Imago Art Gallery

By Matt Balmaseda

Miami is in a constant state of change. In any given week it’s not surprising to see a handful of establishments, young and old, close their doors for good while fresh-faced additions emerge to take their place. Among the city’s galleries, change often occurs gradually, organically and reasonably. When new ones, like Imago Art Gallery, begin exhibiting there is not always the same fanfare associated with, say, the opening of a new club or celebrity restaurant. Still, their presence is often felt.

Imago Art Gallery operates out of the “Calle Ocho” strip, not far from Maximo Gomez Park and other cultural landmarks. It opened in August 2009 with its Quintessence exhibition, which featured five Cuban artists who came together to explore and express the historical moments in the lives they live. It marked an important moment in the growth of contemporary Cuban Art, which has a thriving, yet evolving presence in Miami.

At Imago’s helm is the owner, Dr. Jorge de Cabo, and gallery director Chaliang Merino, who studied Art History at the University of Havana before finding work with the Beaux Arts Gallery and the curatorial department of the Contemporary Art Center Wifredo Lam. Now, she offers her devotion to the art world by helping introduce new and inspired artworks. “Being part of Imago Art Gallery has allowed me to promote a new art space and many young contemporary artists,” she says.

Over the past year, Imago has been a strong force in the monthly Viernes Culturales event, known unofficially as the Calle Ocho art walk. It occurs on the last Friday of every month. During every event, Merino says she and the gallery aim to “not only highlight multiple viewpoints supported by strong conceptual investigations, but also to show a high level of technical execution through many of the pieces.”

In celebration of its one-year anniversary, Imago Art Gallery is holding a special exhibition, Open Strings, from November 26, 2010 through January 28, 2011. It is a joint exhibition that shows the work of Ariel Tejera and Josevelio Rodriquez. Tejera’s work offers tropical visuals that evoke themes like light, faith and hope, presenting optimism in works that are equally dreamlike. Rodriguez’s paintings, on the other hand, have more abstract qualities and use playful displays of color and form.

Merino says, “both artists are concerned with exploring sensorial reception in their works,” while noting that the exhibition as a whole “portrays eloquent stories, identity commentaries, shapes that recall the mystical in art and other meditations that contain a profound symbolical substrate.”

The gallery’s crisp, white, minimalist interior is the perfect backdrop for the artwork it presents. The often vibrantly colorful work is allowed to pop. It’s a welcome addition to the Calle Ocho art scene and will continue to be a force working to expand Miami’s contemporary art world, while at the same time adding to it increasing depth, culture and unique voices.

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