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Miami International Art Fair More Local Than Art Basel

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The organizers of the Miami International Art Fair, the Magic City's newest arts confab have suffered a sophomore meltdown this year.

The midwinter showcase, boasting over a 1,000 artists represented by 65 galleries from 17 countries was to unveil the "Modern Ice Museum" housing dazzling ice painting by Canada's Gordon Halloran.

Unfortunately, his stunning frozen confections experienced a tropical meltdown due to lack of sponsorship and won't be making their Florida debut at MIA.

But there are plenty of traditional canvases and sculptures and contemporary photography, installations, performances and video works to keep the cockles of the heart warmed instead.

Now in its second edition, the Miami International Art Fair, running this Friday to Monday at the Miami Beach Convention Center, is becoming more of a South Florida-centric event with upwards of a third of its roster of exhibitors made up of local galleries.

Rubbing elbows with other dealers representing contemporary art from Beijing to Buenos Aires and New York, the everybody's welcome, boutique fair has corralled spaces such as Wynwood's Kavachnina Contemporary, Little Havana's Cremata Fine Art and Maxoly Cuban Fine Art, Coral Gables' America's Collection and others offering a more democratic view of the local art scene says Aldo Castillo, MIA's new director.

"Since taking this job, I have concentrated in supporting the burgeoning local arts community," says Castillo. "With Basel you have a broader world focus. I think it's important to support the galleries developing in your different art districts and those spaces that contribute to culture here year round and not only in December," Castillo adds.

That's great news for places like Maxoly, Cremata, and other lower tier spaces who draw little attention to their spaces during Basel and would never make the cut at the uber-exclusive fair.

"I want our fair to showcase established local art spaces and artists," says Castillo, who also managed to attract Alejandra Von Hartz and Ramon Cernuda---two of only four local dealers who managed to crack the seeming Basel blockade against local spaces--- this year.

Castillo, himself a former dealer, who operated his own space in Chicago for two decades before snagging his current gig, says he enjoys adding a curatorial eye to make MIA a snazzier event and hopes to draw upwards of the 17,000 visitors who attended last year.

He's invited Local artist and curator Gean Moreno to spruce up the affair. Moreno is presenting "Improvising Architecture," a sprawling shanty town of installations reflecting problems of overcrowding and the booming proliferation of precarious structures in the globalized world.

Miami artists such as Christy Gast, Adler Guerrier, Nicolas Lobo, Ernesto Oroza, and Viking Funeral will be creating the creeping vision of urban density shoulder-to-shoulder alongside London's Graham Hudson, Bogota's Felipe Arturo, as well as Heather Rowe and Carlos Sandoval de Leon from New York.

"Miami International Art Fair" runs January 14-17 at the Miami Beach Convention Center (1901 Convention Center Dr., Hall D, Miami Beach) Call 239-949-5411 or visit miami-artfair.com.  Hours are Friday noon to 9 p.m., and Saturday, Sunday, and Monday noon to 7 p.m. Tickets cost from $10 to $20.

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