Contemporary art gallery located in Seattle Washington with an emphasis on cultural commentary and surrealism.

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Aqua Art Miami

  • Aqua Art Miami 1530 Collins Avenue Miami Beach, FL, 33139 United States (map)



Phylogeny Contemporary’s objective for Aqua Art Miami gently guides the viewer through conceptual responses to the personal and collective human condition. Art is reactionary, yet playful, contemplative and aesthetically sublime. There are eight established featured artist and a small sub-section dedicated to new collective of artists named A Constellation.


A Constellation

Renee Adams

Mo Cornelisse

Justin Gibbens

Vasily Kafanov

Suzy O’Mullane

Kuet Stallaert

Liz Tran

Mauricio Vergara


Renee Adams

Humanity’s imprint on nature is undeniable. Scientists claim we are now entering the Anthropocene - a term that credits the evidence and extent to which human activities have had a significant global impact on the earth’s ecosystems. My work delves into our complex relationship with the environment, our desire to control it and covet it, to manage it and exploit it, creating a power struggle in which I believe nature will ultimately win.

My sculptural works represent an artificial reality in which anomaly and normality, virility and frailty, beauty and repulsion are heightened. These biological conditions set the stage for natural selection – nature’s way of culling undesirable traits. I am fascinated with these innate and random states, how we cope with them and make value judgments about them in these technologically-driven times.

Using both found and man-made materials, I create sculptures by selectively morphing components from both flora and fauna, shaping them into creations that are based loosely in reality and largely in fantasy. These imaginary, hybrid species are delicate, alluring, and sometimes awkward or disturbing. Suggesting curious Darwinian anomalies yet to be discovered or freakish evolutionary failures; they blur lines of classification and embody the indefinable.

Through the medium of egg tempera I create paintings that depict evidence of our human imprint on the natural world. I draw from themes as varied as over-consumption and waste, unknown or forgotten mythologies, nature recolonizing and re purposing, and human interpretations of the seasons. 

Inspired by Michael Pollan’s recent book, The Botany of Desire, my works imagine a world in which plants and animals control us; seducing, manipulating and luring us into fulfilling their secret intentions. Borrowing imagery and inspiration from Ernst Haeckel’s stunningly detailed, late 19th century engravings, Persian miniatures, Americana wildlife paintings, Breugel’s depictions of the seasons and Medieval book of hours illustrations, I attempt to weave the historical relationship of human and planet with my own environmental observations.

Born in Frankfurt, Germany in 1972, Renee Adams expressed an interest in the natural world at a young age. She received her BFA in metalsmithing from Colorado State University in 1995, and her MFA in sculpture from Central Washington University in 1999. She currently resides in Thorp, WA, works as the Exhibitions and Publicity Coordinator at Gallery One Visual Arts Center in Ellensburg, WA, and is a board member and founding member of PUNCH Gallery in Seattle, WA. In her free time, Renee enjoys gardening, mushroom hunting, and exploring her planet.


Mo Cornelisse

Mo Cornelisse has worked since 2012 as a full-time ceramist. She seeks the challenge in simplicity, and material contradictions.

The work of ceramist Mo Cornelisse consists of unique pieces often in porcelain combined with gold. With love for the craft but modern techniques. In her work she looks for boundaries in form and material. The works are three-dimensional and are distinguished by shape and simplicity.

The wall objects reminiscent of light reflections. The series Dolls initially seem innocuous but are certainly not. MO is the first ceramist who makes

porcelain portraits by the latest techniques and also her latest series of Wall carpets made of Porcelain and gold are unique pieces.


Justin Gibbens

Thirty-some odd years ago when I first began moving graphite on paper I was rendering the childhood standards: dinosaurs, creepy crawlers and other freakish fauna. Not much has changed in three decades. I credit my work to countless hours spent watching David Attenborough documentaries, innumerable trips to natural history museums, and above all, a keen and unhealthy interest in all things that scamper and poke about in the undergrowth, slither in the thickets, soar through the ether and swim in the infinite abyss of our planet’s aquatic environments. Utilizing the conventions of 18th and 19th century zoological illustration along with the techniques of traditional Chinese painting, I create strange and lovely images of curious creatures and beautiful beasts from a forgotten natural history.


These stylized and embellished depictions speak of evolution, mutation and biodiversity, and perhaps serve as cautionary tales and stand-ins for our anthropocentric selves. By referencing the formal aspects of classic natural science illustration, I connect to a centuries-old tradition; I look to pioneers in this field, celebrating the stylized naturalism and exquisite attention to detail found in these early works and I find provocative ways to once again make this genre and aesthetic relevant.

Our world is mysteriously fascinating and amazingly weird, and our relationship to the animal kingdom is layered, complex and ambiguous. It is through my work that I take pleasure in acknowledging this.


Justin Gibbens received his BA in painting and drawing from Central Washington University in 1998 and a Scientific Illustration Certificate from University of Washington in 2003. He is a founding member of PUNCH Projects (formerly PUNCH gallery), an artist collective based in central Washington. Gibbens was the recipient of a 2006 Pollock-Krasner Foundation Award and a 2008 Artist Trust Fellowship Award. He  shows nationally and internationally and lives in rural Thorp, WA. He is represented by G. Gibson Gallery in Seattle, WA and Elizabeth Leach Gallery in Portland, OR.  His work has been collected by Grinnell College, Microsoft, 4Culture/King County Portable Works Collection, City of Seattle (Seattle City Light: Portable Works Collection) and the Washington State Arts Consortium. As a counterpoint to the inspiration he gains from living in the NW, Gibbens’ wanderlust has taken him to the far away and sometimes inhospitable places including Antarctica, the Indian subcontinent and the Galapagos Islands for ecological and aesthetic inspiration. Aside from his studio practice, Gibbens has begun adapting his images for larger-scale public mural projects.


Vasily Kafanov

When Billy Corgan of the group Smashing Pumpkins – at the height of their fame – asked Vasily Kafanov to create all of the graphic material for their album and tour Machina/The Machines of God (2000), he found an artist whose visual imagery matched his group’s music and lyrics in its density, poetic allusiveness, and fantasy. Their combined efforts resulted in a brilliant collaboration whose central theme of alchemy, the transformation of base metals into gold, was of great interest to both artist and singer. The commission also announced the arrival of a significant new talent on the New York artistic stage. Born in Moscow in 1952, Kafanov received a thorough artistic training in the Soviet style: textile design at the Moscow Technological Institute (1978), Animation at the Ministry of Film (1984), and long immersion in the fertile world of book illustration from 1980. Before leaving Russia in 1990, he was already embarked on a distinguished career and was a member of the prestigious Artist’s Union. He had also proven to be a real find to the actors of the film “The Russia House,” including Michelle Pfeiffer and Steven Fisher, who collected his paintings while on location in Moscow.

Kafanov has brought the craft and versatility so evident in his formative years in Moscow to all that he has produced since arriving in New York in 1990. He has tried his hand at ceramics, printmaking, and sculpture – remarkably, creating distinguished works in each --although painting has remained his principal focus. In each of these his style remains immediately recognizable and singular. Figures and objects are placed in an overall pattern across the surface, both their silhouettes and details literally drawn in a dense web of black ink across the color of the acrylic paint. Sometimes a narrative is being told – travels; festivities; harlequins; court life of the middle ages. At other times a single image is in the forefront and all else recedes behind it.

Of these images, that which has continued to play a role in Kafanov’s imagination longest is the so-called ‘Fishtower,’ in which a tower grows from a vast airborne fish. The artist has attempted to locate the fascination of this image for him. It derives, in the first place, in a childhood experience of great poignancy. While growing up in a communal apartment, he had begged his mother for an aquarium with fish. There wasn’t room, but she finally gave him two fish in a pickle jar. They survived for a month, and when they died his grandmother told him that they had flown away. This memory was later joined to one of the old bell towers of Moscow (perhaps made more interesting because the churches to which they were attached were more or less shut down by the authorities). Both of these childhood memories – resonant with emotions relating to desire, deprivation, and some kind of faith – came back to him when he first flew over Manhattan, its ‘fish-like’ shape bristling with skyscrapers.

Although the folkloric aspect of his recurrent images has led critics to compare some of his earlier works to Marc Chagall (and indeed Kafanov knew the venerable artist and was encouraged by him), the work of the last decade or more has moved far from that beginning. The recent paintings are increasingly dense, with enigmatic and moody qualities. This evolution came to fruition in a masterful series of collages of the last five or so years. Built up from photographs, bits of metallic machinery, wooden elements, etc., as well as with the characteristic pen lines and thick acrylic paint, these are enormously satisfying compositionally, and can be haunting in their effect. Folklore gives way to meditation on personal history, the passage of time, and glimpses onto other places and landscapes. Likewise, the confidence and monumentality of a recent series of rough- hewn wooden sculptures of fish and fish towers makes a remarkably distinctive impression. The artist is very interested in creating objects like these, which almost seem ancient or ‘primitive’ in their simplicity; as he said of some woodcuts that he made for the Smashing Pumpkins commission, “The first books in this world were made with woodcuts, and I try to imitate that sense of antiquity.” Thus too the illusionistic framed borders of many of his paintings and collages seem to allude to old Russian icons.

In an interview Kafanov has said that, “I paint all the time. I don’t wake up in the morning, get dressed to paint, finish in the evening and go home to my regular life. Art is my life.” This is borne out by the searching quality of his work, in which one thing leads so naturally to another – from one medium to another, from one experiment to another, and circling back through the same themes but seen from different angles or lenses.

Dr. Andrea Bayer


Metropolitan Museum of Art

New York


Suzy O’Mullane

Suzy O’Mullane (b. 1958, Liverpool, England) lives and works in Cork and shares her time between there and her studio in the south of France. She was the co-founder of Arttrail in Cork, Ireland and director from 1996 to 2002. From 2001 to 2004 O’Mullane was on the Board of the Triskel Arts Centre, Cork, and has been a contributor to Ireland’s critical art publication, Circa. She has been awarded several residencies in Cill Rialaig, Ireland, Paris and Berlin as well as several prestigious commissions.

O’Mullane has exhibited in private and state-funded galleries in London, Berlin, Italy and throughout Ireland. Her work has been exhibited at international art fairs including Art Miami, Art Chicago, Art Palm Beach and Art Toronto. O’Mullane’s work has been presented in fifteen solo exhibitions; recent solo exhibitions include the Crawford Municipal Gallery, Cork, Sirius Arts Centre, Cobh, Ireland  and the Solstice Arts Centre in Navan, Co Meath, Ireland and Skotia Gallery, L.A.  O’Mullane’s work was featured in ‘Wildly Different Things: New York and Dublin’, a major international exhibition presented by BlueLeaf Gallery/BlueLeaf Unlimited in Dublin in February-March 2010.  O’Mullane’s work is held in private, public and corporate collections throughout Ireland, the UK, USA and in Europe.


O’Mullane’s work has evolved to employ multiple encoded forms that have become personal allegorical references for the artist. Throughout her practice she has applied correct draughtsmanship to enable a direct visual understanding of her forms. This visual clarity has provided a basis for extended considerations of O’Mullane’s deliberately altered perspectives and ambiguous projection of objects and references, both spatially and contextually. The artist’s adopted forms - hares, wolves, flowers, birds and female figures - are drawn from personal, historical, religious and mythological contexts and are intertwined with elements of light, darkness, colour, layering, gesturing and gaze. Collectively these elements provide significant keys to understanding O’Mullane’s imagery.

O’Mullane explains the use of her forms: “The intention of the work is to convey emotional and sometimes metaphysical connection, as well as absurd hypothetical situations. Humans and animals have interchangeable roles, and are devoid of accepted markers.”

“Questions of identity are always present in my work, particularly in the use of autobiographical reference. But my images acquire autonomy through repetition, layering and distillation. A useful analogy is to equate the imagery to a troupe of actors who assume different leading or subsidiary roles as required. Emotion is a very important component in my work and is implicitly registered in the imagery.”

In an essay entitled ‘Signs‘, Sean Kissane, Head Curator of Irish Museum of Modern Art writes: “Her figures are constantly torn between the representation of an individual and the universality which that figure represents. Just as line and colour distil notions of both of structure and emotion; so too do her subjects exist on multiple planes and function on different levels. The organic becomes a trope and the inorganic an emotion.”

Kurt Stallaert

His intimate “Mother and Child” moving still (2013), inspired Kurt Stallaert to work further on the idea of healing, baptism and rejuvenation as he created an impressive eleven hour during moving still wherein different naked bodies, men and women, one by one, almost ritually come out of the water. Their sins and souls are washed, their bodies cleansed and purified as they slowly disappear off screen. Circles of life, reflecting on the water. An infinite human chain of creation and recreation. A new start. Back to nature.

After finishing  his studies at the  Antwerp School of Photography, Kurt Stallaert’s talent and creativity  was soon discovered by some of the top advertising agencies in Belgium. Since then he worked for international publicity agencies such as Duval-Guillaume and TBWA, directed major advertising campaigns for Levis, Van Marcke, Humo, Telenet, Renault and many more. As a fashion and advertising photographer, Stallaert developed a personal style of impacting images that inspired many international brands he worked for: Nike, Sisley, Axe, Marie Jo and many more.


Although Kurt Stallaert's imagery is inspired by average social and cultural matters, with a touch of humor and irony, his work is remarkable because it goes above and beyond the everyday. No matter if it's about fashion or advertising, Kurt likes to work with elaborate settings creating his own artistic language and imaginary world. Recently, he also started to work with moving images.

Because of his inexhaustible drive and passion, his work (both his photography as well as his recent video projects), is timeless and unique.

Kurt Stallaert's non-stop search for authenticity of images in his professional work brought him automatically into artistic photography. His work explores the borders of reality and surreality and balances between the human and the superhuman. Does reality lie in the authenticity of the image, or in the authenticity of the emotion that it evokes? And how far can we go to reach perfection? Questions that raised in his "Bodybuilders' World", a photographical series of muscled men, women and children. Images that seduce but threaten at the same time. In 2010, some of these Bodybuilders were exhibited at the Museum Dr. Guislain in Ghent. Soon after his work was picked up by Leonhard’s gallery in Antwerp en budA art gallery in Brussels. More recently, Kurt Stallaert successfully showed his first video project at the Lineart art fair.

For his recent video work, Kurt uses high-speed photography, a technique developed for industrial and scientific purposes, that allows the artist to combine photography and film. At first sight, when we look at these images, we have the impression they are photos or stills. Only when we look closer and longer, we discover slowly moving images. By splitting an image into a thousand images, high-speed photography allows Kurt Stallaert to show more than one reality at the same time. He calls these images ’moving stills’.

Liz Tran

Liz Tran is a graduate in Print Art and Painting from Cornish College of the Arts. She exhibits both nationally and internationally.

Channeling subjects such as dream imagery, imagined landscapes, geodes, outer space and The Big Bang, Tran explores the shapes of nature, with the infusion of fantastical, pulsing synthetic hues. The psychedelic visuals are harvested from the place where inner-verse meets outer-verse, where optical misfires combine with a vacuum pull moving at the speed of light. Through painting, sculpture and installation, she creates atmospheres that aim to activate.Public collections of Tran’s work include the City of Seattle's Portable Works Collection, Baer Art Center, Camac Art Centre, The El Paso Children’s Hospital, Harborview Medical Center, The King County Public Art Collection and The Child Center.

She has been awarded multiple fellowships and grants; including a Grant for Artist Projects (GAP) from Artist Trust, Clowes Fellowship for residency at the Vermont Studio Center, the Nellie Cornish Scholarship and residency at The Camac Art Centre in France, The Baer Art Center in Iceland, Jentel, Millay Colony for the Arts and The Center for Contemporary Printmaking. She resides in Seattle, WA.

Mauricio Vergara

Mauricio Vergara was born in Rio IV, Córdoba, Argentina, in 1971.He is a self-taught painter. He has been painting since the early 90’s. He is currently living in Pamplona (Spain)

A Rioplatense poet ponders:

Where is my life that which it could have been, and it never was?

As he does, I ask myself, who I am? Where is my life? Where is the person who I once was? Where are those who are not anymore? Where will I be? Who will I be?

Time changes us, but there is something that always remains. We leave what we were; we look at the past, and we don´t recognize ourselves. But, we are them, changed by our deaths and our lost illusions that will keep us changing.

Mauricio’s characters without face and body want to be an invitation to the spectator to make these questions theirs and to encourage them to participate in finishing the paintings.


A Constellation

Please join our special section within our Featured Artist section at Aqua Art Miami 2016.

This section is designed to keep art accessible for even the beginning collector.

Art collecting does not need to feel intimidating.  Prices start under $500.

Each participating artist has a well-established CV for your investment minded purposes.

Introducing the new collective mini section for Aqua Art Miami 2016:

A Constellation is an artist collective assembled specifically for Aqua Art Miami 2016.  These hand selected artist, by curator L Jill Johns restricting only size of 12"x12"x2.5" wood panel create uniformity in project. All the artists exhibited are in their own way capable of expressing their emotions by presenting their world-view through questions regarding representation and their knowledge of the media they use.

Cohesion and range are explored through individual contributions. Will the whole find a collective voice?  A Constellation is an ongoing series of existential questions exhibited through visual art.


Double O Studios

Miriam Aroeste

Capucine Bourcart

Kesha Bruce

Cory Chandler

Bridget Conn

Carolina de la Cajiga

Elizabeth Gahan

Steve Jensen

Raeleen Kao

Deb Liljegrin

Julia Marchand

Sonya McAlister

Gianna Paniagua

Deirdre Sullivan-Beeman

Earlier Event: May 4
Later Event: April 20
Mauricio Vergara Solo Exhibition