The U’s mark on Art Basel

Amanda M. Perez and Kelly Montoya, 12-04-2019

Jill Deupi, director of the University of Miami’s Lowe Art Museum, participated in a panel during the unveiling of Jorge Pérez’s new museum art space, “El Espacio 23.”
Jill Deupi, director and chief curator of the Lowe Art Museum, pictured with panelists. Photo: Diego Meza-Valdes/University of Miami


As the art world continues to evolve in South Florida, a new neighborhood is now in the spotlight of this transformation. Longtime University of Miami Board of Trustees member Jorge Pérez is at the forefront of this vision to transform the neighborhood known as Allapattah into a hub for community engagement in the arts. 

During the height of Art Week, Pérez unveiled his 28,000-square-foot art space on Northwest 23rd street named “El Espacio 23,” which features art pieces that Pérez had kept away in storage for years, including photographs, paintings, sculptures and videos from around the globe.

As one of this week's inaugural events leading into Art Basel, the space opened its doors to leaders in academia from across the country for a thought-provoking conversation about the importance of academic art museums. Leading the discussion was the Lowe Art Museum’s director and chief curator, Jill Deupi. 

“Throughout the years in this field, I’ve discovered that academic museums are widely misunderstood. People make a lot of assumptions that are oftentimes wrong,” Deupi said. “I feel a responsibility to convey the message of the impact museums makes in the community.”

With more than 19,000 objects as part of its collection, the Lowe Art Museum opens its doors to about 25,000 people each year. Deupi believes the Lowe’s deep-seated partnership with the University helps tap into a new side of creativity. 

“We have access to some of the smartest minds in a broad variety of fields that include anything from neurosurgery to engineering. It's great because we have access to different viewpoints. It’s an interesting and exciting way to approach art,” said Deupi.

Similar to the vision that Pérez has for his exhibition, Deupi hopes that through art the community will spark change in the world. The Lowe’s latest exhibition, “DIAGO: The Pasts of this Afro-Cuban Present,” is an example of how art can make an impact in society.

“The exhibition is about racial discrimination in Cuba. It is very open and frank. We have so many of the same issues in our country. When you introduce this content to students and community members, it sparks intellectual expansion and growth,” Deupi said. 

Also in attendance was Josh Friedman, senior vice president for development and alumni relations. He is proud to see how the University is taking proactive measures to be a leading force in cultivating important conversations.

“As the arts community in South Florida continues to flourish, it’s fascinating to see the University of Miami’s contributions to its growth," Friedman said. "The University’s relationship with Jorge Pérez has been continuous. We’re proud of the strides he’s taking in our community and this new space represents a tremendous asset for the Miami arts community.”