from artists of whom I was not previously familiar. Take the Colombian master Leo Matiz. His black and white vintage shots of figures as recognizable as Frida Kählo or as random but storied as a Spanish matador were hauntingly beautiful. Vik Muñiz’s Doubting Thomas was redolent of El Greco, while Thomas Ruff’s pieces were both psychedelic and astronomical in their reach and affect.

To me, there was no single photo in “Approaching Photography” that unified the collection. However, I don’t think that unity was the point. The photos were an eclectic mix of artists from the U.S., Latin America and Europe whose works messaged well with a distinctly Miami audience. The message was clear: Miami is about a fusion of the classical, modern, and contemporary if you like or about none of these things if you like. Herein is the power of Nader’s genius as a gallerist. He knows Miami well enough to understand what works here and what doesn’t. This exhibition is what you make it, much like the city in which this gallery lives. Nader is about choice and exposure.

“Approaching Photography” is on view from September 8 – October 12, 2018.

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