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A Few Fine Days in Miami: When the Fine Art World Comes to Town: Part Two

We left Part One tired but exhilarated from a day at Art Basel, heading back to our hotel in South Beach, thinking about how magnetic the fairs are and their popularity with the fine art enthusiast and the fine art curious. We had a busy week ahead of us and much to see.

Our stop that evening was Art Angels, the Los Angeles "gallery-to-the-chic-and-elite" Miami opening. Drawing a sizable crowd, the space quickly buzzing, with large and provocative Michael Moebius and Philippe Shangti pieces greeting milling guests, with the latter's nipple-exposed, cigar-crunching "Welcome on Board" series aptly placed opposite the door.

We moved into the crowd shoulder to shoulder, and, as in usual practice, found our way to the bar, grabbed a drink, until drawn in by David Yarrow's imposing "Members Only"-titled sumo-styled sitting gelada baboon placed next to some of his sensual "Storytelling" series works. His "Lets Catch the Last Train Home", attention-grabbing with its half naked models, cigars and stetsons, resting relaxed as a lethal-looking big cat of some sorts saunters off a train carriage between them. Risky business.

It was then that we ran into Los Angeles-based, but originally Swedish sculptor, Jennie Vinter, whose feminine casting sculptures, literally formed and cast live on her subjects -often well known celebrities- provide a remarkable, interactive spin on the traditional romanesque bust. Opening closed, we caught a late-night bite on Collins's surprisingly early-shutting restaurant drag, and then, hotel headed, stopped into the very-much still buzzing lobby bar for a drink and few minutes crafting the fair-attack plan for the next day.

That started relatively early with an uber over to Context and Art Miami, abutting one another in tents off Biscayne Bay, Down Town Miami. Venturing first into Context, the supporting fair, Turkish photographer Koray Erkaya caught our eye, which resulted in an engaging chat with Gallery Gama, Istanbul about his "TooLess" series of reflective, 3D semi-nudes, also connecting on Los Angeles based Turkish digital artist Refik Anadol who we met earlier in 2018 in Silver Lake (see The Fine Art Ledger's earlier post).

We headed down over the causeway linking Context with the Art Miami fair, but before getting there, we stopped in at Galerie Matthew Namour (Montreal) to learn a bit about Ron English and his out-of-this-world, apocalyptic oils. "Punk Skunk in Delusionville", 2018, his 40 x 56 in. oil on canvas (pictured) caught our attention. So did the price.

Navigating the walkway between the fairs we made it in to Art Miami, to be greeted by Contessa Gallery's inventory of Mr. Brainwash originals, now flaunting a dedicated stream of converts, some with art-buying budgets to match. With all the Bohemian Rhapsody attention end 2018, the Freddie Mercury (broken vinyl records on canvas and an impressive 108 x 72 in.) rightfully took center piece, although not yet, at least when we saw it, red-dotted, at $133,000. Not too bad, Thierry Guetta, and a long way since Exit Through The Gift Shop.

Exiting Contessa, we found Maddox Gallery, the Mayfair, London, now-also-Los Angeles space, promising the best of British for Angelenos. More David Yarrow, with the huge "Road Trip" three times red-dotted, and, of course, a piece by RETNA (Marquis Lewis), "White Distressed 1", 2015 (acrylic on canvas). We were late to the RETNA story, but which is interesting indeed.

On our way out of Art Miami, we ran into the as-always-trendy photographer David Drebin, who, with no less than three separate galleries representing his works between Art Miami and Context, appeared to be having a great show. A quick hi and goodbye, interspersed with David mentioning his work, Floating Dreams, to the making of which The Fine Art Ledger was witness, saw David and co walk briskly on to his next engagement with a gallery down the corridor.

That, in a nutshell, was Art Miami for us. Passing the overflowing VIP/collector lounge, we exited the fair, grabbed an uber and headed to Ice Palace Film Studios, the home of the New Art Dealers Alliance (NADA) show. What should have been a five minute ride, took forty-five, with the good driver complaining at every light about the "Art Basel' influx. We arrived, and found our good friend, David Gryn, at his Daata Editions booth, caught up and had a good look around this up-and-coming fair.

Art Week in Miami is a whirlwind of experience, connections and above all, fine art education. Despite the hype, logjam and ceiling-reaching prices, we enjoyed thoroughly and without hesitation recommend it as a must-attend for any collector.

This is the second part of our mini-post-series on the 2018 Miami Art Week. Read Part One, here.


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