At the Art and Culture Center of Hollywood, a row of tacky table lamps dangles upside down, suspended from cords wrapped around a rafter. The 22 lamps, all switched on and decorated with peach-colored seashells, cast a spotty fluorescent glow on the hardwood floor. They belong to artist Kerry Phillips, who says her gallery in Miami's Allapattah neighborhood is piled so high with knickknacks, yarn and extension cords that she's "way too disorganized to be a pack rat."
"They do kind of look like rats being dangled upside down by their tails," says Phillips, who bought some of the lamps in bulk from the Oakland Park thrift store Faith Farm. "I can't let something old and with a cool story go to waste, and I liked the idea that a lamp's underside is a side you don't normally see. I think it's a new way of interior decorating."
Her installation, titled "Start on Tomorrow," is the most space-hogging work (and the brightest) at the Seventh All-Media Juried Biennial, a bounty of 88 mixed-media artworks by 79 artists opening Friday, Sept. 18, at the Art and Culture Center. Jurors Marisa J. Pascucci, a collections curator at the Boca Raton Museum of Art, and Elizabeth Cerejido, a former curator at FIU's Frost Museum of Art, picked the submissions from a pool of 1,084 entries. On Friday night, the artists will vie for prizes valued between $400 and $2,000.
Cerejido and Pascucci replace two jurors who dropped out of the competition shortly after the firing of veteran curator Jane Hart in July, says Michelle Weinberg, the gallery's interim curator.
"The best part of the biennial is it brings out interesting works by artists who don't necessarily get a lot of exposure," says Weinberg, who is also creative director at Girls' Club Collection in Fort Lauderdale. "We're in an era of art in which anything goes. Conceptual, narrative, painterly works. Pieces that deal with identity and place, beauty and the sublime. It's so wide open."
Strange, bold and verging on risque, this year's biennial crop is a colorful medley of sculptures, installation videos, experimental photography and at least one severed horse head. That last one is Cara Despain's "Dismount," a marble bust mounted on a pedestal, which sits not far from Alba Triana's "Music on a Bound String No. 1, Natural Light," in which a subwoofer vibrates a length of taut string. Justin Gaffrey's "Attached" depicts red yarn shooting from a pencil drawing of a nude female figure.
Gretchen Scharnagl's site-specific work "Secret Garden" involved hammering hundreds of recycled X-Acto blades, finished nails and insect pins into the gallery wall. "Inspired" by a nearby crack in the gallery's linoleum, Scharnagl's metal collage is meant to re-create the "same beautiful line patterns" along the wall.
"I don't exactly have a destruction wish," Scharnagl says with a laugh. "It's all about piercing the gallery, and the gallery is like the human body. This is my garden of debris."
Accompanying the biennial is Autumn Casey's solo show "Waiting in Purgatory but at Least There's Chairs and It Feels Musical," a collection of found objects, video, sound and personal relics by the guitarist-vocalist of the Miami punk band Snakehole.
The Seventh All-Media Juried Biennial will open with a reception from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, Sept. 18, at the Art and Culture Center of Hollywood, 1650 Harrison St. The exhibit will close Nov. 1. Admission is $10 for the reception, $4-$7 thereafter. Call 954-921-3274 or go to ArtAndCultureCenter.org