Fair Game: Miami Overview

What better way to to open this post?
Lane Hagood, Blog Painting, 2012, acrylic on canvas, 14 x 11 inches. David Shetton Gallery, Houston, at Miami Project

The first night in Miami I rode the hotel elevator up to my floor with a man wearing an Art Basel Miami Beach ID, as I was, distinguished this year by a bright pink lanyard. We nodded hello. 
“What’s your gallery?” I asked.  
“I’m not a dealer. I’m the one who makes it happen,” he replied. 
“Oh, you’re an artist.”
“No,” he said with impatience bordering on contempt. “I’m an art handler.” 
There are many art worlds, and in Miami they were all orbiting and intersecting in a cosmology that included art and design, high-stakes blue-chip galleries and small artist-run fairs, each open to artists, dealers, collectors, critics, curators, interior designers, and, yes, art handlers. It is probably no exaggeration to say that one seven-figure sale at ABMB is roughly equal to the entire inventory of a small fair like Aqua. No judgment. Some planets in the art world are bigger than others. 
In seven days of fairgoing--the new Untitled fair had its opening on Monday night-- there were some 22 art fairs, half a dozen private collections open to the public, museums shows, special events, exhibitions in the Wynwood gallery area and, this year, even artists open studios. 
I made it to nine fairs.

In a nutshell: There was a lot of painting and sculpture, both with conventional materials--i.e. paint, wood, metal, clay--and a lot of material-based work, which includes cloth, concrete, foam rubber, plaster, wax and what have you. I'm planning a couple of posts on painting, a post on sculpture, and a nice juicy post on the What Have You. Here's an overview of the venues:
Art Basel Miami Beach
We start with ABMB, where some 250 galleries showed an estimated 2000 artists. This is the fair that makes people get all crazy about the high prices and the commodification of art. I don't know what to tell you. I went to look, not to buy. I didn't love everything I saw, but I loved seeing it. And there was a lot of painting here. (I'll have much more from this and the other fairs over the course of this month.) 

The map of Art Basel Miami Beach
It doesn't look all that large, does it?
A peek from the Skywalk here shows you otherwise--and this is just a small section

Below, the view from the floor with the sculpture, center left above, as a guide. The painting is a Bridget Riley from the Max Hetzler Gallery, Berlin

ABMB: The Lucio Fontana installation at Tornabuoni Art, Paris, is set up dramatically, a rival to any small museum show of the painter's work

 ABMB: A Sterling Ruby sculpture made infinitely more interesting by the woman in black and red
Art Miami and Context
Across Biscayne Bay in Wynwood, Art Miami held forth with a four-and-a-half-tent extravaganza--three and a half for Art Miami, an upscale fair distinguished by the large number of secondary-market and Latin American galleries it hosts, and one large tent for its new fair, Context, billed as a more contemporary fair. Together these two fairs featured about 150 galleries. (Disclaimer: This is the second year in a row that I was invited to hold a Blogger Walk-Through of the fair, and I'll have more on that in a separate post.)
The map of Art Miami--three large tents and a smaller section--with a new related fair, Context, at left
Art Miami: Kenneth Noland, Adolph Gottlieb, Helen Frankenthaler and John Chamberlain at Arcature Fine Art, Palm Beach. I love seeing these secondary market works; they have not been shown in museums because they've been in private collections

Art Miami: Banksy Out of Context, a selection of the mystery artists's wall art--with the entire wall, about 2.5 tons of it
Context: Kim Anno at Marcia Wood Gallery, Atlanta

Context: Jim Dingilian drawn-in-smoke bottles at Packer Schopf, Chicago
Detail below

 Context: Front row seat
Aqua Art
Aqua is the small fair with the big impact. As I typically do, I attended it on the heels of a day spent at ABMB. I love the oppositeness of it: small, open and, friendly in counterpoint to enormous, closed in and reserved. The other important point is that where male artists seem to outnumber female artists by about, oh, nine to one at ABMB, here the gender balance is decidedly more even. You notice these things when you photograph the art followed by the wall label.
The big news was that Aqua Art has been acquired by Art Miami. Considering that this fair was started by artists, Seattle-based Jaq Chartier and Dirk Park, let me say woo-hoo! It's nice to see artists get a piece of the pie. Of course the big worry is that Aqua will change. Art Miami's owners say they acquired it because of the venue it is. Here's hoping it remains, though I believe that one change will be the name: Aqua Art Miami.

Above and below: The courtyard at Aqua Art

 Aqua Art: Holly Holmes ceramic sculpture and Tom Burtonwood paintings at What It Is, Chicago
Aqua Art: Artist Kate Kretz and dealer Kathryn Markel at Markel's room. On the walls: Yolanda Sanchez and Kim Uchiyama
One of two big new fairs this year, Untitled, was billed as a curated fair. Fifty galleries were invited by curator Omar Lopez-Chahoud. The gorgeous, largely daylit tent, with its Eero Saarinen-like sweep, added to the impact of the fair though, truth be told, it got a little dark in there after 4:00 p.m. I thought the galleries were well selected, with a distinct bent toward materiality and geometry--ah, my kind of curator--and I loved its location. Bringing this fair to the beach, after so many have decamped to Wynwood, means that with ABMB, Aqua, NADA and a couple of smaller fairs, there's still plenty happening on this side of Biscayne Bay.

At water's edge in South Beach: Untitled Fair
Below an interior view of the largely daylit tent
Untitled: Rachel Beach sculpture at Blackston Gallery, New York City
Below: Hansjoerg Dobliar at Johannes Vogt Gallery
Miami Project
"How do you like the fair?" I asked an exhibitor.

"I love the tent, the light, and the wide aisles. I really like the other galleries showing here, and the art is pretty uniformly good," he said. "The only thing is that we're not getting the right collectors. I don't know who they marketed to, but we're getting visitors, not collectors, people who come up and ask, 'Is this work for sale?'"

As if on cue, a thirty-something fellow in striped shirt and khakis exclaimed interest in the work and then asked, "Is this work for sale?"

I hope the Miami Project organizers find a way to reach the right collectors, because it's in a perfect location to do well, right next to Art Miami, especially as Red Dot and Scope have been on the decline for some time.
Another new fair: Miami Project in Wynwood 
Miami Project: Don Voisine at Gregory Lind Gallery, San Francisco 
Miami Project: Monique Johannet at Carroll and Sons Gallery, Boston
This collective of seven galleries--Bravin Lee Projects, Hales Gallery, Pierogi Gallery,  Postmasters, P.P.O.W., Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, and Winkleman Gallery--is more precisely called a project rather than a fair. Like Untitled, it is a curated event, but here the gallerists themselves are doing the curating. It was a strong show with a wide range of offerings, and a terrific reminder that taking control need not be just by artists, but by dealers, too.
 Back for year three: the independent Seven fair. Image from the event website 

Seven: Yoon Lee painting via Pierogi

Seven: The famous art wall--all seven galleries contribute to the salon-style hanging. I will have one of everything, please

Seven: Tatiana Berg sculptures via Postmasters. Image from the event website
Fairs come and go, but this little fair has been a stalwart in New York City and Miami for some years now. Most of the galleries are mid-level, mid-size galleries, but I notice that some larger galleries, which also have a presence at ABMB, retain a relationship with Pulse, presumably to introduce their newer artists to collectors. At the same time, I notice that some artists with multiple gallery relationships show both here and at the larger fairs, like Art Miami and ABMB. Seeing these connections, you realize pretty quickly that success for an artist is not just about doing great work but about how and with whom s/he is affiliated. Anyway it's a lively fair with a range of work in a range of prices. Dependably interesting--and doable in about three hours. 

View of Pulse

Pulse: Lisa Schroeder, center, of Schroeder Romero. She's an island of calm in a very busy booth
The biggest disjunct in all the fairs is that of NADA, with its Lower East Side DIY esthetic, ensconsed in the crystal-chandeliered environs of the Deauville Hotel. After a while you get used to it, though some dealers have taped sheets of brown pressed wood over the floral-and-feather carpet. Others just ignore it. There is always a lot to engage at this fair. As at many of the fairs, there was a strong sense of the stuff of artmaking--foam, cement, clay and the like--as well as a strong textile sensiblity.

"Why fabric and why now?" I asked a Scottish dealer who was showing large hangings that resembled pockets. "I think it's a generational thing. This is the stuff the're using in art school."

NADA: A Lower East Side esthetic is crazily at odds with the marble and chandelier decor of the Deauville Hotel. Here, Corin Hewitt via Laurel Gitlen Gallery
NADA: At Canada, the booth became something of a souk with rugs for sale

I'm still fighting the flu, so the next post won't be until Friday. I have a lot of pictures to edit when I can make it out of bed.


Susan Schwalb said...

I can't wait to see all the posts but take care of yourself.

Oriane Stender said...

Yay! The Armchair Art Fair is back! Feel better soon!

Christine said...

A tempting appetizer for the main course to come. Please rest up before proceeding!

Karen Schifano said...

Boy do I appreciate your guided tours to places I only imagine! Hope you feel better soon - (Ginger tea works wonders for me). Can't wait for the next installment!

zach said...

glad you're feeling well enough to post !!!

OK: so, the not nice response to the guy in the elevator would have been "oh, so you're the hired help?" ;-)

by the way, the artist at seven's name is "yoon lee", and she's been getting some traction - I'm going to ask her how long that piece took because now I'm curious myself. a moment...

nice article by the way !!!

Julie Gross said...

and...feel better Joanne! xoJulie

annell4 said...

Thank you so much!

Karen Frazer said...

Great intro for what is to come. You have sure wet my whistle.I feel aesthetically titillated. But please, no more till you feel better I can wait in glorious aesthetic anticipation for "The Armchair Art Fair".