One day is too much and a week isn’t enough.
After a full day and night (until 2 a.m.) of seeing Art Basel Miami, one installation and too much walking, one comes to realize that there is so much art, so many shows, galleries, lectures, that even a week would not be enough. Satellite, gallery shows and events are spread throughout the metropolitan area, and parties at hotels, residences, and restaurants and, of course, the Lincoln Road strip last until the wee morning hours.
Here are some of my outstanding picks and sights from ArtBasel Miami 2011.
Most mesmerizing: In the Cecilia de Torres gallery is a floating kinetic sculpture, 4-Net, by Elias Crespin, a Venezuelan artist residing in Paris. Foot-long bronze and stainless-steel rods seem to hang in the air and are operated by 224 individual motors running through a 20-minute-long program of coordinated gyrations, some which seem to imitate the ocean’s surface, while others feel musical in nature. Math, science and technology collide with art in this 118-inch square work; Crespin’s piece is both mind-boggling and hypnotic.
Best trompe l’oeil: Sometimes, when you see a work of art in these shows, you think, “Really! Who are they trying to kid? It’s the emperor’s new clothes …” etc. Then, on closer look, you get it: The piece is meant to be just that, a trick of the eye that captivates the mind. Such is the case here, where it seems as if two tires are piled up; then one notices that they are linked together in an infinity shape. Impossible without cutting the rubber, right? No, it’s actually a life-size black marble sculpture: Infinito, by Fabio Viale in the Speroni Westwater booth.
Most fun: In the Gavlak Gallery booth, Worth Avenue gallery owner Sarah Gavlak photographs two New York artists, Megan Boody and Randy Polumbo, sitting on a sculpture by Orly Genger, who hand-weaves massive sculptures out of rope and then paints them. This, by the way, is one of Genger’s smaller pieces. Boody and Polumbo are both featured in Art Miami.
Most simple, yet inventive, found art: Presented by the Eleni Koroneou Gallery, Greek artist Eftihis Patsourakis arranges found amateur paintings to create a new landscape. He uses found art, he writes, to “delve into the individual and collective memory, into the relationship between identity and history, and reexamine representation as a carrier of these matters, both through a net of actual social and cultural references as well as through particular reinterpretations regarding the history of art of modernism.”
Most political: Tree No. 11 (2009-10), by Ai Weiwei, was reassembled from wood from dead tree trunks collected in Southern China. It is the Art Kabinett exhibit in Galerie Urs Meile Booth A17 and expresses the artist’s concern and experiences with China’s culture and history. Rock (2009-10), seen in the foreground, was created in porcelain.
Most missed: Many visitors might just walk by Color Cup (2006), by Ai Weiwei, in glazed ceramic in the Robert Miller Gallery space.
The Most Hidden, but Close-By Award would go to the staircase at the Sagamore Hotel at 1671 Collins Ave. Five stories of the staircase walls have been painted by college students from the New World School of the Arts. One of the artists, and a docent at the Sagamore, Felipe Lagos, stands on the landing of the area that he painted – a fantasy world of inner turmoil and hope. The Sagamore also has an outstanding collection of art, so you may want to sip on a martini in the bar lounge while enjoying the art.
If you want to keep up with what is happening in the art world; if you want to collect modern masters or contemporary emerging artists or discover newbies; if you want to be entertained, visually wowed, even if you only have a day, don’t miss this year’s Art Basel Miami. I only wish I had more time.
Art Basel Miami is open daily from noon to 8 p.m. and Sunday from noon until 6 p.m.
Art Basel Miami admission tickets: One-day ticket: $40; students with ID, senior citizens age 62 and above, groups of 10 and more: $23; permanent pass: $85; evening ticket (after 4 p.m.): $28; chaperoned school class (per student and accompanying adult): $8.
Katie Deits is an art critic and executive director of the Lighthouse ArtCenter Museum and School of Art in Tequesta. (LighthouseArts.org)