art basel notebook

An insider’s view of Art Week Miami

 

Art Week Miami has kicked off as perhaps it always should but never has: with a tribute to the city’s arts-loving pioneers.

It was something of an Old Home Week scene Monday morning at the JW Marriott Hotel on Brickell Avenue when a few hundred of Miami’s arts pioneers and current cognoscenti turned up for a reprise of Martin Kreloff’s 1976 Miami Says Art project, in which dozens of Miami art pioneers were photographed saying the magic word, “Art!” The crowd included rarely seen photographer David Vance and pioneers Arnold Lehman, artist Lynn Gelfman, Dennis Edwards, Mark Steinberg, Merle Weiss, gallerist Virginia Miller and Wolfsonian director Cathy Leff as well as newer figures including New World Symphony CEO Howard Herring and Arsht Center chief John Richards.

Kreloff is now based in L.A., and though he isn’t sorry he moved, he did allow on Monday that he’s wistful for Miami and its burgeoning new scene.

So just how much has the city changed, art-wise? "Miami has become everything we ever anticipated and hoped for,” said Ruth Shack, photographed in the original project and in this week’s reprise. “It keeps on growing and getting better.”

Carole Damian, director of the Frost-FIU museum, and longtime arts supporter Debi Hoffman spoke of a sweeping shift since those early days. “Miami has become a cultural happening where people want to be,” Hoffman said.

Lehman, who left Miami in 1979 and is now head of the Brooklyn Museum, had a slightly different take: “Nothing has changed or everything has changed.” Asked to expound, he said, “What Miami is about is sun, water, blue sky and when it gets dark or cloudy, art.”

Jane Wooldridge

Art on the water

Cruise capital of the world, art capital of the world (for one week at least) — they had to meet.

Monday, it happened at least twice.

Though the 11th edition of Art Basel hasn’t even officially kicked off, the arts set Monday was already focused on reflection.

Hundreds of the who’s who of Miami’s art world boarded the Celebrity Reflection, a new ship making its homeport Miami.

Serious collectors, curators, artists and art lovers, including Oscar Seikely, Lizzy Dascal, Tami Katz-Friedman, Brandi Reddick and Claire Bruekel, floated through the ship as if they were navigating a top-tier museum.

"Reflection," the curatorial theme reinforced by Mariangela Capuzzo of International Corporate Art (ICArt), was captured in every piece (422 in public spaces).

In addition, guests caught a glimpse of works by greats like John Baldessari, Jeff Koons and Marina Abramovic.

It was the local standouts that caught everyone’s attention: Miami-born-and-raised Cristina Lei Rodriguez; former Miami-based artist Bert Rodriguez (no relation); and Carlos Betancourt, Michelle Weinberg, Nina Surel.

By evening, the art focus had shifted to Norwegian Cruise Line, which announced that hometowner LEBO had designed the hull artwork for the line’s newest ship, Breakaway, launching in 2014. (See story, 6B.)

Jane Wooldridge, Galena Mosovich

New set is fresh

Monday night’s preview of UNTITLED made it official: the art fairs are here.

Even UNTITLED, the new fair set on the sands of Miami Beach, won’t officially open until Wednesday, but organizers decided to get ahead of the fray with an early opening that was, simply, jammed.

The idea behind the fair is a tightly curated selection of works by (mostly) living artists selected by curator Omar Lopez-Chahoud, all priced between $10,000 and $70,000 shown in an airy structure, designed by former MAM director Terence Riley, that actually looks onto the sea.

The art runs a wide gamut — dioramas espousing green themes at Pool Gallery’s booth, an installation of machetes invoking the possibilities of power at Gonzalez y Gonzalez.. And at (Art) Amalgamated, Cao has created an installation based on four dead pop stars set in Renaissance settings. If you’re lucky enough to get a reading based on cards the artist created on the posthumous four (Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, Kurt Cobain and Amy Winehouse), you’re in for a treat. (Don’t scoff; he got me dead right.)

All the selections are intended to be deeply conceptual, Lopez-Chahoud said. "I wanted the works to be as diverse as possible," he said.

No question about that. The fair also feels fresh — no easy feat.

Jane WOOLDRIDGE

Read more Art Basel stories from the Miami Herald

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