The bewildering beast stands on four legs as a legion of goliath beetles and tiny spindly insects, all painted in shimmering iridescent shades, pulls at opposite ends of chains that bind the creature, trying to topple the abnormality. The fantastic scene is encased in an elegant Victorian-era dark wood vitrine like something out of a museum of natural history. It suggests the scores of Basel-orbiting satellite fairs, attempting to overturn the giant for the chance to gorge on its bloated carcass and the moneybag collectors it has ingested.
Another artist who makes a powerful statement is Zack Balber. His series of photographs of wasted Miami street walkers is a cautionary tale for artists prostituted by unscrupulous dealers at some of the fly-by-night, one-and-done galleries that spring up like dung mushrooms during Art Basel week. After the fair, most of these poor suckers end up discarded as quickly as a used condom.
For his sensational Window Shopping Series, Balber approached local hookers and asked them: "Are you dating?" to seal the deal. He paid each of the women $10 to take their photo. He also made an arrangement with their pimps to give them a slice of the commission if he sold the ladies' portraits during the fair. Spinello still gets his 50 percent cut, but Balber will split his earnings with the pimps. The implications are evident.
On Tuesday, December 1, at 7 p.m., Spinello will host the Littlest Vernissage, a reception featuring an open bar, and his gallery hours will be extended from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. December 1 through 6.
If you're looking for a solitary pit stop encapsulating the Basel experience, this brainy show not only passes muster but also is a great example of an art dealer who is in tune with the times.