Edge

Pretty Vacant: A bloody odd one-night stand at the San Juan Motel

These days, we can’t get enough of these eccentric, site-specific art installations popping up and down galleries, open-air spaces, convention centers, hip SoBe club floors like at Mynt-yeah, art is being exposed on the glittery, fruity walls of a club named after an Altoid-and even in motels, right? As art “connoisseurs,” we “love” walking through a seamy motel, into different, seedy rooms and observing cryptic performances by actors boxing on an imaginary punch bag or feigning death on a bed, gore and blood sullying a once-beautiful formal gown.

Or perhaps we might enjoy watching a Technicolor painting, reminiscent of a multi-hued Paul Klee cubist work, and studying how it matches the color pattern of the cheesy double beds’ comforters. Even more, we might get all “revved-up” by looking at a pseudo-exercise room, manufactured, unprofessionally it seems, with wooden bars and air fans to generate energy or we may get daunted by an enormous batch of wool resembling a cocoon, dangling from the ceiling of a dimly-lit room and waiting to maybe produce a gargantuan-sized moth.

In any case, we might also think that these crazy art installations may be too far-fetched, providing the viewer with temporary pleasure, leaving us bewildered, unsure as to what to make of it, but that’s what we saw at the one-night only exhibit, Motel, which took place last Friday at the San Juan Motel in Little Havana on Calle Ocho. Featuring works by upcoming artists such as Vanessa Dubin, Leyden Rodriguez-Casanova, Jose Reyes, Anna Kamir, Vivian Marthell and Walter Garcia and curated by Ricky Ariza and Gretal Garcia, each room, altered by the installations, accentuated space, time, and place to welcome the onlooker within the distorted motel area.

The event drew an audience of artists, curators, critics and local hipsters along with UM folks and it was important for many people moving on from UM. It set a standard of avant-garde exhibition that is considered within the UM art department to be “NART” or not art. The individual rooms, while not always succeeding, spoke to ideas of temporal space and of a human’s place within an altered landscape. As “earth-art” uses the physicality of the land, Motel uses the architecture and roads to work as a metaphor. Many critics consider such work to be too intellectual and removed from the classical ideas about art, but there would be no point in bringing George Bush to an Old Dirty Bastard show.

The specific motel was used for about $30 per room and each unit had different dEcor with ceramic tile on the walls. The attitude of certain UM art teachers/critics is skeptical about exhibitions like Motel. When tolerance is an earmark to an organization-even one as picky as a bunch of artists-ideas then become the currency of debate, not attitudes. The group of people with power in the UM art community need to transcend the subjectivities into an arena where language is just language and where the spirit prevails. The problem with religion is the interpretation. Don’t interpret Motel…do be glad though that someone did it even though it may not fit within your artistic appetite.

Alex Saleeby can be reached at claysaleeby@hotmail.com

November 15, 2002

Reporters

The Miami Hurricane

Student newspaper at the University of Miami


Around the Web
  • Miami Herald
  • UM News
  • HurricaneSports

After assembling one of the nation’s best groups of skill position players in the 2018 recruiting cl ...

Coach Kool, AKA Craig Kuligowski, is gone from the University of Miami, which is entirely uncool wit ...

He is considered among the finest defensive line coaches in the nation. And now, according to a writ ...

This is the time of year when every win or loss can make a difference in a team’s NCAA Tournament ch ...

Mike Brey doesn't pay much attention to the NBA draft stock of opposing players, but the Notre ...

At the University of Miami, the professor has the last word on whether students can use their laptop ...

Members of the University of Miami first response teams remind us of resources available and what to ...

Mexican activist, poet and novelist Javier Sicilia deplored the violence stemming from the “drug war ...

From the North Pole to the South Pole and everywhere in between, the art of UM alumnus Xavier Cortad ...

The No. 25-ranked University of Miami women's golf team finished ninth at the 2018 Allstate Sug ...

Three Miami women's tennis players are featured in this week's Oracle/ITA rankings, along ...

Riding a five-game road winning streak, the Miami women's basketball team will look to make it ...

After capturing its opening series with Rutgers, No. 24 Miami continues a season-opening, seven-game ...

Walker IV scored 19, Izundu scored 14 and the Canes picked up a crucial win in South Bend. ...

TMH Twitter Feed
About TMH

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.