Silvia Karman Cubiñá Cranks Up the Bass Museum

Categories: Art
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"Unnatural," now on display at the Bass Museum.
Growing up in Puerto Rico, Silvia Karman Cubiñá rarely had the opportunity to visit art galleries or museums. "The scene was very underground and out of reach to the mainstream," she says. "It might not be inaccurate to say that what is out of reach is what you end up wanting the most."

Now Cubiñá is executive director and chief curator of the Bass Museum of Art, Miami Beach's premier art venue and a leader in revitalizing the area's once-moribund visual-arts scene.

It all began when a mentoring adult set her on an unexpected career path.

"I had a French teacher in high school for four years who took it upon herself to expose us to art history, music, architecture, opera, and even food ... She got tickets for us, picked us up at home ... She never took no for an answer," Cubiñá fondly remembers.

She went on to earn a degree in art history from Boston College in 1987 and then worked as a curator for Inova, the Institute of Visual Arts, at the University of Wisconsin. In 2002, she took a job as director of the Moore Space in the Design District. The internationally recognized contemporary art gallery was founded by local collectors Rosa de la Cruz and Craig Robins.

She stayed there until 2007 and then, in October of the following year, took the helm at the Bass.

Along the way, she had two sons, who helped her appreciate the need to instill a love for culture in young audiences. It is a lesson that has helped her with the Bass's educational community outreach programming.

Her oldest son, Raul, is a 20-year-old sophomore at New York University's Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music. The youngest, Alfredo, is 17 and a junior at Ransom Everglades School, where he is a hurdler and president of the chess club.

She says they have both "been deeply and inextricably enmeshed in art since they were born ... They've helped install a Jim Lambie floor and stuff sweaters for a John Bock performance," Cubiñá informs. "They've been to many a Whitney and a couple of Venice and Berlin biennials, Documenta, and Art Basel. My favorite story, though, is when Alfredo asked the British conceptual artist Jonathan Monk if he painted The Scream."

Indeed, the museum's work with kids has contributed to the Bass's growing popularity in the community. "The Knight Foundation says it best with their motto, to make art general. The Bass Museum's IDEA@thebass program is all about developing creativity," she says.

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Bass Museum of Art

2100 Collins Ave., Miami Beach, FL

Category: General

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