Paul Laster’s Art Basel Miami Diary & Photo Album: Days Four, Five and Six
Because we can’t all escape from our desks to enjoy 72 degree weather and international contemporary art, Flavorpill’s resident guru Paul Laster brought you daily boldface name-littered updates and photos from Art Basel Miami all week. Catch the days you missed now! VIEW THE IMAGE GALLERY OF HIS EXPLOITS HERE
Being a partying, culture-vulture in Miami is a tough job, but somebody has to do it; and, actually, many of my friends are moving at the same fast pace. Friday to Sunday was so busy that I had no time for my most cherished activity, swimming in the ocean. In years past, I swam every morning we were here; but so far, counting this morning, I’ve only been in the water four times in the past 11 days.
Due to my blogging, and our late night fun on Thursday, Renee and I got a slow start on Friday, making the lunch for the Banners of Persuasion exhibition in the Design District our first stop. Fourteen tapestries by contemporary artists, including Kara Walker, assume vivid astro focus, and Fred Tomaselli, were on view a large open space called the Loft. We ran into Judd Foundation director Barbara Hunt McLanahan and she introduced us to Luisa St. Pierre, the director of a company that works with hip photographers and illustrators for editorial and commercial projects. Luisa invited us to Shepard Fairey’s party at the Shore Club, which we duly noted, later that night.
Having a little free time, we drove over to the Station, an exhibition organized by Whitney Museum curator Shamim Momin and artist (and one time Mary-Kate Olsen beau) Nate Lowman in a massive 12,000 square-foot raw retail space in a new Wynwood complex known as Midtown Miami. The show was a mix of young and established artists, working in a variety of media. The piece that had everyone talking was Jonah Freeman and Justin Lowe’s rambling, two-story installation Hello Meth Lab in the Sun #13. The artists started work on their version of a contemporary drug-den in early November and ended up with a highly convincing trashed out environment. My favorite part was a portal through the back of a refrigerator that led the viewer deeper into the psycho space.
From the Station we ventured on to It Ain’t Fair, which was deeper into to the funky part of Wynwood than most might be willing to travel. A collaborative project, organized by Deitch Projects, Peres Projects, Nueva Galeria De La Barra, A.S.S. Gallery, and a number of street-savvy curators, It Ain’t Fair offered a fun mix of social and psychedelic works. Bands, books, and movies were featured at night as the crowd gathered to guzzle Campari and Grolsch.
We got back to the Miami Beach with only enough time for a quick refreshing and decided to stay local for the rest of the night. Our first stop was architect Alexander Gorlin’s apartment in the residential tower he designed on Aqua Island. Alexander was hosting the intimate affair for Art in General, where he is a board member. AIG director Anne Barlow was enjoying the terrace views with Diane Ackerman, Christina Kang, and Elizabeth Fiore — three of the non-profit organization’s enthusiastic supporters. Next up was Shinique Smith’s party on the Sanctuary’s Ola Rooftop Terrace. We chatted briefly with Menil Collection curator Franklin Sirmans and artists Kalup Linzy and Shaun Leonardo before bouncing to Shepard Fairey’s party at the Shore Club. The Man, best known for his Andre the Giant OBEY posters and recently celebrated for his Obama HOPE and PROGRESS illustrations, was spinning good sounds and — when he stopped to talk — singing the praises of Artkrush. We found our contact Luisa St. Pierre, who was hanging with Dazed and Confused art editor Francesca Gavin. New York artist and curator Erik Foss introduced us to painter and illustrator Eric White, and then we grabbed a gift bag, which included a signed poster (Thanks, Shep!), and dashed over to Casa Tua for a L’Uomo Vogue dinner for fashion photographer Bruce Weber. Not knowing that the Weber party was running late, we stumbled into a dinner for Art Basel Miami Beach high-rollers, including Sam Keller, who seemed infatuated by Dominique Levy; publisher Bernard Taschen, Paris art dealers Thaddeus Ropac and Emmanuel Perrotin, MoMA New Media director Klaus Biesenbach, and scores of other players. Considering a move to the Fountainbeau Hotel to catch singer Estelle’s performance, we exited and ran straight into Bruce Weber and some of his models just arriving. Confused as to whether we were coming or going at this point, we determined it was a sign that we should retire for the night.
Up early on Saturday morning, we rode our bikes to the Sagamore brunch, an annual event hosted by the hotel’s owners, Marty and Cricket Taplan. More dealers than artists feasted by the pool this year, but I had good conversations with MoCA North Miami director Bonnie Clearwater and mega-collector Marty Margulies about the Miami art scene before traveling to the other side of South Beach to visit the studio of Carlos Betancourt, one of Miami’s most celebrated artists.
Renee and I hooked up with my sister Michelle and her family to walk up the beach to the ABMB Art Positions area at Collins Park, where 20 shipping containers were turned into exhibition spaces for young galleries showing emerging artists. WPS1 radio was broadcasting live interviews with artists and curators from the futuristic plaza, designed by Federico Diaz, as we popped into the galleries. Miami’s David Castillo Gallery had an awesome display of collages by Quisqueya Henriquez while My Barbarian showed video and performed music at L.A.’s Steve Turner Gallery.
After a family dinner at our apartment, I headed out solo on the bike to a party for Surface Magazine, on the gorgeous roof of the Gansevoort Hotel, and then to a poolside celebration for P.S.1 at the Shore Club, where I spoke at length with art adviser Kim Heirston about the show of African-American artists at the Rubell Family Collection and met art journalist and author Alastair Gordon, who recently released Spaced Out: Radical Environments of the Psychedelic Sixties. Discouraged by the long line waiting to get into Jeremy Kost’s party at Le Baron at the Delano Hotel, I road home and hit the hay.
Sunday morning found us at a brunch at the Ferrell Law Collection in Downtown Miami. The offices occupy the top floor of their building with splendid, far-reaching views of the bay. The collection contained a large number of Miami artists, including an impressive array of Jose Bedia paintings and works on paper. Lori Ferrell, the widow of the law firm’s founder, showed us around the beautifully designed offices, which not only displayed cutting-edge art, but also exclusively featured Dakota Jackson’s timeless modern furniture. My sister, who also works in law, hooked up with us there and the three of us headed over to Pulse Miami, which we had heard looked good.
Pulse lived up to it’s name with a fine selection of works in the booths, while the special projects offered a gigantic robot made from Styrofoam packaging by Michael Salter and a massive graffiti mural made with color chalks by Mike Estabrook and Ernest Conception in the Pulse café. I was most taken by the large number of digital works on view, paying close attention to Brody Condon’s random, self-playing video game based on Hans Memling’s painting of the Last Judgment, at New York’s Virgil de Voldere Gallery; Stephan Reusse’s animated laser drawing of a swinging monkey projected on the wall at Vienna’s Lukas Feichtner Gallery; and Leo Villareal’s Big Bang, a 5’ round tondo with 1600 pulsating, spiraling color LED lights at Washington D.C.’s Conner Contemporary. But newest to me in this field was Siebren Versteeg’s large touch screen display of montage images being pulled from the Internet via a random word search of Google Images, which could be further manipulated at the touch of a fingertip, at New York’s Max Protetch.
Upstairs from Pulse was Kaikai Kiki’s GEISAI fair, which was founded by Takashi Murakami and features emerging artists, manning their own booths. Standouts included Saya Woolfalk, who creates colorful, childlike, imaginary spaces, and Kyoko Nakamura, an obsessive illustrator of life and language who was continuously working on new pieces in her booth. Suffering from visual overdose, we headed for the beach for a well-deserved rest.
As darkness fell on the last night of Miami Basel events, we joined Kehinde Wiley and pals Mickalene Thomas and others in a secluded, tree-covered bar at the Shore Club for his annual fish fry. Kehinde took a boat filled with angler friends out fishing on the high seas the day before and served the catch with a tasty selection of local soul food. I chatted with Jason and Michelle Rubell about the show at the RFC and shared stories about hanging with Keith Haring in the early-’80s with Don Rubell. Spencer Tunick told us a funny story about how he photographed 20 nude women in one day back in the early-’90s for photographer Richard Avedon, who was considering ordinary people with different colored pubic hair for a Pirelli calendar. Kehinde knelt to talk to Yinka Shonibare about painting him in one of his historical paintings and several folks grabbed their cameras to record the occasion. There were more parties waiting, but we decided to end the night with friends.