Contemporary artist Carlos Betancourt is best known for his glitzy bravado, re-introducing glitter and other colored materials. His ways of bending the lines between art, photography and nature in his large format vinyls, photographs, installations and photo performances are considered highly unique and innovative. His work is largely informed by a layering and juxtaposition of information based on his own experiences and extensive travel. His studio, Imperfect Utopia became the Bohemian underground address of the artistic melting pot that was Miami Beach in the 80's and 90's and the studio was visited by some of the most important artists, writers, dancers and musicians of the times, including Julian Schnabel, Sandra Bernhard, Gianni Versace, Rudolph Nureyev and Bruce Weber. Imperfect Utopia is considered by many locals to be partly responsible for creating a contemporary arts environment in Miami challenging the established system.
- La vida. Color. Sun drenched light. Morris Lapidus. Juxtapositioning. Spontaneity. Nostalgia. Collecting. El Mar.
- People living life. Photo albums. Romanticism.
- Art is everywhere, anywhere all the time.
NY really gets the good museum exhibits. The Jeff Koons, Damien Hirst, etc. Most Miami institutions still believe that the main purpose of a museum is to "discover" artists. In the meantime, we hardly get any significant contemporary artist exhibit. And most museum seems to be managed by the same team, with the same vision / agenda so we hardly get any variety. Seems to be more about personal agendas than about art. Usually, I have to get on a plane to see a significant contemporary artist, lucky me I can afford it, but that gets expensive.
On the other hand, there are plenty of talented Miami artist than can easily top any artist working in NY. Miami just has to be less NY-centric, less Euro- Centric in that sense and celebrate its talent much more often, ( I think NY does that regularly, but that will be being NY- centric...) Most interesting exhibit you have done or collaborated in? Well, I think the underground scene of the 80's and 90's in South Beach are hard to top. The exhibits and many collaborations at Helen Cevern Gallery, Coral Snake Galleries, Galaxy Galleries, The Asylum at the Cameo Theater, Victor Fari~nas Hyperspace, The Box, etc where quite the quintessential dream of young artists. Varla, Carlos Alvez, Kenny Scharf, Roberto Juarez, Tomato duPlenty where some of the artists involved. And of course, lots happened in Imperfect Utopia my studio in Miami Beach. Fracturism was an interesting exhibit because I had just come to terms with nostalgia and archiving the things I am moved by, themes that still permeates my artworks today (I started buying strangers photo albums at thrift shops during this time). During some of these openings or any other day, you could have a diversity of people and personalities visiting at different times. Julian Schnabel, Sandra Bernhard and crazy Laurie from Lincoln Road all stopped by the same day. I also recall a day that Celia Cruz stopped by, and five minutes after she left Morris Lapidus showed up as well as Francis Farmer (an underground icon of Miami Beach that every artist loved to photograph). The juxtapositioning of these diverse personalities was hard to resist and these people influenced my work in one way or another.
More recently, I was invited in 04 to curate an exhibit of contemporary Miami artist titled Miami: Visions of Now at the J Johnson Gallery in Jacksonville. I enjoyed producing a catalog and assisting Paula Harper with the essay. It was interesting because I believe it captured a special time in Miami. There were artist with different mediums and different visions but it all made visual sense. The essay by Paola started with a quote by Joan Didion, "Everything in Miami depends on the movements of air" (1987). We thought that was very telling. What would be a dream project for you? I would take a Macy's balloon proposal or a collaboration with Jeff Koons anytime. What do you look most forward to about Art Basel? I can't wait to see some of my dearest friends, many of my art dealers, art enthusiasts and collectors that arrive soon. Generally speaking, I look forward to visiting the main fairs, the satellite fairs and the alternative exhibits. I hope to shop lots. I want to focus first on Miami based artists. I also enjoy visiting design and architecture oriented exhibits. I do have a very detail selection list of events and parties, ( of course) that I will try not to miss. Most importantly I will not miss the unveiling of the renovated old Coppertone sign at my dearest friend Debbie O'hanian's building.
I have 34 studio visits scheduled and four museum group visits as well. All of this has been scheduled for more than 3 months... That in itself will keep me enthusiastic, as it is in this experience that the beauty of possibilities manifests itself. I also look forward to sharing The (last) Supper and the Re-Collections series ( both recent artworks) with others.