With the art market hotter than Las Vegas asphalt in August, Art Miami is celebrating the fifteenth edition of what organizers and local participant galleries are calling "Miami's hometown art fair," citing the presence of Art Basel last month as more of a boon than threat to its stability. Ramon Cernuda, owner of Cernuda Arte in Coral Gables and a member of the Art Miami selection committee, mentions that while Basel has elevated the profile of the local art scene internationally, it's not the only game in town. "South Florida has reached a critical mass and we now have four art fairs in the region including Arte America, Art Palm Beach, Art Miami, and, of course, Art Basel. All these fairs operate at different levels, exhibiting different types of art, offering different price points, and encompassing a broad variety of tastes, styles, periods, and accessibility to the collecting public," he offers.
Ilana Vardy, director of Art Miami, has noted an increase in attendance at Art Miami since Basel pitched its tent here three years ago. "Basel is playing a dramatic role in educating the local public, drawing more sophisticated art buyers as well as younger, first-time collectors to our fair." This year, Art Miami will feature 125 exhibitors from 24 countries, including 19 galleries showcasing emerging artists younger than 35 in the Currents section. With twelve local galleries complementing the roster, visitors will get a broader view of the Miami art scene than they did at the more exclusive Art Basel. The Marina Kessler Gallery and Damien B. Contemporary Art Center both will have spaces in the Currents section of the fair. Damien B. Contemporary will be featuring the work of two young locals, Meg Pukel, age 27, and Reeve Schumacher, 23. Pukel is a photographer who shoots nude female models in her studio and then projects their images onto urban settings, photographing the contrasting results for her finished work. Schumacher layers drawings, Polaroid transfers, and collage on vinyl and paper, and will create a large wall drawing connecting his pieces for the event.
Don't miss the site-specific installation near the entrance, where local sculptor Carolina Sardi has been chosen as this year's "Director's Choice" participant and asked to create one of her signature, visually poetic, works for the occasion. "You can expect a totally different aesthetic more rooted in traditional painting and sculpture and a more regional and local audience with a smattering of snowbirds," affirms Vardy. She mentions that nearly 6000 turned out for the opening night gala last year and expects a crush of 30,000 during the event. As for the boozy blowouts that make Basel a crowd favorite? When asked if he was doing the mojito and lechon thing to tout his booth, Cernuda, who is also a member of the Basel host committee, laughed, "I don't think they would let us get away with that in the Convention Center."