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MIAMI MAYHEM
Dec. 3, 2007 

Miami is ground zero of the imploding U.S. mortgage market, matching both Detroit and San Diego for the steepest decline in housing values. Local government in Miami is looking at a loss of $836 million in annual property tax revenues -- and is counting on "art tourism" to make up some of the slack.

Enter Art Basel Miami Beach, Dec. 6-9, 2007, and the two dozen or so additional contemporary art fairs now scheduled to open simultaneously along the pastel streets of the sunshine city. Temperatures are predicted to be in the high ‘70s, with clear or partly cloudy weather conditions for much of the week. Things are looking good for the seventh annual artstravaganza.

Art Basel Miami Beach is installed at the Miami Beach Convention Center, and a slew of fairs take their place in its orbit in South Beach. Returning from 2006 are the Aqua fair (now dubbed Aqua at the Aqua Hotel to distinguish it from its own franchise, about which more below), Bridge, DiVA, Flow, Ink and Pool.

New to the Miami Beach axis are Art Now Fair, RAM Miami and the Red Dot Fair.

Across the causeway in Miami proper, Design Miami returns to the so-called Design District, while Art Basel’s heavy-hitting satellite fairs all make repeat appearances in the neighboring Wynwood Art District: NADA, Pulse and Scope, alongside a few less-proven fairs that debuted last year, Photo Miami, the miniature Fountain Art Fair and the Zones Art Fair.

Brand-new fairs in the Wynwood Art District in 2007 are the AIPAD Photo Fair, Aqua Wynwood and Art Miami.

That’s a lot of art. And as each fair tries to set itself apart with special events and parties, and Miami area institutions try to take advantage of the attention, it all adds up to one overwhelming social calendar. Herewith, a list of some events that stick out.

Fairs in Miami Beach
Aside from the 200-plus international art galleries, Art Basel Miami Beach (ABMB) includes more special sections than you can shake a stick at, including the usual Art Positions village of shipping containers, each with their own emerging gallery, located right on the beach. The opening night party on the beach boasts a performance by none less than Iggy and the Stooges.

Art Basel has also become a place to debut new luxury goods. Thus, Cartier has hired starchitect Jean Nouvel to design its special "Cartier Dôme" in the botanical gardens across from the convention center, where it will display a variety of jewelry items and host VIP guests and events.

Not to be outdone, cognac king Hennessy is unveiling a limited-edition artwork at ABMB by French artist Jean-Michel Othoniel. Titled the Chest of Secrets, the work features a special cognac in a crystal vessel surrounded by aluminum lattice and four hand-blown Murano glasses with sphere-shaped stems. The price? $200,000, in an edition of 100, available from Sikkema Jenkins & Co.

If all this seems too ephebian, the new RAM Miami satellite fair is stepping up to the plate as defender of the classical. RAM -- which stands for "Representational Artists Movement," a group formed to defend the classical virtues of skill and training -- bills itself as "the first satellite fair to feature a cohesive group of some of the world’s finest figurative artists." Located at the Miami City Ballet at 2200 Liberty Avenue, just northeast of the Convention Center, the fair promises works by 15 contemporary painters.

While in South Beach, don’t forget to stop by the Miami Beach Art Photo Expo (MBAP) at the Surfcomber Hotel at 1717 Collins Avenue. The MCAP’s "In Fashion ’07," Dec. 2-9, 2007, is curated by Marion de Beaupré and focuses on signed fashion photography. Priced between $5,000 and $40,000, the 200 works on view are by the cream of international fashion photogs, displayed in a 60-foot-high, 25,000-square-foot structure on the Surfcomer grounds. For more info, see www.artphotoexpo.com

The Wynwood Art District
A tent is also in store for the NADA art fair, located as usual in the Ice Palace Studios in Wynwood. The NADA tent features a show of artworks made with denim, organized by dealer Sarah Gavlak and sponsored by luxury denim maker 7 For All Mankind. Artists Lisa Anne Auerbach, Carolyn Carr, Jim Drain, Philip Estlund, Ruth Laskey, Dean Sameshima and Shinique Smith are included.

NADA’s Dec. 4 preview gala benefits the new New Museum of Contemporary Art and features a performance by rockers Deerhoof. Tickets are still available at www.newmuseum.org

The Scope art fair, which sets up in Roberto Clemente Park, also has an impressive roster of special events, including a Sunday afternoon BBQ that involves a cooker designed by Jason Hedges (and inspired by the minimalist cubes of Donald Judd), and 18-foot-tall orange road cones courtesy Dennis Oppenheim. Also on tap is the Urban Nomad Project (UN Project), a "grassroots film festival" presenting films from North Korea, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, Myanmar and Indonesia. So, if you are bored with Miami, the rest of the world awaits!

The festivities also see the official launch of the Scope Foundation, a nonprofit affiliate of the fair conceived in partnership with the Rubell family of art collectors, which exists to give grants as well as offer an annual award for Green Architecture (see scope-foundation.org).

Pulse Miami is also red hot. This year it has partnered with Takashi Murakami to bring a version of his Geisai Art Fair to Miami, with individual artists presenting their own works in what amounts to a sort of fair within a fair. Twenty artists were selected by a panel that included Artnet Magazine’s Walter Robinson.

Also notable at Pulse is a print by art-world troublemaker William Powhida, a hopefully-not-prescient mockup of the front page of the Art Newspaper proclaiming "Market Crash: Collectors Abandon Miami." This prime example of "schadenbasel" is produced in an edition of 50 and goes for $750 a pop at the booth of New York gallery Schroeder Romero.

The artist-organized Aqua Art Fair has a lot of cachet, and this year it launches its own satellite show, dubbed Aqua Wynwood and sited in a 28,000-square-foot warehouse at 42 NE 25th Street. Among the inaugural exhibitors at Aqua Wynwood is Seattle’s Lawrimore Project, which promises visitors "video-based work, light-based work and omelets," among other things. A free catalogue for both Aqua fairs is available at aquaartmiami.com/catalog.html

Joining the Art Basel week fest is Art Miami, the original Miami contemporary art fair that in recent years has been held in January. Now, describing itself as an "urbane newcomer" to the scene, Art Miami brings 99 galleries to a 100,000-square-foot pavilion at 22421 NW 2nd Avenue, making it second only to Art Basel Miami Beach in terms of size. Exhibitors include Betty Cuningham, Danese, Rosamund Felsen, Barry Friedman, Alexander Gray, Hackett-Freedman, Hirschl & Adler Modern and Anna Kustera, among other top galleries. VIPs get a $1,000 gift certificate for Prive Jets (valid for charters worth over $10,000) as well as free art consultations under the direction of Stacey Gershon.

Also, while in Wynwood, don’t forget to check out the dueling photo fairs. The AIPAD fair, migrating from New York, offers some 42 exhibitors and a distinguished pedigree. Photo Miami still has the edge in size though, with 57 exhibitors, and is also offering Maarten Wetsema’s Dog Shoot, a performance for which dog owners can have their pooches’ portraits taken (Paris Hilton, Brad Pitt, Oprah Winfrey and Madonna have been invited, whatever that means).

Outside the fairs, still more programming awaits. Taking the same insider-outsider approach to Art Basel week that they took last year, Soho’s Ronald Feldman Fine Art and Williamsburg’s Pierogi return to rent out their own building in the thick of things at 2010 North Miami Avenue, Dec. 4-9, 2007, showcasing works by Leon Golub, Mark Lombardi, Jason Salavon, Jonathan Schipper, and many others. They are joined this year in their endeavor by London’s Hales Gallery. This not-fair gives a run for its money to mini-fairs like Fountain, with its 15 exhibitors that include Glowlab, Front Room and Capla Kesting Fine Art.

In the Design District
Design Miami, Dec. 7-9, 2007, located at the Moore Building at NE 2nd Avenue and 40th Street in Miami’s Design District, features installations of vintage and one-of-a-kind works from 26 design galleries as well as an extensive roster of "design performances."  One highpoint comes courtesy Brooklyn-based designer Jason Miller, who promises to hypnotize visitors to make them recall their formative design experiences. The Corning Glass Museum and the Vitra Design Museum also team up to present a mobile "glass lab." Other presentations are due from Tanya Agui, ECAL (Ecole cantonale dart de lausanne), Stuart Haygarth, Joseph Heidecker, Peter Marigold, Wieki Somers, Studio Libertiny and Tobias Wong.

In addition to the performances, Design Miami has also spread its tentacles throughout the Design District to create a series of satellite exhibitions. These include "Grandmateria," a show of new designers organized by Libby Sellers in the Loft Building at 3627 NE 1st Court; a benefit auction at the Luminaire Lab, 3901 NE 2nd Avenue, for M.I.T. guru Nicholas Negroponte’s "One Laptop Per Child" initiative, featuring works of art by John Baldessari, Olafur Eliasson, Cindy Sherman and others; and a preview of new designs from Marc Newson’s Ikepod collection of watches at the Chatham Building, 155 NE 40th Street. Design Miami also offers a stimulating roster of lectures and talks featuring the likes of collector Craig Robins, dealers Marc Benda and Kenny Schachter, architect Greg Lynn and Artnet’s own design specialist, Sheldon LaPierre.

Among the more intriguing independent events in the Design District is "Russia Miami 2007," a survey of contemporary Russian art curated by Julie Sylvester, who is associate curator of contemporary art at St. Petersburg’s Hermitage Museum. The event takes place at the Collins Building, at 39 NE 39th Street, Dec. 3-10, 2007. Aiming to expose the assembled art masses to newer trends in Russian contemporary art, the affair is supported by Hugo Boss.

Less cutting-edge in one way and more cutting-edge in another, cut-crystal maker Swarovski is also hosting a special exhibition at the Moore Building featuring Light Sock, a work by the New York-based design team of Diller Scofidio + Renfro. Consisting of hanging mesh bags filled with Swarovski crystals, Light Sock is billed as a deconstruction of the chandelier, and resembles a glam Ernesto Neto sculpture or, when presented in pairs, testicles.

In other art-branding events, Campari is launching House of Campari Miami, Dec. 6-Dec. 9, at 3930 NE 2nd Avenue. The show features New York and Los Angeles artists who are billed as "messengers" of the emerging art scenes in those cities. The launch event is co-sponsored by Miami’s Moore Space, New York’s Artists Space, L.A.’s LAXART and San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.

Elsewhere in the neighborhood, MASH Miami at 3800 North Miami Avenue is presenting "The Expanded Painting Show," Dec. 1-10, 2007. Organized by Nina Arias and Paco Barragán, the show presents works by 25 emerging artists who explore the limits of painting.

Plus more
Local galleries and nonprofits in Wynwood are all going to town. The Moore Space at 4040 NE 2nd Ave. is debuting "French Kissing in the USA," a showcase of cutting-edge art from France, Dec. 6, 2007-Mar. 8, 2008, including works by Adel Abdessemed, Tatiana Trouvé and Fabien Verschaere. Also at the Moore, Dec. 7-9, Pierre Passebon and Louis Lefebvre are supposedly presenting a show of furniture inspired by Star Trek.

South of the main action, the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Coral Gables is taking advantage of the hubbub to present "Lichtenstein at Fairchild," Dec. 8, 2007-May 31, 2008, a special installation of large-scale sculptures by Pop star Roy Lichtenstein, on loan from the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation and sundry private collectors, and installed in the Fairchild’s impressive outdoor settings. More info on this collision between nature and Pop is available at www.fairchildgarden.org

In North Miami, the Museum of Contemporary Art is taking the occasion to debut a mid-career retrospective of design artist Jorge Pardo, Dec. 4, 2007-Mar., 2008. Curated by Bonnie Clearwater, the show is organized by the kinds of different domestic spaces that Pardo has designed. And at MoCA’s satellite space in Wynwood, the Goldman Warehouse, painter Enoc Perez gets his first solo exhibition, also organized by Clearwater, Dec. 6 2007-Mar. 22, 2008.

Back in Miami Beach, the Bass Museum opens "Promises of Paradise: Staging Mid-Century Miami," Dec. 5, 2007-Apr. 13, 2008, showcasing a bevy of regional art and architecture heroes and heroines.

Last but not least, at the Miami Beach Marina, LeAnn and Richard Lester’s floating art yacht, Seafair, is currently at dock, Nov. 30-Dec. 9, bringing with it its 26 dealers and a champagne and caviar bar. After a successful start in Connecticut, the art boat ended up skipping stops to speed ahead to Florida, reportedly to fix problems with its ballast. It also has supposedly relaxed its invite-only policy for visitors to make it a more inclusive affair.  

And, as if all that weren’t surreal enough, also in and around the fairs, look for the cast of Gallery HD TV’s Artstar II, which is filming its climax. Eight graduates of the Art Institute of Chicago are trying to hit it big amid all the art fair hoopla, and cameras will be at the Scope Art Fair and elsewhere to capture the magic. Fans will have to wait for 2008 to find out how that one turns out.


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