The list of galleries participating in the 2010 edition of Art Basel Miami Beach has just been released and there are no surprises when it comes to which local spaces made the cut. The Fredric Snitzer Gallery will return while Alejandra von Hartz Fine Arts in Wywnwood, the only other local represented, will make its first appearance inside the big December tent.
Snitzer's return is entirely expected. He is the only South Florida representative on the Basel selection committee and a staple of the fair since its inception. The von Hartz selection lifts eyebrows because the space represents mostly Latin American artists with little if any connection to Miami.
Art Basel Miami Beach's selection committee has long been knocked as snobbish by locals who pay the $500 application fee each year only to get a rejection letter in the mail. In most international cities where major fairs are hosted, selection committees usually make a great effort to provide a wide-ranging representation of the host city's gallery culture. In Maastricht, for example, the world's leading art and antiques fair, TEFAF, invites local spaces to the show, as do Art Basel in Switzerland and New York's Armory Show.
One wonders why Miami is different. Is Snitzer a voice in the wilderness among his Basel selection committee colleagues? Or are there other interests behind what many local dealers call a Basel blockade? Either way, the European fair, which has revolutionized the local scene during the past decade, can no longer deflect the noticeable absence of important local figures such as Brook Dorsch and David Castillo, among others.
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Fred Snitzer has informed Cultist that two other South Florida galleries will be participating at ABMB this year. Coral Gables' Cernuda Arte and Palm Beach's Gavlak Gallery. The first represents mostly dead Cuban modern masters, the other emerging and established international artists. Neither features Miami talent.
Snitzer adds that this year ABMB received 20 percent more applicants than last year's confab which boasted 275 galleries compared to the next edition's anemic 250.
"My presence on the committee is to give insight and advocate for the South Florida Galleries," Snitzer writes. "Of the 12 to 14 member selection committee I have one vote." He adds that other major fairs offer easier acceptance to not only Miami galleries, but any gallery. "ABMB is an extremely selective fair. I have been an advocate for Miami-based artists for 34 years."