Art Basel Miami Beach

Miami Art Week 2015: Pulse Comes Alive With Pop and Color

For years, Pulse was relegated to second-tier status among the various satellite fairs that flock to Miami Beach during Art Basel. Two years ago, newly appointed director Helen Toomer looked to turn things around for the struggling enterprise. Last year, with a move to Indian Beach Park  on 46th and Collins, and a smattering of new galleries and curators, Pulse was well on its way to claiming its rightful place as one of the most innovative and imaginative tents during the week.

Toomer and her crew did not disappoint. Pulse is bigger, offering some of the most engaging and cutting edge pieces this season. Their exhibit features a collaboration with Target, for the aptly named Target Too, an experience that fuses art, commercialism, and spectacle. Fair organizers also highlighted local gallerists like Mindy Solomon and Art Lexing, along with emerging media like the augmented reality piece by Amir Baradaran entitled Man Na Manam + {AR}Ticulations of the Self!.

Baradaran is lending his high-tech touch to Pulse with his first stand-alone augmented reality piece. Named after a verse from an 18th-century Sufi poet, Man Na Manam mixes old and new world influence for a participatory piece unlike any other at the fair. 

"Commercial institutions like art fairs tend to be more about selling art, rather than taking a chance on something completely new and unseen," Baradaran told New Times. "I was so happy Pulse took a chance on showing something that is unlike anything else on the Beach this year." 

If that wasn't enough, each booth along the fair was festooned with some of the most eye catching creations this side of the convention center. Transfer Gallery out of New York was fascinated with the new ways artists use emerging media in their work. For example, in a series by Faith Holland, the artist took professional cum shots from porn sites (like RedTube) and carefully collaged them into abstract canvasses that give a whole new meaning to the term "splatter painting." 

Local gallery owner Lexing Zhang, of Art Lexing, is constantly engaged in her mission to usher contemporary Chinese artists to the Western marketplace. Ye Hongxing is one of several painters she is highlighting at her Pulse booth. Born in 1972, Hongxing constructs brilliant paintings using an assortment of kitschy stickers. The end result is a stunning pastiche that manages to incorporate all the traditional aspects of representational painting with an offbeat sense of humor. 

Once you make your way past the 46th Street parking lot and into the Pulse tent, you'll quickly realize the exhibit has been brilliantly curated to captivate the eye. As you saunter past the various booths, each gallery has something that will either energize your Basel pilgrimage, spark conversation, or draw you into meditative contemplation. Yet, it's the colorful, pop-influenced work that stand out most and perfectly encapsulate Pulse's emerging status as a leading satellite fair. 

Pulse Miami Beach 2015
December 1 through 5, at Indian Beach Park, 4601 Collins Ave., Miami Beach. Tickets $15 to $40;
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Neil Vazquez is an arts and entertainment writer who works at the intersection of highbrow and lowbrow A Miami native and Northwestern University graduate, he usually can be found sipping overpriced coffee, walking his golden retriever, or doing yoga.
Contact: Neil Vazquez