Good news and bad news: Art Basel has exited Miami Beach. It’s been a wonderful time, if you ignore the frustration bubbling up as one attempts to drive two blocks in 45 minutes (…and I wish this extreme example was made up). Living on Miami Beach adds to the plotting and planning involved in getting around town.
Now that I’ve downloaded the ubiquitous whining session, let’s get on with an observational critique of the week.
After reading figures on excellent sales I did my own unofficial survey. It seems all fairs did well. I found nary a gallery who was not pleased. (yes, you can tell if they’re fibbing to save face). Miami’s own David Castillo Gallery was near sell out by the end of Day One. The New York Times waxed lyrical on Tuesday giving Castillo lofty paper space, declaring them one of the very few Miami galleries to make it to the top rung (in the Galleries” sector) of Art Basel Miami Beach.
I attended the Art Basel Media Reception on Wednesday morning. It gave me an opportunity to ruminate on how intensely Miami Beach has evolved since I moved in over 20 years ago to a pleasant seaside town rumbling with newly found possibilities.
Norman Braman, Chairman and Art Basel Miami Beach host spoke of all the accomplishments as the new convention center was presented to the world, quite literally, on the opening day of Art Basel Miami Beach, 17th edition. Braman was joined by Mayor Dan Gelber, Art Basel Global Director Marc Spiegler, Director of the Americas (AB) Noah Horowitz and Johan Jervoe, Group Chief Marketing Officer. Art Basel Miami Beach is now the most successful art fair in the United States. Braman spoke of the days before ABMB when we had ten galleries in town at the time ABMB arrived in 2002, now we have over 100, plus 4 new museums.
The Knight Foundation just offered $37 million of new arts funding for the community. The Rubell Museum is moving to a new 100,000 foot Allapattah space in 2019, shifting the cool kids area further west from the supersaturated Wynwood area.
Dan Gelber reminded us that the original convention center used to only house boxing and professional wrestling. Many moons ago Gelber ushered at that old convention center facility. Our Mayor gave a pep talk on how mature our community has become, learning how to celebrate our diversity. I couldn’t help but equate that hopeful lament as a barely veiled plea to continue forward as an uncharitable schism roils in so many of the country’s communities.
Marc Spiegler spoke of many more collectors (in the Americas) joining the ranks than any other area of the world. I suddenly “got” the enormity of our stature in the big picture; this fair is an opportunity to step back and assess ourselves to date. Johan Jervoe offered the fact that american collectors are highly active right now in adding to their collections. (I guess no one was looking at stock portfolios this week as numbers tanked and eyes popped out). Half of the top collectors in the world are based in the Americas, but there is a high interest from all over the globe, Jervoe asserted.
When queried, random fair-goers reacted quite differently when asked how they enjoyed this fair or that. Some of the diverse answers appeared to do with how burned out they were at any given time. I started to ask what time of day they visited and it did seem that later-in-the-day attendees were more likely to exhibit visual overload or ennui than their fresher morning peers.
Most notable observations:
- Tall people. Either I shrunk, my eyesight is skewed or people are growing precipitously since last year.
- The new Convention Center offers a more comfortable experience. The exhibition halls include spaces to sit and breathe a bit before moving on.
- The addition of natural light throughout the common areas of the building is a delight, cut-outs from the first to second floor make a much more pleasant flow. Copious floor to ceiling windows bathe the insides with a more soothing ambient light.
I kept my wanderings to a dull screech this week to avoid mindless glazed eyed attendance. I was taken with the inside/outside intimacy at NADA (New Art Dealers Alliance). The old Ice Palace (downtown) is conducive to a warm ambiance that promotes hanging out casually as the swarm of creative youn gun’s swapped ideas and plans wrapped up in a warm buzz of youthful possibilities. Across the street was the Satellite Art Show, billed as The Antidote to Art Basel. A low key group plopped on the dirt of a still empty lot was complete with a giant Trump blow up doll of alarming demeanor. We had to encounter one somewhere, after all.
Art Miami had an impressive collection of world renown artists. It’s sister fair Context did not hold my attention for long.
Design Miami was a favorite of many, though others sniffed when asked about a critique. I do enjoy the deeply thoughtful designs in art-to-wear, though not one to go out of my way to accumulate baubles, these stylings are a cut way above. I leaned way in over several pieces at the Siegelson, and had me headed back for a second peek. Automobile design was front and center of the many shows, always with a crowd of onlookers.
It seems minutes since Art Basel 2017 departed, but soon this one will fade again into the holiday rush and crush. When you do come up for air, be sure to stop by the Perez Art Museum for the Ebony G. Patterson exhibition: www.pamm.org/exhibitions/ebony-g-patterson-while-dew-still-roses and/or the Bass Museum for the Haas Brothers Ferngully: thebass.org/art/ferngully.
If you missed Art Miami you get a second shot at the Palm Beach Modern and Contemporary (also presented by Art Miami) due in PB mid January: www.artpbfair.com