The semi-frenzied carnival ride that is Art Week Miami got off to a sultry, be-swarmed start Tuesday evening in Midtown Miami, Wynwood and Miami Beach with the invitation-only opening of more satellite fairs and exhibits and contemporary artwork than anyone could hope to see and, well a carnival ride. Literally.
As eager gaggles of collectors, dealers, art fanciers and assorted party-seekers streamed into the giant, air-conditioned tents that house the Art Asia, Art Miami/CONTEXT, Red Dot, OVERTURE and SCOPE fairs in Midtown some art-week stalwarts, others newcomers artist Peter Anton was treating some of the art-curious to a less-restrained kind of show.
Under a colorful tarp on Midtown Boulevard, Anton repurposed a miniature mechanical carnival rollercoaster into a combination ride-installation called Sugar and Gomorrah, involving sculptures of sweets and live models wearing not much. Nuff said.
Even though the 11th edition of the weeks main course, the Art Basel Miami Beach fair, doesnt open inside the convention center until Wednesday, and then only to VIPs, art lovers started gorging early on an improbably rich selection of art that if anything promises to be broader, deeper and more overwhelming than usual.
Inside the Midtown tents, on the graffiti-laden walls of nearby Wynwood, and in the Design Miami pavilion in Miami Beach, was the usual buffet of sensory overload art new and classic, high and low, by artists famed and unknown. It was nearly all for sale, brought from galleries stretching all the way around the globe, from Istanbul, Shanghai and San Jose, and from some others much closer to home.
Like El Portal. Carol Jazzar Contemporarys booth at SCOPE, which focuses on young artists, was an early magnet for photographers thanks to an assemblage by North Carolina artist André Leon Gray, who is showing during art week for the first time and seemed nearly stunned to be there.
His piece, There is Always Room at the Top, They Said, alludes to the African-American fight from slavery to today. It features a headless torso on a stool with a dangling chain, wearing boxing gloves and crowned by a cowrie-shell-bedecked brush from a street cleaner that recalls a Masai warriors collar.
Nearby, Beatle progeny Julian Lennon, a musician and accomplished photographer of cloudscapes and landscapes, manned his own booth at OVERTURE, which shares a tent with SCOPE and Art Asia. Lennon caused a small media stir when he strolled over to Art Asia to see Chinese artist/designer/musician Simon Ma, who was wearing a white suit and white-rimmed glasses.
Just a block away, Art Miami has grown dramatically, nearly doubling in size to 190 galleries and 250,000 square feet and incorporating CONTEXT, dedicated to emerging artists and cutting-edge work. At the VIP opening, benefitting the Miami Art Museum, the tent was abuzz with some 10,000 artists, collectors and gallerists joyful about the quality of the art, if not for buyers at least the price tags.
The quality is very high, said Miami Art Museum supporter Aaron Podhurst. So are the prices.
Red sticker dots, meaning the works are sold, popped up at Modernbrook Gallery, where black-and-white photos by Ryan Bush were priced under $1,000. Bigger ticket works were getting some serious attention as well, including a unique screen by Sol Lewitt being eyeballed by Miami developer Jorge Perez.