Art of Noise

The Musical Dimensions Of PAMM

By  Todd R. Sciore

Miami. Twenty years ago, it was a cultural desert. Today, the Magic City is in the top 10 “Cities that Matter” (ahead of Dubai and Paris), according to a 2014 Wealth Report by a
London-based consulting firm, and it’s the metropolitan venue for a booming international art scene. At the forefront of Miami’s modern art movement and cultural growth stands Pérez Art Museum Miami (“PAMM”), which offers visitors an extrasensory experience – music-infused art. Here you’ll discover everything from Afro-Caribbean rhythm to Zappa-influenced works and an ambitious schedule of exhibitions.

Housed in a cutting-edge facility overlooking Biscayne Bay is a young collection of roughly 1,800 pieces and an eye-catching hanging gardens of native tropical plant species designed by artist and botanist Patrick Blanc. Well versed in the design of museums, the renowned firm Herzog & de Meuron pulled out all of the stops for this project: “They implemented a number of intriguing components here that are really unique and special,” said Leann Standish, PAMM’s Deputy Director for External Affairs.  “Our auditorium doubles as our grand staircase, for example.”


EXHIBIT: Let’s Make The Water Turn Black On view at PAMM through March 1, 2015, this is a theatrical installation involving odd combinations of found objects, which the artist transforms into awkward, puppet-like figures, and kinetic elements choreographed with sound. Together, these pieces become theater plays or small operas with uncanny objects as their main performers. Geoffrey Farmer: 2013–14 Installation view, (Main image) Kunstverein in Hamburg Courtesy of the artist, Catriona Jeffries Gallery, Vancouver, and Casey Kaplan, New York. Photo: Fred Dott

Panache at PAMM
While striving to be a microcosm of its host city’scultural diversity, PAMM is not your grandfather’s art museum, as some of its exhibits come replete with musical components melding both sights and sounds for a unique, multisensory experience.  “We’re very open in the museum. Music is a big part of the programming in general.  We want people to have a transformative experience. The building has exquisite acoustics. We hosted an event recently with a choral group here in town called Seraphic Fire.  It was a really moving experience.”

As a small sampling of PAMM’s other sonic complements, experimental electronic musician Dutch E. Germ performed as part of an installation by the artist collective known as Yemenwed, while the genre-hopping music of Frank Zappa is the inspiration behind the currently running theatrical installation Let’s Make The Water Turn Black by artist Geoffrey Farmer.


This exhibit references the neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro and the dichotomy in Milhazes’ work between structure and rational order and sensuality, expression and emotion. On view through January 11, 2015, her distinct paintings are motifs from art historical movements, including Baroque, European Modernism, and North American Pop Art. (Above) Beatriz Milhazes: Chora, menino (Cry Boy), 1996 Acrylic on canvas 71 – 55/64 x 75 – 13/64 inches Private Collection

The Global Art Quest
Much like the A&R (artists and repertoire) position at a record label, PAMM’s curators are tasked with discovering new artists who can make a strong impact, while showing the depth and potential staying power needed to have a long, successful career.  However, unlike their musical counterparts who have the luxury of building a songwriting team around a particular vocalist to pounce on whatever musical trend is hot at the moment, curators face the challenge of working with an artist and developing an exhibition which can be a two-year process.

“Our curators are very internationally focused; they travel all over the world to discover what is happening in the various fields of art and they are constantly thinking of what’s going to be relevant here, nationally and internationally, and what’s going to engage our visitors”.


(Above) George Segal: Abraham’s Farewell to Ishmael, 1987 Painted plaster 107 x 54 x 54 inches Collection Pérez Art Museum Miami, gift of The George and Helen Segal Foundation, Inc. © Pérez Art Museum Miami, 2014. Photo: Oriol Tarridas

A Different Art Gallery Experience
While many of us grew up thinking of a museum as being like the school library, where any talking at all is done in hushed tones, PAMM dares to be different. “That’s not the culture of this museum at all; we really want to be Miami’s living room. If you come on the day when the school kids are here, they’re lying on the floor coloring.”  The “school kids” would be third graders from surrounding Miami-Dade County schools who are an important part of PAMM’s sense of community and mission, which is to both educate local youth in the arts while stimulating their creativity.

Visit PAMM during Art Basel Miami BEACH 2014
With the highly anticipated 2014 edition of Art Basel Miami Beach taking place on December 4-7, rest assured that in true PAMM fashion, they have a very special evening planned for the event. “We are premiering a musical performance piece. People will have quite an amazing experience this year.”  You may also seek solace in knowing that PAMM’s curators will begin dialogues with artists about potential exhibits that, a few years from now, will resonate with both the casual observer and the most enthusiastic collector and connoisseur as they pass through the museum.  One can only sit and wonder what the soundtrack will be.

Art of Noise