"Abracadabra" Brings Art Magic to Hollywood

Feb 20th 2015

Hosted every year around winter/spring, the Art and Culture Center’s “Abracadabra” exhibition is probably the area’s only nonprofit fundraiser with a two-month shelf life and state-of-the-art resonance. As always, dozens of local, regional and national artists—there are more than 125 this year—created or donated original works for “Abracadabra,” which runs for five weeks. The artworks are then are raffled off to lucky ticket-buyers at the exhibit’s close, on March 13.


Art and Culture Center Curator Jane Hart says that this year’s raffle tickets, which run $375 each, sold out faster than in any previous year. Scanning this year’s entries, it’s easy to see why: “Abracadabra” 2015 is one of the strongest group shows I’ve seen at this experimental, cutting-edge venue. Whether you’re a raffle ticketholder or not, “Abracadabra” is worth your time as a zeitgeisty survey of popular trends, themes and mediums.

With shows like this, it’s impossible to gather everything together under a unified narrative; the multiplicity of voices is vast, crowded, and full of heterogeneous outliers. But Hart’s precise curation of the works, which cluster together in similar color palettes, tones and textures, ensures that they have a conversation with each other. If there’s no major connecting theme, subthemes emerge upon close reflection. The video art, for instance, seems cut from a similar apocalyptic cloth, even though each video was shot by a different artist—from Barron Sherer’s epileptic presentation of shuddery images on the fritz, to an explosive, fractured and relentless montage from the TIM sisters, to Clifton Childree’s provocative, exciting and drolly funny homage to silent cinema. There’s an urgency to all of this work, even its message is inscrutable.


Elsewhere, there is compelling photography and abstract art, mixed-media assemblages and kitschy neon installations. Jessy Night’s retro throwback “Dream Boat” hangs above a neon-lit curtain rod from Alex Trimino, which hangs near Peter Symon’s three-dimensional cloud; all seem like they came from the same ‘70s lounge, or from the set of “Inherent Vice.” Judy Poistra’s so-real-you-want-to-taste-it wedding cake is topped by two pairs of grooms, making for a joyous and timely celebration of gay marriage, smartly presented in front of David Rohn’s mysterious portrait of a partially hidden bride.


There are also the customary pieces of art that question the definition of art: a framed miasma of pink cotton candy, a single eyelash under glass, a deceptively fake banana tree with real bananas. As for my favorite pieces, if I were a raffler I’d be holding out for Antonia Wright’s humorous and/or horrifying photograph of a hand that seems to be reaching out from inside a severed tree trunk; Wayne White’s witty word painting “I’m Lost on a Spaceship, Momma,” in which the titular words gradually shrink until they disappear into the cosmos; and Francesco LoCastro’s dazzling “World on a Wire” (pictured above), a mind-expanding, futuristic abstraction on fiberboard.

But the beauty of this diverse exhibit is that no matter when your raffle number is called, you’re going to walk away with a winner. This year’s “Abracadabra” is just that good.


When you visit the Art and Culture Center, be sure to spend some time in its Project Room gallery as well, so you can absorb “Intertwined,” a series of idiosyncratic nature paintings from Ernesto Kunde, a self-taught painter from a Brazilian farm family. Inspired by the Everglades and Miami’s vanishing enclaves of nature, “Intertwined” is a personalized document of root systems and mangrove estuaries, viewed from among the weeds.

The viewer becomes as lost in nature as Kunde seems to have been when he painted them. Yet it’s an unfamiliar sort of immersion in a familiar land. By draining some of his paintings completely of color and saturating others in bright, artificial hues, he finds subjective abstraction in an objective setting. This bold, striking series prompts you to look again, and anew, at our dying ecosystem.

“Abracadabra” and “Intertwined” run through March 13 at Art and Culture Center, 1650 Harrison St., Hollywood. “Tom Virgin: Open Book” and “Kubiat Nnamdie: Looking Glass” are on view as well. Admission is $7 adults and $4 students, seniors and children ages 4 to 17. Call 954/921-3274 or visit artandculturecenter.org.

Art & Culture Center - Ernesto Kunde

Ernesto Kunde: Intertwined

Feb. 7 to March 13, 2015 
Opening Reception: Friday, Feb. 6 Raffle Event: Friday, March 13

In his extensive examination of Miami’s natural habitat, Brazilian native Ernesto Kunde uses contrasting colors and abstract imagery to depict mangroves’ intricate root systems, sea grapes and their canopies, and other native plant life. In his developing “Mangrove Series,” he has created dozens of paintings from small to large scale. The artist hopes to raise awareness of the changing landscapes he depicts. His intricate paintings aim to involve and inspire viewers to realize we are all responsible for the natural surroundings, vital to our survival.



Image: Ernesto Kunde Blue Fever, 2014 (Detail), Acrylic on canvas, 6 × 7 ft

Symbiotic Promise

Symbiotic Promise: Ernesto Kunde

May 9-June 8 I 7pm-10pm

The artist’s intensive examination of mangroves, sea grapes and other native plant life presents a heightened awareness and a sensory experience of our surroundings.  The artist transforms the gallery through his sculptural overlaying of paintings, creating a parallel to the symbiotic relationship between people and nature, and the promise we each need to make to care for the natural surroundings that are vital to our survival.

Guide to Art Basel Miami 2013

‘Tis the season to Basel.

The largest art show in the country returns to Miami for its 12th edition from Dec. 2 – 8, 2013. More than 250 galleries from every corner of the world converge at the Miami Beach Convention Center to display historical work from the masters of modern and contemporary art, as well as new pieces by up-and-coming stars. The show is divided into diverse sectors – Galleries, Nova, Positions, Edition, Kabinett, Public, Film, Magazines, Talks – and each has its own rigorous process for selecting participants.

The bonanza doesn’t stop there. ABMB attracts countless satellite fairs, glitzy parties, and the crème de la crème. Busy Baselers find it hard to close their eyes; it’s arguably the most stimulating week of the year in Miami. Needless to say, it’s tough to pick the must-see’s. To help you out, here’s the de facto guide to the best that the whole of Miami has to offer during Art Basel

Artist Spotlight


Name: Ernesto Kunde

City: Miami, FL

Birthplace: Paraiso do Sul, BRAZIL

Artistic Medium: Painting and Mixed Media

How did you get started? I have always had a passion for art.  Growing up in Rio Grande do Sul, I was inspired by the scenic, pastoral surroundings and used whatever resources I could find to paint.   Since then I have pursued my interest in painting everywhere I have lived.  It is only in the last few years, however, that I have pursued opportunities to show my work professionally.

Who or what are your influences? I am a self-taught artist, so I have innumerable influences.  Because I am self-taught I always like to try different techniques.  As a result, my influences have changed over the years.  Early on I was drawn to the work of the masters like Cezanne, Van Gogh and Monet.  More recently, I have really connected with the work of Wolf Kahn and Whitfield Lovell.  I am always evolving as an artist and trying to merge different techniques.

What inspires your work? More than anything, I am inspired by my surroundings.  I tend to notice details.  The light and changing colors of the day and seasons affect my way of painting.  I tend to paint my surroundings.  The subject of my paintings often reflects places in which I have lived.  I am also inspired by history, current events and moments in my own life.  Right now, I am working on a series about Miami.  The buildings I am painting are current, but one day they will be history and I am trying to capture them before they are gone.  Recently, I completed another series on found wood, entitled Revolution Narrative.  This series was influenced by current events, namely the revolutions going on in Egypt and Libya.  The themes present in this series, though, reflect themes that have been present in wartime situations throughout history.


How does Miami/South Florida influence your work?Miami has a unique energy and way with light that are reflected in my recent work.  As I mentioned earlier, I am currently working on a series as a tribute to this great city. 

How would you describe your work? My work has really evolved over time.  I used to paint primarily landscape and abstract paintings.  Now both my subject matter and my techniques are more varied.  My pieces on wood tend to be provocative and dark.  In contrast, my pieces on canvas tend to be more vibrant and have more splashes of color.

What has been the most unusual reaction to your work from the public? My most unusual response came from an individual who was colorblind.  He fell in love with one of my pieces with orange and a lot of black and white contrast, because in his words, "he could actually see it!"  In general, though, the reactions are varied and I think reveal as much about the viewers as about the works of art.

What would you like to achieve as an artist? On a professional level, I hope to achieve more exposure and recognition.  Recently, I have been showing my work primarily in Ft. Lauderdale, Pompano and Boca Raton.  I'd like to break into the Miami scene more deeply and from there pursue opportunities to show my work in other places.  From a personal standpoint, my goal as an artist is to continue evolving.  I have no idea what I will be doing with my art in five or ten years from now.  One step builds on another, but the end result is unpredictable and there are no rules.  That is what I love about it.

Upcoming shows:

NOSTALGIA a Solo Show at Rossetti Fine Art Gallery, October 7-17

Where is your work available?

Rossetti Fine Art Gallery

132 S.W. 15th Street (McNab Road), Pompano Beach, FL


Galerie Jenner

1310 S.W. Second Court, Ft. Lauderdale, FL


Miami Art League

9709 NE 2nd Avenue, Miami Shores, FL


My personal website: www.kundeart.com