ASC See Miami Fall 2020: Jesse Velazquez

Rubell Museum

Jesse Velazquez is an undergraduate student majoring in the biological sciences. Though his studies focus on the strict laws that govern the natural processes of life, Jesse has acquired a deep appreciation for the untamed beauty that is art. Whether through music, photography or other expressive mediums, Jesse continues to expand his views and appreciate art in new forms.

Photo by Jesse Velazquez, channeling his inner Narcissus.

Geography

The Rubell Museum is currently located at 1100 NW 23rd St, Miami, FL 33127. Neighboring the thriving art scene in Wynwood, the collection stands in the neighborhood of Allapattah. An area riddled with industrial warehouses, it seems that the area around the museum is very working class. Surrounded by apartments and graffiti, it is evident many residents work near or among these buildings.

I believe the new location of the museum will continue to bring new attention to the area and eventually alter the nearby developments. Down the street from Hometown barbecue, a New York transplant barbecue restaurant with high price points, it is not hard to imagine new similar businesses congregating in the area in the near future. It will not be long until Rubell will be in the middle of a larger socialite scene.

A place that gains its reputation for being a place where those with no voice are able to express themself, the installment of the collection in this new area will most likely silence the nearby community. Though the location change was necessary for the expanding collection of the Rubell family, they do realize the adverse effects of their move. The have stated before that “art brings change.” This continues to inspire the family to work so closely with local communities.

History

The Rubell Family collection started the year Don and Mera Rubell married, 1964. Don was studying in medical school and Mera was a school teacher. Starting with a modest budget from Mera’s salary of $100 a week, the couple would save $25 of that to purchase art. Often from artist they met and felt a connection to, their collection began to grow. With over seven thousand pieces now in their possession, their collection has pieces from over a thousand artists.

After moving to Miami in 1990, the couple opened their first gallery in Wynwood in 1993. They had a large role in the formation of what Wynwood has become today. After years of growing their collection, the Rubell family decided to migrate to a location with more room. On December 4, 2019 the Rubell Museum opened its doors once again in Allapattah.

Mission

Because of their rough beginnings, the Rubells did not have a large budget for the pieces they collected. They found up and coming artists that they felt stood out and purchased their pieces. The entirety of the Rubell collection has been based on their “gut feeling” about an artist. With names like Jean-Michael Basquiat, Keith Haring, it is evident that they had great taste.

The Rubell family likes to learn about an artist and their ideals before adding them to their collection. They focus on finding artists and bringing them out to the limelight. Their ability to choose talented artists so well has gained them a reputation for having the “Midas touch” of art.

Don and Mera Rubell with Keith Haring, 1989. Courtesy of the Rubell Museum, Miami.
Don and Mera Rubell with Keith Haring, 1989. Photo property of Rubell Museum Miami.

With no formal education in art or art selection, they have trusted only their intuition when investing in an artist. They believe the more they get to know the artists they meet, and the more they can understand their approach to art, the more they can trust their future as an artist.

Formerly named the Rubell Family Collection, their gallery has been renamed the Rubell Museum. This is in efforts to highlight their connection to the community, hoping to share their extensive selection with the world. They believe “art cannot be learned unless it is seen.” By exposing young people to the art world they hope to inspire new generation of artists.

Access

Being only few blocks away from the Santa Clara MetroRail station, the new location of the Rubell Collection allows for ample space while still providing an easy access to contemporary art from some of the most well-known names in art. Now that fees have been waived for all transport on the Miami Metrorail, all residents of Miami have access to this gallery.

Museum Hours

Monday and Tuesday – Closed

Sunday, Wednesday and Thursday – 11:30 am to 5:30 pm

Friday and Saturday – 11:30 am to 7:30 pm

Single-Day General Admission Ticket Prices

At reasonably affordable costs, the youth of Miami are able to appreciate the pieces of some the most well known contemporary artist. Several offers are available for reduced pricing, accommodating fsenior citizens, students, and even veterans.

Adults – $15.00

Seniors (65+ with valid ID) – $12.00

Students (with valid ID) – $10.00

Youth (7-18) – $10.00

US Veterans (with valid ID) – FREE

Memberships

For frequent visitors of the collection, several membership packages are available. These memberships offer behind the scenes looks and special opportunities not available to general visitors. Each membership lasts for the year.

Individual – $50

  • Free Admission
  • Invitations to previews
  • 10% discount on Rubell Museum Merchandise
  • 10% discount in Leku Restaurant

Artist – $30

  • Same as above

Dual/Family – $90

  • All of the above for two adults & two children

Friend

  • All of the above plus free collection or exhibition catalogue

Family Friend

  • All of the above
  • Director led tour of the museum for you and a guest

Patron

  • All of the above
  • Director led tour of the museum for you and four guests

Benefactor

  • All of the above
  • Director led tour of the museum for you and ten guests
  • Invitation to private VIP opening at the beginning of Miami Art Week
  • Invitation to visit & meet with artists in residence

Director’s Circle

  • All of the above
  • After hours cocktails & director led tour for you and ten guests

Collection

The clean white walls. Concrete floors. One gets a feeling of passivity when entering the Rubell Museum. Large open rooms bare of distractions. The pale walls act as highlights of the dissonance. The art is left to speak for itself. With thousands of pieces in the Rubell Collection, they have set aside their most intriguing and well known pieces to display. Each piece, regardless of size is given special attention. Each room curated to insight a specific emotion. Sensations of uneasiness, relief, and struggle, are all apparent as you travel the maze of expression that is Rubell.

Keith Haring

Probably one of the most famous contemporary artist in America, Keith Haring has a large permanent display at the Rubell museum. As an artist that has reached almost all facets of popular culture, including being the cover of music albums and worked with many skateboard companies, I believe this display is only fitting. His works have only increased in popularity since his passing; ranging from expressions of love to powerful statements of life, everyone can find a piece they resonate with. His bold lines and unorthodox approach made him stand out in the 1980s, and has allowed him to perpetuate his legacy.

Photos taken by Jesse Velazquez at the Rubell Museum.

Yayoi Kusama

Yayoi Kusama currently has two major works at the Rubell Museum, the Narcissus Garden and The Infinity Room. The Narcissus Garden (on exhibition) is presented throughout the main hall of the museum, leading you down the large warehouse. It is almost everyones instinctual reaction, as it was mine, to take a picture with the mirror-like balls. It is basically a garden of the self. This same theme is present in the Infinity Rooms. This body of work remains at the museum. Whoever stands in front of it will see many reflections of themselves. Kusama has found a way to make everyone love her art, no matter what knowledge they may have about art. It’s hard not to love a piece when you are the focus of it.

The Narcissus Garden (left) and Infinity Mirrored Room (right) by Yayoi Kusama. Photos taken by Jesse Velazquez

Gilbert & George

The search for power through God, through the innocent eyes of youth make Finding God my favorite piece at the Rubell Museum. Towering at over 10 feet tall, it is a grand exhibition of color and the lack of it. The polar side of belief and the uncertain in-between. Who is God and what does he mean to you? I am personally not a very religious person but the aesthetics of the Church have always been something I could appreciate. Utilizing aspects of religion and nature with design elements that remind me of an 80’s new wave album cover, the piece distinguishes itself to me among all the other pieces..

Finding God by Gilbert and George photographed by Jesse Velazquez

Richard Prince

Photos of Richard Prince works taken by Jesse Velazquez

Many photographs by Richard Prince are display at the Rubell Museum. I find his pieces to be rather controversial. At first glance I fell in love with his unnamed series of American cowboys. After further research I learned that his photographs are taken from Marlboro advertisements and not from himself. I do not believe he has any right to share these photos as his own; but then again what is art with no controversy?

Exhibitions

There are currently four artists displaying their works on exhibition at the Rubell Museum. The Narcissus Garden is very prominently featured. Other artists include Hernan Bas, Genesis Tremaine and Natalie Ball.

Genesis Tremaine is currently the artist in residence of 2020 at the Rubell Museum. Her works are greatly inspired by the bible. Her exhibition is named The Sanctuary.

The Sanctuary by Genesis Tremaine photographed by Jesse Velazquez

Learning Programs

Since her days as a teacher, Mera Rubell has had a personal commitment to help the youth. The Museum has partnered with Miami-Dade County Public Schools, connecting thousands of students every year with the art world. They also work with universities offering seminars and critiques to many students.

The museum offers internships for students hoping to dip their toe in the great pond that is the art scene. Whether working in the on-site research library or helping with guided tours, interns are able to learn about the inner workings of art museums. Curatorial training is also a major aspect of the internship. The artists in residency program has been one of the most influential programs, bringing somewhat unknown artist to the forefront of art collectors around the world.

Visitor

What is your name and how old are you?
Hi! My name is Mariana, and I’m 21 years old.Are you currently a student?

Where do you study?
Yeah, I’m currently a senior at Brown University studying Sociology.

What brings you to Miami and The Rubell Museum?
I’m from Miami, so really I’ve just been home with my family since March. It’s been therapeutic to be back home for so long. Ever since I moved to Providence for school, I haven’t really had a break to be in Miami for extended periods of time, so I’m trying to take advantage and explore the places that I haven’t gone to before. A friend of mine told me about The Rubell Museum, and I immediately wanted to go see all the cool art myself. Personally, I really enjoy visiting any type of museums, but my favorite ones are definitely art museums.

Do you come to art museums often?
Not as often as I’d like to, but yes, I love going to art museums whenever I get a chance! Luckily, there’s an amazing art school in proximity to Brown called the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), so I get to see a lot of stunning art around me when I’m up there.

Are there some you like to visit in Rhode Island?

One of my favorite art museums in Providence is called the RISD Museum. Every time I visit this museum, there’s always something new to see. I especially love that one of the floors at this museum is dedicated to the works of current and past RISD students. Admiring the talent of peers that are around the same age as me is always inspiring. Also, I feel like looking at the students’ art gives me insight to where the future of art is going. I feel like art and life are constantly in flux and reflecting one another. It makes me very curious to see what the RISD museum will look like next time I visit.

What has been your favorite museum to visit?
Honestly, depending on my mood, I might prefer one vibe over the other. If I had to choose, though, I think my favorite museum has been the Louvre. I love that it’s so big that I could easily get lost while I’m in there. Also love seeing all the tourists getting excited to see the iconic Mona Lisa, and not caring about looking ridiculous while they take selfies in front of her. Admittedly, I once was one of those people too, hahaha.

How does the Rubell Museum compare to the other museums you’ve visited?
One thing that stuck out to me about the Rubell Museum was how boundless some of the artworks were. It was kind of a stark contrast to the Louvre, especially with the Mona Lisa exhibition that is surrounded by velvet ropes so that visitors can’t get too close. For example, one could walk through Yayoi Kusama’s Narcissus Garden installation which really gave the museum an interactive feel.

Employee

What is your name?

My name is Claudia.

How long have you been working at Rubell and what do you do?

I’ve been working here for over a year now. I am an usher and security guard.

What drew you to work here?

I wanted to work here because it’s near my house and I get to look at art all day.

How many people do you usually see here a day? What kind of people do you see?

I probably see about 100-250 people a day on average, there is definitely more on the weekends. With quarantine I think people have been wanting to get out of the house to do little things with families. I usually see younger people or families. Not too uncommon to see older visitors too. European families are very common.

Have you seen more of a certain group lately that yu probably wouldn’t have normally?

I’ve definitely seen a couple more teenagers than usual. Mainly in groups of friends or like a date.

Summary

It was after my first visit to the Rubell museum that I began to realize the true complexities of art expression. As one coming from a musical background I never looked at art very deeply. I believe this museum is one that those from all walks of life can enjoy. There is something to appreciate from every piece, with a diverse collection of theme and style. The perfect start to the art world, I look forward to my next visit to the Rubell museum.

Citations

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