Friday, November 26, 2010

Miami News You Can Use for BaselMania

BaselMania by the Bay and Beyond in 2010

It's easy to feel bewitched, bothered, and bewildered by BaselMania. That's when Art Basel Miami Beach and many more art fairs and events (even exciting art auctions!) come to Miami Beach and across the bay to downtown Miami and the city's famed art neighborhoods of Wynwood and the Design District.

So much art, so many art fairs, so little time to see it all. What's a curious, engaged collector to do?

First of all, face the music. You can't do it all. Don't even try. One year a savvy collector admitted to me that it wasn't possible to see everything. As BaselMania grows, collectors learn to customize their experience, choosing art fairs and art events right for them.

Start with this simple strategy. Be true to your budget and your passion for art. Decide what you can afford that has lasting value to you. Only you know if the art that you want to live with is painting, drawing, photography, video, sculpture--or even objects of design, now that art and design may often merge for talented artists and museum curators.

Make a list of artists interesting to you or use my list and other Artcentric blog posts and columns as a reference. That's the evergreen beauty of the Art Circuits guide, in print and online so you can always find it.

In my former life as a newspaper art critic, I hated having to write top ten lists. Now I don't have to be limited by a silly numbers game. So here is a list of artists to look for during these days of BaselMania.

Renowned Artists

Allora & Calzadilla, Carlos Betancourt, Hernan Bas, Jose Bedia, Carol Brown, Maria Brito, Charles Burchfield, Tania Bruguera, Enrique Martinez Celaya, Robert Chambers, Lygia Clark, William N. Copley, Marlene Dumas, Michele Oka Doner, Teresita Fernandez, Ian Hamilton Finlay, Gunther Gerszo, Mary Heilman, John Henry, Robert Huff, Isaac Julien, Dorothea Lange, Ruben Torres Llorca, Louise Nevelson, Julie Mehretu, Jorge Pardo, Michelangelo Pistoletto, Jesus Raphael Soto, Miralda, Giorgio Morandi, Barbara Neijna, Glexis Novoa, Karen Rifas, Susan Rothenberg, Betye Saar, Fred Tomaselli, Robert Thiele, Joaquin Torres-Garcia

Rising Stars

Kevin Arrow, Luisa Basnuevo, Loriel Beltran, Christopher Carter, Elizabeth Cerejido, Susan Lee Chun, Paul Clemence, Tony Chirinos, William Cordova, George Sanchez Calderon, Jim Drain, Christy Gast, Julie Davidow, Ivan Toth Depena, Lalla Essaydi, Naomi Fisher, Fernanda Fragateiro, Carlos Garaicoa, Jaime Gili, Erman Gonzalez, Florencio Gelabert, Jiae Hwang, Geddes Levenson, Hung Liu, Wangechi Mutu, Beatriz Milhazes, Ernesto Oroza, Tatiana Parcero, Guerra de la Paz, Gavin Perry, Ralph Provisero, Lilly Reich, Robin Rhode, Leyden Rodriguez-Casanova, Tal Rickards, Asser Saint-Val, Samantha Salzinger, Andrea Sampaolo, Gabriel Sierra, Raqib Shaw, Hank Willis Thomas, Mickalene Thomas, Mette Tommerup, Frances Trombly, Bruce Weber, Wendy Wischer

Most of these artists you can find through Miami galleries, museums, institutions, or art fairs listed in the Art Circuits guide. That artwork by so many of these artists is connected to the Miami area is a clear sign of the increasing sophistication and international diversity of the artists congregating here. With so many art fairs converging on Miami, you're likely to find works by these artists in galleries at the fairs, perhaps leading you to other memorable artists you'd like to collect.

In this unsettling financial time, it can be especially critial to do much looking before buying. Develop a relationship with a reputable dealer you like and trust. You should feel comfortable talking with this dealer about the artist's career and museums that exhibit and collect the artwork. Ask if the artist has created any public art.

If you're curious about an artist's materials, ask. You should rarely feel pressured to buy something on the spot, especially when money is tight. You may find something to buy from this dealer after the fair ends. Finding the art you want to live with for a long time is almost like choosing a mate for life. If you wouldn't get married on the spot, why collect art that way?

If an artist's work is sold, ask if something else you can afford is available. Be open to work by another artist the dealer shows you. If you fall in love with art over your budget, consider negotiating payments in installments.

Remember that BaselMania isn't just about looking to buy. It offers art lovers the pure pleasure of looking. Pace yourself.

Exhibits at Bass Museum of Art, Bakehouse Art Complex, de la Cruz Collection Contemporary Art Space, The Freedom Tower, Frost Art Museum, Margulies Collection at the Warehouse, Miami Art Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art, Rubell Family Collection, and World Class Boxing aren't to be missed by out-of-town art lovers. Be sure to find time to see artworks at the Sagamore Hotel on South Beach.

Miami residents can take a breather and see these outstanding private collections and museums--inspirations to curious collectors--after the fairs depart.

There's so much to do and see, that I know I haven't listed everything! I invite readers of this blog to post comments about special artists and events they want other readers to be sure not to miss. I look forward to hearing from you soon!

Then, of course, there's the mega fair that started all the mania: Art Basel Miami Beach. Whether or not you buy at Basel, SEE THIS FAIR. It provides a unique snapshot of that mighty colossus called the art world.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Special Miami Memories for MDC

It was a sun-splashed afternoon on the Kendall campus of Miami Dade College. As I was leaving my shift at the College Prep Writing Lab on November 10, I had the privilege of encountering this ceremony: The dedication of "Big Red" and "Untitled" by Jean Ward, sculptures donated by Martin and Pat Fine.

This was truly an unexpectedly elegant affair on this busy commuter campus. Programs were printed for this event. Palms and a podium were arranged by the Martin and Pat Fine Center for the Arts. The Kendall Campus Brass Quintet played and the Kendall ROTC did a snappy, sharply focused "Presentation of Colors." At the beginning, Dr. Lourdes Oroza spoke about Martin and Pat Fine's enduring commitment to the visual arts and to this campus. She noted that many art students, when they graduate and leave the outstanding facilities of the Martin and Pat Fine Center for the Arts, often wish they could return and pursue a four-year degree on this campus.

John Adkins, Department Chairperson of Arts and Philosophy, spoke about how Jean Ward was among the artists who wanted to make a difference at Woodstock. I recall how he allowed, with some gentle humor, that of course many of the students at the ceremony might not be quite sure what Woodstock was.

Soon it was time for Martin and Pat Fine to speak. They told us about their long attachment to art and to MDC. Clearly, Martin was very touched by how MDC has for fifty years offered so many students and newcomers to Miami the chance to get an education and get started on making a life and living in this country.

Pat offered these memorable thoughts about Jean Ward: "She was a skinnny little thing, but she was a giant in her thoughts." And then she invited the students to come up with a name for "Untitled," because she thought that it deserved one to honor and continue the boldness of Jean Ward's memory.

With a warm smile, she offered this parting admonition to students: "Don't kick it, but touch it. It will become your friend."

Friday, November 12, 2010

Miami's Storied Collectors & Collections

The resounding success of our November ArtTable meeting at Books & Books in the Gables is still quite stunning to me. I think that this was the first time our panel discussion lasted a full hour!

Kudos to Helen Kohen for planning this riveting discussion on "The Decorative Arts Difference." And kudos to the articulate panelists who had so many remarkable things to say about working with truly special collections at The Wolfsonian/Florida International University in South Beach and Vizcaya Museum and Gardens in Coconut Grove.

From the Wolfsonian we heard from Director Cathy Leff and Marianne Lamonaca, who is Associate Director for Curatorial Affairs and Education. From Vizcaya we heard from Dr. Flaminia Gennari, who is Deputy Director for Collections and Curatorial Affairs, and Wendy Wolf, the School, Youth, and Family Programs Manager.

Cathy gave us a director's perspective, while Marianne and Flaminia were quite enlightening about how curators develop stories from the many objects and artworks distinguishing each museum. Wendy really opened my eyes to all the fascinating and vital ways a museum's education staff contributes to how visitors experience these artcentric jewels in Miami.

I recall how Flaminia explained that the whole place of Vizcaya, completed in 1916 as an elaborate winter home for Chicago Industrialist James Deering, was really conceived as a fiction, to engage the smart set at the time, who were intrigued by visiting a young city called Miami.

I have often thought of Vizcaya as palatial Italian villa carved incongrously from mosquito-infested mangroves in a then very remote, isolated place that could be battered suddenly by hellish storms. There were no Channel 7 weather people then to make the city nervous for days at a time!

Marianne and Cathy spoke about the indefatigable collector Micky Wolfson, and how the Wolfsonian/FIU continues to carry the living legacy of this inspiring man, who has not at all halted his passion for collecting. They also spoke of the many, impressive ways that the Wolfsonian has become part of the higher education community in Miami--also well beyond the city and even this country!

But is the way in which museums and their curators tell stories for the public that truly engaged me, a journalist forever fascinated by the innumerable stories shaping Miami's diverse and growing art community, in this spectacular panel discussion.

I recall how Flaminia said that it was possible to look at Vizcaya as a "palimpsest," a special document layered with stories of the past and the present. I learned how hard the staff at the Wolfsonian and Vizcaya work to involve their visitors in the stories of these museums and their collections, so that visitors' own stories become intermingled with the stories that have shaped these special Miami collections. So many quinces and weddings have been held at Vizcaya!

As I looked around the crowd who listened so attentively to this panel discussion, I saw many artcentric friends who brought back stories I remember from my former life with the Miami Herald. But, well, the past is the past and that is that.

Now I am learning how to blog! As I recall telling Enrique Martinez Celaya, when I invited him to be part of our September ArtTable panel discussion at Books & Books in the Gables, these ArtTable panels are, in a way, my own blog. So it does make sense that I am blogging about them this morning!

It is quite heartening to me to discover that so many people are interested in these panel discussions. ArtTable is a women's organization, but these meetings are free and open to the public, and now men are starting to come. At our November meeting I saw my wonderful artcentric friends Bob Huff, Barry Fellman, and Arturo Mosquera.

Blogging is so brief, compared to writing newspaper stories and reviews. It's not possible here for me to convey all the remarkable things I learned that evening. So I invite any person who attended, both panelists and members of the audience, to post further comments on my blog. This can be a wonderful way to keep that memorable panel discussion alive in cyberspace!