Glamour, Parties, and Oh Yes, Art

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

"Art Basel is such a big monster that everyone wants to tackle its clientele. No other event in the U.S. can touch it in quality, and in terms of opportunity it runs parallel to the dynamic of auction houses where people watch what others buy and join the feeding frenzy," he says.

"Money calls money; these are people who won't buy croquetas when they can invest in blue-chip stocks."

Alonso has christened his digs with "The Garden of Mistrust," an installation by Alexandre Arrechea, one of the founders of Cuba's vaunted collaborative Los Carpinteros. The challenging piece consists of a fourteen-foot, white enamel, metal tree sprouting surveillance cameras from its branches.

Hurricane Wilma tore into tight production deadlines and forced many artists into a madcap race to deliver their first museum shows on schedule.

Sam Borkson and Arturo Sandoval III, who form the conceptual duet Friends with You, experienced what they call "mad adventures" while preparing for "Cloud City," their interactive exhibit launching MoCA at the Goldman Warehouse this week.

"Dude, after Wilma, we had to run all over town with a generator. We were working with fiberglass people, seamstresses, and upholsterers, and no one had [electrical] power. It was like a relay going from place to place with the generator so these people could finish the work on time. It turned into a crazy mission," Borkson chuckles.

Another Wilma survivor, Carlos Betancourt — whose North Bay Village studio roof blew off — had artwork for ABMB destroyed and also saw his property red-tagged. He calls himself a lucky guy.

"Like many others in the community, I had to hurry to find a U-Haul truck and relocate my life's belongings, but I'm an optimist and consider myself very fortunate." The artist, whose solo show "The Hand of the Eye: Questions of Travel" premieres at Diana Lowenstein Fine Art this Saturday, might be as familiar a sight as dead presidents on greenbacks during ABMB.

Betancourt is exhibiting "Untitled/1000 with Souvenirs" at the Bass Museum. It consists of a self-portrait photographic image in which he appears wearing a mask of himself while holding a world globe, a palm frond, and hibiscus. The image has been reproduced on a monumental piece of vinyl unfurled outside the Bass and replicated on beach towels, mugs, puzzles, and a booklet with the iconic pun plastered across every page, some of which will be distributed at the museum and sold in the convention center.

"It's sort of a spoof on Paris Hilton and the power of that single image you see printed over and over in the magazines," Betancourt says. "It also alludes to souvenir shops travelers visit to satisfy the need for identifying with a place."

For this week at least, it appears SoBe's famous faces will fade into the background, since everyone in town will be gawking at art, and Betancourt's kitschy Miami mementos might likely end up representing the contemporary art world's freshest capital.

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