Music at MOCA: Where the eclectics go to party

On May 30, Haitian-born trumpeter and composer Jean Caze, the former FIU student who has opened for Wynton Marsalis, Roy Hargrove and Jimmy Heath, will perform at the Museum of Contemporary Art in North Miami, the same space that in March reverberated with Bach and Bartók, courtesy of chamber musicians from the Cleveland Orchestra.

Sandwiched in between on Friday is an evening devoted to the lush digital chill of Los Angeles-based DJ Kingdom, who will do a 90-minute late-night set amid the rustic and ruminative sculpture of Virginia Overton’s “Flat Rock” and the forest of felt trees that introduces “Wangechi Mutu: A Fantastic Journey.”

If there seems to be a high potential for cultural whiplash from the Music at MOCA series, the museum believes South Florida not only can handle it, but demands such diversity.

“Our aim is to serve the largest audience possible,” says Tommy Pace, who heads the MOCA marketing department and is the point man for its music programming. “Music allows us to generate and interact with new audiences who may or may not have had it on their radar to come to a contemporary art museum.”

Kingdom, once of Brooklyn, is an in-demand West Coast DJ and producer who marries the percussive gleam of the new with stylish R&B vocals that hark back into the mists of soul-music history. Recommended track at Soundcloud.com/kkingdomm is “Bank Head” (featuring Kelela).

Friday’s youth-skewing get-together will run from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m., and the $15 cover (members free) includes free drinks from Tito's Handmade Vodka and Heineken.

Pace was born and raised in Hollywood, and took a position at MOCA more than four years ago, after graduating from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, where he studied drawing. A self-described “museum and art nerd” in college, Pace says he had no plan to fall into a music-programming role, even though his father once owned International Sounds Studio, where Gloria Estefan and En Vogue recorded.

Other members of the MOCA music team include Janice Angel, public programs director; curatorial assistant Sarah Sulistio; and even Alex Gartenfeld, the museum’s chief curator and interim director.

In an age when pop-chart titans such as Jay-Z, Kanye West and Lady Gaga wear their fine-art impulses like a crown, perhaps it should be no surprise that a contemporary art museum would reciprocate.

“The lines are so blurred,” Pace says. “Contemporary artists use music to make their work, and musicians hire contemporary artists to figure out aesthetic aspects of the process of making an album. It’s kind of a linked cultural experience. … That’s something that MOCA is trying to access.”

And a visit to an art museum should always be about more than the art, Pace says.

“There is a confluence of ideas that can happen at a museum,” he says. “It’s not just, come in and look up at a wall or look at a sculpture. You can have an expanded interaction with the space of the museum, which is in itself a cultural space, but also a thinking space that activates when you walk in its doors.”

IF YOU GO
Music at MOCA is Friday from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. at the Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami, 770 NE 125th St. Admission is $15, members free, and includes free drinks. Info:  305-893-6211, MOCANoMi.org.

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