Art in Miami; four more fairs

I know that in the last post I said I’d seen Art Basel Miami Beach and 6 other fairs, but it turns out that one was a double bill, so to speak, so there are still 4 to cover. The fairs in Miami Beach hotel rooms have an entirely different flavor from those in convention centers, warehouses and the like. They are calmer, since each gallery has a discrete space and you can’t see one from or through another; the open-plan fairs make me feel attention deficit. Some hotel fair exhibitors also make imaginative use of bathrooms, closets and the like.

I started at Flow, held at the Dorset Hotel where a breakfast for art-bloggers had been arranged by Sharon Butler (two coats of paint) and Joanne Mattera, whose blog, Joanne Mattera Art Blog carries the delightful by-line: Guaranteed Biased, Myopic, Incomplete and Journalistically Suspect. I got to meet the likes of Paddy Johnson, the writer behind Art Fag City, and we chewed the fat about technical points (who offers the best web service for bloggers?), how no one has been able to make money from art blogging, the art bloggers we all love to hate, annoying and/or vicious responses from readers (I won’t tell how one of the bloggers got back at a harassing reader, but the punishment fit the crime), etc.

Upstairs at the fair I found Chris Schmidt handling the exhibit for Schmidt/Dean (Philadelphia). He showed me a beautiful book by Dean Dass who used mica from the Wissahicken to form glistening collages throughout the pages.


Schmidt/Dean used the bed as a display area for prints. The book in the front corner is by former-Philadelphian, Dean Dass. All photos in this post are by the author.

Then one block south to the Aqua Hotel for Aqua, where I first checked in with Christine Pfister of Pentimenti (Philadelphia). She was busy showing photographs to a visitor.

Christine Pfister of Pentimenti reaching for work in a solander case on the floor. Behind her are a large painting by Jackie Tileston and smaller works by Rebecca Rothfuss.


Six c-prints by Judy Gelles looked good in a tiny display space created from the closet; that’s the safe below. at Pentimenti Gallery

Continuing with the trends I mentioned in the last post (wonderful drawings and works on paper, lots of paper-cutting, work incorporating phrases, map imagery and dead bugs), I’ll show some examples.

Argentinian, Maximo Gonzalez wrapped a frieze around the room of Haydee Rovirosa Gallery (New York) with images made from cut paper. Most were X-rated political satire, with the heads of various leaders grafted onto bodies performing acts their subjects certainly wouldn’t do in public.


a rare benign detail of Maximo Gonzalez’s work (above)

detail of a paper-cut map by Brian Dettmer at Haydee Rovirosa Gallery; this example manages to embody two of the recurring topics I noted

Then I headed back across the causeway to Wynwood, once again, for Pulse, a highly-touted fair that I had missed in previous years. This year Pulse gave space to Geisai, a rare Japanese fair in its first American presentation. I didn’t find any Philadelphia artists although I ran into two curators: Lori Mertes of the Galleries at Moore and Sue Spaid of the Abingdon Art Center. I also saw lots of cut paper and bugs.

Pepe Mar detail of Green with Envy (2007), paper and mixed media, at Freight and Volume (N.Y.). This exhuberant work was almost human height.

Mark Dennis Wasps oil on canvas, at Carl Hammer Gallery (Chicago)
Mark Dennis Wasps oil on canvas, at Carl Hammer Gallery (Chicago)

detail of an untitled paper collage by John Powers at Virgil de Voldere (N.Y.)

Declaration by Tom Molloy at Rubicon Gallery (Dublin); Molloy, who is consistently interested in political subjects, carved the entire U.N. Declaration of Human Rights, in Arabic, into paper

Tom Molloy, detail of the cut-paper text in Declaration (above)

detail of Adam Fowler’s untitled (9 layers), 2007, multiple layers of cut paper with graphite, at Margaret Thatcher Projects (N.Y.)

Bill Smith The Decline of Eastern Songbirds at PPOW (N.Y.); this lyrical mixed-media work reproduced the calls of various endangered birds by applying open flames to membranes made from balloons. PPOW had at least four other extraordinary pieces by this Missouri artist whose tinkering always grows out of his scientific interests and yields eccentric objects of startling beauty

detail of Bill Smith The Decline of Eastern Songbirds (above), with insect

Ah, the last fair! Geisai grew out of an earlier fair initiated by Takashi Murakami, in an attempt to mentor young artists and stimulate the market for their work. A jury of internationally-known curators and critics selected the artists and, unlike all other fairs, they represented themselves (one criterion for entrants is that they not be affiliated with a commercial gallery). Twenty were selected for Miami, and visiting the small booths with the artists present reminded me of doing art school crits. They were extraordinarily diverse in style, subject and media and the fair certainly exposed them; one artist told me that she’d had a fifteen-minute conversation with a visitor before he gave her his card and she learned she’d been talking to Jeremy Strick, director of LA MoCA. They also sold a lot of work, and at bargain prices.

David Almeida 732811939803 (from the series Natural Selections), 2007, c-print. Almeida photographed a series of artificial plants and laid them out like nineteenth-century botanical illustrations. The bar code in the corner is an ironic comment on modern methods of categorization and the commerciaization of our environment, while the artificial nature of his subjects underscores our distance from the natural

Maria Adelaida Lopez St. Cloud House 2004, cardboard and dust. The former Philadelphia resident came into contact with quantities of dust when she cleaned houses to support herself during grad school at PAFA; she then figured out how to turn it into art

Lizabeth Eva Rossof (no relation to Artblog’s principal, although the two made contact because they share an unusual name) in front of work from her
I Witness: Memory to Paper, in which she described a public person to several different police artists, with vastly differing results. The work behind her (r) was based on descriptions of George W. Bush.