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The Tribe hosts Shabbasel

Miami Art Week and the Jewish Question

By Artist Jônatas

The Art of Jonatas

The English Oxford dictionary defines Art as “the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.

When it comes to the definition of Beauty, the English Oxford Dictionary also mentions an aspect that goes beyond aesthetics, defining it is “a combination of qualities that pleases the intellect.”

With that in mind, I am here to talk to you about the relevance of Art Basel Miami and Miami Art Week, for all of us:

Not long ago, Miami was unfairly considered the cultural desert of the United States. Academics, artists, and intellectuals felt that the lack of a captivating audience, public funding, and art venues, were to be blamed for their stifled careers. In a way, they were completely right.

Throughout the various economic crisis of the past decade, the visual arts in South Florida have suffered extreme blows, and in many areas, art venues would never return to business.

And now Art Basel is a major force in South Florida! Miami Art Week has become a pilgrimage for artists, collectors, and enthusiasts to come together to celebrate creativity. Yes, many times these celebrations are ruled by excessive displays of ego and gaudiness. But do keep in mind, that the vast majority of all strong modern and contemporary art scenes in the U.S., such as the ones in L.A. and N.Y. from the 1950s - 1980s had clubs and partying as active allies in the proliferation of new artists and players in a new, local, art industry.

So I do welcome Art Basel Miami and Miami Art Week, wholeheartedly. And I believe it is crucial that we support it by attending exhibits, becoming patrons, and celebrating Art in our own South Floridian kind of way.

But as Jews, how do we embrace this climate of art, specially as it falls on Hanukkah?

My best answer is the following:

We need to find meaning and purpose in it. Once we understand that Art is one of the strongest forms of communication, we understand that today Art provides us with a rare opportunity to address many of society’s contemporary issues. Issues such as prejudice, violence, and the fear of the foreigner.

For this year’s Art Basel Week I choose to address the theme of immigration, through the famous order given to Abraham and his children in Lech Lecha; to leave, to migrate, and to become a stranger in a strange land!

As a first-generation immigrant and returnee to Judaism from a family of exiled crypto-Jews who were in a spiritual and physical 500-Year diaspora since the days of the Spanish Inquisition, I choose to speak up against the treatment given to asylum-seekers in our country. This is conversation about basic human treatment, outside of the political debate. As an artist, I choose to focus on the process of exile and adaption, with a strong Jewish undertone of overcoming assimilation by never forgetting one’s history.

For Art Basel Week, I therefore created a large-scale, multimedia, and audience-participatory exhibit titled “I Am A Stranger in A Strange Land,” where through installations, paintings, films, and many interesting conversations we will be discussing the meaning of being a stranger in a strange land.

Although themes of exile, family-separation, and identity suppression are worthy of our serious attention, we will also embrace the visual language of beauty, joy, and intellect of Miami Art Week: We will be colorful and bold, deep and thought-provoking. We will have a pop-up museum-quality Exhibit at CAMEO nightclub, where the dinner table and guests will become part of the art collection and Art Basel experience!

So please join me this Friday night for our own Art Basel Week Shabbat Dinner. This is the very first official ShabBasel event in Miami history!

50% of the proceeds from the sales of artwork will be donated to charitable causes.

Let the light shine through, Miami Art Week style!


Friday, December 7th, 7pm Cameo Night Club 1445 Washington Ave. Miami Beach, FL

Click Here For Tickets

[email protected]

RELATIONSHIPS! with Rebbetzin Carlebach

Wednesday, Jan 16, 8:00pm

Chabad Chayil 2601 NE 211 Terr, Miami, FL 33180

Are you surviving or thriving? Tips to wow any relationship with world renowned coach Rebbetzin Chana Carlebach. Implementing Proven Strategies plus a Q&A with Rabbi Moishe & Layah Kievman!