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Meet The Women Ruling The Miami Art Scene
The ladies making it happen in the sunshine state
Fempire 15 Jun 2021

When we say Miami, you probably think of Art Basel and nothing more. But art squad, Miami is soooo much more than that! There’s the Rubell Museum, a design district, and dozens upon dozens of galleries and art initiatives. So, here are some of the women making waves in the Miami art scene.

Melanie Prapopoulos, Artist And Founder The Contemporary Art Modern Project

Born in the UK and raised in New Jersey, Melanie Prapopoulos began her career in the garment industry of NYC before leaving to study Art History and Literature at NYU. Within a few years she decided to settle in Athens and set out on her path as an artist and received her Masters in English. During this time she first learnt how galleries can mistreat their artists and she later returned to the US and settled in Miami. Over the years, stories kept emerging of artists losing money and their work, and students being taken advantage of.  Frustrated by all of this, Prapopoulos opened The Contemporary Art Modern Project – AKA – The CAMP gallery in the beginning of the pandemic, and with the help of her team was able to put together over 25 exhibitions last year. She has since found that an artist can be treated with respect and honesty, a collector can also receive the same treatment, that learning and teaching can play a role in a gallery, and that  a business can function with integrity. 

Bernice Steinbaum, Director Bernice Steinbaum Gallery

At no more than 5 feet, 2 inches, Bernice Steinbaum is as distinguished as she is colorful, and just as big in presence as she is small in stature. Refusing a “separate but equal” model of representation, her mission was to exhibit artists working with narrative, while maintaining a roster of 50 percent women and 40 percent artists of color.  Her attention has recently turned to the future of the natural world, and the many threats to it that human endeavors pose. She sought out artists engaging with environmental themes and working with found or repurposed materials. Given the role of technology and globalization in both causing and countering environmental issues, she also developed an interest in artists pursuing similar themes in their work. And in 2014, she closed her gallery in Wynwood saying it was “time to pass the gauntlet”, opening a new gallery space on her property in Coconut Grove.

Dina Mitrani, Gallerist

Dina Mitrani has worked at Christie’s Auction House, Mary-Ann Martin Fine Art and Throckmorton Fine Art in New York City. In 2000, with a hunch that the garment district where her parents had a clothing factory was slowly becoming an area for galleries and art studios, she returned to her native Miami. In 2002, together with her sister Rhonda, converted their parent’s clothing factory into artist studios, art galleries, design shops and an acting studio.  In 2009, they co-founded the Women of Wynwood, a non-profit initiative to provide job opportunities for the women of the Lotus House shelter. Dina Mitrani Gallery opened in November 2008 and specializes in international contemporary photography. The gallery’s mission is not only to exhibit and sell photography but also to educate and be a resource for the art community. 

Carola Bravo, Artist

Carola Bravo is a Venezuelan artist who lives and works in Miami. Bravo’s work ranges from immersive site-specific video and art installation to public art with a solid background in architecture and is represented by Bernice Steinbaum Gallery. Her work has been exhibited internationally and she is a former Titular Professor, Chair of the Architecture and Art Department, and Head of the Art Section at the Simon Bolívar University in Caracas, Venezuela. In 2014, she founded HARTVEST PROJECT, an art venture to promote art appreciation and collecting. One of her newest programs, the CICONIA ART COLLECTION, seeks to inspire art collecting while distributing 1,000 artworks per year to the homes of 100 people. 

Grela Orihuela, Vice President of Fairs at Design Miami

Grela Orihuela is the recently appointed VP of Fairs at Design Miami/the global forum for design. Grela served as Director and Curator for the Art Miami group of fairs and was the co-founder and Executive Producer of film production company, Wet Heat Project. She is also founder of 1meter50 and PLACE Project Group. Grela graduated from the NYU Fine Arts program at Tisch School of the Arts and has produced many independent and commissioned documentary films. In addition, she has worked in corporate media and television including WABC-TV News and Telemundo Network. Grela’s unique experience makes her ideally suited to the next evolution of Design Miami’s mission to transform how the world explores and collects. 

Mindy Solomon, Founder Mindy Solomon Gallery

Mindy Solomon established her gallery in 2009. She is a founding member of PAB (Progressive Art Brunch) an association of a select group of Miami Art Galleries. She is active in the Miami arts community and serves on the steering committee of the Women’s International Committee at the Perez Art Museum. The gallery specializes in contemporary emerging and mid-career artists and art advisory services, with the program exploring the intersection of art and design through an ongoing dialog between two and three-dimensional objects, while embracing diasporic voices. Mindy has dedicated her life to the visual arts as a practicing artist, educator, advocate, and collector. She received her Bachelors and Masters degrees in Studio Art and Art Education from Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Institute of Art, with additional course work at Ursuline College in Ohio, Lacoste School of the Arts in Lacoste, France, and the Tyler School of the Arts in Philadelphia.

Aurora Molina, Evelyn Politzer and Alina Rodriguez-Rojo, Founders of Fiber Artists-Miami Association

Fiber artists Aurora Molina, Evelyn Politzer, and Alina Rodriguez-Rojo are kin spirits in textiles. The paradoxes of Coronavirus 19 brought the three artists together in organizing socially engaged virtual workshops that united people using the healing power of thread-based work. During the months of confinement, several artists gathered online to console each other and reconnect. The group formed a link through daily embroidery, weaving, and recyclable materials workshops.  This daily communion was the impetus or the ultimate trigger for Molina, Politzer, and Rojo to mobilize and create FAMA. Fiber Artists-Miami Association (FAMA) is an artist-initiated group that educates, advances, and elevates textile traditions and contemporary fiber techniques. Forging FAMA was the girls’ way of resisting the pandemic and staying positive at a time of devastation. In three months, FAMA held its first exhibition in Miami with 40 artists, most of whom are women and ranging from eleven different nationalities. FAMA hopes to surpass the 100 member mark by its first anniversary this July. 

Alex Valls, Artist

Alex Valls is a self-taught, multi-media artist with a focus on found objects, installations and sculptural work. Alex spent several years working in advertising and media before pursuing her art practice full-time. Living and working between Miami and New York City, Valls was a recent artist-in-residence at Vermont Studio Center, CRETA Rome and Leipzig International Art Programme. As the director and co-founder of the collective, Good To Know.FYI, Valls has been the recipient of various grants, including the Tulsa Artist Fellowship and Creative Time. She has also supported cultural partnerships with Untitled Art Fair and Art Basel Miami. Valls’ upcoming summer 2021 projects include a partnership with GTK.FYI and Bogota-based Galeria SGR, a group exhibition of her personal works with La Pera projects at ICNY (New York), a group exhibition at The Hole (New York), a commissioned land-artwork (Lisbon, Portugal), a collaboration with EXILE Books (Miami), and a partnership with Versailles Restaurant (Miami) and the HistoryMiami Museum in the creation of a public archive.

Rhonda Mitrani, Artist

Video artist Rhonda Mitrani was born in Miami to Latin parents. After graduating, Mitrani worked in post-production for Miramax Films. Her editing work has been featured in Showtime and HBO Latino. Her first documentary, Cuba Mia, premiered with Miami International FF, NY Intnl Latino Film Festival, and was broadcast on PBS. Mitrani’s shorts include Supermarket (Film Shortage) and Still Standing (Latino Public Broadcasting). Rhonda’s video art has been shown in galleries including The Girl’s Club, Dot Fifty One Gallery, South Florida Art Center and a solo exhibition at the Boca Raton Museum of Art with her collaborative RPM Project. Rhonda is also the founder of The Screening Room Miami, project space. The multi-disciplinary space is dedicated to the motion picture. TSR Miami was housed in a warehouse in Wynwood where Rhonda and her sister Dina converted an old clothing factory into an Art Complex. The Mitrani sisters are moving locations from Wynwood to Little River for a 2022 opening with a new program that solely focuses on lens-based work and an adjacent space with offices and artist studios. They both recognize the need in this community for a gathering space that focuses on video art and photography and are looking forward to launching their new program.

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