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Curator Grela Orihuela 

PLACE Project Group, a nomadic exhibition series, is hosting its first-ever show in the Miami Design District: PLACE Miami—Preview Edition. Curated by visionary Grela Orihuela—the former Director of Art Wynwood and AQUA Art Miami and curator of Special Projects for the celebrated Art Miami Art Fair group and co-founder of film production company  Wet Heat Project and Wet Heat TV—her new exhibition is as dynamic as an art fair, but with unique intimacy. 

To welcome the exhibition to the neighborhood, we sat down with Grela to ask her about her career, her intentions with this new project, the work featured, and her hopes for PLACE Project Group’s future.

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?

Sure! I have always been involved in contemporary art in one way or another. My husband and I made documentary films centered around artists, and so people started to ask me to do art-focused events and shows in their spaces. From that platform, I became an Art Fair Director for Art Miami for seven years. 

How did PLACE Project come to be?
 
In 2018, I resigned from the fair group because I wanted to create a traveling exhibition that was much smaller, more engaging, and would incorporate a well-established discipline of the respective city into each show. So, for example, when I do the show in Nashville I will include music, in LA we will highlight sustainable fashion. I want to do this to keep the experience fresh for people who consistently visit. 

The main focus of PLACE Project Group is to create a space/place where art and design are always paired together, to ensure the conversation is being had between the two disciplines.  I want the space to feel intimate and inviting, like it’s a place that people could see themselves spending time in and living in.

PLACE Miami - Preview Edition came together when Claire (Breukel) saw my online exhibition and invited me to do an in-person exhibition in the Design District for two months and we jumped at the opportunity.  

See-Saw

Giddy Up See-Saw, Vivian Carbonell

Can you expand on how you chose the artists for PLACE Miami?

I opened this show right as the COVID-19 pandemic was unfolding, and I wanted to focus on featuring local artists to create a space where our community could converge when it needed it the most and engage with local work. All of the artists are Miami-based. 

I intentionally designed it to be small, which is extremely helpful given the limited nature of events in the COVID era. The show really is intended to be viewed by appointment or in small groups of 10 or fewer people. 

Tawin - Felt

Tawnie Silva, Lick Banner, 72” x 96”, Felt, Image Courtesy of PLACE Miami and the artist

I love the way the exhibition feels and the way the pieces contrast each other. I am especially excited by how Tawnie’s woven pieces became the counterpart to Gavin’s high gloss paintings, which feel massive and sculptural. The materiality of those two types of work together are heightened when paired with Vivian's whimsical furniture. Finally,  I added a video piece by artist-filmmaker Marilyn Loddi and filmmaker Bill Bilowit (together known as Hush Fell), which became the expression of another of Miami’s discipline: food. 

Gain

Gavin Perry, Untitled, Pigmented resin and vinyl tape on panel, 72” x 96”, Image courtesy of PLACE Miami and the artist
 

How did you decide on food as Miami’s discipline and can you explore the video piece further?

We decided to incorporate food into the exhibition, as food is a big part of the Design District neighborhood. We moved away from fashion as we were already surrounded by the best examples of it!

To explore food, I commissioned the Hush Fell piece, which is a video of a performance artist creating food sculptures. My favorite element of the work (besides being mesmerized by the process) is the last frame, where the completed food sculpture is transformed into a high contrast photograph that looks like a monument. Through this transformation, the piece transcends performance and food. It became a documentation of design and architecture, which was the perfect ending for the show as it ties together art, design, and food. 

Food Video ArtHush Fell, 2nd Brain Session 1, 2020 Digital video loop, silent, 4min 15sec 

What is your next plan with PLACE Project Group?

I was initially going to produce two exhibits in New York this summer, but that was canceled. Recently, I have been getting calls from people in the Hamptons. They are ready to receive us and attend the intimate, small events and gatherings that PLACE Project is all about. So I’m hoping to go there and continue the nomadic exhibition! 

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As the Miami Design District continues to have its doors open to connoisseurs of fashion, food, and culture, we encourage you to catch the last weeks of PLACE Miami - Preview Edition. Now more than ever, we need stimulating, sensory dialogue to remind us how art and design fulfills our lives. 

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