With Art Basel Miami Beach opening this week, Juan Fernando "Buddah Funk" Gomez is in overdrive. The artist has been busy affixing his gold and black oil-based butterflies, flowers and lizards onto galleries, restaurants, bars, carefully brushing them with wheat paste to stick to the high-profile walls.
He has been doing this for eight months, from Miami Beach to Wynwood to the Design District.
Its important to be seen in the art community, said Gomez, a Los Angeles native who moved to Miami 20 years ago to attend Miami International University of Art and Design.
As collectors, dealers, and curators descend here for Art Basel, aspiring artists like Gomez are getting creative in self-promotion. Theyre starring in videos, publishing magazines and plastering their artwork on the sides of buildings near the galleries, satellite fairs and Miami Beach Convention Center.
Art Basel is a gift to the Miami art community, said Antonia Wright, 32, a performance artist who uses her body, sculpture and costumes in videos to explore topics like the BP oil spill and Fidel Castros regime. There has always been art in Miami, but it has never had exposure on an international arena like it does today.
During last years Art Basel, the Cricket Taplin Collection displayed one of Wrights videos at the Sagamore Hotel in Miami Beach. A collector from Belgium spotted it, and shortly thereafter she was on a plane to Brussels for an exhibit.
On Tuesday she will perform near two of her videos, valued at $3,200 each, which will be on display at the Spinello Projects in Wynwood, 2930 NW Seventh Ave.
You never know whom you will meet. I have an audience and there is a demand for my work, said Wright, daughter of Cuban author Carolina Garcia-Aguilera and a graduate of the New School in New York, where she studied poetry. I have been really lucky. Im living my dream.
Other artists are hoping for similar success.
In Wynwood, next to an old car repair shop, there is an industrial warehouse where Jacqueline Soir Rios works. Rios manipulates photography to evoke a chiaroscuro painting and sculpts with clay in her windowless studio. On a quiet day, homeless men, crack users and the occasional prostitute walk near the warehouse, but this week thousands will pass by to explore the Wynwood art fairs.
Rios, a University of Florida and New World School of the Arts student, is not looking forward to the chaotic traffic. As a baby, her mother fled with her from the civil wars of Nicaragua, where her dad, an artist and poet, lives. She grew up with her mom in Kendall and lives in Wynwood.
One of her photographs named Alienation, which depicts a trapped distorted figure, is part of the Cricket Taplin Collection, which will be on display at the Sagamore Hotels lobby in Miami Beach.
I will be attending an invitation-only brunch at the hotel and I also have a VIP invitation to a satellite fair, said Rios, 33. I want to spark interest in my work, so I invested some money on a self-published magazine to hand out to the people I meet, so that I can put my work out there.
Fellow New World art student Sebastian Duncan-Portuondo, 26, is banking on work he has at two hotels in Miami Beach. On display at the Sagamore Hotel is his mixed-media mural made out of stained glass, mirror mosaics and spray-paint which climbs up a five-floor stairwell near the pool and beach. His video project will be featured at the New Art Dealers Alliance (NADA) fair at the Deauville Beach Resort in Miami Beach.