A South Florida artist is facing a criminal charge after US police say he smashed a US$1 million vase by a Chinese artist at Miami’s new art museum to protest what he called its favoritism for international, rather than local art.
Maximo Caminero, 51, was charged with criminal mischief after Sunday’s incident at the Perez Art Museum Miami.
According to a Miami Police Department arrest affidavit, a security guard told officers that Caminero picked up a colored vase by Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei (艾未未). When told to put it down, the security guard said Caminero smashed it on the floor.
Caminero told officers he broke the vase to protest the museum’s lack of local artist displays and because “the museum only displayed international artists’ art,” according to the affidavit.
Caminero, a painter who lives in Miami, declined comment when reached by telephone on Monday, but said he would have news conference yesterday afternoon.
“I’m going to answer all the questions,” he said.
The police affidavit lists the value of the vase as US$1 million, quoting the museum’s security officials. Criminal mischief can be a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in US prison when the property damaged is worth more than US$1,000.
“As an art museum dedicated to celebrating modern and contemporary artists from within our community and around the world, we have the highest respect for freedom of expression,” the museum said in a statement released late on Monday. “But this destructive act is vandalism and disrespectful to another artist and his work, to Perez Art Museum Miami, and to our community.”
Caminero had a recent showing at the JF Gallery in West Palm Beach that offered patrons a chance to meet him and “view a sampling of the work from his 30-year career as an artist.”
According to the Perez Art Museum Miami’s Web site, the vase is one of more than a dozen that are part of a floor installation. Each vase is partially painted in bright colors.
Behind the installation are a series of three black-and-white photographs showing Ai holding a vase and then letting it drop to the ground, smashing into pieces.
The “Ai Weiwei: According to What?” exhibit runs through March 16 at the museum.
Museum officials confirmed the incident in a Monday e-mail, and added that an upcoming show will feature a local artist, Miami’s Edouard Duval-Carri.