Since the first U.S. solo exhibit of his floppy-disk paintings at the Robert Fontaine Gallery in August 2011, British artist Nick Gentry has become wildly popular with Miami collectors. Locals such as Sydney Server, a real estate agent, and Eyal Lalo, CEO of the Invicta Watch Group in Broward, have purchased several of Gentry's attention-grabbing canvases, which command up to $15,000 each.
Sir Ian McKellen, who plays Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings movies, commissioned the 32-year-old to do a portrait. And his paintings were recently featured on LeBron James's website.
What does Gentry credit as a major reason his career is soaring?
Wynwood's Second Saturday Art Walk, which might be the nation's most popular monthly art event.
"It's like nothing else I have seen in the art world," says Gentry, who has attended four or five of the monthly events and plans to live here during March and April. "Over the past few years, Miami art collectors have been really getting into my work, and when you couple that with the growing art scene in the city, it makes sense for me to spend more time here."
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But not everyone is so enthusiastic about Art Walk. Though Robert Fontaine, who represents Gentry exclusively in the States, sells anywhere from two to 15 works during Second Saturday, others grumble that there is a battle underway for Wynwood's soul and that Art Walk's unruly crowds are hindering their business.
Interviews with more than a dozen gallery owners and collectors show that, contrary to some people's expectations, some dealers sell expensive artwork at the event. But other gallerists complain it hurts their business.