What a difference a decade makes. During the tenth-anniversary edition of Art Basel Miami Beach, local artists, dealers, and arts organizations gave a rousing account of the level of talent in our town.
At the Miami Beach Convention Center, Hernan Bas's The Road Ahead Is Golden... Silver... Bronze..., exhibited at the Fredric Snitzer Gallery booth, was voted best painting at ABMB by ArtInfo International Edition.
At Scope, Miami's Anthony Spinello and Andrew Persoff not only rebranded the image of Basel's senior satellite fair, but Spinello also presented "Trisection," a trio of compellingly curated solo projects in black-painted booths featuring locals Sinisa Kukec, Farley Aguilar, and Parisian twins Abby Double.
At Art Miami, local spaces such as Dot Fiftyone Gallery and Cernuda Arte reported stellar sales. And as we predicted early on, the most talked-and-written-about show was "Here Lies Georges Wildenstein" at Primary Projects, where Miru Kim's nude performance with live pigs had wags tittering throughout the week.
Signs that Wynwood has become a graffiti artist's paradise abounded with the intoxicating scent of aerosol mixing with the pungent odor of weed and barbecued meat wafting from food trucks all weekend long.
Miami's art scene succeeded in flexing its muscle during Basel and will do it again this weekend. At Second Saturday, you can discover why visitors in town for the hemisphere's largest arts confab left impressed with how much our scene has evolved.
This Saturday, check out Wynwood and the Design District's post-Basel embarrassment of riches, which would put a Croesus to shame.
You can beat the art-crawl crowds by heading early to the Rubell Family Collection (95 NW 29th St., Miami) for the can't-miss blockbuster exhibit "American Exuberance," offering a 30-year survey of the top contemporary artists working today.
The Rubells' sprawling offering features nearly 200 works by 64 artists, a quarter of them created specifically for the show. Seamlessly curated and filling the collection's capacious 45,000-square-foot digs to the brim, the show boasts blue-chip names such as Mike Kelly, Jeff Koons, Barbara Kruger, Richard Prince, and Cindy Sherman presented alongside emerging art stars such as Ryan Trecartin and Sterling Ruby. Call 573-6090 or visit rfc.museum.
While visiting the neighborhood, go to Wynwood Lofts (250 NW 23rd St., Miami), where Los Angeles-based street artist Retna has created a towering mural on the façade that works sort of like a roll call of Miami's art-scene movers and shakers who have inspired him the past five years.
Retna's skull-staving opus encapsulates Primary Flight's fifth-anniversary mantra, "Go Big, or Go Home," in the artist's signature calligraphic rune style. It's a soaring testament to the folks who helped convert Wynwood's streets into the world's largest outdoor museum for graffiti art.
There is a reason street projects have become popular in the area. Some industry insiders, such as Primary Flight's Chris Oh, call them a "gateway drug" into the fine-arts world. People who walk through or drive by the neighborhood often stop to check out these works, become intrigued, and enter the galleries nearby.
That notion might have inspired Miami's Ruben Millares to create a series of beguiling works across Wynwood's urban landscape at sites such as the chainlink fence fronting the Wynwood Lofts building and spiraling outward to intersections beyond.
Millares's Mending the Void offers a witty commentary on the struggle among man, nature, and time and also speaks to the increasingly rapid gentrification of the once gritty hood. The artist combed the area to find trees growing through fences and cut back their stumps and limbs. He then wove red, white, and blue wires plucked from discarded computers into the fissures torn in the fences by the trees. The result of his sculptural interventions appear not unlike Native American dreamcatchers. The guerrilla pieces also allude to expectations of some developers and bureaucrats that the presence of artists and the mechanisms of culture will act as a stalking horse for the revitalization of urban neighborhoods.
If you missed "Before They Were Famous: Behind the Lens of William John Kennedy" at Scope, you can catch the local octogenarian shutterbug's engaging suite of photos he snapped of pop icons Andy Warhol and Robert Indiana at Kiwi Arts Group (48 NW 29th St., Miami) this weekend.
Kennedy, who had unprecedented access to the two legends during the ascent of their careers in the early '60s, has wallpapered the Kiwi compound with his intriguing images shot at Warhol's Factory and of Indiana at his studio in the Midwest. Many of the more than 100 images on display have never been exhibited publicly. Call 305-200-2047 or visit kiwiartsgroup.cpm.
Arguably the most trumpeted show during Basel was at Primary Projects (4141 NE Second Ave., St. 104, Miami), where Miru Kim wallowed in the mud nude with two suckling pigs rescued from a Hialeah slaughterhouse.
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Visitors to the gallery stared agog as Kim crawled on all fours in the muck and hay with the oinkers while appearing oblivious to the crowds. She is known for visiting industrial farm factories in the Midwest where she photographs herself nude with giant hogs and displays her works later in a decidedly more pristine gallery setting. But at Primary, she gave spectators a taste of what it must feel like to go hog-wild back on the farm. The only thing that soured the experience was that she hired two black-clad knuckle-draggers to prevent spectators from inching closer to the glass enclosure or taking pictures of her at work.
Even though Kim has departed, evidence of her performance remains on display at the buzz-generating space. And featuring the work of 14 other artists, "Here Lies Georges Wildenstein" boasts some of the best stuff you'll see this weekend, hands down. The show is named for an influential Parisian dealer of Jewish descent who was accused of trafficking art with the Nazis and stripped of his French citizenship in 1940. True to the show's title, plenty of work with subversive content is on view.
Check out Michael Vasquez's Totem, a stunning large-scale oil on canvas depicting street thugs flashing gang signs. Manny Prieres also commands attention with his pentagram drawing depicting interlocking switchblades, as does Kenton Parker with his engraved MAC-10.
But the most intriguing backstory of the artists involved in this show belongs to Frenchman Édouard Nardon. His Don Juan is a sculpture featuring an eight-foot fluorescent light rod penetrating four Mercedes-Benz windshields and seemingly telegraphing the Parisian artist's reputation with the ladies. It is also a biographical statement because Nardon once made a living as a car thief before beginning an art career while doing time in the pen. Visit primaryflight.com/projects.