For the past eight years, Gallery Diet has been located in Miami’s art-centric Wynwood District, at 174 Northwest 23rd Street. This November, the gallery will open the doors to its new permanent home at 6315 Northwest 2nd Avenue, a four-building compound situated between Little Haiti and Little River.
“It was very much that I wanted to be able to own a home, you know?” director Nina Johnson-Milewski told me over the phone, referencing her transition from leasee to property owner. “In Miami we’re a little bit of an island anyway, and I really wanted to find a space that felt autonomous and individual. In terms of the location, I just wanted something that was close enough that people could get to, but it was less important to me to be part of someone else’s vision for a particular area, and more important to have a little compound that I could control.”
The Miami art scene has been making a conscious effort to expand out of Wynwood and the Design District in recent years. That’s not hard to do in a medium-sized driving city. “My new location is 40 blocks away from my existing gallery. It’s in a completely different world, but in the car, it’s like a two-minute drive,” Johnson-Milewski told me. “It’s not a neighborhood where there’s private collections and stuff like that. There’s a lot of municipal developments around the new location. We’re [positioned] just left of all the boulevards and hotels and developments, so we’re kind of right there, but what I really love about the location is that we’re independent of that. It’s not like there’s going to be a big boutique next to me coming next year—I don’t feel like that will be a concern for a very long time.”
Together, all four buildings—a 1940s-era storefront-turned-church, a two-story residential house, and a separate loft space—total approximately 5,000 square feet, as well as a 15,000 square foot outdoor garden, a nod to Miami’s outdoor culture. Charlap Hyman & Herrero, the design partnership of architect Andre Herrero and interior designer Adam Charlap Hyman that was responsible for Salon 94’s downtown Manhattan space as well as Leila Heller Gallery’s Dubai outpost, will be helming the project, their first in Miami.
“We basically tried to expose as much of what was rough and original. There are elements like these concrete columns that run through the center of the space, and originally we were thinking ‘God, this is such a thing, how are we going to deal with this?’ But eventually we decided to really highlight it and make it a feature,” said Johnson-Milewski.
The first show at Gallery Diet’s new space will be a solo exhibition for Nicolas Lobo, while the garden area will host a show called “Trees in Oolite,” featuring brutalist-style outdoor furniture, lighting, and design pieces, with stenographic contributions by another of the gallery’s artists, Emmett Moore. The last show at the old space, titled “Ultraviolet,” will feature work by Nathlie Provosty and Alina Tenser, and will run from September 18 through the end of October.
I asked if the gallery had any plans for an artist residency in the works. “For sure!” Johnson-Milewski said enthusiastically. “In the past two years I’ve actually been hosting artists at my home. We have a guesthouse in our garden and that’s been great, but it’s also limited in the sense that there’s no space to work. At the new location, eventually one of those buildings will be conducive to live in, so artists can come down and actually fabricate their whole shows while they’re staying on the property. If they’re working on a performance, the same space they’re staying in could be opened to the public, or if they really want to occupy the gallery for a period of a couple of months, they can do that because they’ll also be able to have additional exhibitions in the other buildings. It’s such a flexible space. People can really take advantage of it however they want.”