Everybody Sweat Now: MIA's Seafair Expo Sends Us Overboard

In concept, staging an art fair on a snazzy, $40 million dollar yacht that only Google's Larry Page or Saudi Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Alsaud can afford seems like a grand idea. After all, who doesn't want to rub shoulders with the rich and snooty while checking out artworks in quarters as tight as a sardine tin?

But in reality, after attending the opening of the Miami International Art Fair on the Seafair mega yacht last night, the glam factor was drowned out by our sweat glands after five minutes aboard the vessel. It reminded us of a floating art strip mall during a cruise ship fire drill.

One of the ten biggest privately owned vessels of its kind in the country, the 228-foot, four-deck Seafair was created as a showcase for art and antiques.

The artsy yacht typically makes calls to port at the swankier harbors located in places like Sarasota, Martha's Vineyard, and other venues on the eastern seaboard, hosting a variety of art events during the season.

Even though the swank barge does boast 28 galleries from as far away as London, Seoul, Vienna, Moscow, and Caracas here in town for MIA, many of the exhibitors are locals and have spaces in Wynwood. You can also actually navigate the art at these galleries during Second Saturday tomorrow -- without suffering heatstroke or risking having an eye jabbed by a designer-clad elbow in cramped quarters. And for the most part, many of these local galleries showcased more compelling stuff than their visiting competitors.

Perhaps it was because the event was comped for collectors and VIP's who packed the Seafair's decks too tightly for comfort that inspired some to head for the exits earlier than expected. The artwork on display, ranging from painting, photography and sculpture, was also close to impossible to appreciate last night. But the little we did get to see in the less than optimal conditions didn't keep us from joining others that were jumping ship either.

Let's hope those interested in catching MIA this year fare better over the weekend, when crowds should be thinner. (On a related note, please forgive the quality of the pictures in this post. It's hard to maintain focus when your eyes are blinded from perspiration and you're literally forced to lean over blue-haired art matrons swigging Chablis and arranging spa dates with their companions while stepping on your toes.)

Miami International Art Fair, Intercontinental Hotel Dock, 100 Chopin Plaza, Downtown Miami. Fair hours are January 13 - 14, noon to 10 p.m. and Jan. 15 - 16, noon to 7 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at the door for $15 for a one-day ticket, $20 for a multi-day ticket and $30 for a Priority Boarding ticket; discounted tickets are available on the MIA website. Visit mia-artfair.com.

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