Boca Raton recently received a sneak peak at the full slate of exhibitions scheduled at the Museum of Art | Fort Lauderdale through the end of 2015. From blockbuster showcases of Frida Kahlo and Julian Schnabel, to an unpredictable art incubator focusing on homelessness and belonging, to a challenging group exhibition about the nature of aesthetics, the museum’s season schedule has not appeared this eclectic or edgy in recent memory.

Much of this has to do with MoA’s new director and chief curator, Bonnie Clearwater (pictured below), which the museum hired last summer from her previous post at the Museum of Contemporary Art in North Miami. This marks her first full season as curator, and she’s planned a memorable one. Here’s a look at the 2014-2015 exhibitions, with comments from Clearwater gleaned from a recent interview with Boca Raton.

 

“Research and Development: Concerning Belonging,” June 1-Sept. 14

It doesn’t get more unique and site-specific than this first exhibition in a series of artist residencies at the museum. South Florida artists Rick Ulysse, Natasha Lopez de Victoria, Augustina Woodgate and Antonia Wright will be granted free reign of the museum’s second-floor galleries, which they’ll use to develop rotating projects concerning the topic of homelessness and belonging.

Clearwater: “As the emphasis is on the artists' research into the development of their artistic practice rather than a finished work or exhibition, we don't know where the project will lead. It’s a mystery for all of us! It opens up the museum as a laboratory for experimentation, while bringing the creative vision of artists into the community. In addition, it helps build the artistic community, as the participating artists are likely to form strong bonds through discussions and studio critiques that will continue after this project.”

“The Miami Generation: Revisited,” July 13-Sept. 21

Another group show, this one is a sequel to “The Miami Generation,” a groundbreaking 1983 show that gathered the work of nine emerging artists from Miami’s Cuban exile community to showcase their art at the now-defunct Cuban Museum of Arts and Culture in Miami. Thirty years later, the Museum is bringing back all nine artists to display work completed in the intervening years.

Clearwater: “Although born in Cuba, most received their art education in Miami, and then remained in their adopted city, forming a strong community of artists that contributed to the growth of Miami as an international art center.”

 

“Café Dolly: Picabia, Schnabel, Willumsen,” Oct. 12-Feb. 1

Three provocative artists will share the museum’s limelight during the time of Art Basel, exploring new similarities between the Dadaist and figure painter Francis Picabia, work from the past three decades by acclaimed New York artist and filmmaker Julian Schnabel, and work by the Danish visionary W. J. Willumsen that dates back over a century.

Clearwater: “I’ve worked with Julian Schnabel several times before, and I was perplexed that the U.S. audience does not seem to understand his work. This was partly due to the fact that the European artists that were of interest to him were not well known here either. This exhibition draws strong connections between Schnabel’s and Picabia’s philosophical approach to art and introduces the obscure late 19th and early 20th artist W. J. Willumsen to not only our local audience but to the international art world that descends on South Florida during Art Basel Miami Beach in December.”

“American Scene Photography: Martin Z. Margulies Collection,” Nov. 2, 2014-March 22, 2015

Vintage photographs by Walker Evans, Lewis Hines and Dorothea Lange are among the works collected, over a 20-year period, by Martin Z. Margulies, whose taste in photography captures the beauty and expansiveness of America’s landscapes and the character and diversity of its people and cities.

Clearwater: “Marty Margulies’ collection of photography is unique in its historical depth, with strong holdings of vintage impressions by Lewis Hines, Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange and Berenice Abbott, among others, as well as the breadth of contemporary works. I’m interested not only in the photographs, but how the collection creates a narrative about the collector, especially Mr. Margulies’ deep interest in the human condition.”

 

“Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera,” from the Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection and “Mexican Modernism,” from the Stanley and Pearl Goodman Collection, Feb. 26-May 31, 2015

This exhibition provides the rare opportunity, at least in a museum setting, to explore the modernist masterworks of Mexican painter Frida Kahlo and muralist Diego Rivera, whose masterworks on display will include Kahlo’s “Self-Portrait with Monkeys” and Rivera’s “Self-Portrait.” In addition, the Museum of Art will plumb its own collection of Mexican modernism dating from 1910.

“Aesthetic Decisions,” March 8-Aug. 2, 2015

The philosophy of art aesthetics is the subject of this ambitious and heady exhibition of works by Marcel Duchamp, John Baldessari, Judy Fiskin, Claire Fontaine, Jorge Pardo, Sophie Calle, Jeff Koons, Joseph Kosuth, Mike Kelley, the Bechers, Elad Lassry, Claire Fontaine and others. The artists will address the nature of aesthetics as opposed to the more traditional concerns of artistic style and especially taste, and they challenge the criteria for judging the aesthetic merit of art works.

Clearwater: “I strongly believe that our exhibitions should reflect a continuity of thought that gives our audience, particularly repeat visitors, ideas to contemplate and debate. For me, when I work on an exhibition, I’m always asking why? Why does an artist choose to work a certain way? Why is one work extolled as a masterpiece while another is disdained? Why are artists’ reputations constantly in flux? And then there are questions such as who makes these judgments, what is the criteria, and is this criteria a constant or is it arbitrary?

“Both ‘Cafe Dolly’ and ‘Aesthetic Decisions’ address these issues. As ‘Cafe Dolly,’ with its paintings based on thrift store art, garish travel posters and amateurish snapshots, is presented first, it might be a head-scratcher for some visitors, which is good. ‘Aesthetic Decisions’ is more didactic, as it addresses these issues head-on starting with Marcel Duchamp (who worked closely with Picabia) to the present.” 

The Museum of Art | Fort Lauderdale is at 1 E. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. For information, call 954/525-5500 or visit moafl.org.