Miami 2013 Preview: Art of Fusion’s Curator and Producer Connect African Diasporic Artists to Miami Art Lovers
Art of Fusion, launching at this December’s Miami Art Basel, brings together two very vibrant art-driven personalities, curator Wil Phearson and producer Flavia Colgan who have created a new Miami art fair featuring artists Miles Regis, Toni Scott, Roni Feldman, Duane Paul, Cole James, Ed Clark, Hugo McCloud, Amanda Keidan, Juan Logan, Nanette Carter, Deborah Dancy, Robert Colescott, Allie McGhee, Vincente Pimentel, Rashid Johnson, Leonel Matheu and Gregory Coates. Art of Fusion celebrates African and Caribbean Diasporic artists, bringing their work to the over 500, 000 art lovers attending Miami Art Basel this week.
Curator Wil Phearson is the founder of the Los Angeles-based Artist Muse which creates location specific pop-ups in private homes and other locations with a guest list that’s as thoughtfully curated as the art. Phearson had a vision and mission for Miami 2013: To bring greater awareness, attention, and business opportunities to the African and Caribbean Diaspora’s modern and contemporary emerging artists with an large event that would combine art with fashion, film and music.
Flavia Colgan’s background is public service and politics. A Harvard graduate and the first woman and youngest person ever to serve as chief of staff to Pennsylvania’s Lieutenant Governor, Colgan was a political commentator for both Fox News and MSNBC. As she developed an interest in art, Colgan was especially drawn to the work of Miles Regis which she began collecting. She explained in email:
I met Wil through one of the artists being featured in the show, Miles Regis. I’m a huge collector of Miles’ work so when Wil and I met, we connected immediately. I’ve worked in public service, in politics, in the media, and as somebody who’s been involved in a lot of results-driven industries, the Art of Fusion exhibition was an opportunity for me to be a part of something larger than myself.
Phearson recognized that Colgan was as enthusiastic and focused as he was about Artist Muse’s vision for Art of Fusion:
Our partnership with producer Flavia Colgan has been amazing. She understands and supports our mission with passion and intelligence. She’s a true champion for the arts and a gift to Artist Muse.
Thought their combined efforts and vision, Art of Fusion, held in a 10,000 square foot tent in the Wynwood District, was named Art Basel Miami 2013’s #1 offsite event by the New York Post. Art of Fusion is sponsored by Grey Goose Vodka, and the vodka company will be presenting groundbreaking African-American artist Betye Saar, known for both her prints and her assemblage, with their Fly Beyond award at a special VIP dinner on Friday December 6th. The dinner, like the VIP ribbon cutting and reception on December 3rd, is presented by CARTWHEEL, who is the media partner for Art of Fusion.
Along with the Art of Fusion art show, which is free and open to the public from 10am to 10pm December 4th through 7th, and the Grey Goose Lounge and sculpture garden, there are other evening events under tent that are free to the public–this is after all Miami Art Basel, where parties and multi-media events are a major part of drawing visitors. The nighttime festivities include December 4th’s pre-launch to Miami Fashion Week, featuring avant garde fashions from designers, Art of Shade, Julian Chang, Viviana G for Petit Pois, Fabrizio de Castro and Tanya Maria, presented by Jones Magazine and Miami Fashion Week; a dance party featuring local DJs on Friday December 6th; and live music and and performances the evening of December 7th.
But is art still center stage for this fair, and Art of Fusion will be presenting a very special event: Saturday December 7th’s discussion with the legendary Betye Saar, moderated by MSNBC correspondent Dr. James Peterson.
As he prepared to fly out to Miami, Phearson commented:
The ‘Art of Fusion’ exhibition has been gathering impressive momentum. We have some incredible artists participating. Betye Saar, Miles Regis, Duane Paul, Cole James—these are some of the most important established and emerging African-American and Caribbean artists working.
and went on to explain his curatorial process:
Choosing art is such a personal process for me. When I curate I’m looking for work that speaks to my heart and my spirit. I don’t ever want to just ‘look’ at a piece of art or an installation. I want to experience it. Art is transformative and I love being able to share that with people.
Like Phearson, Colgan’s focus is also to share the art and connect people with it:
We wanted to come together to show how we can bring all of these different people, these different elements, together. We’re leaving no stone unturned. We want a flow. We want a dialogue. We hope people will leave inspired and connected…For us this week is not just about artists presenting and selling their work but also what others are bringing to the experience. Artists. Collectors. Musicians. Community leaders. People who love art. People who don’t know (or think they don’t know) anything about art. We’re about connecting people. We want everyone to come. We want people to leave our events with a sense of having participated in a community. Art Basel is only a jumping off point. We’re on a mission to make sure that not one person feels that art is not accessible to them. Art is a universal language. This is the way to open up that conversation.
Both Colgan and Phearson are anticipating a busy four days in Miami, including an Art of Fusion brunch at the Little Haiti Arts & Cultural Center with visual artists from Haiti, Jamaica, the Bahamas, the Dominican Republic and other Caribbean nations joining Caribbean consul generals and international leaders, plus the huge flow of international visitors to the Art of Fusion Fly Beyond tent in the Wynwood District. Phearson recognizes how Miami Art Basel and the satellite fairs have become a giant carnival full of sensory delights:
It’s a special kind of ‘organized’ chaos. It’s exciting for my company Artist Muse to be part of such an enormous and successful global effort to support the arts community.
Top: Nanette Carter
Juan Logan, The Other City
Duane Paul, Manifest Desires
Above, Betye Saar, The Liberation of Aunt Jemima and below, her Midnight Madonnas. Born in 1926, Saar’s work from the 1970s dealt with racism and sexism. She was the first African-American woman to show in the Whitney Annual (1970). Her art also developed spiritual themes centering around the death of her great-aunt and embraced aspects of African Diasporic Religion including voudou and other occult themes. Saar will be honored at Art of Fusion.