Glamour, Parties, and Oh Yes, Art

Miami plays host to one of the world's most illustrious art fairs

"All these things combined have made the area exciting for curators, collectors, and young artists," explains Luisa Lagos, director of Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin's Wynwood branch. "The level of young talent here is incredible, and internationally renowned curators such as Hans Ulrich have taken notice."

Since Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin planted its flag in Wynwood, the space has been generating a cacophony of interest and has left local dealers agog with envy.

Perrotin represents art royalty Maurizio Cattelan and Takashi Murakami and has shepherded rising Miami talent under his umbrella. He's signed locals Daniel Arsham, Martin Oppel, and Cristina Lei Rodriguez to his Miami space and will be showing these artists along with the Fredric Snitzer Gallery's Bhakti Baxter and Naomi Fisher in Paris.

Perrotin's inaugural fete this week features the work of Bernard Frize, Piotr Uklanski, and homeboy Martin Oppel in his first solo show, "Soul Fire."

Lagos mentions that during a recent visit, Ulrich selected the work of local Cristina Lei Rodriguez, whose career has gone nuclear, for inclusion in a museum survey of 25- to 35-year-old skyrocketing art stars, touring Oslo, Paris, and New York.

"As an artist in Miami, it's an exciting time to work here even though the city is still growing and trying to define itself," Rodriguez says. "As I've been traveling internationally, people have been giving Miami a lot of respect and saying it may be the next Los Angeles in terms of the work evolving here."

Other dealers from abroad opening new spaces here echo the belief that the presence of international galleries in town is a benefit for Miami artists seeking to make the jump overseas and that ABMB has been the trampoline.

Enrique Parra of the recently opened Kunsthaus Miami, a sister space to Mexico's Kunsthaus San Miguel, states that the repercussions of ABMB reverberating throughout the international art circuit began after the fair's second year.

"People began looking at Miami — with its important collectors like the Rubells and the De La Cruzes and other collectors coming to the city during Basel, Art Miami, and Arte America — then became motivated to open spaces here," he says. "The level of talent here is surprising."

"Hardcore Contemporary from Venezuela just opened here; Luis Adelantado, one of Spain's foremost dealers, has as well; Frenchman Perrotin is now here," Parra assesses. "The benefit of that is that many galleries coming here will not only show their own artists but locals as well who they will open up international markets for."

Parra, whose space he says will concentrate on ultracontemporary work, is featuring "Mattresses," a photography exhibit and installation by Mexican artist Tania Candiani.

New York galleries are also visiting in droves and anticipate capitalizing on the feverish attention radiating during the fair's comet streak.

Brooklyn's edgy Pierogi gallery, which exhibited in one of ABMB's cargo containers last year, has opted to showcase its artists in the Design District this weekend.

"I liked the idea of showing work outdoors in the containers on the beach but found we really couldn't put a killer show together featuring a broader range of work without a bigger space," comments Pierogi's Joe Amrhein. "We will be working with Craig Robins during the Art Loves Design Night and have organized a show we feel very happy with."

The New Yorker says the limited space, often-contentious selection skirmishes, prohibitive costs, and competitive backbiting associated with many fairs are what make locations like the Design District an attractive choice for visiting galleries.

"The biggest complaints many young galleries have with art fairs are the generic spaces, expensive booths, and the hassle of having to play by the rules or deal with constraints. That and a perception that one needs to have a political base to enter the bigger fairs; that's why you see the smaller fairs running concurrently — people definitely want to have a voice."

He also mentions that for visiting galleries who need to keep their spaces back home operating while they're in town for ABMB, the logistics and expenses involved in getting here and setting up shop take a toll.

"If you rent one of Basel's containers that run $10,000, then you have to factor in travel expenses for assistants, artists, hotels, car rentals, meals, shipping, and insurance and other hidden costs; it can get pretty expensive, but the artists and collectors expect you to be here," he adds.

Last year Pierogi's setup at ABMB's Art Positions, where shipping containers are converted to quirky beachfront galleries, became a crowd magnet and a favorite among cutting-edge connoisseurs.

For a majority of Miami artists and dealers, Hurricane Wilma was the main logistical nightmare they confronted while gearing up for a breakaway position before ABMB's starter gun cracked off.

"It set galleries and artists back nearly three weeks in terms of production," rues Miami dealer José Alonso, who's hoping the scent of paint and sawdust clears up before the ABMB crowds discover his just-opened spot. "The city shut down for at least ten days, and laborers, printers, the Internet, everything came to a stop." Like others impelled to ride the ABMB wave, Alonso was undeterred, putting the finishing touches on his space in time for the fair.

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