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Kevin Arrow Talks Basel Party Invites, Hellish Parking and Running Into Beastie Boys' Mike D

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In honor of our 10th Anniversary Basel Issue, Cultist introduces "Baselphrenia," where Miami art scenesters discuss the Swiss art fair's impact on our cultural landscape over the past decade.

Artist Kevin Arrow, one of New Times' 100 Creatives, was born in the same town as Lenny Bruce and moved to Florida during the 1970s. As a tyke he had a fixation with WWII, the Rolling Stones, and Evil Knievel but abandoned his dreams of driving a Panzer Tank, mastering the electric guitar, and becoming a motorcycle daredevil to pursue an art career.

Arrow prefers the term "Baselrrhea" to describe the gut-busting impact of the December arts confab.

Since 1996, Arrow has worked behind-the-scenes at the Museum of Contemporary Art in North Miami, taking care of the museum's collection and assists visiting artists to execute their projects.

His art practice takes on various forms including drawing, painting, film, and audio-based projects, merging his interest in obsolete media, archival tendencies, the ephemeral object, and humor.

He incessantly strives to ferret out the sublime from within the mundane, and the mundane from within the sublime experience. He also is fascinated with investigating the interchangeability of both.

Cultist: What's the most memorable exhibit or artwork you saw during Art Basel Week the past decade? Do you remember the year?

Kevin Arrow: I believe last year I saw a booth with a great selection of work by legendary West Coast artist, filmmaker, and inspiration, Bruce Conner.

What's your funniest Art Basel memory? What's the weirdest art work you recall seeing during the fair?

When MOCA was exhibiting work at the Goldman Warehouse there was an exhibition called Artificial Light which had two beautiful purple neon chairs by Chilean artist Ivan Navarro. These were very dangerous-looking, buzzing and crackling chairs fashioned out of neon gas and glass. One of the visitors to the exhibition climbed up on the platform on which they were displayed and attempted to sit on one of the chairs, whereby crushing it and falling down hard on her ass! It was both hilarious and infuriating! 

What's your favorite Art Basel celeb sighting?

Last year, I was wandering through the Miami Beach Convention Center and I bumped into Mike D of the Beastie Boys. We spoke for a minute and I gave him a copy of my 'zine Crumbs for Lionel, which was dedicated to local poet and friend Lionel Goldbart.

What's the best Art Basel party you remember?

Parties? No one ever invites me to any parties! (New York Dolls free concert on the Beach.)

Can you name a defining breakthrough moment for a local artist during Art Basel you were impressed by?

Not really, all the local artists tend to run around like Chicken Little, screaming that the "sky is falling!" The local artists tend to get drowned out by all the international noise.

What do you think Art Basel's greatest impact has been on Miami and what would you most like to see showcased during the fair this year?
Art Basel's greatest impact has been to motivate local artists to get out of their shells and be seen. It is very a special phenomenon to have a cross section of the contemporary art world wash up on our shores for a week every year. Things like this do not occur in say Cleveland, Ohio. I think it would be great if local institutions curated large survey exhibitions which include a large selection of local artists like in 2001 when Dominic Molon and Rosa de la Cruz organized HUMID, a group show at The Moore Space, and Robert Chambers organized Globe>Miami

In your opinion, what's the most annoying thing about Art Basel Week?

I tend to be most annoyed by the inability to see everything and parking is hell.

Do you have a project planned for Basel this year? If so what is it?

As a rule, I don't begin thinking about exhibiting during the week of Art Basel until late November. I have a couple of options and am also considering publishing a small 'zine, similar to Tropical Depression or Crumbs for Lionel. I also believe that it is okay to just be a spectator during the week of Art Basel. There is so much visual stimulation I prefer to NOT add to the visual cacophony.

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