Aqua Art 2010: Intimate, Laid Back, and a Good Place to Soak Your Bunions

The Aqua Art Fair made its way back to the ocean (actually, just a block away from the Atlantic on Collins Avenue), coming  back to the Aqua Hotel where it all began in 2005. It's a good move, because the Aqua Hotel is about as cool a place as you can show art on South Beach. And let's face it: If your name is water, you should be close to it.

The two-story hotel with a narrow courtyard is old-style South Beach. Its tiny rooms provide an intimate art experience as you'll

get at any Art Basel event. On the flip side, if you like to enjoy art

anonymously, think twice about shuffling between the 43 rooms packed with

painting, photographs, and sculptures. You'll often find yourself in a

small room alone with the artist or gallery rep and trying to avoid eye

contact is an exercise in futility.

Aqua will appeal to those who are turned off by the pretense surrounding

many Basel events. The cramped quarters and simple hotel

rooms -- be sure to look in closets and nooks for art

treasures purposefully hidden away -- make the experience feel casual. And

if you're feet get a little tired from walking in and out of all those

rooms, don't be afraid to slip off your shoes and socks and dip your

bunions in the hotel jacuzzi --everybody else was doing it when we showed


As for the exhibits, they were a little heavy on the

traditional visual arts, painting, and sculpture, without too much in the

way of mixed-media installations. There were, however, some notable

exceptions. The venue was just as cool as much of the work, with a

couple of spectacular spaces to sit back in the courtyard or on the

second-floor balcony fronting Collins Avenue.

Here are some of the highlights:

 We're not art critics, but we did visit the Harold Golen Gallery last night.

The head looks a little like Darth Vader when he finally took off his mask in Return of the Jedi -- but with a goatee. It's also very big. Those are somebody's legs next to the noggin.


Part of what's cool about Aqua is that you could get a sneak preview of each exhibit just by looking through the room windows, thus avoiding the embarrassing immediate u-turn if you're not interested in what you see.

This reminds us of the Seinfeld Kenny Roger's Chicken episode.

Is this a statement about an errant golf swing or a philandering golf hotshot? We have no clue (and were too chicken to ask).

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Sebastian del Mármol