When two security dogs reacted to a suspicious crate before an Art Miami tent opening early Saturday morning, Miami police officers briefly shut down the area for a few hours to investigate the possible threat.
But when they opened up the offending crate, officers found something else instead: a punky portrait of Hillary Clinton in a studded jacket and shaggy pink haircut, in a neon picture frame to match.
Fair director Nick Korniloff said that the two dogs reacted to the crate during a pre-show check shortly after 8 a.m., prompting organizers to clear the site. Both the Art Miami tent and a tent for Context, connected by a tunnel, were closed off. The package was then searched and the painting of the former Democratic presidential candidate was found inside.
Police officers ran the 16 inch by 20 inch acrylic-on-wood artwork through an X-ray machine, which turned up no suspicious material.
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“We had to err on the side of caution,” Korniloff said. Both tents eventually reopened around 10 a.m.
The painting — titled “Punk Hillary” — had been shipped with a similar portrait of President Donald Trump (called “Trump Pimp”), depicting him in a zebra-printed hat with a gold dollar-sign chain around his neck. The Trump portrait had already been removed from the crate before the security check.
Both artworks, done by Orlando-based artist Scott Scheidly, were listed at $4,000 each and sold to a single collector. They are part of a series by Scheidly, who has painted satirical portraits of roughly 50 politicians and pop culture figures, including former President Barack Obama, Adolf Hitler and Queen Elizabeth II.
The false alarm delayed the opening of the tent located at One Herald Plaza for dozens of people, including event staff and attendees. After police blocked off a section of Biscayne Boulevard with their cruisers and caution tape, many lingering outside were blocked from entering the area.
As a gray sky threatened rain on those waiting outside, joggers and other passersby were told to cross to the north side of 15th Street around the blocked-off area Saturday morning. Miami-Dade Transit also redirected its routes, temporarily closing the Arsht Performing Arts Center Metrobus terminal.
After the delay Saturday morning, both paintings were hung side-by-side in the Context tent, in a booth for a gallery called Spoke Art based in both New York and San Francisco.
Gallery owner Ken Hashimoto said police still were unsure Saturday morning what about the art had caused the dogs to react.
“They have no idea,” he said. “My thought is a Republican bomb dog.”
Miami Herald staff writer Joey Flechas contributed to this report.