For everything there is a season. As we turn our late autumnal gaze to Miami and the Beach, Art Basel begins its rumbling effect, building to a dramatic cultural crescendo. The city is scrubbed, painted and fluffed while all heads turn to creatures creative, big and small.
I’ve been ruminating on the melding of arts, commerce and myriad ingredients that are stirred into South Florida’s melting pot. Arts in Miami are growing wonderfully collaborative to include schools like New World Symphony, a post-graduate orchestral academy which recently produced a crowd sourced symphony Project 305 for and with the community. Add to the cultural mix MDC’s M.A.G.I.C (Miami Animation and Gaming International Complex), the Miami City Ballet school and many more working synergistically with each other.
Commercial ventures have been casting an eye toward community enhancement for some time. Along with The Betsy and The Standard hotels, the 1948 era Sagamore Hotel (designed by Miami architect Albert Anis) has been a standard bearer of what can be accomplished with careful thought and a sensibility towards esthetics, education and quality of life.
A year and a half ago the Sagamore changed leadership from the Taplins who purchased it in the late ’90s, successfully bringing their vision of an arts hotel to glorious fruition before selling in spring 2016. The Sagamore Brunch invitation is still a much coveted commodity during Art Basel week.
“When we got the hotel, we bought real estate,” remembers owner Ronit Neuman. “It did not come with the art, but it came with a beautiful brand”…it was a blank canvas.” Luckily for Miami Beach and its patrons, the new ownership embraced the Taplin vision; and now another family is picking up the baton, adding their own fresh sensibility to the art hotel concept.
The legacy continues...
I spoke with Co-Principal owner Ronit Neuman and collaborating Resident Art Advisor Sebastien Laboureau regarding working with the iconic Sagamore, all the while surrounded by its very popular summer/fall exhibition Cuban Artists: The Prodigious Decade (closes Nov. 28). Included are some of the most important Contemporary Cuban artists from the '80s generation.
“They were extremely diverse in the way they created their subversive art,” Laboureau explained.
Twenty of these artists were at the June 1 Sagamore opening. They had not been all together in one exhibit since a modern exhibition that opened in Havana in 1983. This exhibit will be superseded by URBAN LEGENDS opening on Dec. 4 for Miami Art Week and beyond (until the end of January). URBAN LEGENDS, will explore various “iconic and emerging urban artists”. I asked about the purpose of a strike-through title. The short answer is it opens up dialogue on street art as well as remind us that graffiti used to be quickly erased, as an eyesore, before it’s wildly inventive nature as a true art form connected with the larger population. More interestingly, the strikethrough was Basquiat’s trademark technique. Included in this exhibition is a Banksy wall (originally in L.A.) of a caveman holding french fries. The artist Invader also is represented with a wall piece (from a destroyed building in Calle Ocho).
Many street art icons are brought together in this exhibition, as well as local emerging artist Jenny Perez. The big kids of this movement will be represented: Keith Haring, Shepard Fairey (see full list below). “Its about telling stories..these are our legends.” muses Laboureau.
Art Advisor Sebastien Laboureau is an experienced urban art specialist, a match made in street smart heaven. Utilizing the cornerstones of Miami’s “brand,” if I may, the Sagamore connects with its patrons using exhibitions germane to the historic symbols of our citizenry; South Florida’s focus on the arts is known worldwide, thanks to Art Basel opening Miami to the international art stage.
So far, (they have staged six exhibitions) the Sagamore has stressed the Cuban connection, and gives a respectful nod to urban art stamped with a Miami sense and sensibility since Tony Goldman and Jeffrey Deitch first brought graffiti legends to the area with the Wynwood Walls project for Art Basel in 2009. All these symbolic images are neatly wrapped up in yet another Miami Beach draw, an historic Sagamore hotel located smack on worldly wise South Beach. Over 10,000 people passed through the hotel during last years Art Basel week, and they continue to strive “to be a serious part of the art world,”underlines Laboureau. With this show they’re very proud “to pay homage to all those street artists who have been changing our world for the past 15 to 20 years.”
The platform the contemporary Sagamore will adhere to, underlines their commitment to our residents and visitors alike, informing and educating:
- The Sagamore showcases at “the highest level”; their various in-house galleries working in partnership with international galleries, museums, private collectors, artists. (They successfully avoid the clichéd.)
- This is the only exhibition platform in Miami open to the public 24/7. There are over 100 artworks in each exhibition.
- Neuman: “We’re extremely serious about what we do, we have a dedicated staff working in the art department called Sagamore is Art.” “We have artists come and talk, Happy Hour programs recur throughout the year.”
The Sagamore has welcomed art tours from area schools for all-day children’s projects exploring writing, photography and other art forms after being enlightened through an exhibition by the curator/advisor.
Neuman introduced me to her charming father. An engineer, Edeed Ben Josef’s background is also in the fashion industry and real estate (NYC) which made him a natural to jump on Ronit’s concept to get involved in the art hotel.
He shared that he knew little about the area before his daughter posited the Sagamore hotel concept, which quickly appealed. “ I think it is a very nice step with what she is doing. She knows a lot about it and loves it. Our whole family is involved.” Josef shared.
They are dedicated to bringing this “gem” back to it’s full beauty with a two phased renovation beginning in late spring.
They underline the import of this venture for Miami Beach and have already engaged Miami Beach's mayor, Dan Gelber, into a dialogue to bump up cultural gravitas for the future,working to take Miami Beach back into a cultural hub.
The Sagamore is a delightful venue to slow down the freneticism of Art Week. It is a stone’s throw from the convention center and all things Art Basel. An ideal place to relax for a repast or life affirming beverage in various cool gallery areas or perhaps take in seaside breezes on the veranda or poolside in the historic and contemplative hotel as you peruse URBAN LEGENDS.
It is the spectator, and not life, that art really mirrors. Oscar Wilde.
Programs at The Sagamore
- Dec. 6 -8: The Art of Happy Hour (5 - 7 p.m.) with host of Innovative Crush podcast, Chris Denson involving the public in an artificial intelligence showcase with celebrated community leaders. (You must go.)
- Dec. 9 : The lauded Saturday Sagamore Brunch (9 -1 p.m.) an invitation only event with live music; musical explorateur Nu Deco Ensemble and the Cuban Ballet of Miami, Grace Arts, FL
Visit www.sagamorehotel.com/urban-legends for updates on the many programs available and exact times during ArtWeek, Dec 7 -10. Wednesday: Chris Barr of the Knight Foundation Thursday: Craig Hall, New World Symphony discussing the 305 Project
The Sagamore Hotel
1671 Collins Ave
Miami Beach, FL 33139
Artists of URBAN LEGEND:
ABSTRK, Jojo Anavim, Bambi, Banksy, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Philippe Bonan, Cranio, MrD1987, D*Face, Demsky, Faile, Shepard Fairey, Romain Froquet, Inkie, Invader, Joe Iurato, Kai, Kan, Keith Haring, L’Atlas, Logan Hicks, Jenny Perez, Pimax, M.Chat, Miss Tic, Zevs, and many more in partnership with numerous international art galleries. Curated by Sebastien Laboureau.
I don't think about art when I'm working. I try to think about life. Jean-Michel Basquiat.
Artists from the exhibition Cuban Artists: The Prodigious Decade(Through Nov. 28th)
Gustavo Acosta, Alejandro Aguilera, José Bedia, Consuelo Castañeda, Humberto Castro, Arturo Cuenca, Ana Albertina Delgado, Tomás Esson, José Manuel Fors, Florencio Gelabert, Flavio Garciandía, José Franco, Rogelio “Gory” Lopez Marín, Marta María Pérez-Bravo, Carlos Rodríguez Cárdenas, José Toirac, Rubén Torres Llorca, Juan Sí-González, Ricardo Rodríguez Brey, Tomás Sánchez, Leandro Soto, Glexis Novoa, Cesar Beltran, Jose Franco, and Tonel. Some works are consigned from Pan American Art Projects, Dorfsman Fine Arts, Durban Segnini Gallery, David Castillo Gallery and The Oscar B. Cintas Foundation.