Miami Art Week: an Art Party for Grownups
Models at The Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU annual brunch that featured Fashion Designer Daniel Chimowitz / Photos: Sandra Schulman

Miami Art Week was filled with shows, events and a grown-up vibe. Working like a well-oiled machine, the Art Basel Miami show at the ginormous new Miami Beach Convention Center was a sophisticated top tier fair with an expanded layout, bigger wider aisles and new areas to explore. Even with a pricey $60 entrance fee, over 83,000 people passed through the new doors in five days, spending tens of millions of dollars on art from the best in the world.

Many galleries reported selling out their entire booths within hours of the opening day with record sales for some artists. Keith Haring, the street artist who came out of the NYC subways in the 80s to rise to international acclaim only to die at age 32 from AIDS was the man of the week with exhibits at two main fair galleries and a high end fashion collaboration in the glitzy Design District.

Barbara Gladstone Gallery (who handles his estate) and Levy Gorvy Gallery produced full blown installations using the original black and white graffiti wallpaper from Haring’s innovative Lower East Side NYC Pop Shop from 1984. The rooms were filled with rarely seen at market works including Japanese influenced painted screens, rare painted ceramic vases with alligators (hello Florida), and a spectacular triangular painting called Silence = Death that sold for close to $9 million – a record price for Haring. Alice & Olivia, a retail designer store in the Design District, unveiled a new collaboration with Harings Estate of sequined dresses, jackets, shirts and bags, filling the windows and outside of the store with Harings joyful cartoony designs.

The larger new convention center gave the fair room to host a major new performance, “Autorereconstruccion: To Insist, to Insist, to Insist…” in the Grand Ballroom, a second floor space the size of a football field.

Miami Art Week: an Art Party for Grownups
Autorereconstruccion performance at Art Basel Fair / Photos: Sandra Schulman

Produced by the Kitchen in NYC, the show used scavenged Miami objects – lounge chairs, chests of drawers, lamps, shopping carts. Three of the large groupings were piled on a gate like platform hanging by wires then attached by straps to female dancers. Wild frenetic drum and violins began playing as the women wrestled, charged and ran circles around the clunky hanging sculptures they were strapped to. Soon the pieces began to fling away, leaving piles of scattered debris. At the end of the 20-minute performance, the dancers collapsed amid the rubble. As a metaphor for wrestling with daily life, dilapidated conditions and physical objects it was exhilarating.

Art Miami, located in the beautiful setting on Biscayne Bay, greeted visitors with a fun lineup of outdoor sculptures and a café in the courtyard. Inside there were great works that ranged from Andy Warhol soup cans to filmmaker John Waters photo collages. Rudolf Budja Gallery exhibited two major new works from German artist Wulf Treu of expressionistic painted catalog covers. Chase Contemporary had a mini show of musician Bernie Taupin (Elton John’s lyricist) and his Americana instrument sculptural works.

Street art stealth king Banksy has a sprawling exhibit that runs through February in the new Magic City Studios space. Located in a hot new warehouse district (this area will be unrecognizable in 5 years) this high end show features 80 pieces from Banksy, many of them never before shown in the USA.

Miami Art Week: an Art Party for Grownups
Banksy exhibit / Photos: Sandra Schulman

The artwork all belongs to collectors, it’s properly signed and numbered, it’s all on loan and none is for sale, so Banksy’s website protests about the exhibit being “unauthorized” is really just for show. Most of these were in editions of 600 to 750 so Banksy’s money was definitely banked. The show itself has high end lighting, ambient piped in music, videos of the show producers speaking throughout, and it winds up with some large wall sized works. Like the film says exit through the gift shop and there are interactive photo ops with red heart shaped balloons and a clever t-shirt gimmick – pick your Banksy design and they screen it onto a shirt or tote bag for you then you can customize it with spray paint on the spot.

The Design District hot ticket was the opening of Pop Minimalism/Minimalist Pop curated by Jeffrey Deitch and Larry Gagosian at the four story Moore Building. This year work by masters Ed Ruscha, Lichtenstein, Warhol, Richard Prince, Dan Flavin, Yayoi Kusama and dozens more exhibited their greatest hits. The stylish crowd included artist Shepard Fairey and his wife Amanda, who were in town to support a pop up shop and do a DJ stint at Wynwood Walls.

“It’s nice to be here this year without the pressure of a new mural,” Fairey told me. “For me [Art Week] is an opportunity to focus on seeing new work. I’m passionate about seeing new work but I’m always so absorbed in my own I don’t see as much as I’d like. A lot of molecules collide for me here. It’s also important for me to be here and shake hands with the people who’ve supported me.”

The Weekend found hungry hordes at two varied locations – the Sagamore Hotel on Saturday for the Jason Newsted RAWK show and concert; and the Jewish Museum on Sunday for Daniel Chimowitz’s Walking Canvases fashion show and bagels and lox.
Newsted (former bassist of Metallica) filled the Sagamore lobby with some new work of painted guitar sculptures and generously gave out swag bags. He played a concert out by the ocean side pool as the crowd of hundreds noshed on crepes and champagne.

Chimowitz greeted visitors on Sunday by letting them wear one of his knockout handmade creations – jackets and vests that were screened, painted, studded and fringed to the max. Models strolled the museum while he graciously posed for photos.

All in all a wild week of art for a city that knows how to throw a party.

Miami Art Week: an Art Party for Grownups