Conception of Miami River Pool by artist Dr. Petra Liebl-Osborne

New Art Basel Satellite Fair in Brickell To Install a Swimming Pool in the Miami River

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As Art Basel, the crown jewel of all South Florida art events since 2002, continues to gain notoriety worldwide, it only makes sense that the event's influence continues to spread its tendrils to every reach of Miami. So it was really only a matter of time before the winter art explosion that takes over Miami Beach, Wynwood, and the Design District hit another buzzworthy neighborhood in the 305.

That's exactly what'll happen this December. The inaugural Miami River International Contemporary Fair will mark the arrival of the first Basel art fair in the downtown Brickell area during its Dec. 4-9 run. The James L. Knight International Center venue will house a traditional indoor booth layout, but the event's outside area, which lies alongside the Miami River, is the fair's biggest selling point.

Ten large sculptures will decorate the public greenway adjacent to the water, all created under one common theme: the Miami River.

"We see the river as Miami's next art frontier," said exhibitor liaison Melissa Pita. "The artists are working for the river and with the river."

Dr. Petra Liebl-Osborne will be among the featured artists showcasing sculpture for the fair, and the Munich-born artist is taking advantage of the space and time to broadcast a work 10 years in the making. From a fascination with the differences between natural and artificial water emerged a dream to combine, in stark contrast, the two contrasting bodies. That dream for Liebl-Osborne took the shape of a swimming pool. That is, a swimming pool plopped bizarrely in the canal outside of the convention center.

The exhibition is a part of a larger project for Liebl-Osborne, titled "Private Public Swimming Pools," which involves her underwater photography from the past decade. According to Liebl-Osborne, the Miami River Pool will encompass a "barge-sized pool with two ladders and [a] jumping board with a lit surface that can safely float in the Miami River."

Liebl-Osborne's water-inspired works are not unfamiliar to Art Basel; other, smaller transportable pools and photographs appeared during Basel week in 2004, at the Ambrosino Gallery. She also once brought a "static pool" to the yard of CasaLin.

The details for the Miami River Pool are still in the works and waiting for approval. We, on the other hand, are waiting and crossing fingers to see if we'll get to take a lap in the Liebl-Osborne's aesthetic statement -- and if so, whether or not we'd have to touch the Miami River to get to it. That river water may look pretty from the sidewalk, but, ew.

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