Wynwood's Second Saturday circus

Things can get rowdy during Second Saturday in Wynwood, but the folks at Ascaso Gallery weren't prepared for the bond some art crawlers recently forged with the works on display.

One visitor to the space on NW Second Avenue stepped into an installation of a nude woman seductively reclining on a hammock, not realizing the sand he trod on was a carefully placed part of the $380,000 work by Cornelis Zitman. Another tipsy patron mounted artist Alirio Palacios's bronze sculpture of a horse worth $50,000, and a third spectator stuck his noggin inside a $250,000 op art cube by Jesús Rafael Soto.

"We had to extract the guy's head from the cube and escort him out," says Elias Sultan, operating director of the gallery, which showcases top Latin American works that sometimes fetch several million dollars. "They asked, 'How good is the art if you can't touch it?'"

In preparation for this weekend's art walk, Wynwood gallery owners have been asking a different question: How valuable is the wildly popular art crawl if the crowds are coming not to buy — or even view — the art, but to drink the free booze?

"Art walk has become dreadful," says Bernice Steinbaum, whose pioneering gallery helped shape today's Wynwood. She no longer serves liquor and has long shut down early during art walk. "People forget we are businesses, not saloons. We are not watering holes for young people to come and drink before leaving for a party on South Beach.

"These kids never look at the art. Never. The collectors are put out. It's a little-kid function," she sighs before describing how an art walk visitor recently damaged a $12,000 Theresa Diehl installation.

This Saturday, crawlers will find that at least 17 of the four dozen participating galleries will open earlier than usual, at 2 p.m., and shut down at 9 instead of 11 p.m. Some of the galleries will also stop serving free liquor. They hope the new hours will lure back collectors turned off by the difficulty of finding a parking space and navigating the large crowds that flood the streets.

Not everyone is enthusiastic. Sergio Garcia, a 51-year-old artist who lives in Wynwood and attends every gallery walk, says, "I'm an old punk rocker and street artist, and I love all the shenanigans going on during art walk. Closing early isn't going to solve anything."

Started by area artists, curators, and dealers in 2003, when the neighborhood was still undeveloped and the spaces numbered about two dozen, Second Saturday has always attracted outlaw antics. Rocket Projects, a gallery that cofounded the event, hosted a show called "Urban Recipes" in January 2004. It featured a huge chicken coop. Patrons were encouraged to select their favorite fowl, which was then butchered and barbecued for public consumption in Rocket's courtyard.

That same night at the World Arts Building a few blocks away, artist Jasmine Kastel poked fun at the art walk's party vibe by consuming a bottle of Jack Daniel's straight from a paper bag and offering shots to art patrons before passing out in another artist's installation and getting booted from the gallery.

As Art Basel Miami Beach gained an international reputation and New World School of the Arts, along with other local institutions, graduated top artists, Wynwood transformed into a gallery mecca. Saturday art walks became everyman's view of the city's burgeoning visual arts scene. Then in September 2008, cracks began to show in the event. In a confidential email, one gallery owner complained it was attracting crowds "dedicated to finding free booze."

At least two spaces — Dorsch and Gallery Diet — changed openings to other nights and stopped serving alcohol.

But that didn't deter the crowds. "Things started escalating here last October," says Janda Wetherington, director of Pan American Art Projects on NW Second Avenue. "Now you have stilt walkers and flame throwers and food trucks where people buy racks of barbecue they bring to eat in the gallery. It's turned into a total circus. It's chaos. The day after Second Saturday, the streets here look like a war zone because of all the litter."

During the January art walk, a group of revelers filled containers with beer in front of the Curator's Voice space. They fed it to stray dogs, which the partiers then urged to cross the street, betting on which mutt would be mowed down by a passing car.

In response to the growing circus atmosphere, 30 dealers and gallerists, many representing Wynwood's top art spaces, formed the Miami Art Dealers Association (MADA). Its members hope to make Second Saturday friendlier for art lovers, families, and collectors. At a meeting February 10, members voted to change their Second Saturday hours to 2 to 9 p.m., beginning with this Saturday's walk.

"This is not about elitism in any way," says Paco De La Torre, director of Butter Gallery, which is not a member of MADA but has recently been opening at 2 p.m. during art walks. "We have had problems with food trucks fuming us in the space with their faulty exhaust systems. When it comes to closing, we play it by ear and usually wrap things up after the first few douchebags show up."

Read more at "March 12 Wynwood art walk packs a visual punch."

 
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25 comments
cpchester
cpchester topcommenter

The city does an absolutely rotten job of maintaining any sense of order for this 'event'. No traffic control, impossible to cross a street, no trash receptacles...just totally shoddy prepareneddes that leads to this kind of reckless scene. 

Brandonb
Brandonb

I enjoy art walk and the food trucks but a few simple things need to happen:- more trash receptacles, including recycling in the food area and ON THE STREET! - police visibly directing traffic and enforcing the no open containers.- stop ALL traffic from driving down the NW 2nd Ave- stop serving, simple!! People who want to drink should stay in bars

Yasheve Miller
Yasheve Miller

Make no mistake about it. Art Walk has little to do with art as much as it has to do with commerce. People like Beatrice Steinbaum have invaded Miami for decades with their weapons of mass capitalism. Her Trojan horse was the disguise of bringing “culture” to Miami. Really? How do you bring “culture” to a city that predominately made up of people with rich cultural histories with Caribbean and African roots? In essence, what you’re saying is that the cultural backgrounds of the locals are insignificant.

I digress. Steinbaum and friends tried to bring a New York business model to Miami. The mafia tried that in the 70's, the Columbians tried a coup in the 80s, the gays and lesbians marched in during the 90's, the capitalist machine backing hip hop brought its guns blazing at the turn of the century and none of them learned that Miami beats to its own drum... one with Caribbean influences, the residue of the Indian tribe that Never signed a treaty, the blood of existing tribes who once communed with escaped slaves and the ever persistent Spanish influence (Spain). This is not New York. New York ain’t even the place of legend it used to be anymore. This is not Los Angeles, although there are similarities. This is Miami. It's an internal International Market.

zqxz
zqxz

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Buy addresses---- tntn.usTips (48 hours after the special product is invalid)

MS
MS

IMO, the problem is not the 7 to 10pm hours.... it's the alcohol. Tons of underage kids go there so they can drink, and for free. Only about 30 galleries are participating in this hour change. That's not gonna bring things under control. They need to either make it a "dry" gallery walk or charge for drinks and check ID.

maimi
maimi

They should all stop serving free booze. As a business person, it makes no sense to provide free anything to people who are there for the party and not for the opportunity to view/buy art.When festive becomes destructive or even dangerous, it's time to stop.

rebeca
rebeca

who gives a shit about the art when there are dogs being fed beer and coaxed to cross the street? seriously? no one stopped this?

Swampthing
Swampthing

“To think that they — the public — do not appreciate art because they don’t understand it, and to continue to make art that they don’t understand and therefore become alienated from, may mean that the artist is the one who doesn’t understand or appreciate art and is thriving in this ‘self-proclaimed knowledge of art’ that is actually bullshit.” KEITH HARING

For everyone else there is the un-gallery.http://swampspace.blogspot.com...

Dagenhamdude
Dagenhamdude

During the January art walk, a group of revelers filled containers with beer in front of the Curator's Voice space. They fed it to stray dogs, which the partiers then urged to cross the street, betting on which mutt would be mowed down by a passing car.

Is there attribution for this assertion? It seems beyond the pale of even the debauchery the article is discussing and something else all together. Is this what the reporters saw? What was the outcome? were police called?

ArtsyFartsy
ArtsyFartsy

Yeah, it jumped the shark over a year ago when all the Kendell bros started showing up--it's the NYC equivalent of the bridge/tunnel crowd.

soulofmiami
soulofmiami

This is what I've been saying for over a year, now. It certainly has gotten worse in the past months, but it no longer serves the galleries, anybody paying attention can see that. I've been going since the beginning, and I've seen go from a nice quiet evening of art to complete mayhem.

And don't get me wrong, I LOVE mayhem. But, there is a time for it, and an art walk really isn't it. It's too bad all the yahoos, wannabe's, posers, and mooches showed up and ruined the night. I guess we will see where it goes next.

nomercy55
nomercy55

who in their right mind would put a art festival in winnwood,only liberals would......

Blanco
Blanco

yes, it really has become a circus-like atmosphere these past few months, but i think that is part of its charm. gallery walk as an amorphous growing entity brings a rare smile to my face when concerning Miami's art scenario. sure sometimes things get out of hand and there will always be idiots around encouraging other idiots to do idiotic things. however, i think galleries should embrace this new influx of enthusiasts instead of downright banishing them or snootily bait and switching hours of operation.

MADA seems to lack the foresight and clout as to how to market their wares to this new specific group. guys, you already have the crowds and in droves! what are you doing with them? well, we're going to close up shop and wait for the circus to end. cowards!

events2413
events2413

SAD! I am a resident of Wynnwood. I love the art galleries and the type of culture it brings to Wynnwood....I was looking forward to the art walk with some friends it’s sad that ppl can not behave like Grown Adults. The galleries have to remember they should not push everyone for only some ppl behaviors, they could easily ask “the douchbags" to leave upon arrival.

PatheticScum
PatheticScum

yeah, I would have killed those MFing turds!

nomercy55
nomercy55

YEAH YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR,THATS WHY YOU GET ALL THE RIFT RAFT YOU MORONIC LIBERAL....

Lazaro A
Lazaro A

Your comments are rich since you and your wife are one of the biggest moochers, wannabe's and freeloaders in Miami The likes of you are ruining any art event that features an open bar. I never see you guys at places where they actually SELL liquor or food, but you guys are ALWAYS crashing any party where there is an open bar, while trying to pass off your little freeloader oriented blog as a genuine news outlet. Couples like yourselves are the type who ruined GenArt Miami and who make the serious art lovers, collectors and artists get away from attending events like these. We are already seeing the consequences with the quality of fairs and events happening during December in Miami and its thanks to your ilk. By the way, aren't you guys the ones who tried to capitalize on the art fad by creating your own laughable art fair, even though none of you have any training or experience in the visual arts. Crashing art events year after year doesn't make you an insider of the contemporary art world buddy. When you say comments like "It's too bad all the yahoos, wannabe's, posers, and mooches showed up and ruined the night" I hope you are looking at your reflection in a mirror.

ArtsyFartsy
ArtsyFartsy

don't be stupid, stupid. rent is cheap in wynwood so that's where galleries/studios get space.

Another conservative 'using' his/her brain.

Blanco
Blanco

you're kind of an idiot, right?

damn it, sometimes it's just so damn hard not to feed the troll.

soulofmiami
soulofmiami

Sorry, but those new droves are not art buyers. The majority are under-age people looking for a free drink where they won't get carded. Most of the rest are just scenesters who want to be around the newest "cool" place. The few actual buyers are put off by all the shenanigans.

If, indeed, these new "droves" that you herald were actual buyers, they would be buying. The art is there.

nomercy55
nomercy55

no youre the idiot,as far as a troll,no i know what time it is....get with the program you bottom feeder

Blanco
Blanco

i hear you what you're saying, soul of miami, but i disagree with the premise that the new droves are not art buyers and are all mooches. what should be said is that they are not art buyers YET. sure, there is no doubt that some of the new influx are precocious kids looking for a thrill and with booze at the ready, well, they partake and the buffoonery commences. however, belittling the potential of this crowd is upsetting to me. yes, gallery walk has changed. why not change with it? there are countless ways to keep the mayhem as well as cater to the aficionados and collectors.

it seems to me the old guard is at a loss as to what to do with the new (not really new since, as you can attest, the mayhem/circus has been going on for more than a year) crowd. obviously this is not the case with every gallery. some specifically cater to the droves and, fingers crossed, will continue to do so. (sorry i cannot be more specific, the names escape me at his hour.)

Blanco
Blanco

bottom feeder? please explain. i won't suggest use of the exceptional grammar skills you doubtlessly possess, as i also like to subvert grammar, syntax and all that jazz. however, i wouldn't mind reading an informed opinion on your part concerning the above article.

as far as getting with the program, buddy, i would never join one that would have me as a member. i don't play well with others.

 
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