When Miami gallerist Anthony Spinello learned that his gallery had been accepted to Art Basel for the first time, in 2012, he was in New York City.
"In May of that year, I was invited to curate a special project for the Frieze Art Fair at White Box," he remembers. "I was walking in the East Village toward White Box to finish installing the group exhibition "Perfect Lovers" when I received notice that we had been accepted for the first time into the most important art fair in the United States. My gallery has been wait listed for the previous five years. I was alone, and didn't know whether to cry or scream. (I did both.)"
Spinello's acceptance into Art Basel marked a step forward for Miami's art scene, which is traditionally underrepresented at the main event at the Miami Beach Convention Center, partly in favor of galleries located in the very city where Spinello was exhibiting work back in May 2012. But for Spinello and artist Agustina Woodgate, whose work would appear at Art Basel 2012, the triumph was more personal.
"This marked a major milestone in both of our careers. We had been working together at that point for eight years," he explains. "When she arrived [in New York that same day], I anxiously took her to a nearby café to share the amazing news. Tthen we both treated ourselves to a pair of sunglasses from the boutique next door.) That beautiful afternoon in the East Village was surreal. That's when the roller coaster took off."
Fast-forward a year, and Spinello Projects has continued to evolve and wow audiences both in Miami and around the world. The gallery was accepted into Art Basel for a second straight year, this time into the Nova sector, where Spinello plans to show the works of three artists -- Woodgate, Sinisa Kukec, and Naama Tsabar -- in a show titled "Gravitywell."
And that surreal, rookie feeling seems to have been replaced with a veteran's confidence. Asked what it feels like to be the third Miami gallery to show in Nova in Art Basel Miami Beach history, Spinello says, "We feel honored, proud, and ready to represent Miami."
"Gravitywell" was named after Gravity Well, a piece created by Sinisa Kukec for his solo exhibition at Spinello Projects, "LOVELIKETHEUNIVERSE." The work involved pouring color resin down a piece of canvas with an indentation in the middle -- and required both Spinello's and Woodgate's assistance to come to fruition.
"Inside the main gallery space of Spinello Projects, Agustina and I assisted Sinisa," Spinello remembers. "Referencing Rodney Graham on the work of Morris Louis, we helped him pour color resin down the front of a linen canvas. The top of the canvas was leaning on an old cabinet of mine, and the bottom of the canvas was resting on the floor. To protect the gallery floor, we tore apart an old copy of the infamous Miami New Times issue with artist Bert Rodriguez on the cover painted all in silver as Kim Kardashian."
Together, the three witnessed a work of art in the making. "I poured the color yellow, Agustina poured blue and orange, and Sinisa poured green and red. We all watched the journey as the resin slowly poured down the canvas, become swallowed within the indentation in the middle of the canvas (the "well"), and travel back out toward the floor.
"That piece has continued to resonate with me, and I felt that Sinisa was onto something," he continues. "I think it is a pivotal piece in his career, and I was lucky to be a part of his process."
So for Art Basel 2013, Spinello plans to share the experience. "I knew immediately that I wanted to feature Sinisa Kukec and specifically debut a Gravity Well at the convention center. Essentially, I was inspired by Sinisa and decided to investigate Gravity Well as a starting point to build my show 'Gravitywell.'"
And Woodgate and Tsabar complete what Spinello calls "a perfect trifecta." Woodgate is working on a giant rug, measuring 16 by 10 feet, made from the skins of stuffed animals. Titled Milky Way, the rug will serve as a backdrop to the Spinello Projects booth.
"Agustina has also been playing with the idea of creating a kinetic work, Hemispheres Destiny, created from her studio dart board and clock," Spinello says.
Tsabar, meanwhile, will add an audio component. "Newly represented artist Naama Tsabar has been making a lot of noise in the New York art scene (literally) and currently in the highly acclaimed three-person exhibition 'Showtime' at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. Naama creates performative/interactive works that serve as a direct conversation between sculpture and sound."
For "Gravitywell," Tsabar will show Work on Paper (Variation One), which Spinello describes as "a piece of paper pierced through with a piano string, capable of being tuned and played by hand, guitar pick, or violin bow. It will serve as an active site of audience participation and creation."
The links among the three artists aren't obvious at first, but Spinello points out, "All three artists have a shared interest in gravity, invisible forces, the manipulation of raw materials, and a sheer laborious art practice."
So, in a nutshell, what will audiences experience at his booth in December? Spinello's answer comes in text form:
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"A SENSORY EXPLOSION."
Briana Saati contributed to this story.
Follow Ciara LaVelle on Twitter @ciaralavelle.