Downtown/Biscayne Corridor


Wynwood arts community seeks to capitalize on Art Basel in Miami Beach

With thousands among the art elite pouring into Miami and Miami Beach each year to visit the star attraction and its numerous satellite fairs, Art Basel Miami Beach is one of the most prestigious art events in the world.

Prestigious international galleries set up shop throughout the city to court collectors with deep pockets, showing off works by superstar artists. But fighting for attention among the slew of fairs and events are Miami’s local galleries and artists hoping to bring their work to the international stage.

For some Miami artists, Art Basel has become a time when they can roll out works in front of the local and international art community in a very public way. Those who manage to capture the attention of the Art Basel jet set can catapult their careers.

Local artist Alexander Mijares says that a star-studded event featuring his work during Art Basel 2012 brought him significant press notice and art sales — as well as commissions from corporations.

“[My presence during Art Basel] helped spike interest in my work. It put a rocket on my career, speeding [it] faster than ever before from last Basel to this Basel,” said Mijares, who on Tuesday will open a show, “Random Acts of Art,” at A. Mijares Art Gallery, 10 NE 27th St. in Wynwood.

For young artists in particular, Art Basel is an opportunity to showcase work in a serious and meaningful way to a large audience. Among the platforms where young artists go to debut their work is HOTBED, an annual program that shows work from artists who have attended New World School of the Arts. This year, the showcase will take place Thursday morning at CasaLin, 55 NW 30th St. in Wynwood.

Bill Bilowit, director of Wet Heat Project, which produces the HOTBED series, says events like his can take a young artist’s work to a new level.

“Usually student artists don’t get this kind of exposure [throughout the year], and our platform hopes to bring their work out of the realm of student art,” Bilowit said.

While local galleries typically see significantly more visitors during Art Basel, there’s the risk of getting overlooked because of the sheer volume of events throughout the week or a lack of familiarity by tourist with the local gallery scene. Some galleries choose not to take any chances on the possibility of missing an important collector and will rent out booths at one of the more than 20 satellite art fairs.

“A lot of people who I talk to [for my gallery business] reside in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago or wherever, so they don’t know much about the local gallery scene,’’ said Michael Jon, founder of his eponymous gallery at 122 NE 12th St. in downtown Miami.

Jon will be showing at the UNTITLED art fair in a giant tent on the sands of Miami Beach.

“A big part of why we exhibit at an art fair is to put our name out there so others can identify the gallery with Miami and vice versa,” Jon said.

While Art Basel is the Miami arts community’s most vital time of the year, it’s not the only period in the spotlight for local culture.

Rhonda Mitrani, an artist and founder of The Screening Room, 2626 NW Second Ave., Wynwood, says the arts season has expanded over the years, so much so that she has extended her exhibition by video artist duo Aziz + Cucher to get the works in front of more local and visiting art lovers who are beginning to appreciate Miami's art scene year-round.

“In the past, I have found myself saying that I wish this much enthusiasm for culture [during Art Basel] existed throughout the art season, but it does now.”

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