NEW ENGLAND IMPRESSIONS
by Suzanne Volmer
South Beach Miami, Florida – Art Fair Week in Miami and Miami Beach is an exciting citywide celebration akin to Mardi Gras, with a cerebral edge. Miami Beach seized a moment 14 years ago by accepting an opportunity that was offered by the UBS-sponsored Art Basel franchise. Today, the presence of contemporary art and specifically art collecting energize this city. Miami’s art scene has personality; it is a dialogue of considerable public participation. The management of art presentation in the city enlists a powerhouse of brand identity, inviting global participation.
During this year’s Art Fair Week, Adam Adelson of Boston’s Adelson Galleries exhibited at Miami Project; Mike Carroll from Provincetown’s Schoolhouse Gallery exhibited at Scope; and William Baczek of William Baczek Fine Arts of Northampton, Mass. exhibited at Pulse. They provided a generous and insightful sampling of ideas and impressions about their engagement pertaining to arguably the biggest “must see” art destination of December 2015.
Showing the work of two Cuban artists, Adrian Fernandez and Alex Hernández Dueñas, Carroll spoke of the
trust between himself, artists and collectors. He considers these people friends whose interests he protects in his role as a dealer. Carroll has known the artists he chose to exhibit at Scope for a number of years, having met them separately, a few years apart, when visiting Havana. As it happens, they share a studio with another artist in that Cuban city.
Carroll worked very closely with Fernandez and Dueñas, selecting works best suited for the clients he had personally invited to Scope. He spends time each year in South Florida and uses participation during Fair Week to bring handpicked artworks that interest him into closer proximity with his client base. Understanding the business risks involved, he prepares for the rigorously demanding 14-hour days in advance, and appreciates the atmosphere and profes- sionalism of Scope for many reasons.
He related the work he decided to bring to Scope as being “a little different than most people find when they visit Cuba … the aesthetic is more refined … Their social context, or the photo-political commentary is … more subtle and layered,” giving greater accessibility to a broad audience.
“Even if you are not concerned with Cuba you can have a story with their work,” Carroll observed. He appreciates the risk-taking of artists, the risk he takes as a gallery dealer, and the risk collectors take when investing in artwork they really love. He underscored preparedness in terms of fair participation because he has seen others experience the heartbreak of devastating defeat. This is an expensive undertaking with risk which can be impressive when the gamble pays off.
Through sheer geographic placement, Miami Beach is ideally situated to reflect global influences and is recognized as having limitless poten- tial as an art nexus. This year, Art Basel Miami Beach included content keyed to the tastes of Latin American buyers; however, added to that equation was a more fully descriptive
sense of worldwide global conversation. Vocabularies from Europe, North and South America, Africa and Asia engaged in Art Basel Miami Beach’s various sectors. This created a diverse, and very well nuanced, array of modern and contemporary art of the 20th and 21st century.
Regarding success in this environ- ment, Adelson sold Jamie Wyeth’s latest painting, “Atticus and Scout, Second in the Screen Door Sequence” for $1,500,000. It was a record-breaking price that the gallerist reported as bringing the artist’s work “to a new level in his career that we have always felt he deserves.” Adelson described the painting as being “encased in a wooden box, framed with an antique screen door, lamp and Edison light bulb, which acts as the assemblage’s only illumination. The dramatic scene from the acclaimed motion picture, To Kill a Mockingbird, is painted with the artist’s distinctive brio, yet it seems even more lifelike and mysterious through the mesh of the old screen door.”
Adelson described his positive experience with Miami Project: “We met several new collectors, and saw many old friends.” This is his second year with the fair. He remarked that it was one of the biggest fairs of the year for his gallery and he plans his booth in advance, but last-minute additions were included. Adelson said, “We love working with fair director Max Fishko … He is always level-headed. We have shown in a few other fairs that he produces: Art on Paper [New York], The Seattle Art Fair and Texas