"I'm on a boat, bitch," wasn't exactly the first thing one might have expected to hear when approaching the dock of a 40-million-dollar yacht as it hosts the fourth edition of the Miami International Art Fair -- but yeah, that happened.
Attendees were obviously excited (some more poised than others) to be stepping foot onto the SeaFair for the floating exhibition of artists hosted by David and Lee Ann Lester of International Fine Art Expositions, the founders of MIA, Art Miami, Palm Beach International Art & Antique Fair, ArtPalmBeach, the Naples International Art & Antique Fair, Art Naples, and Art Sarasotain, with 20 years in the business.
The event takes place in the world's first mobile megayacht venue, one of the ten largest privately owned yachts in the country. At 228 feet-long and 2800 international tons, the elegant four-deck ship docked alongside Biscayne Boulevard and the InterContinental Miami.
Lee Ann Lester, host of the event, said, "Galleries are greatly dependent on the fair business...the whole system of brick-and-mortar retailing has gone through a huge transformation as well as all media communications... Our idea was to build a smaller venue that could come to a city an within a day or two, be set up, and have a beautiful exhibit. And of course, who doesn't love to be on the water on a beautiful day?"
On Thursday, MIA previewed artistic works from all over the world to collectors and art enthusiasts in Miami. Even Christian Slater and fiancée Brittany Lopez showed up. Friday evening, the intimate setting continued to impress as French artist, Jadikan, demonstrated a live work outside on deck.
Jadikan asked volunteers to sit still for 50 seconds as he hurried around them, moving light sticks and flashlights up and down their bodies while an assistant manned the camera. A look of concentration came over his face as he painted an invisible picture in the dark amongst observers. The final product is a photograph displaying neon light patterns one might believe can only be achieved by using some sort of overpriced smartphone filter app.
Eight years ago, Jadikan accidentally stumbled upon his artistic ability. "It was a mistake with a cigarette," he said. First a cigarette, then a candle, and as he took notice of these things, he began to experiment with photography and timing. "I understand that I can be twice in the same picture, so I stayed for two seconds in one place, two seconds in another place, so I saw it can be twice and so it begins to be an addiction.
"Typical setup is one tripod, one camera, one remote...I used to build my own tools to be more precise... [It] just depends what you want to do. You build your tool to do what you feel...In the location I find the inspiration," he said. Jadikan said he prefers abandoned places or natural locations to shoot his work. Sometimes he runs around playing with colors and light for four hours before he begins to feel comfortable in the environment.
The first deck hosted galleries from New York, Massachusetts, Miami, Buenos Aires, and Paris. Unmistakable prints like Botero's renowned Tango and Warhol's Cow immediately captivates wandering viewers. Across the room, giant melted disco balls and crumpled installations of money and candy bars drape the walls. Artist Paul Rousso turns these commercially beloved items into multi-dimensional and trippy Dalí-like installations.
Another light painter, Stephen Knapp, draws in spectators with pieces so mystical and color explosive that it almost looks like he's found a way to capture and contain the Northern Lights. Knapp is self-taught with no formal artistic training, but his college studies of History and English have allowed him to produce such works. "The History and English part is the research; you do research a lot and I've always been fascinated by materials... There's no paint at all, it's simply light. There's no color and that's a blank, white background. Think of a prism. You put a clear prism in front of white light and you get all these brilliant colors as it takes the wavelengths of light and breaks it into individual colors," He said.
Although Knapp's work is is based on electricity, his pieces are environmentally conscious. Some of his major public installations save between two and 10,000 watts of energy because they light the room without having to use architectural lighting since they thrive in dim light ranges. "It's all complement reflective...an ability to both transmit and reflect is how this all happens," he said. (You can check out Knapp's work at the Lowe starting this weekend, too.)
On the second deck, galleries from the U.K., Miami, Russia, California, Connecticut, and New York were on display. Valeria Rocchiccioli's anemone-looking pieces made from bottle caps and twist-ties jutted from the walls and Mark Helliar's sommerso glass sculptures took up residence nearby.
Carbon King, a piece by South African artist Alistair Gibson, is a regal African lion skull sculpted from carbon fiber and bismuth -- it demands attention from attendees. Gibson's intense designs and engineer work go hand in hand with his personality. "From a background in the motor racing industry, especially Formula One, which taught me how to work with the material and after traveling around the world for a couple of years, I decided I wanted to do something for myself... I set off initially making fish [sculptures], which was enthralling in terms of hydrodynamic versus aerodynamic and showing the link between modern engineering and modern material to the natural world. That was sort of a theme that took hold, which led me to do the skulls," he said. The lion skull is made of 336 individual layers of tiny carbon fiber sheets, a labor of love that takes about six months each to make. The sculpture is a limited edition of six, two of which have already sold.
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Deck three concluded the last tier of works on display by galleries from Paris and Miami. Guests posed for pictures with sculptures by Ruth Bloch and eyed jewelry by Rachel Dugger before moving onto the fourth level of the ship, the Sky Deck, to take in the evening sky and some fresh air for those who didn't quite have their sea legs.