Night and Day: The 96 Hour Spectrum of Miami Art Fairs!

Posted by on Dec 7, 2016

It’s hard to focus on the art fairs of Miami without being distracted by the art of the city itself! I was a first-time visitor to Florida, and immediately absorbed by the aqua gel waters, waving feathery palms and coral-specked sands. Historic, royal Art Deco architecture houses institutions as humble as post offices and motels. A shopping cart on the sidewalk piled with freshly harvested olive coconuts for purchase, and a towering Roy Lichtenstein mermaid sculpture on a corner lawn…two of countless gems- small and large- to be gathered like shells upon the beach. Just as the art fairs meld into character of Miami, I can’t help but feel some of the Fairs’ most fascinating works are its viewers, donned in various degrees of regalia, attending from all over the globe!

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Untitled Art Fair on the beach, from hotel.

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Scope Miami on the beach.

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Roy Lichtenstein, ‘Mermaid,’ 1979, composed of concrete, steel, polyurethane, enamel, palm tree, and water. The Fillmore Miami Beach at Jackie Gleason Theater.

As much sweat and sophistication clearly goes into the orchestration of the fair experience,
how even more poignant an experience was an effortlessly gifted, straightforward hour with local shaman, Catherine Hummingbird Ramirez, delivering her weekly prayers and protection/purification ceremony at the neighboring Miami Circle- possibly North America’s most ancient Native American site and ceremonial grounds. I was delighted to be traveling with Los Angeles artist Mark X. Farina, who is currently developing a project to increase awareness around this sacred historic location- which is slated to be represented in next year’s festivities!

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Above photos of Catherine and Screenprinted ‘map’ of Miami Circle by Mark X. Farina

The art fairs of Miami are a vast spectrum, with day and night on either end, afloat in an ocean of social events and cocktail parties. You can’t see it all even if you were ten people. You plot and plan, then let your schedule go to the wind- keep your Lyft app ready, and believe that destiny guides you!

As I see it, Art Basel is like the morning: the most conscious, cleanest, whitest, most spacious, polished, high-brow dawn of collectors. At Basel the art spans decades, centuries. History mingles with present.

Wednesday AM hosts a throng of reporters, politely but excitedly sardined into its press conference. A polkadotted pool of artfully dressed bodies with protruding microphones, and cameras like both birds and dinosaurs.

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A few of my favorite works at Basel were those showing the ghosts and auras of ethereal figures, and others evoking equally metaphysical, Astrology/Astronomy/Numerology themes.

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‘Saturn,’ by Theodora Allen, 2016

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‘Darwin’s Cave,’ by Jakub Julion Ziolkowski, 2016

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Unknown Title, Giorgio Griffa

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‘Dozing Consciousness (Body),’ Marina Abramovic, 2016

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‘See,’ Antony Gormly, 2015-16

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‘Polaroid Painting,’ Jeff Elrod, 2016

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‘L.I.S. frauen sehen,’ Miriam Cahn

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Unknown Title, Eva Presenhuber

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‘Two Snakes With Women,’ and ‘Devil,’ Ulla Von Brandenberg, 2016

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Jasper Johns, 2012

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‘Untitled,’ Huma Bhabha, 2011

There was the highly expressive musician/painter Alex Beccera (Anonymous Gallery and Shane Campbell Gallery), musician/visual artist and writer Brandon Boyd (KM Fine Arts) who, with Jen DeSisto of Art Duet, was present along with the release of his new book, ‘So The Echo.’ There was illustrator/muralist Zio Ziegler (Ochi Projects), abstract painter David Lloyd (Klowden Mann), and artist/curator/writer Daniel Rolnik lending a hand with Bergamot Station’s bG Gallery!

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Brandon Boyd and Jen DeSisto

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Zio Ziegler

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David Lloyd

While I could journal for 96 more hours on the rich contemporary Latin American art scene at Pinta, the vibrant Rubell Family Collection, the stunning Art Deco universe at Wolfsonian- Florida International University

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MORE IS MORE: A Wolfsonian Art Basel Miami Beach VIP Party

…the divine craftsmanship at Design Miami

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…the wild street art of Wynwood Walls, and the prominent participation of cars like BMW (this year painted by another L.A. legend, John Baldessari!), Tesla and Audi- I’m going to shift gears and move straight to the dark side of our Art Fair prism: Satellite Art Show.

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By ‘dark,’ I don’t mean disturbing, grotesque or lascivious, although all of these ingredients may have been in the mix. I’m getting at more of a subconscious zeitgeist: a nighttime, dreamscape, surreal, underground, inversion- a counterpoint to the cool, controlled composure we begin with at Basel.

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At Satellite Art Show, we morph from casual observer to essential participant, slightly distanced to majorly engaged, idealistically dressed-up to practically naked, iPhone gazing wallflowers to students of exotic dancers.

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I enjoy and respect both the Yin and Yang for what they are: Basel is more like a refined museum with work for sale; Satellite is like a Bohemian art school dorm building on parade. While Basel’s volume stays a soft warm buzz, and its motion like a winter stream melt, Satellite’s sound was amplified through-the-roof and its movement a party-style throb. It had a daily, continuous list of musical acts and live performances. It wasn’t restricted to the lobby of the Parisian Hotel, like Nada was in the Deauville, but, like Aqua, swelled into each and every unique little room. The warping carpets and ocean themed wallpapers were as integral as the art itself. Not only gallerists, but the artists were personally there to explain, discuss, and include attendees in their projects.

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At Satellite, you could join a live woodblock printing session with Prints of Estonia, receive therapies for artists at The Soothing Center, and take a pole dancing class from Le Provocateur’s Dangerous Rose.

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You could discuss the transcendental nature of plantlife with Whit Forrester, try on hand painted shoes by Rick Skogsberg, buy limited edition artist-manufactured jackets by Famous On Mars, browse and subscribe to artist-run magazines/shops like Posture Mag, and become part of various forms of video (Awol), technology (Flatsitter), and fashion based performance art. The work was social, political, spiritual, comedic. It was intimate and interactive. It sought not to sell but to give. It desired not to hang on an indoor wall but to actively transform the outside world which birthed it.

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Jim Ovelmen and Mehran Ayati’s installation

While the environments and work on both ends of this spectrum are equally admirable and valuable, I found what was happening at Satellite to be much more representative of the youthful, activist art world I know in Los Angeles, that blurs the boundaries between genres, subject matters, classes and forums of life. A relatively very DIY, maker, communal kind of habitat, where people pave their own paths, take responsibility to enact change, and bring into physicality the realities they imagine, using anything in the world as their media.

I’m delighted to have witnessed just about every known -and some newly discovered- pigment on the Miami Art Fairs’ palette!

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