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About

The Library System has a long history of cultural and educational exhibitions, and makes a special call to artists on a rolling basis for temporary exhibitions that correspond to selected annual themes and/or that highlight the library’s special collections and services.

Additionally, the Vasari Project is an archive that documents the development of the visual arts in Miami‑Dade County since 1945.

For more information about the art collection, exhibition programs or the Vasari archive, call 305‑375‑5599 or e‑mail art@mdpls.org.

A Visual Narrative
Miami-Dade Public Library System's Permanent Art Collection and Exhibitions

Miami Moments 2012
Honoring The Library's Three Graces in the Arts

Pablo Cano's Library Exhibition
Pablo Cano To The Eye Behind The Keyhole — 1979‑2016

Library Exhibitions

Pedestrian 1985 & 2015
Street Photography In Downtown with Liam Crotty and David Spitzer

Art Exhibitions & Programming

Holiday Jazz Concert
The Alex Weitz Jazz Ensemble

Friday, December 22, 2‑5 p.m.
Main Library – Cultural Plaza

Join us for a melodic experience in our open‑air plaza.

The Alex Weitz Jazz Ensemble will help us welcome the winter season with an energetic performance honoring the end of a remarkable 2017. Saxophonist and composer Weitz and his crew of jazz cats are sure to delight everyone with nontraditional holiday compositions that will have you snapping your fingers and tapping your feet.

Alex Weitz Portrait

Stories from the Florida Vault
A transitory space for rare Florida books, publications, multiples and entertainment.

November 2017 - April 2018

Did you know that the library once had an actual bank vault that housed its rare books?
Join us for Stories from the Florida Vault, a monthly two‑hour lunchtime entertainment session filled with fun Florida facts and historical swamp tales.

Every month, we’ll unveil a rare book from the Florida Vault and learn why these books are so important to the Library’s special collection. We’ll chat with local historians, Florida folk experts and listen to tunes ranging from Florida folk music to rockabilly to Florida hyper rockabilly.

Got a true Florida swamp folktale to share? Come prepared to share your Florida story during our ten minute folktale tales.

December Event

Thursday, December 28, Noon ‑ 2 p.m.
Main Library – 1st Floor, Fiction Area

Marjory Stoneman Douglas

This program will feature a first edition copy of The Everglades: River of Grass by Marjory Stoneman Douglas.

Also hear about Florida’s influence on contemporary folk music from WLRN’s Michael Stock. The host of Folk & Acoustic Music will discuss everything from Woody Guthrie to Gram Parsons to one of the nation’s oldest continuous folk festivals: the Florida Folk Festival in White Springs.

About Our Guest Speaker

Michael Stock Portrait

Michael Stock started his musical journey back in 1994 at Miami Beach High School when a teacher played Like a Rolling Stone by Bob Dylan. Researching Bob Dylan led Michael to Woody Guthrie, which led to The Weavers and The Carter Family, which led to the whole history of American folk, country and popular music. Today, Michael is in his 35th year of hosting Folk & Acoustic Music airing Sundays from 2‑5 p.m. on WLRN 91.3 FM. The show features contemporary and traditional folk music, as well as live musical performances and local storytelling.

Interrupta narratio
By Alice Raymond and Carol Jazzar

October 19, 2017 - February 18, 2018
Main Library – Lobby

We create narratives with words, images and symbols, and with these tools we tell or depict stories. Fixed on a sheet of paper, the narrative is now subject to interpretation. Each reader or viewer coming with his or her own personal history, knowledge and appreciation will often see the proposed narrative differently than the artist’s intent. Perception differs. Furthermore, a narrative is subject to time and context. What we understand or see at one moment can change one month or years later. In that regard, we can say that narratives are partial and multiple.

Interrupta narratio, featuring works by Alice Raymond and Carol Jazzar, offers viewers an infinite number of possible narratives. The exhibit, which includes drawings and collages, is a visual essay. Although using different techniques, both artists create compositions that stem from instinctive choices: automatic drawings for Raymond and cut‑outs from Artforum magazines for Jazzar. Works are poetic or absurd depending on one’s perception.

Raymond shows a series of drawings from her intimate production in which she develops ideas about social relations and domination. It displays characters and environments that interact with each other strangely: the elements seem to be drawn from a broader narrative that may be mentally constructed by the viewer or observed as fragments. When you meet people talking on the street, you might hear a part of a conversation that sounds absurd, funny or even scary if you try to recompose it out of context. Raymond plays with fairy tales and myths as well as facts. Her interest in the environment and the ownership of territories are reflected in her drawings. As in her work on maps, she considers reality as always partial. Her work is influenced by psychoanalysis, history and codification.

Jazzar’s collages offer a clear reading. Cut out images or symbols are sparsely placed on a white sheet of paper. Each component symbolizes a thought and keeps its integrity within the composition while contributing to a central idea. Most of them have been created spontaneously; some take planning and are approached as a way to work out inner tensions. Made almost entirely from Artforum magazines, the “bible of contemporary art” according to writer Sarah Thornton, these cut‑outs are for the most part pictures of works belonging to other artists which have been shown in galleries and institutions all over the world. Through the use of these images, Jazzar is appropriating other people’s works and ideas, “fishing” in the collective consciousness and reinterpreting them into a new context and perspective as a way to re‑write “her own bible.”

Alice Raymond “Burnt”
Alice Raymond
“Burnt”, detail, Ink and acrylic on paper; 20 x 32 in.
Carol Jazzar “who’s who (THE REAL ME)” (2015)
Carol Jazzar
“who’s who (THE REAL ME)” (2015). Artforum magazine cut out on archival paper.

UN ECO X TUTTI
A collective exhibition of bookmarks dedicated to the late Umberto Eco, from an idea conceived by Tony Stefanucci and Clorinda Irace.

September 16 - December 30, 2017
Miami Beach Regional Library – Auditorium Gallery

Art Basel Reception

Thursday, December 7, 5‑7 p.m.

The exhibition Un Eco Per Tutti stems from an idea from its curator Clorinda Irace and artist Tony Stefanucci (also creator of the logo), and is promoted by the cultural association TempoLibero with the patronage of the town of Naples and the Regione Campania.

The goal of the exhibition is to celebrate the life and work of the late Umberto Eco, the Italian writer and poet who died recently and was very influential in 21st century literature in Italy.

Fifty-two artists, poets and writers have been called for this project to realize a bookmark dedicated to the life and work of Eco—seen from their personal point of view and expressed through their art form—in order to commemorate the late writer and spread his work to new generations. From the intention to make the art known to all comes the name Un Eco per Tutti  which literally means “an echo for all,” as Eco, name of the poet in Italian also means echo.

Tempo Libero Associazione Culturale logoSocieta Dante Alighieri Miami
Segnalibri Eco Pescara
Segnalibri Eco Mann

Flat Land: Four Architect‑Artists Project
The City of Miami
by Jacob Brillhart, Rocco Ceo, Victor Deupi & Tom Spain

September 9, 2017 - January 2, 2018
Main Library – 2nd Floor Gallery

The theme of Flat Land references one of the most conspicuous aspects of South Florida—its lack of topography. Between the mountainous sky and increasingly omnipresent water is a city ever‑changing, both ambitiously vertical and sprawling, struggling to accommodate conflicting interests on a thin plane of usable land, lapped by two bodies of water: the Everglades and Biscayne National Park. Nature, unrelenting and leveling through seasonally violent storms, and even less predictable human acts, causes us to react, reflect and weigh these conflicting interests. The four architects/artists will draw, paint and project this place on the ‘other’ flat land of their canvas and paper. The theme of this effort is also a metaphor for an accessible and open dialog between artists and the public, made possible by the opportunity for a shared artists’ studio residency and exhibition at the Miami‑Dade Public Library—a natural place of collaboration, interaction and learning.

Mural of Architectual Artwork

Renowned for their drawings and paintings of architecture, the four artists have traveled throughout the U.S., the Caribbean and Europe—often accompanied by students—to depict inspiring cities, buildings, monuments and landscapes. The proposed residency and exhibition will focus on Miami, bringing to light the unknown spaces of the city through a series of newly produced drawings, watercolors and paintings. The exhibition will be accompanied by a video of the four architects and their students sketching and drawing in various locations around the globe. Sketchbooks, drawing materials and additional ephemera (photographs, postcards, promotional material from previous exhibitions) will also be included. In addition to the residency and exhibition, the four architects will give a series of public lectures and classes, demonstrating the value of in situ observational drawing and painting. The exhibition will take place in the 2nd Floor Gallery of the Miami‑Dade Public Library System’s Main Library in downtown Miami for approximately 4 months in the fall of 2017.

The works presented in this exhibition will be created during an artist‑in‑residence program at the Main Library.

“The Invisible Borders‑lines” by Pamela Vasquez

September 1 - December 30, 2017
Hispanic Branch

My art exhibition is based on the “Out of Africa” theory, in which all human beings share a common DNA and that the phenomenon of contemporary migration patterns has defined diversity based on acceptance/non‑acceptance of perceived differences. The physical appearances of the models in the exhibition have been manipulated to reflect different racial prototypes. In doing so, I capture the beauty of each individual as well as their racial or ethnic grouping.

The exhibition exposes the contradiction inherent in the theory that, while it is supported by science, can lead to a dilution in the appreciation of the minority groups created as a result of mass migration. My project also provokes a reflection on the fact that although science has made our common origins undeniable, we still adhere to the conflict‑causing beliefs that we are so different.

Pamela Vasquez is a visual artist who creates multimedia installations based mainly on still photography of concepts that involve social issues and the human condition, and a provocative colorful iconography to suggest similarities and contradictions of the same idea.

Invisible Borders-Lines

“Creating art is my highest passion and I believe that art should provoke, elevate or at least have some meaning or reflection of whatever the subject is. It is the reason why I show concepts through imagery for people to make them understand what is impossible to say in words. I have a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, and for several years I have worked at fashion shows and weddings in my home country of Chile. Since 2007, I have worked on my artwork, teaching art/photography and commercial photography.”

— Pamela Vasquez

To the Barbershop: Call and Response Series #2
From the Permanent Art Collection of the Miami-Dade Public Library System

August 2017 - March 2018
Shenandoah Branch

In 2006, the Miami‑Dade Public Library System invited Miami photojournalist and documentarian Noelle Théard to create a new body of work in response to a series of photographs in the Library’s permanent collection by Richard Davenport. Théard responded to the Davenport photographs, which depict black barbershops in Miami during the early 1980s, by revisiting some of the same barbershops in December of 2006. Both sets of photos are included in the exhibition.

Noelle Théard is a photographer and educator who holds a BA in Journalism from the University of Texas at Austin, an MA in African Diaspora Studies from Florida International University and an MFA in Photography from Parsons The New School for Design. She is a cofounder of FotoKonbit, a nonprofit that teaches photography in Haiti in order to provide Haitians with training and the opportunity to tell their own stories through photography.

Richard Davenport was born in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, and was raised in New York City. He returned to North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro to study photography. Through his photography, he has been involved in a variety of teaching and work experiences. In the summer of 1980, he taught a six‑week workshop for children at the Miami‑Dade Public Library System’s Lemon City Branch.

Noelle Théard, Germikyl

Noelle Théard
“Germikyl” (2006)
Digital C print courtesy of the artist.

ROOTS: La Cuba de mi bisabuelo
By Abigail Gomez

June 10 – December 30, 2017
West Dade Regional – 1st & 2nd Floor Galleries

Abigail Gomez is a mixed media visual artist, teaching artist and arts advocate from Virginia. Roots: La Cuba de mi bisabuelo is a collection of abstract expressionistic mixed media paintings inspired by her Cuban heritage. This collection of artwork provides a universally accessible opportunity for members of all communities to have an interactive experience with fine art.

The paintings in this collection have a dimensional tactile layer replicating intricate Spanish style ironwork evident on Cuban homes (rejas). The inclusion of this tactile element presents an opportunity for people who don't usually engage with visual art in the traditional sense, including people who are visually impaired or blind, to have an authentic visual art experience by being able to touch the paintings.

Gomez believes that accessibility to the arts is a vital part of creating engaged and vibrant communities. Through this project the public will be given an opportunity to learn about and experience art that is universally accessible. The Roots collection also provides a unique chance for the community to experience their own impressions of Cuba, whether through sight or touch.

Gomez earned a BFA from Virginia Tech and an MFA from the Academy of Art University (San Francisco). Gomez’s vibrant artwork is in a number of private collections around the United States. Her artwork has also been featured in solo exhibitions at the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia, the Virginia Eye Institute in Richmond and the Cannery Gallery in San Francisco, as well as in other group and solo shows in Virginia, New York, California, Italy and Cuba.

She was awarded fellowships to NALAC’s 2016 Advocacy Leadership Institute in Washington, D.C. and NALAC Leadership Institute in San Antonio, Texas. Most recently, Abigail was appointed by Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe to serve as a Commissioner on the Virginia Commission for the Arts representing the 10th Congressional District.

Puesta del Sol en Pinar del Rio
"Puesta del Sol en Pinar del Rio"

The Visionary By artist SandyRose (Sandra Epps)

June 1 - December 30, 2017
Key Biscayne Branch

A Charlotte, North Carolina native living in Miami, Sandra Epps was born to parents of New Orleans French Creole, Choctaw, Mexican and Cuban roots. Epps creates canvas artworks, watercolor and mixed media. Using the process of meditation and visualization, she uses a technique of painting with her hands, pushing and moving the paint onto the canvas with her fingers and then uses India ink to further define the piece. Epps uses bright colors and metallic pigments to bring forth inner power and fiery passion into her artwork. Epps's works play on the imagination and visions of life events past, present and future, stepping into transformation and bringing forth the power of the authentic self. Embedded in the paintings are emotions of love, sensuality, and passion.

Various pieces from The Visionary series were created live, using the energy from poetic and music performances to become enlaced in the theme of the painting. Feeling the emotion of the performer, Epps embraces the ever flowing process of creating the painting, which may change two to three times before completion.

Incorporating words and poems with themes of personal power and love further allows the viewer to internalize and connect with the art on a personal level where reflection, peace and breakthrough can be manifested.

Epps’s work has been presented in various art galleries in Miami including GAB Studio, Artopia Studio and The Hangar Gallery, and at art events with RAW Glimpse at LMNT, Meet the Artist at Soyka, River of Art sponsored by Life is Art, and artist events at Mas Vino. She has a residency in Charlotte, NC at Blended Bartique in NoDa.

Epps has also participated in various live painting events with the Miami‑Dade Public Library System at the Coconut Grove Arts Festival, Miami Art Patterns at the Main Library in downtown Miami, Green Bar Kitchen Open Mic Night and private events.

Sandra Epps Headshot

South Beach Century: How South Beach and the Arts Built Modern Miami

April 5, 2017 - September 30, 2018
First Wednesday of every month, 6 ‑ 7:30 p.m.

North Shore Branch

In 2015, Tom Austin, author of The Surf Club, published by Assouline, and long‑time chronicler of Miami for such publications as the New York Times, Miami Herald and Columbia Journalism Review, was given a South Florida Knight Arts Challenge grant for South Beach Century: How South Beach and the Arts Built Modern Miami (www.knightarts.org). South Beach Century celebrates the creative spirit of South Beach and Miami itself, incorporating design, music, dance, fashion, film, television, literature, culinary history, nightlife and visual art.

On the first Wednesday of every month from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Mr. Austin will be in residence at the North Shore Branch Library conducting oral history recording sessions with anyone who wishes to be interviewed about South Beach cultural life. Participants are encouraged to bring copies of photographs, ephemera and memorabilia of South Beach from nightclub flyers and restaurant menus to art gallery invitations.

Some of the South Beach archival material, as well as transcripts of the oral histories, will be featured in the South Beach Century: How South Beach and the Arts Built Modern Miami book. In 2018, the South Beach Century book will be launched at the North Shore Branch Library along with a pop‑up exhibition of photographs contributed by participants. Work by South Beach artists such as Fernando Garcia, Tomata du Plenty and Andy Sweet, drawn from the Miami‑Dade Public Library System’s Art Services and Exhibitions Department, will also be part of the pop‑up exhibition. Cultural outreach events including screenings of South Beach‑related films will be conducted at City of Miami Beach public parks.

South Beach Century will use oral histories—taken from artists, designers, musicians and residents from all walks of life—to create a multi‑layered examination of South Beach’s unique cultural contributions. This will be crowd‑sourced history, a chronicle of a singular city told through its singular people.

To participate in the South Beach Century Oral History Project, contact Tom Austin at austint@att.net.

Knight Foundation logo

Portrait of late artist Carlos Alfonzo in his South Beach studio

The late artist Carlos Alfonzo in his South Beach studio, circa 1990.
Photo by Steven Paul Hlavac / www.photoasylum.com

Portrait of Edie Beale, star of Grey Gardens, at News Cafe on Ocean Drive

Edie Beale, star of Grey Gardens, at News Cafe on Ocean Drive.
Photo by Steven Paul Hlavac / www.photoasylum.com

Emilio Sanchez: A Generous Life

February 11 - December 31, 2017
Vasari Project, Main Library – 1st Floor

Emilio Sanchez was an extremely prolific and talented painter. He started each morning with a still life painting and then progressed to his more well‑known architectural paintings. Sanchez's work is represented in many internationally renowned collections, and he has donated much of his work to collections particularly here in Miami. He is well represented in the Miami‑Dade Public Library System's Permanent Art Collection. Sanchez has also donated a significant amount of his personal papers and art related documents to the Vasari Project. This exhibition contains a representative selection of that material.

The items in this exhibition were selected by Emily Elkin, research assistant to Dr. Victor Deupi, curator for the exhibition “Emilio Sanchez in South Florida Collections” at the Lowe Art Museum at the University of Miami.

Sailboats Fisher Island
“Sailboats Fisher Island” (1981)
3 Boats Mykonos
“3 Boats Mykonos” (1981)

Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) will include Sanchez’s works in its Inside|Out Collection installed in communities throughout Miami‑Dade County from February to August 2017. Two works by Sanchez will be added to the 2017 Inside|Out Collection, which is growing from 30 to 50 reproductions.

Emilio Sanchez in South Florida Collections brings together stellar examples of this important Cuban artist's oeuvre, and marks the first time that works from local collections have been united in a single exhibition. Emilio Sanchez in South Florida Collections will be on view at the Lowe Art Museum in Coral Gables from February 9 through May 21, 2017.

Connecting Sentences

A collaborative partnership with Exchange for Change.
Main Library – Lobby

Writing is an agent of change. It begins with a sentence and leads to a connection, a kinship with a reader and the building of a community. It grows into a realization that each of us has a story to tell that emerges from the sum of our best—and worst—moments. This exhibit assembles writings from prison programs in South Florida facilitated by Exchange for Change, a nonprofit organization that believes in the power of written partnerships to promote dialogue and effect social change. Separated by razor wire, this writing exemplifies what unites us rather than what divides us.

Exchange for Change logo

Upcoming Exhibitions & Programs

Babble et al.
by Nick Gilmore

January 12, 2018 – May 26, 2018
Main Library – 2nd Floor Gallery

A culmination of several ongoing series of wood sculptures and paper-based works, as well as an ambitious installation conceived specifically for the library, this exhibition explores ideas regarding the interaction of Miami’s built and natural environments. Much of the artwork features Dade County Pine (pinus elliottii var. densa), lumber salvaged from the artist’s own house as well as many other historic, in some cases demolished, local structures. This legendary natural resource was a key component in Miami’s industrial boom of the early 20th century until it was depleted to near extinction. In juxtaposition to this repurposed infrastructure, other artworks on display are the result of working directly within the existing pinelands of Everglades National Park. Emphasis on the history and interconnection of these seemingly opposed environments offers an alternate take on the human role in navigating our past, present and future decisions especially in relation to conservation and development. Also on display are historical photos and documents selected from the library’s special collections and the Everglades National Park archives. The centerpiece of the exhibition is the monumental sculpture entitled Babble. This towering structure is constructed from salvaged Dade County Pine lumber and obsolete library materials, and is inspired by many ideas including the pursuit of knowledge, the dialectic of nature and religion, civilization, industrialization, divisive ideology, facthood, language comprehension, paradox and transcendence.

In addition to his art practice, Nick Gilmore teaches printmaking at Florida International University and operates a custom woodworking business. Firmly grounded in Miami, Nick mines from local culture and history to fuel his projects, which in turn use these local themes to reference larger aspects of the general human condition. These include references to the relationship of built and natural environments, obsolete technology as a metaphor for civilization itself, and an urge to illuminate the transcendental potential of the everyday world. Selected to be the AIRIE (Artist In Residence In the Everglades) fellow for July 2017, Nick has also exhibited throughout South Florida. He received his MFA in Visual Arts (2014) from Florida International University, Miami, FL, and his BA in Studio Art (1999) from Spring Hill College, Mobile, AL. Additional work can be seen at www.gilmoreworks.com.

Pinelands and Plumb-bobs

Cuba in Images
Photography Exhibition by Alandy Martínez

January 13 - March 25, 2018
Hispanic Branch

Opening Reception

Saturday, January 13, 3-5 p.m.

Cuba in Images is a photography project by Alandy Martínez (Havana, Cuba, 1981) that offers a visual tour of the deep and unknown Cuba. It captures the daily life of those who live in the heart of the Caribbean island. Multiple geopolitical, historical, economic, social and cultural factors have kept Cuba isolated from international reality for almost 60 years. Cuba in the 21st century remains elusive to the outsider, mysterious in both its culture and its people.

Through social photography, journalism and photo storytelling, Martínez has attempted to objectively capture the challenges that Cuba faces as a manipulated and censored nation: the streets and old buildings whose balconies overlook the people of Havana, the times that are mixed, the history stopped while outside doors life passes by, the daily survival, the pop culture, the idiosyncrasy of the common Cuban, the crossbreeding, the religiosity, the art and the landscape.

Cuba in Images is a social commentary without political activism. It is a realistic approach to the express the visual aspects of Cuba and its social connotations. This exhibition attempts to give a clearer idea of what happens in the daily life of the Caribbean island. It is a song of peace, a message of understanding, a homage to the people and a reminder to the collective memory of a nation whose history is inextricably linked to the history of Florida.

In these images some will discover an unknown Cuba; others a memory from the past. For some they may provide motivation to know more; for others, a topic of debate and hopefully, for many, inspiration.

Circunvolare