Best Art Fair Meltdown - 2012
For lovers of traditional and contemporary art from Latin America, ArteAmericas has become a darling by mixing big names such as Wifredo Lam and Carlos Cruz-Diez with emerging talent from around the hemisphere. The self-described "boutique fair" typically draws about 50 international and local galleries to the Miami Beach Convention Center, where visitors can discover more traditional museum-quality paintings and sculptures alongside the latest trends in multimedia and video installations. But in 2011, the fair tried spicing up its image with racier works such as dancing dildos and videos of swollen, glowing testicles courtesy of the Wynwood art space LMNT. Although crowds flocked to LMNT's stall to peek into a gold-painted mannequin's backside and observe themselves emerging through its digestive tract in one interactive opus, ArteAmericas' ninth installment soon turned excremental. During the weekend, a vandal scrawled the word shit on local artist Marco Vallela's series of abstract paintings, valued at $8,000. The paintings were removed from the exhibit after Miami Beach police investigated. Then ArteAmericas was in the news again for all the wrong reasons after Cuban painter Agustín Bejarano, who was in town exhibiting at the fair, was busted by Hialeah cops for allegedly sexually assaulting a 5-year-old boy. Let's hope 2012 puts the fair back on its path of celebrating the highlights of Latin American arts.