Art Basel Miami Beach

Hello Kitty Goes High-Brow When Sanrio Opens Pop-Up Shop, Small Art Miami

When you think Hello Kitty, the mental montage probably goes something like this: Hallmark, eight-year-old girls, white cat with no mouth and exactly six whiskers, Mariah Carey, toilet, beer, douchebags, and this gun. Notice that nowhere in that sequence are the words art or basel.  Well, all of that is about to change when Sanrio celebrates its 50th Anniversary at Art Basel with a pop-up shop called Small Gift Miami. It's housed in an 8,000-square foot custom space in Wynwood so it'll be tough to miss.

The exhibit, curated by Roger Gastman (a consulting producer on Banksy's Exit Through the Gift Shop) and Zio Fulcher, will feature art inspired by the Japan's Tourism Ambassador (yes, seriously). Artists such as Shepard Fairey were asked to create work inspired by their favorite Sanrio character. There'll also be a 35-foot visual timeline of the history of the cutesy brand.

Among the work on display, expect a gothic Hello Kitty chandelier, a less gothic and more octopus-looking chandelier, and plenty of pop art portraits of the famous feline. There's one of her as the Queen of Hearts, and another with her as part of the Rolling Stones tongue logo (because Stones fans love stationary that smells like artificial strawberries). The Hello Kitty face even makes it onto a flurry of tote bags worn by Japanese school girls as they bend over.

The space will also feature a sweets counter, a retrospective of the brand's many twee characters from years past, a gift shop, one random painting of Danzig and his band pumping iron in a garage, and a pop-up tattoo parlor where patrons can get inked by artists Grant Cobb and Charlie Roberts. Pedophiles, this is your cue to get branded.

Small Gift Miami (173 NW 23rd Street, Miami) opens Thursday, December 2 and runs through Sunday, December 5.

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Elyse Wanshel
Contact: Elyse Wanshel