ASC See Miami Project: Rubell Family Collection by Natalia Betancourt

Biography

My name is Natalia Betancourt. I am currently a sophomore from FIU studying Finance in the College of Business and am also in the Honors college. I currently hold the position of Overall Director for FIU Homecoming and previously was the Assistant Director of Finance for this organization. I worked as a Peer Mentor for the Center for Student Engagement and currently work as a student assistant at the FIU Career and Talent Development office. I am also affiliated with a greek organization on the Panhellenic council and hope to eventually gain leadership positions in my organization as well. A little bit about my background I was born in Miami but my mom and dad are Bolivian and Honduran, respectively. I enjoy getting involved on campus and now with the help of this class enjoy seeing art.

Geography

For my See Miami project I decided to visit the Rubell Family Collection. This collection is located at 1100 NW 23rd St, Miami, FL 33127, in a neighborhood called Allapattah just a few blocks from Wynwood in Miami. Actually when I first spoke to the clerks in the front of the building they said that they had just opened their new location which is this one. They used to reside in Wynwood but then the Rubell’s decided to move to this location since it would give them a whole lot more space for all the exhibitions they wanted to have there. In my opinion the location of the museum is very functional, I could not have seen this much art in a smaller location in Wynwood.

History

The Rubell collection is owned by Don and Mera Rubell. They started their collections life about 54 years ago when Mera was still teaching and Don was in the middle of medical school. In fact, their first art work they ever collected was paid off using a “modest weekly installment plan” as explained on their website. Their collection how holds 7,200 works by more than 1,000 artists and they’re not stopping just yet. Don and Mera have built of the most significant collections of contemporary art in the world. With the opening of the Rubell Family collection in the Wynwood neighborhood, it pioneered others to start sharing their private collections to the public.

As mentioned on their website, Don and Mera have always been focused on looking for artists who are or have been overlooked. They were among one of the first people to own works by “renowned contemporary artists” such as: Jean-Michel Basquiat, Cecily Brown, Keith Haring, Rashid Johnson, Hayv Kahraman, Jeff Koons, William Kentridge, Yoshitomo Nara, Cindy Sherman, Mickalene Thomas and many others. When the collection was in its first location it was called Rubell Familt Collection but now that it is in a newer and bigger location they decided to change its name to Rubell Museum in order to emphasize that they welcome anyone to see their collection.

Mission

The mission of the Rubell Museum is to provide equal opportunities to everyone. It doesn’t matter your basis of race, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, creed, national or ethnic origin, citizenship status, age, disability, veteran status, or any other legally protected class status. Their mission was to be able to show their art to anybody and everybody. I personally love this because a lot of people don’t really get to see art in an exhibit and making it affordable to see so many amazing artists is really special.

Access

The museum although you have to pay for admission it was still relatively cheap. Below are the hours and prices for admission to the museum.

Hours & Admissions:
Wed – Sun, 10:30 am – 5:30 pm   
Regular: $15
Miami-Dade County Residents: $10    
Under 18 & US Military: Free

There are different memberships that you may purchase at the Rubell Museum.

Collection

The Rubell Museum had a total of 36 exhibitions in their museum with artists from all over the world.

One of the biggest artists in this collection is Jeff Koons. I rememer when I took Art history in high school and learning about Jeff Koons and his approach to contemporary art. This piece above is called ‘New Hoover Convertible’ and is from 1980. In the description in the musuem it talked about how the vacuum had masculine and feminine features at the same time. The handle of the vacuum was very masculine and then when you moved down to the vacuum bag it resembled that of a womb and became more feminine.

This was another piece that stood out to me a lot when visiting the Rubell Museum. It is by the artist Thomas Schutte who actually has multiple of his works displayed at the Rubell Museum. Thet artist was born in Oldenburg, Germany and is known for his sculptures which can range from miniature to large-scale works.

This artwork was one of the best, in my opinion, that I saw at the museum. There is so much humor and personality in this very simple artwork that just makes it 100x more amazing than it already is. The artists name is Richard Prince and this is what is called a “joke painting.” This gave a whole new perspective on art because usually art is something that is taken very seriously (as it should) and now with contemporary art everything is changing. This painting to me is very different from anything else I’ve seen and some may say it’s simple/boring but I think if you look at the bigger picture you might find out that there’s so much more meaning behind everything. There are also multiple other artworks by Richard Prince in the Rubell museum.

Exhibitions

As as I was walking through the museum and looking at all of the amazing art and different exhibits I couldn’t contain my excitement when I got to the installation. Yayoi Kusama is a Japanese artist that had many installations that surround the theme of “infinity”as her infinity mirror rooms have had a huge impact on the art world. I got extremely excited to see this installation because in our class we had already gone to see another one of her installations at the LnS Gallery, which was awesome. Seeing art from an artists that I had previously known about or learned about is like no other feeling. Being able to see art by Yayoi Kusama once more was an amazing experience. This installation had a different vibe than that one we visited earlier in the semester but still kept the same theme of infinity using the face-to-face mirrors to cause that effect. When I was in the installation experiencing it first hand I felt extremely calm and all my worries went away. This specific installation is named “INFINITY MIRROR ROOM – LET’S SURVIVE FOREVER” and was made in 2017.

Also, a couple of things I noticed when going into these art installations which was different than “All the Eternal Love I Have For the Pumpkins” was that in these installations you could be in the room for as long as you would like and multiple people may go in at a time. It was very different for only being allowed 1 minute by yourself but honestly, I don’t know which I would prefer. They also had me put shoe covers as you can see in the images before entering the installation.

And to make it even better, there was yet another installation by Yayoi Kusama in a later exhibit in the museum. It’s amazing that she overcame so much and is now part of one of the most significant collections of contemporary art in the world. Her work has also been extremely impactful on social media because her works make it easy to take “aesthetic pictures” and therefore many people want to post with and about these installations. These artworks have changed the art world in more way than one.

Amoako Boafo is a Ghana-born painter who was named as the “first artist-in-residence” at the Rubell Museum in its new location. He had several paintings that were featured in the institution’s inaugural exhibition. This resdiency program that Rubell offers is supported by the Knight Foundation and is known for jumpstarting the careers of young artists.

Special Programs

This is not my image, however, the Rubell Museum offers for there to be special events, whether its corporate or entertainment you may play an event to be held within the museum. Another program that the Rubell museum has is the residency program that I had mentioned above supported by the Knight Foundation.

Visitor

Maria Alarcon: First-time visitor to the Rubell Museum.

  1. Why did you decide to come to the Rubell Museum?

I decided to visit the Rubell Museum because I have driven past it a couple of times and was always interested in checking it out.”

2. What are some exhibits that you personally enjoyed at your time here so far?

I have enjoyed the Yayoi Kusama installations very much because they are calming and I have also enjoyed the Amoako Boafa exhibit since it helps out such a young artist.”

3. Have you visited any other art museums or gallery’s in Miami?

I have not explored as much as I would like to but that’s definitely changing very soon.”

4. Did you like your overall experience while visiting the museum?

Yes! I enjoyed my experience a lot. I got to see a bunch of different artists from all over the worls and I had never seen anything like that. I’m definitely going to start going to different museums.”

Portrait

I spoke with the clerks in the front of the museum, or those who you see when you’re buying your admissions ticket. I asked them a couple of questions about the museum.

  1. Why did the collection change locations?

“For space. The Rubell’s wanted to have more space to show more of their collection so they got this place (waved their hands around to acknowledge the area). However, they still own the Wynwood location.”

2. How many exhibits are there in the museum at the moment?

“There are 36.”

3. Do you guys enjoy working here at the Rubell Museum?

“Yes, I love working here. Art is kind of my passion and working with it for a living is a dream come true. “

I didn’t have much time ask them questions because they were busy handling something else, however , I did appreciate the time they did give me to answer a couple of questions.

Summary

All in all the museum was more than I ever expected. I came to the museum not knowing much about the history of the Rubell’s and I was astonished at the immensity of their collection. The way the exhibits flowed together throughout the museum is extremely smooth. The different exhibits that are at the museum at the moment really coincide with society now a days and the different approaches of contemporary art showed me how art has changed so much throughout the years.

I saw many art pieces that I really enjoyed and although I wasn’t as informed about all the artists that were in the exhibits, however, I am planning on visiting the museum again to explore all the art pieces that I didn’t really get to enjoy from my first visit.

Some art works really spoke to me while others did not, however, I feel like that’s how art is. There were many pieces that I just couldn’t understand the meaning no matter how hard I tried but as the year goes on I hope to gain that intelligence to be able to try to decipher what the pieces really do mean.

Another thing about the Rubell collection is that not all of their artworks are shown and they have “artworks on loan.” This loan includes art from many different artists and are spread out all over the world. This gives me another reason to come back to this marvelous institution so I may see other artworks that I didn’t see in my first visit. Visiting this museum opened my eyes even more to the world of art and it only goes up from here.

References

https://rubellmuseum.org/plan-an-event

https://www.theartstory.org/artist/kusama-yayoi/

https://rubellmuseum.org/exhibitions/current-exhibitions

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