Follow by Email

Monday, December 8, 2008

Miami Basel Recap

I had a great time at Miami Basel
Attended 5 of the 21 fairs- and wish I could have done more- as it was, I left each fair with aching back, aching feet, aching eyes, (not to mention starving and delirious). The Fairs each had a unique flavor and subtle differences that stood out to me.
The first evening just down the beach boardwalk you could walk into an ULTRA environment featuring the architectural and sound installation by Frederico Diaz. It was very 1960’s, lava lamp-ish and all. Fashionable people held cocktails and lounged on Styrofoam carved mounds, or perused the 20 shipping containers converted into art environments. In the containers, I rarely witnessed any artifacts of the consumer strain; it was mostly lone video displays. All the containers seemed from Europe. How did they pay for it? There was one commercial looking display featuring Teresa Margolles’ jewelry of gold bracelets and pendants made from broken glass taken from sites of drug wars. The display cases featured descriptions of the crime scene in Spanish etched on the glass. Most everything else was ephemeral entertainment. At one point the crowd between the containers proceeded to “arm wrestle for art”. A winner won a tar-covered coconut.
Early the next day I walked through Bridge Fair/South Beach, where individual galleries had set up in the bedrooms and bathrooms of a hotel. Even though I was thrilled to be in Miami, surrounded by art and great weather, there were signs of gloom and doom. In the lobby was NJ artist Mary Ellen Scherl’s Mamorial- Life size casts of breasts and bodies from cancer survivors around the world. The work hopes to encourage the focus on a cure. I heard that the Bridge Fair/Wynwood had artist Eric Fabian’s reminder of the current crisis- he had a stack of 1000 one hundred dollar bills that visitors could hold (one visitor at a time). The money was borrowed from the artist’s own credit card. My favorite rooms were hosted by the Brodsky Center for Innovative Editions (Rutgers University), Madelyn Jordon Fine Art (Scarsdale NY) and Gallery Bienvenu (New Orleans).
In the afternoon I rushed over to Nada in Wynwood and rambled through a delightful warehouse building, (great ceilings), called “the ice palace”, trying my best to find a gem or two among the 88 avant-garde dealers and embedded performers.
There were bananas infiltrating the visual dialogue- can anyone tell me what that is about? My favorite art booth featured a video surround display by Marcus Coates- the work was titled Dawn Chorus- humans were “filmed in their natural habitat” and Coates makes them look and sound as though they are songbirds. It’s hilarious and mesmerizing. There were lots of birds used by other artists as imagery through out all the fairs. ALSO lots of paper cutting as a medium.
After Nada, my friends and I ran to Pulse- stopping at Pierogi’s (and Ronald Feldman Fine Art) along the way. That was a pleasant surprise-12,000 square feet filled with art they represent. I loved almost everything I saw- which was a distinctly different feeling from NADA. I wish I had written down some names. Guess I will have to re-visit them at the home base in Brooklyn. Lots of collage work.
At Pulse we paid personal visits to my Uncle, Charles Cowles and Sally, Jay and Esme at MLG gallery. Nature reined in fantasy form with Spain’s Galleria Horrach Moya’s work of sculptor Jorge Mayet- small trees suspended in space with their roots dangling below the midline clump of turf. They were magical. Hilary Berseth’s Programmed Hives at Eleven Rivington (NYC) were thought provoking and delightfully organic. Kim Keevers large-scale photo of constructed landscape shot underwater in a fish-tank had a ghostly atmosphere at KTFGallery (NYC). One medium missing seemed to be encaustic. Most of the large scale photographs and paintings were covered in a thick glossy laquer.
The next day Miami Basel- the grand beast of fairs, with something like over 300 galleries, lay in wait. Obama’s image was the entry piece I first noticed, and it contrasted with the established tone of some of the galleries.
It took us about 3 and a half hours to circle the perimeter of the fair, an estimated 110 gallery booths. After a brief rest and a willing of the soul, I wove in dazed trance through some of the center galleries before realizing my eyes had gone all bleary and mad. I know there were Alice Neel portraits at several galleries. There was a wall of gouache paper basketballs that would have looked good in my life. There were erased pictures from Germany that I fell in love with, there were slabs of solidified paint I wanted to eat off. There was this giant bell from Antwerp cast in the 1920’s that some artist brought over and signed his name to. There was so much stuff intersected by with corridors packed with people who looked like artworks themselves.

So, now I will give you what I remember of my fantasy shopping list.
For my bedroom, a small portrait with maps and a large burned boat In The Treetops by Raine Bedsole for over the fireplace. (
For outside my kitchen window, a large clothespin composition of three giant standing forms by Gerry Stecca (
For my bathroom- a Ted Larsen minimal and elegant oil on metal painting.
For the kids room- a mini hamster painting by Schroeder Romero and a 3d wall piece of sneakers made out of paintings by Tait Roelofs (@ Lyons Weir Gallery, NYC)
For my office, a Ted Knowles’ UPS drawing, or one of his drawings made by shifting tree branches that have a pen strapped to them.
For my coffee table- a Brian Dettmer Altered Atlas
For the hallway- a currency collage by Mark Wagner- maybe his Hamptons Hedge at Pavel Zoubok Gallery (NYC)

Post a Comment