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Aqua Art Miami Preview: Ten Works of Art to Take You Back to Your Childhood

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This year of Art Basel has been the year of the pop up, but at least one fair during Art Week Miami has thrown out the idea of a typical white tent and instead has taken over an entire hotel.

Aqua Art Miami has once again transformed the Aqua Hotel on Collins Ave. into an artistic wonderland, stripping the rooms of their furniture and in its place, dozens of mini galleries have popped up.

Jennifer Jacobs, Director of Aqua Art Miami, says Aqua likes to focus on both young galleries and more established ones in the art scene with "strong, emerging, and mid-career artists," adding that the end result is always an exciting mix.

During Aqua's VIP preview, Jacobs mentioned that the fair is also introducing a program called Sound Vision, presented by Lyons Wier Gallery and Audiophile Plus, "featuring artwork from some of today's most exciting visual artists synthesized with a curated day-to-evening mix of ambient mixes, live performances, and DJ sets."

Though she says guests will have to come out and see the fair for themselves, she did mention a few memorable galleries and acts, such as Mari Kim from Korea, Gary Baseman, as featured at the Shulmait Gallery space, and Kevin Berlin over at the Mark Miller Gallery.

Jacobs hit it spot on when she described to us one of the overall themes of the venue as being "playful" and in calling out artists Kim and Basemen. If there's one trend we noticed, it was a call to youth and childhood, as artists explored the depths of their upbringing and created pieces that might have been a part of nightmares past.

10. The Last Dance

In this scene, it looks as if a young girl is dancing with a few scary looking clowns. Imposed over the characters is the phrase, "Last Dance," which could imply this child will die soon (or is secretly afraid of clowns).

9. Toy Bears

Nothing says "childhood" like a bunch of stuffed animals, except these toys looked as though they might have been created for ghost children. Instead of being stuffed with fluffy white cotton, the bunny has pennies for brains, and one of the boy dolls has needles in his neck - ouch.

8. Storm Troopers

You've gotta have storm troopers for a happy upbringing. Even if you got into the fandom at an older age, Star Wars will always bring out your inner happy boy (we all have one).

7. More Troopers

Heck, why not turn them into little gold and silver statues and place them all over your house or office?

6. Barbie Girl

I'm a Barbie girl, in a Barbie world. Life is plastic, it's fantastic.

5. Popsicles

Remember those hot summer days when you were growing up and after playing outside, Mom would have a nice cold popsicle waiting for you? Don't wait too long to eat it, or it'll melt (and you'll have to photograph the process).

4. Is that you, Tim Burton?

These little creatures look as if they belong in one of Tim Burton's flicks. Maybe he hasn't discovered the artist yet, or maybe these little guys have been his inspiration all along.

3. Mari Kim and Her Big-eyed Dolls

At Kim's room-gallery, she had various famous female icons that she has transformed into big-eyed girls - the first thing that came to our mind was a children's cartoon show starring these ladies. There was the Iron Lady herself, Cat Woman, Wonder Woman, Audrey Hepburn, and even miss Gloria Steinem.

2. Kitties At the Schoolyard

Those are some playful cats - just ignore the sharpness of their teeth and how one of them gives off the shadow of a wolf.

1. Gary Baseman's Mythical Homeland

Baseman is an icon all on his own. His drawings have traveled the world (you might recall a little game called Cranium), and yet there is so much depth and darkness in his Mythical Homeland exhibition. Anne Hromadka, co-director of the Shulamit Gallery, told us how Baseman traveled to Northern Europe to his ancestor's homeland in order to reconnect with his past. It's a beautiful and moving exhibit - you'll get lost in there, and maybe even find yourself.

Friday, December 6, Gary Baseman will be at Aqua conducting a book signing from 1-2 p.m.

Aqua Art Miami runs until Sunday, December 8, at the Aqua Hotel from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m., and ends at 6 p.m. on Sunday.

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