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Walead Beshty, Passages, installation view, 2009. Courtesy of the artist and LA>

The following conversation took place poolside at the Soho Beach House on Friday, April 19th. As LAXART Director Lauri Firstenberg and Miami Art Museum Chief Curator Tobias Ostrander spoke about Los Angeles, evolving audiences, and the viability of the non-profit model…


I am constantly on the search for people of my generation who are pushing forward —not irreverently but fearlessly. This describes Alex. He possesses a strong understanding of the past, a drive to explore the present and anticipation for the future. And so, the conversations between us began and continued. The below is a conversation from a lovely Monday morning in my office on Canal Street.

assume vivid astro focus (avaf) VIII, 2004. Installation of 31 works. Mixed Media. Dimensions Variable. Collection of Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami. Gift of Howard and Patricia Farber. Photo courtesy of Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami.

On the verge of spring, two Miami museums opened shows that went past the normal role of the museum exhibition—that of the public face of the institution. Romans à clefs to the museums themselves, they gave coded insight into how new acquisitions, permanent collections, recent achievements, and aspirations for the future come together to create the institutions of today.

Hew Locke, For Those in Peril on the Sea, 2011, model boats and mixed media. Photo by Thierry Bal, courtesy of Dimensions Variable, Miami Art Museum.

I was thinking of my life back in Guyana because I’ve just come back from there—this is me re-examining my past, thinking about what it was like to grow up in Guyana when the country became a socialist co-opera-tive republic. Being in Miami I am very conscious of the predicament of Cuban Americans in relation to the piece, “For Those in Peril on the Sea.” Last time I was here I took a cab ride and the driver had come over from Cuba and he was telling me how he got here.