By Sandra Schulman
Art Week in Miami exploded early this year, starting with some star studded gallery pop-up openings and eye-popping public art all over South Beach.
A new gallery district sprung up along Washington Avenue between Lincoln Road and Espanola Way. At Skin in the Game, a pop-up exhibition of work by 35 diverse artists, curated by Zoe Lukov, former chief curator of Faena Art in Miami Beach, is a diverse, titillating delight, with art that ranges from sensual to borderline smut.
Based on touch, there are knockout pieces from Marilyn Minter, Gonzalo Fuenmayor, and dozens more. Is it erotic, a head game, about race or sport? This is all up to the viewer to decide what a human body furred up with deer markings means in a piece by Isabelle Albuquerque. Or is a realist painting of a Times Square X-rated marquee voyeurism or landscape?
Figuring it all out at the preview were uber-Palm Beach collector Beth DeWoody, whom we spoke to about Native American art and artists; Susan Davis, Founder of Desert X, the sprawling outdoor art show in the Coachella Valley; and megastar singer/actor Ricky Martin, who used to live in Miami and was invited by his old friend, artist Jwan Yosef. Chatty and amiable, Martin posed for pictures and admired the art for hours. The exhibition, which is free and open to the public, will be on view until Friday.
A block away on Washington, acclaimed photographer Christopher Makos, who ran with the Factory crowd in the 70s and 80s, has a show featuring rare portraits of art icon Andy Warhol when the two went to China.
Framed in bright meaningful red, the black-and-white portraits show Andy playing tourist at the Great Wall, in Tiananmen Square, posing in Mao suits, and shopping at the markets. He keeps the same game face in every shot, so hard to tell if he is enjoying it all or that’s just how he looks for the camera. Andy is up through Saturday at the Miami Beach Visual Art Gallery.
A short stroll to Espanola Way finds some big art payoff, as two major installations have been put up – literally up.
Looking east on Espanola towards the ocean, you can’t miss Little Cloud Sky, eight sweet-faced blow-up clouds suspended above the busy street by the duo behind FriendsWithYou, Samuel Borkson and Arturo Sandoval III.
The whimsical characters are intended to transport the viewer to a joyful place amid the busy storefronts and walkways, and it works. As a further installation, the building walls on either side have been painted sky blue with white cloud shapes to define and expand the whole street. At night the clouds light up, smiling on the traffic and tourists below.
On the closed road portion of Espanola Way, Betancourt has suspended a 38-foot-long string of 245 handcrafted charms, Milagros! A collaboration between Betancourt and architect Alberto Latorre, Milagros! is an installation inspired by an old folk custom, composed of cut and embossed tin silver and gold charms hanging on wire garlands above the street. Usually attached to altars and shrines, these charms, hand-cut by Mexican artists, tell stories of hope and healing as they swing in the breeze.
Betancourt is having a real moment, as he also has a massive new work, What Lies Beneath, two buoyant iceberg sculptures and one accompanying NFT. The icebergs were unveiled for one night only at the luxe Faena Hotel pool, then were towed through Biscayne Bay for a few days to highlight climate change.
Betancourt says, “I think icebergs are beautiful. They seem to be embedded with memories. They are a great artwork by nature or a lover that we cannot afford to lose.” Downtown, his Into The Everglades is an animated projection of Florida wildlife that appears across the side of downtown’s 35-story-high InterContinental Miami hotel.
On the beach at Faena there were two more installations – a temple of sorts by Pilar Zeta that was anointed by Miami Beach Mayor Seymour Gelber; and a huge video screen showing a trippy 3D art video called Machine Hallucination by Refik Anadol of coral that morphs and vibrates.
In the Miami Design District, we were stopped in our tracks by the 30-foot-tall sculpture figures by Virgil Abloh, the late Vuitton designer who unexpectedly died days before Art Week. These massive ombre-painted giants wear the latest LV menswear as they brood and stomp their way through a plaza. Over at Abloh’s store Off White, a makeshift memorial has sprung up with flowers and notes left in his memory.
We always go to Jeffrey Deitch’s pop-up exhibits. The newest, Shattered Glass, in the Moore Building, features the buzziest emerging artists of color with painting, sculpture, and photographic works in the exhibition, all figurative.
Chanel commissioned a giant gardenia maze by artist Es Devlin called Five Echoes, now residing in a garden at the Jungle Plaza. Surrounded by plants and trees, the maze is a zen moment.
Over at the main event – the Art Basel Miami Fair at the Convention Center, the vibe was joyful yet cautious, as the art world tries to carry on in an uncertain time. Gone are the sculptures at Collins Park, the Art Films at the Colony and the sprawling performance installations on the second floor, but the booths were packed with top-notch art from 303 Gallery – Doug Aitken’s lightbox Desert was a real standout.
Gagosian is so exclusive he doesn’t even label the artwork or the prices. Garth Greenan Gallery has locked up some of the top Native American artists – tip to collectors: this is the next big thing – with a spirited exhibit of paintings by Yakita Starr Fields and Jaune Quick to See Smith.
So welcome back, art world, you’re a sight for sore eyes.