Art in Miami – Prize Art Gallery Opens for Miami Art Week

Art in Miami has evolved into an endless menu of choices. I am always searching out new art venues and artists to share with our readers. Lucky for us, I found a new gallery that I’m sure you’ll enjoy. The Prize Art Gallery opened an exhibit in a new location, as they do each year during Miami Art Week. I stopped in to view their latest works and to see the new space. Neither disappointed. I returned to see the gallery’s opening night.

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The new space is just ten minutes north of the Design District between El Portal and Little River. It is located in a renovated home that was completely transformed into a beautiful new gallery. The gallery is broken up into a series of intimate art spaces and a larger common area.

The Prize Art Gallery was developed out of a decision by three Miami artists, Richard Tojdowski, Kevin Hinds, and Omar Bains, to create an independent gallery to showcase their work. Beyond the gallery, they added a beautiful outdoor garden with tables and a space for entertainment.

All three artists were present at the opening and were discussing their work with visitors. Each was just as enthusiastic to discuss the work of the other two.   

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Visitors were spread out in groups of two or three discussing individual pieces or in larger groups in the common areas. I recognized several visitors from the previous exhibition in the original gallery. There were also plenty of new faces enjoying the art.

I sat down with the three of them a few days before the opening to talk about the new gallery and to find out more about them and their art.

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Artist: Richard Todjowski

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Richard’s passion for art started at a young age. He was exposed to art early-on watching his father paint abstract works. However, that wasn’t the only formative spark that left an impact. He told me the story of a time when he was living in the Dominican Republic and the art his aunts displayed in their homes.

“All my aunts had these vivid, colorful artworks. I mean, it’s a tropical country, so it’s almost like taking flowers and nature and putting it on your walls. It was just beautiful.”

These early influences impacted Richard and his burgeoning love of art. Today Richard names Pollack, Basquiat, and Joan Mitchell among his influences. Mitchell often stated that her work reflected the emotions she carried with her from landscapes she had experienced in her life.

Richard’s approach differs slightly. While he also paints in a layered process, no distant memories drive his vision. He is unconstrained by any preconceived notions at the start of a new piece.

Richard paints outside for the natural light. He needs to breathe the fresh air. Each painting starts with a base of color, white, or neutral tones. Then slowly paint is added in or scrapped off. At a later point he adds forms. His rigorous layering requires drying time between applications, and he typically will work on several paintings at once.

The layering is a labor-intensive process. The drying time required for each layer gives him time to reevaluate each stage of his paintings. Richard intuitively adds or subtracts allowing a path to reveal itself to him.

When he does remove from a layer, traces of previous iterations are revealed, uncovering a portion of the substrate to the viewer. This unmaking hints at what lies beneath, adding depth and pulling the viewer into the work.

The results are wonderful abstract expressions of color, shape, and movement. I found that his paintings are surprisingly heavy, due to the amount of paint he uses on the many layers.

Richard balances his artistic life with his work as a banker. Banking requires a workday where you often focus on policy, regulations, calculations, and routine. Painting is his escape to creativity and expression. It is from there that color and shapes and movement and emotion flow unto each layer of Richard’s paintings until he feels each piece is complete.      

Artist: Kevin Hinds

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Kevin hails from a very small town in Texas. There wasn’t much in terms of art in his hometown. The town was very flat in all directions and devoid of water or trees or anything to break up the horizon. Once he moved to LA, everything changed. In his early thirties, he began discovering museums and architecture and soon his artistic side began to stir. Eventually, in the 90’s, Kevin arrived in Miami.

As a developer and builder, Kevin spends his days creating designs, choosing colors, laying out spaces, and deciding on art to display. So, when he arrives at the canvas his motivation is the opposite of Richard’s. He is searching for tranquility.

“My paintings are moody spiritual pieces and I tend to work with colors that calm. It’s kind of interesting because my life is so all over the place. So, whenever I’m painting, I like to do pieces that ease the mind and I work with colors and subject matter to help me do just that. I would say with my pieces, most of them are very calming, at least to me, and that’s what I see and feel.” He too prefers to work outside in natural light to get the colors just right.

The paintings Kevin has on display here range from homogenous hues to more vibrant multicolored works. Even the more colorful offerings are not overwhelming or chaotic.    

Looking at one piece, I am reminded of Mark Rothko’s stacked rectangles and his explorations of color fields. Kevin expands on this by including other forms.

The colors in this one piece are vibrant shades of pink, orange, blue, and red. There is a prominent blue circular shape, textured with visible brush strokes, with a yellow corona glowing around its circumference.

Towards the bottom is a horizontal blue strip, possibly a reflection or shadow. The contrasting warm and cool tones of the background and foreground elements create separation and add dimension.

The elements in his paintings appear to be distilled to their essence. Several paintings here have a more subdued palette providing the serenity he is seeking.  

Artist: Omar Bain

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Omar’s work isn’t strictly Cubist. Still, you can see the influence of both Analytic and Synthetic Cubism, often within the same piece. His stylistic approach differs slightly depending on which piece one is viewing.

One painting on display shows a couple and he uses color to reconstruct the subject rather than the traditional planes and muted palettes. Omar’s work makes use of vibrant colors adding life to his work. The variations in styles and colors within a single painting work to emphasize certain points of interest and allow others to recede into the background.

I asked him to describe his work. “I describe it as abstract and surrealism. There’s a little bit of Cubism in there, a little abstract and a little bit of classical.”

Omar recounted how he started going to the library to learn about what he had seen. He would study the big, beautiful reference books. He began to learn about what he had seen and discovered much more.

I asked him what got him interested in art and who impacted him early on. “I saw ornamental plaster in Italy, and it was amazing. I saw sculptures coming out of the walls and wondered how did they do that? And the cherubs and all this ornate decoration and even the walls and the Venetian plaster was like a fantasy.”

“I love Caravaggio, and later, my taste started to change. I love Picasso and the Cubist movement.”   

Today, Omar prefers to work indoors, but always allowing in as much outdoor light as possible. He draws from all he has seen and sets to work on his vision to tell his stories on canvas.

Final Thoughts

Explore the Prize Art Gallery. The gallery, located just ten minutes north of the Design District, offers a brand-new intimate art space. It was founded by three friends to showcase their diverse art.

Each artist brings a unique perspective to the canvas from Richard’s layered abstract expressions to Kevin’s tranquil abstractions and Omar’s vibrant cubist-influenced pieces.

The gallery is making its mark on art in Miami. Next year during Miami Art Week, the gallery will showcase their work again. Keep a lookout for whichever venue they decide to use. Immerse yourself in a vibrant artistic atmosphere with three passionate artists. I highly recommend visiting their next gallery and supporting their new vision. I know I will be back soon.

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Instagram: Prize_artgallery
Website: Coming soon

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