The Best of 2012 Miami Beach Art Fairs
CARTWHEEL’s List of Trends, Successes and Discoveries at Miami Beach Art Fairs, Dec. 6-9, 2012
I didn’t know I had reached maximum art stimulus overload in Miami until it was 4am east coast time on Monday. The fairs were over, I was on a plane about to land in Los Angeles and, coming out of groggy half-sleep, I opened my eyes to see a spray paint can in my seat-back pocket. What the hell am I doing with a can? I don’t even paint. Who does this belong to? Do they want it back? Oh wait… it’s an empty can of seltzer water. The fatigue/ humidity/ art submersion had finally set in.
Miami in December is many different things, and paint cans are just one of them. Now that I’ve rubbed the sleep out of my eyes and gotten back to the land of proper burritos, it’s time to recount the things CARTWHEEL saw in Miami Beach this year. The trends we noticed are likely to have resounding effects throughout the art world in the upcoming year; the discoveries we made are simply a few of the artists who managed to stand out above all the rest, a challenge to say the least; the stories of success and achievement are the kind of dreams that come true at Art Basel Miami Beach and its 22 fairs.
If your normal every-day-life solar system is comprised of a gallery, or several galleries, then the possibility that there can really be so many art fairs and so many galleries within each fair and so many artists within each gallery, is as impossible an enormity to fathom as the concept of our real solar system being in an infinite number of galaxies. Yes, it felt that big!
Among CARTWHEEL’s three team members — Cindy, Andrea, and myself — we scouted Art Basel, Context, SCOPE, Pulse, Aqua, Miami Project, Fountain and Wynwood Walls. Each one had its own aesthetic, traffic flow, type of visitor, fashion, and rehydrating drink of choice (Perrier or Champagne?). With so much to see and do, does one make a spreadsheet schedule, like the Brooklyn-based sculptor I met? Or does one wing it, most likely missing many things but remaining open to the “stumbling across” that can be so wonderful. Either way, the minutes flew by.
Mirrors — It’s about reflection to a lot of artists right now, which was illustrated in various forms at Art Basel Miami Beach, Pulse, Fountain and elsewhere. We noticed an elaborate mirrored bicycle at the entrance of Pulse by Vietnamese-born artist Dinh Q. Lê with Elizabeth Leach Gallery. This was his first time exhibiting in the U.S. Perhaps the most fun “reflection” was the live TV feed on the outside of Evo Love‘s booth at Fountain. It turned the viewer into a gritty, hot mess of a superstar. At Fountain it shouldn’t be any other way.
Confections — S.F.’s Spoke Art at SCOPE dedicated most of its booth to the Cakeland work of Scott Hove, reinforcing the way SCOPE stands above other art fairs as a brilliant showcase for contemporary and lowbrow-contemporary work. Spoke wasn’t the only place where sugar was the theme; a free carnival ride, Sugar and Gomorrah by Peter Anton, was an installation adjacent to Context art fair that was about “Too much is never enough.”
Books — There’s no reading required to enjoy the beautiful book art we spotted at all the fairs. From SCOPE to Aqua to Art Basel, there were a variety of interpretations on the old hard-cover learning device. Brian Dettmer, who was shown with San Francisco’s Toomey Tourell Gallery at Aqua and Chicago’s Packer Schopf Gallery at Context, uses a number of encyclopedia-size books to create sculptural works. Joe Decamillis, who was showing with Red Truck Gallery at SCOPE, paints miniature road scenes based on life in a trailer, which are inlaid into books that are affixed with heavy duty screws and bolts. The meticulous antiquarian book cutouts done by Alexander Korzer-Robinson show the layers that exist in the pages of history if we could see through the cover and all the fine print.
The crossover of Street Art — It was hard not to notice the Banksy walls that were placed in various locations around the conjoining Context and Art Miami fairs, because a security guard, special lights and velvet ropes accompanied each. Speedy Graphito, whose work was shown at Context with Fabien Castanier Gallery, sold three pieces, including a mural, Loading, that was shown in the outside courtyard, to a New York based luxury brand firm Sandow. At Pulse, visitors could pick up a Space Invader map of Miami from Jonathan LeVine Gallery. At Art Basel, Os Gemeos was shown with Gallerie Fortes Villaca, Barry McGee was shown with Cheim & Read, and Robert Loughlin‘s early stencil-like work was a standout from Regina Gallery.
Tony Goldman — This year, Miami Beach was really about one man with impeccable vision. Tony Goldman is a name I didn’t know before this trip, but I knew what the Wynwood Walls were. It turns out they are basically one and the same. Tony, who passed away in September, was key in developing Wynwood as a thriving gallery district, where the town square is a street art museum. The area was busy during “Art Basel week” as families and art fans looked at the walls (including a new Shepard Fairey portrait mural of Goldman), lined up to step inside Kenny Scharf‘s neon Airstream trailer, viewed a small exhibition on Goldman (he also developed New York’s SoHo and Miami’s South Beach, had an impeccable shoe collection and is well-regarded for his vision of uplifting rundown architectural gems), ate at Wynwood Kitchen & Bar, and even browsed the gift shop, where you can buy a coffee mug that says Wynwood Walls.
CARTWHEEL featured artist Matjames Metson walked away from Miami with a major sale of his Three Wasps Chair with Coagula Curatorial at the Miami Project fair. The chair is truly a masterpiece and now part of a major Miami art collection.
CARTWHEEL featured artist Lydia Emily sold out from the booth space at Red Bull Curates at SCOPE. That’s four original oil paintings — one which went to the Marshall Fields collection.
Artist Greg Haberny, who is better known in New York than out west, though he is part of the CARTWHEEL collection, had Miami’s most love-it-or-hate-it installation at Aqua. He made such a magnificent, organized-chaos mess of room number 119, with a splintered piano at the center communicating the different concepts of music — madness, digital and classical — making him and the gallery Lyons Wier the standout of the entire fair.
Another artist who CARTWHEEL follows closely, Andrew Schoultz, found success with the purchase of two gold flag paintings by Sean “Diddy” Combs at Marx & Zavattero San Francisco, at Miami Project. Schoultz’s work was seen in several art fairs in Miami including Mark Moore Gallery at Pulse.
While exploring Fountain art fair, Cindy bumped into hip-hop pioneer Russell Simmons and then rounded one of the fair’s labyrinthine corners to find the artwork of Rockland, Illinois artist Corey Hagberg. It’s thanks to this encounter of Corey’s psychosomatic bright layered paintings that he’ll be a featured artist on CARTWHEEL and is actually making new work for us already. Corey also met Simmons and said he was a chill guy:
We gave him a bag with some screen prints and drawings in it as a thanks for all he’s done with charities and music. Our friend Jesus is a visual artist and performer. He took one of his puppets and did a dirty puppet show for Russell. He thought it was pretty funny.
While in the Red Bull Curates booth at SCOPE, the artist Hebru Brantley‘s paintings seemed to jump off the wall, whether it was a feminine profile or a pair of boys in helmets and goggles. Hebru is from Chicago and paints themes having to do with his 1980s upbringing. He was super nice in person and only towered over Cindy by about three feet. We weren’t the only ones who became Hebru fans last weekend. On the last day of the fair, at Russell Simmons’ Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation, Jay-Z bought a Hebru Brantley for $20,000. Hebru posted on Instagram,
Last day of #artbasel and my work goes into the Sean Carter Collection. Thanks Jay and B for your hospitality. JAYZ OWNS A HEBRU BRANTLEY!!!#jayz #beyonce
Other artists who made new, now lasting, impressions: Ernesto Kunde, who is now part of the permanent Miami Art Museum collection after being discovered by at SCOPE; Tom Fellner, whose colorful paintings of Japanese kaiju monster toys in woodsy settings were shown with Swiss gallery Balzer Art Projects at Pulse; and Okay Mountain, a ten-member artist collective with a solo show at Mark Moore Gallery in the upcoming year.