By: Julio Menache/ Asst. News Director
When alumna Luisa Basnuevo was told her artwork would be featured in the newly built Patricia and Phillip Frost Art Museum, she was under the impression her work would be featured with other artists.
Yet, James Couper, former director of the original FIU art museum, informed her that the entire gallery would be featuring only her art.
“I was thrilled,” said Basnuevo, who received her Masters in Fine Arts at Yale University. “I was so honored [to receive a solo exhibition].”
While Basnuevo’s solo exhibit, titled Simulacra and Essense: The Paintings of Luisa Basnuevo, will officially be unveiled to the general public on Nov. 29, the Frost Art Museum opened its doors a week early to give members of the press an exclusive preview of the artwork and galleries inside.
However, the leader of the tour, Director and Chief Curator Carol Damien warned she wasn’t going to show all of the nearly 6,000 works of art inside the exhibition space, since three of the total nine galleries were still being installed.
“We don’t want to give away all our secrets now; we want you to come back because there is something else to see,” said Damien, while she was giving the tour.
Yet, those in attendance were able to get a glimpse of some of the more notable galleries that would be featured on the second and third floor of the building, which included 10,000 sq. feet of exhibition space.
One of the galleries unveiled was the Francien Ruwitch Gallery for Emerging Artists.
The gallery is meant to spotlight up-coming artists and give them complete freedom to use the gallery for their artwork.
“Artists who are starting out, or whose careers are growing can literally take over the gallery,” Damien said.
The artwork that will be featured from opening day until Feb. 28 will be that of Cuban American artist Florencio Gelabert.
The exhibition for Gelabert, who once taught a course at the University, is titled Intersection, which features three of his pieces.
One of his works Birth, is an artificial grotto, in which non-organic materials are used to construct ferns, rocks, and flowers that seem to come out through a white wall.
Next to Gallabert’s work was the Betty Laird Perry gallery, which would also house the work of emerging artists, like Basnueva.
“This gallery will always be for artists that are new to the art world,” Damien said.
State of the Art
Aside from the galleries of countless works of art, what many viewers will find impressive about the museum are its many modern additions.
The companies in charge of the project, SKANSKA and Hellmuth Obata and Kassabaum (HOK) looked to make a “state of the art institution.”
“This is a museum of the future, especially of the student future, because as you know, art is extremely multimedia today,” said Damien.
The floors of the university have electrical sockets which can be used to plug in computers or other forms of electrical equipment.
“We tried to hide the technical stuff as much as possible, we wanted you the viewer to focus as much as you can on the art,” said Yann Weymouth, Director of Design for HOK, who also helped Damien in guiding reporters.
One of the many innovations used by the building includes its unique lighting system.
According to a document given to reporters by the museum, the building uses natural light to showcase artwork and its windows even filter out UV, with light levels and color controlled by a system of “petals”.
“This is the most technologically advanced building I’ve worked in my 20 year career,” said exhibitions manager Chip Steeeler.