You don't have to visit a tarot card reader to divine what Miami's top dealers are planning for the contemporary art fire sale called Art Basel Miami Beach.
Instead, stop by some of the local galleries dealing their aces, court cards, and show ponies during the November version of the Second Saturday culture crawl. You might discover how they stack a deck. You might also stop by New Times' Foodstock event, with bands performing and trucks serving plenty of chow.
Beginning at 6 p.m. this Saturday, scores of new exhibits will open across Wynwood and the Design District, where you can catch some of the best gallery shows of the year before they are buried in the Basel onslaught, which starts December 1.
Here are our tips for this month's edition of the high-stakes event.
At the Robert Fontaine Gallery (175 NW 23rd St., Miami), the eponymous dealer is playing to beat the spread with "Sex, Drugs & Profanity," a sensationally titled group show designed to titillate.
The 35-year-old gallerist has cobbled together the works of more than a dozen artists who have strip-mined the margins of pop culture with mixed-media and photographic representations of chemical abuse, erotic fetishism, and vulgarity.
The show features some top names, including Nan Goldin and Damien Hirst, along with Miami's Philip Ross Munro and Moscow's Oleg Dou, who was almost electrocuted as a toddler.
On view is Tina La Porta's All the Pills in My House, a tiny mixed-media opus of sundry candy-colored prescription drugs floating against a milky background and appearing much like the contents of a pill popper's pumped stomach.
Fontaine is also exhibiting a nifty photo from Scott Snyder's "Body Pharm" series, depicting a prone nude woman next to a handful of syringes and a white-chocolate Easter bunny. We hope the gallery has some darker juice on tap for viewers to mainline, because the aforementioned images seem less compelling than the show's wicked moniker. Call 305-397-8530 or visit robertfontainegallery.com.
Spinello Projects (150 NE 42nd St., Miami) is hedging bets with three solo shows featuring the work of Agustina Woodgate, Santiago Rubino, and Typoe. Anthony Spinello and his artists have holed themselves up in an abandoned branch of a Christian family social services center, where these beguiling exhibits explore the often turbulent, conflicted dynamics of childhood, learning, loss, and nostalgia.
For his exhibit, "Black Sunday," Typoe bounces between the urban underground and the glitzy cult of celebrity to reference Disneyland's opening day in July 1955 when the mouse park imploded, leaving close to 30,000 visitors baking on the Anaheim asphalt.
Woodgate's "If These Walls Could Talk" takes a stab at elementary school education, unmooring metaphorical students from familiar places by power-sanding the surface of a classroom globe until all that's left are ambiguous land masses.
Rubino weighs in with "Eyes of the Stars," in which doe-eyed children appear in his beautiful graphite drawings as if transported inwardly beyond the schoolhouse by idyllic reveries. If you're looking for a winning trifecta, bank on this one. Call 786-271-4223 or visit spinelloprojects.com.
Another bet that should deliver in spades is Miami collective Guerra de la Paz's "Barbed," at Praxis International Art (2219 NW Second Ave., Miami).
The conceptual tag team will show several large photographs of bits of clothing snared on barbed wire topping fences across South Florida's grittiest urban locales. The littered garments come to life when lashed by rain and wind. Fragments of buffeted fabric become allegories for people suffering under oppressive regimes. As the sun decays and bleaches the remnants, one is reminded of tortured flesh.
The arresting exhibit is anchored by an imposing installation titled Unidentified-2011, referencing concentration camps, mass graves, and genocide.
The powerful, psychologically freighted work consists of mounds of discarded clothing compressed and confined within a chainlink cubicle haloed by an impenetrable thicket of barbed and concertina wire suggesting death camps.
At a time of vast political and economical unrest, ecological turmoil, and sweeping global change, the work reminds of the cost of ignoring history. Call 305-573-2900 or visit praxis-art.com.