Making Art Out of Lightposts During Art Basel

MiMo artist Louis Dalmau is known for making art in some unusual environments. His first big -- ahem, splash -- in Miami came in the late '80s when he created an underwater art installation that doubled as a reef.

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For this year's Art Basel, Dalmau choose a distinctly less sexy canvas for his artwork: city lightposts along Biscayne Blvd. A preview of a Dalmau's larger "Miami Exposé" -- which he plans to have finished by 2009 -- went up this week between 69th and 73rd Streets.

For the project, Dalmau invited anyone interested to stop by his studio off Biscayne for a portrait. Dalmau then digitally altered over 160 portraits and stitched them together into quilt-like patterns. After the jump, he talks about the project.

-- Tim Elfrink

Riptide: What's the driving idea behind this project?

LD: It's a portrait of Miami, through Miami's people. It's art made from the facial expressions of everyone who wanted to show up, young, old, whatever. And it's not just photography, it's like a mild form of pop art. When you look at the pieces, it's a quilt of all of Miami's people hanging together.

Riptide: How did you find all the subjects you photographed?

LD: We basically put the word out to the whole community that anyone interested could come by our studios for a portrait. We had 200-plus people from every community in Miami show up and we used 169 shots.

Riptide: Why display the project on the street, from lightposts?

LD: Really, it's not only a cultural event and an art event, it's a project for everyone in the community and everyone involved. For those in the portraits, it's an interesting kind of 10 minutes of fame effect. I was driving down Biscayne today after the portraits went up and there was one reaction that was just priceless, a guy jumping up and down, grinning, pointing at his portrait hanging  up there.

Riptide: How large will the finished project be?

LD: When it's finished, it will stretch from 50th St. to 77th St., 27 blocks of art. I'm planning on having it finished by next Art Basel in 2009. If anyone's interested in being a part of the next round of portraits, they can check my website for updated photoshoots.

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