Photography lesson

This bustling Miami home is a lesson in living with art

Once upon a time at Art Basel Miami Beach not too far away, before the pandemic upended social gatherings, a creative crowd gathered at the Shorecrest home of art dealer Nina Johnson and singer-songwriter Daniel Milewski. Musician and concept artist Terry Allen had set up his keyboard in the living room, where an audience gathered – some on sofas, others standing side by side – to hear soulful songs about lonely highways, pretty waitresses and trains merchandise. A short drive away, an exhibition of Allen’s works on paper at Johnson’s eponymous gallery provided visual counterpoint to the tunes.

An Emmett Moore bookcase anchors the home office; above the windows, a clock by Creative Growth and a painting by Kristopher Benedict.

Kris Tamburello

Designed by AD100 firm Charlap Hyman & Herrero, this space, a respite from the city’s white galleries and swanky hotels, has been the site of many gatherings. But for Johnson, there’s something particularly special about being entertained at home. “It’s a way of showing people that a work of art is actually livable,” she says. “We have a big hairy dog ​​who drools on everything. We have two little boys running wild in the house. Objects are enriched by the lives lived around them. In the case of her living room, those objects include works by Judy Chicago, Awol Erizku, Seth Cameron and others from her growing list of talents.

Johnson and Milewski, who met at Boston’s School of the Museum of Fine Arts, returned to their native Miami in 2005. By 2007, she had opened her own art space (then called Gallery Diet) in Wynwood, before to relocate to its current building complex in Little Haiti. All the while, his eclectic and intuitive program took shape, with emerging voices like Emmett Moore, Katie Stout and Germane Barnes mingling with radical predecessors like Peter Shire, Nicola L. and the Florida Highwaymen, a group of painters African-American landscape painters. from the 1950s who are only now getting their due.

Johnson in his gallery, in Little Haiti in Miami, designed by the firm AD100 Charlap Hyman & Herrero; wicker sideboard by Katie Stout.

Max Burkhalter

The entrance features a ceiling mural by Jim Drain, a wall hanging by Anna Betbeze (left), and artwork by Rochelle Feinstein (back wall); on the piano, sculptures by Nicolas Lobo and Wade Tullier and an Ettore Sottsass lamp.

Kris Tamburello

In 2013, the couple moved into their 1920s craftsman home. There was plenty of space (Milewski, who released four new singles this year, needed a music studio) and was in good shape , especially given the climate, which does not favor old houses. Slowly they restored the windows, painted the exterior avocado green, and uncovered the original living room ceiling mural, previously painted over. Amid these thoughtful renovations, a steady stream of artist friends — many of whom crashed into the guesthouse for weeks or months — also left their own marks. Jim Drain spoke about the new lobby ceiling mural, inspired by the patchwork textiles of the indigenous Miccosukee people of Florida, while Stout, fresh out of RISD, personally delivered and installed a chandelier after the first one she shipped or arrived broken. “Nina is so good at her job because she really believes in her artists and their work,” says Stout, whose career has blossomed over the years thanks in large part to Johnson’s mentorship. “She has this ability to make people see what she sees.”

In the Johnson-Milewski house, nothing is ever too precious. Alongside top-notch artwork and design are the creations and interventions of two curly-haired boys, Cy and Lee. There are the moons they sculpted in Play-Doh with painter Ann Craven and the portrait silhouettes they made from wire at summer art camp at Moore’s studio. At Christmas, they’ve been known to put a Santa hat on what they call “the fruit lady” (one of Stout’s collectible lamps). “Art is part of their daily life,” says Milewski. “The same as for us, maybe even more.” As for that Terry Allen performance, it was after the boys’ bedtime, but they had backstage passes for the sound check.