There are a lot of satellite art fairs in Miami during Art Basel Week, so many that you might even be one and not realize it. Are there people in weird glasses trying to talk their way into your colon's VIP section? No? Safe for now, then.
One of the more recent additions to the slate is the Fridge Art Fair NYC, the creation of Sol LeWitt protege and sporadic Miami resident Eric Ginsburg. Ginsburg has made his bones as an artist specializing in painted portraits of dogs, but was previously a student at the University of Miami's law school. "It was a great experience but I didn't finish, of course," he tells Cultist. Law and order can wait as long as there is an adorable puppy unpainted out there somewhere.
The Fridge Art Fair NYC began in New York, as a satellite of the Frieze fair. "It started as a joke. Not in terms of the art, but in terms of the name," Ginsburg says. "Although it doesn't really sound very funny right now."
"Untitled" isn't a very funny name for a fair either, though, so how is this fair different from all the rest? According to Ginsburg, "We wanted to create a fair that is fun and caters to everyone and has refrigerators or has pictures of them at least. We're hoping to have some refrigerators."
But another way that Fridge stands out is by opening its doors and shining its chilly light in Little Havana for the duration of the week. "Everyone comes in from New York and boom. New York in Miami. Be we want a real Miami art fair with a huge local flavor," Ginsburg says. "There are a lot of artists in Little Havana and it's a happy place. There will be performances nonstop, a wide variety. From fire jugglers to performance art like what Laurie Anderson does and dance pieces. [Miami choreographer] Brigid Baker is doing a huge installation in the ceiling."
Ginsburg is also promising a top secret surprise guest. We pressed him on this and he'd budge only so far as to say that it was someone "from a TV show." But unsatisfied, we pushed harder and got him to admit it is someone "from one of the singing shows." But anything further is a secret Ginsburg is taking to the sideways fridge he'll be buried in one day and despite our best efforts, we couldn't get --
"Ah, fuck it. It's some dude from The Voice," he said without any further prompting. "I don't have a TV. I don't fucking know."
Given the distance between Little Havana and the larger Basel Week venues, the Fridge organizers are planning free transportation to and from their fair. That hasn't been finalized yet, although Ginsburg refused to deny that horse-drawn carriages were under consideration.
Ginsburg doesn't think of himself as one of the carpetbaggers swooping in for the week. "Generally, I'm in Miami for a few months each year," he says. "It's my favorite place in the world and don't know why I'm not there full-time. I guess I'm a glutton for punishment. Except for when it comes the traffic on US-1."
Moreover, Ginsburg recognizes that most major art fairs aren't particularly friendly to galleries, artists and art fans -- basically anyone who isn't a moneyed collector. "We're not here to make money off galleries or artists," he says. "Whatever the cost ends up being is what people will pay. I'm an artist and it's hard out there. I guess I understand why others would want to make money off their peers, but I just can't."
He got his own start due to the friendliness of another artist, the late conceptual art legend Sol LeWitt.
"Sol LeWitt literally saved my life," Ginsburg says. Their relationship began when LeWitt, who was close friends with Ginsburg's gallerist, saw one of Ginsburg's shows. "And he just started giving me work with museums and collectors. Essentially, he gave me a career that I never would have had."
Though they had a close bond, Ginsburg and LeWitt never even met.
"It was very strange," Ginsburg admits. "In some respect we were pen pals. He would send me work and I would send him stuff and we spoke on the phone. We never met but we would literally write to each other every week. It would be snail mail. He sent me this book about dogs because I paint dogs. He was such an amazing man. He was the most generous. Why would he do that? A kid out of college? Artists don't do that. They should. And I don't think I'm alone as a person that he helped that way."
And about those dog paintings. They came about when Ginsburg was in college and painting images from his childhood. The first show he had his work in, "I put a dog in there and it sold. And ever since then, i've painted dogs and cats."
He's also painted birds and a bear, though he needed to be reminded of the bear.
"That was a weird show. I don't know where that came from," he says. "In Europe, they like buildings and cows. It's because you can't have cows in the Netherlands or something. That may be wrong, I don't know."
That is almost definitely wrong, but it doesn't change that Ginsburg paints some very appealing cows.
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