Is the Magic City ready to challenge well-established art capitals around the globe as a cultural destination? Can we convince the world's 1% that there's a sustainable, year-round market here for contemporary art?
Nick Korniloff thinks so. That's why he's debuting the inaugural version of Art Wynwood this weekend. "We are in a cultural growth mode unlike any other city in the country, including New York," he says. "Soon the Wynwood Arts District's name will be rolling off tastemakers' tongues like 'Chelsea' and 'Soho.'"
As director of Art Miami, one of the area's top fairs during Art Basel week, Korniloff has earned the event's critical acclaim as one of the highlights of the busiest weeks of the season. Now, he's ready to see if he can match that buzz beyond Basel, with the help of Wynwood's contemporary arts leaders in a stand-alone event focused on the area's hastening revitalization and distinctly urban flavor.
More than three years in the making, Art Wynwood will feature over 50 galleries from 13 countries. About a quarter of the participants are local galleries, including Pan American Art Projects, the Bernice Steinbaum Gallery, Dot Fiftyone Gallery, and 101/Exhibit.
Expect exhibits grittier than Art Miami, with photography, painting, sculpture, video, installation, urban street art, and every conceivable contemporary genre by more than 500 international artists. It will be held at Art Miami's sprawling 100,000-square-foot tent pavilion in Midtown, which typically houses approximately 100 galleries during Basel.
For Sloan Schaffer, who owns the Design District's 101/Exhibit, Art Wynwood represents an opportunity to expand awareness of South Florida's growing stature as a market for contemporary art and to capitalize on President's Day weekend, one of the busiest times during the local tourist season.
"It is an exciting time for the art scene in Miami now," Schaffer says. "Art Wynwood offers a vital opportunity to continue the traction gained during Basel week. Everyone has pulled together to support this.... We have reached the critical mass to stage a new art fair in Miami," he adds. "But now it's time to see if Miami is the real deal and can sustain success the rest of the year rather than just focusing on five days in December."
For Art Wynwood, Schaffer will show the work of Larry Rivers alongside that of one of his stable's rising talents, Jason Shawn Alexander. He will also exhibit several monumental pieces by Charles Pfahl in his stall at the fair this weekend.
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Isaac Javier Perelman, co-owner of the Dot Fiftyone Gallery and president of the Miami Art Dealers Association, cautions that Miami's civic leaders need to become more supportive of local culture before Wynwood can tout itself as a viable year-round art market. "This city is maturing every day, and Art Wynwood is important for us to keep improving our image," Perelman says. "But we need to get our leaders to join local cultural institutions fighting perceptions that the only thing we have to offer is hedonism."
Look for full story in this week's pulp edition.
Art Wynwood Contemporary International Art Fair, 3101 NE First Ave., Miami; 520-529-1108; art-wynwood.com. VIP preview access for Art Wynwood VIP cardholders and press 6 to 10 p.m. Thursday, February 16. General admission 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday through Sunday, February 17 through 19, and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, February 20. Ticket costs vary.