Glamorous and over the top! Minimal and elegant! Stop, you’re both right! The dueling personalities of Miami Modern are the subject of an exhibition that opened Wednesday (and runs through April 13th) at the Bass Museum of Art in Miami Beach. “Promises of Paradise” showcases mid-century Miami architecture, urban planning, design, and decorative arts, including work by such designers as Alfred Browning Parker, Morris Lapidus, George Farkas, Frederick Rank, and Fran Williams. “It is the first comprehensive exhibition on Miami modernism, and I think it will open some eyes about what Miami modernism was,” says writer, critic, and friend of UnBeige Thomas Hine, who curated the show with Miami architect Alan Shulman and Bass Museum curator Ruth Grim.
Hine, the author of Populuxe and the just-published The Great Funk: Falling Apart and Coming Together (on a Shag Rug) in the Seventies, tells us to be on the lookout for “really interesting furniture from the 50’s and 60’s by designers nobody has ever heard of, and we have Morris Lapidus’s Plexiglas dining room set too.” We’re also looking forward to the hard plastic handbags from Patricia of Miami and Charles S. Kahn (we hear they glitter and have secret compartments) and Frederick Rank’s bipolar table with a reversible top (today sober teak, tomorrow red flecked with gold bits).
Meanwhile, we’ve marked our calendars for tomorrow’s “Was Miami Modern?” panel discussion (2:30pm at the museum). Among those speaking are Hine, architectural historian Gwendolyn Wright, culture critic Dave Hickey, and design educator/editor Georgette Balance, whose father (George Farkas) Hine calls “perhaps the show’s greatest revelation.”