Walking the Walk: Art Basel Leads the Parade

Sights and Sounds From This Year's Art Week

  • Floating above: María José Arjona’s “Chair” interactive installation (Meridians sector).
  • Behind on wall: Zio Ziegler’s “The Journey through the Tehom I, II, III”

Irene Sperber, Art Critic at Large

I had an epiphany somewhere in the middle of Miami Art Week: Like life, it's impossible to do everything you want before it's over.

I did manage to burn off several layers of shoe leather in the process of trying, however.

Art Basel at the Miami Beach Convention Center opened with a press conference that had me convinced all was going swimmingly in our world. It was a nice moment. Mayor Dan Gelber sang the praises of our synergistic relationship with Art Basel Miami Beach over the past 20 years, while AB's Global Director Marc Spiegler, echoed in seamless harmony followed by UBS (lead AB partner) Head of Wealth Management U.S. Jason Chandler, Noah Horowitz (taking over from Spiegler), Florian Faber, CEO of MCH Group, AB's parent company.

LEFT: Artist Minjung Kim,


LEFT: Artist Minjung Kim," Nautilus", at Gallery Hyundai | RIGHT: Sharona Franklin, "Bone, Skin, and Dust Medical

There were several chuckles about our bad boy Miami Vice years, and how far we've come. Everyone pretended this was entirely true and good manners were front and center at all times. I think I even heard some harps playing softly in the background but I could be mistaken.

RELATED: See Basel hours and everything else from the Convention Floor

The doors then opened on the "most important fair in the most important art market in the world." (quote from Marc Spiegler) A record number of 282 galleries beckoned, their best contemporary art/artists ready for the parade of equally stylish and well-placed collectors et al, to make artists' futures even brighter. Selling was brisk right out of the gate.

This year seemed burnished to an extra shine. Upbeat. Serious. Glamorous. Internationally vibrant. Celeb strewn. I lost count of the accents heard peppered around the floors, floors that were generously strewn this year with seating for a quick revival should it be needed. The art was less frenetic and unmoored than previous years, mirroring the Art Week mood in general. It is a refreshing respite from the depressing news piling up on varying disastrous states of the human race.

LEFT: RIGHT: Dolce & Gabbana, Design Miami." />


LEFT: "Inverted Monument" by Do Ho Suh, Lehmann Maupin Gallery.
RIGHT: Dolce & Gabbana, Design Miami.

After walking into the Art Basel show in the MB Convention Center under (literally) the artist María José Arjona stunning interactive performance in her "Chair" exhibit (Meridians sector) dangling high above, I then magnetized into a quiet piece by Korean artist Minjung Kim at Gallery Hyundai; mixed media on mulberry Hanji paper, the edges were singed by incense in a multi-layered pattern and laid down with a Fibonacci sequencing. Korean modern masters and mid-career contemporary artists are featured at Hyundai Gallery. I lingered.

Sharona Franklin, at the Kendra Jayne Patrick Gallery of New York and Bern, Switzerland, is a Canadian multidisciplinary disabled artist, writer, designer, consultant, and advocate. Her work with disability activism took me into her world of social interdependence. It stuck with me as I moved on to the gargantuan excess that is Art Week. It's what I want to feel from an artist…take me out of my world and show the depth of your knowledge.

Rounding a corner it was hard to miss "Inverted" Monument" by Do Ho Suh outside the Lehmann Maupin Gallery.

A large "cats cradle" box of what appeared to be bright red string obscured a life-sized upside-down human. Based on London statues, the installation resembles "a network of blood vessels or matted hair," but is actually made up of extruded thermoplastic polyester, developed as an ongoing research project with a robotics team at the Centre for Print Research.

RELATED: Opa-locka's Art of Transformation

"It's a bit like writing a sentence," Suh explained in an interview. "You have a subject and verb and so forth. Often, we ignore the importance of conjunctions. But if you pay attention to those conjunctions, you can extract the meaning of the sentence. I think that pedestals work as an either/or structure. They impose it onto us and we don't really question it." It's worth looking up this artists other works if you have time to go down into Do Ho Suh's mind.

Superhouse, Design Miami.


Superhouse, Design Miami.

The one unfortunate angle to these Art Fairs is that they are so gargantuan, there is little time to ponder and then digest the interesting thought behind each exhibit. It's like too large a hotel buffet, you feel over-stuffed afterward but it's difficult to enjoy each morsel.

Design Miami focuses on gorgeous functional style, with an emphasis on high-end design that can make your eyes cross. Dolce & Gabbana displayed several baubles to string around your neck that would sink the Titanic all by themselves. I wasn't sure how I felt about that much glitz and glam excess, but I may be on that particular island alone. However, the sumptuous nature of wood pieces and metal sculptural objects made it difficult not to run my hands over every sensual surface.

Or...stay where you are and see it online:
Bill Rock,  Stoney Road Press at Ink Art Fair.


Bill Rock, Stoney Road Press at Ink Art Fair.

I have a soft spot for the INK Art Fair, located in the intimate Suites of Dorchester, 1850 Collins Ave., Miami Beach. It focuses on contemporary works on paper. I got a good snicker out of the clever work of Bill Rock's woodblock and intaglio prints in the Stoney Road Press exhibition. Rock has an interest "in Die Brucke - the German Expressionist movement of the early 1900s, exploring with witty and slightly bizarre prints" published at Stoney Road Press. Apparently the story has it that a failed artist and colleagues started this shoe biz in Dresden. To counteract the fact that people usually wear out one shoe first they decided to sell shoes in threes. ‘Nuff said on that. The prints are fun and quirky and loaded with humor.

By the way: Marc Spiegler did note a few local venues sporting particularly hard hitting exhibits. I had already swung by the Marty Margulies Collection at the Warehouse in Wynwood on Monday before the week got in full tilt. This gallery is one of the few Miami venues that focus on photography. "The Bitter Years, Photography of Dorothea Lange and Walker Evans" exhibition has so many gut wrenching images of just how difficult life can be, it took awhile to crawl back into the sunshine and very cushy life we enjoy in Miami. This will put any whining about parking into perspective.

Margulies is awash in thought-provoking exhibitions. Wait til your blisters heal from this week and go over there. You have til the April 29, 2023

Post Script: Enjoy Art Basel's OVR: Miami Beach. The viewing rooms will be open until Dec. 5.

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