Miami Basel Art Report 2012: Art Design Fashion Parties Architecture

  • Hello readers
  • This is Vincent Johnson in Los Angeles
  • This is a collection of articles and images from the events at Art Basel Miami Beach 2012. I will be posting my personal report, with my photos analysis and commentary, shortly. 
    California Toilet, Filthy Light Switch (2010) by Vincent Johnson in Los Angeles. Archival Epson print (Private Collection, Miami, Florida).

    Two at Night (2012) from the Cosmos suite of paintings, Oil on canvas, 30×40 inches by Vincent Johnson in Los Angeles

  • ====
  • December 13, 2012, 6:09 p.m. ET
Backstage Pass

Eyeing Art


Photographs by Noah Rabinowitz for The Wall Street Journal

More than 1,000 art galleries hawked their wares at last week’s Art Basel Miami Beach, the nation’s premier contemporary-art fair and its various offshoots. But an even greater number turned up sporting the art world’s other obsession: wacky eyewear. From tortoise-shell to chunky cat’s-eye, dealers and collectors alike competed for most spectacular spectacles. German collector Inge Hartnett arguably won the unofficial contest by donning this coaster-size pair of specs—with blue eyes and outfit to match.

—Kelly CrowA version of this article appeared December 13, 2012, on page D8 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Eyeing Art.


Art Basel Miami Dispatch: Day One

From December 6-9, the art world—and just about everyone else close to its orbit—trek to Miami for the 11th installation of art mega-fair Art Basel Miami Beach. Our man on the ground, photographer Alexis Dahan, takes us inside the tents, to the streets, and gives us a glimpse of the most exclusive parties. Here, he shares day one.

Photographs by Alexis Dahan
December 2012
Opening of Design Miami
Opening of Design Miami
Photographs by Alexis Dahan
December 2012
Miami muscle car
Miami muscle car
Photographs by Alexis Dahan
December 2012
Delfina Delletrez Fendi Jewelry at Antonella Villanova's booth Design Miami
Delfina Delletrez Fendi Jewelry at Antonella Villanova’s booth Design Miami
Photographs by Alexis Dahan
December 2012
Delfina Delletrez Fendi
Delfina Delletrez Fendi
Photographs by Alexis Dahan
December 2012
Richard Phillips (<em>left</em>) at the Paddle 8 Dom Perignon dinner
Richard Phillips (left) at the Paddle 8 Dom Perignon dinner
Photographs by Alexis Dahan
December 2012
Opening of Design Miami
Aaron Young and Laure Heriard Dubreuil at the Paddle 8 Dom Perignon Dinner
Photographs by Alexis Dahan
December 2012
Opening of Design Miami
Jay Jopling at his White Cube Party at Soho Beach House
Photographs by Alexis Dahan
December 2012
Andre Balazs and Jean Pigozzi at the White Cube Party at Soho Beach House
Andre Balazs and Jean Pigozzi at the White Cube Party at Soho Beach House
Photographs by Alexis Dahan
December 2012
Opening of Design Miami
Rebecca Guinness, Christopher Bollen and Alexis Dahan at the Baron/Bungalow 8 pop-up
Photographs by Alexis Dahan
December 2012
Andre Saraiva at Baron/Bungalow 8 pop-up
Andre Saraiva at Baron/Bungalow 8 pop-up
Photographs by Alexis Dahan
December 2012

Read more:

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Art Basel
The Best Party Pics from Art Basel Miami Beach 2012
There was so much to see last week at Art Basel Miami Beach 2012 that it was hard to keep track. Here’s a look back at some of our favorite moments. All photos by Rebecca Smeyne, unless otherwise noted.


Best Interior Decorating: this statue of a bear in a cape holding a bowling ball from Desi Santiago’s “The Black Lords.”Screen shot 2012-12-10 at 2.29.04 PM.pngBest Outdoor Installation: Evan Gruzis’ “Monument to Fashion” at Villa Vecchia.
Best swag: this shower filter from Jonathan Horowitz’s “Free Store.”
Screen shot 2012-12-10 at 1.38.20 PM.png
Best headgear: the plastic fruit on these ladies at PAPER and Benetton’s “Tutti Frutti” party.
Screen shot 2012-12-10 at 1.43.02 PM.pngBest t-shirt: this “Seapunk” number with a picture of Ursula from The Little Mermaid, spotted at Chez Deep’s house party.Screen shot 2012-12-10 at 2.36.21 PM.pngBest Casual Basel Look: This paw-print pasties ensemble spotted at Desi Santiago’s “The Black Lords” opening.
Screen shot 2012-12-10 at 1.42.05 PM.png
Best moves: this guy at the Matthew Stone ball at Villa Vecchia.Screen shot 2012-12-10 at 2.42.43 PM.pngJust kidding, this guy had the best moves at the Matthew Stone ball at Villa Vecchia.Screen shot 2012-12-10 at 1.56.48 PM.pngBest disco nap: Casey Spooner rests up on his way to Chez Deep’s house party.
Screen shot 2012-12-10 at 1.44.14 PM.png
Screen shot 2012-12-10 at 1.45.20 PM.png
Two’s a trend: cinderblocks were on show at both OHWOW’s “It Ain’t Fair” and NADA’s pool party.Screen shot 2012-12-10 at 1.53.13 PM.pngBest performance art in a pool: Genevieve Belleveau and Labanna Babalon at the NADA pool party.Screen shot 2012-12-10 at 2.40.01 PM.pngBest DJ Booth: Cyril Duvall’s at the NADA pool party.

Best celebrity spotting: Bey-Z at José Parla and JR’s Wrinkles of the City book launch. [Photo by BillyFarrell/]russell & dvf.jpgCutest Art Basel Couple: Diane Von Furstenberg and Russell Simmons. [Photo courtesy of Syndicate Media Group]
Screen shot 2012-12-10 at 1.46.16 PM.png
You can take the girl out of New York…: Roxanne Lowit wears all black to the Hole’s Lazy Sunday BBQ at the Standard.

Vogue Daily —

Catherine Opie has made a name for herself with stark documentary photographs of people, but her latest body of work has taken something of a turn: a “portrait” of the late, great Elizabeth Taylor, conveyed through pictures of the actress’s closet contents. Opie was allowed special access into Taylor’s home at the end of her life, and the resulting images of hanging clothes—in the Mitchell-Iness & Nash booth at the main fair—are oddly resonant.

From left: Catherine Opie, Untitled #7, 2012; Catherine Opie, Untitled #1, 2012

Vogue Daily —

Finally, artwork you’ll want to curl up and nap in: Vito Acconci’s Convertible Clam Shell, a room-size fiberglass installation from 1990, featured in an edition of five at James Cohan Gallery. This bit of “performative architecture” from the often-provocative artist has become iconic for good reason: It has an irresistible pull.

Photo: Courtesy James Cohan Gallery, NY and Shanghai
Vogue Daily —

Never underestimate the quiet power of abstraction amid the hoopla of fair week. Pat Steir’s luminous Chinatown (2012), offered by Cheim & Read, is work by a veteran artist who has always avoided changing her approach to suit the latest trends.

Photo: Courtesy of Cheim & Read

Vogue Daily —

A private dinner hosted by Dom Pérignon and artist and muse Daphne Guinness is among the hottest tickets in town during fair week. The 60 select guests at Wednesday night’s dinner, ostensibly the debut of a watch collection from Roger Dubuis, are likely to train their attention on whatever Guinness is wearing.

Photo: Nick Knight

Vogue Daily —

The clever and successful conceptual-art duo Los Carpinteros—Cuban-born, Madrid-based Marco Castillo and Dagoberto Rodriguez—are the forces behind Güiro, a freewheeling “art bar” on the oceanfront. The bar opens at 5:00 p.m. each evening, followed by new performances and events at this latest project of the Absolut Art Bureau.

Photo: Courtesy of Los Carpinteros/Courtesy Sean Kelly Gallery

Vogue Daily —

New satellite fairs appear every year, and the latest upstart with big dreams is Untitled (, the name of which will also undoubtedly be seen adorning many wall tags next to the artworks offered by some 50 galleries. A desirable location on the beach and to the south of the main fair will make shuttling easy for art pilgrims.

Above: Robert Buck, Cell (Winter Mimicry 1.0), 2008

Photo: Courtesy of Nora Fisch Gallery

Vogue Daily —

Chanel presents a double-header on Wednesday: First up is a private dinner and auction benefitting New York’s Henry Street Settlement and the Dash Snow Initiative (named for the late artist), featuring works for sale by Ryan McGinley, Dan Colen, Rob Pruitt, Emily Sundblad, and Spencer Sweeney. Then the action moves to the beach at Soho House for a late-night barbecue cohosted by dealer Larry Gagosian and Russian collector Dasha Zhukova, among others, for the website (in which they’re partners) .

Photo: David X Prutting/

Vogue Daily —

As seen in the current Wade Guyton show at the Whitney, Retro-techno art is all the rage. Now there’s an exhibition of the GIF as art form, on its twenty-fifth anniversary, to be held in Miami’s Wynwood arts district and organized by Tumblr and the online auction site Paddle8. The selections were chosen by an august committee that includes Rodarte’s Mulleavy sisters and Michael Stipe.

Photo: GIF by Rodarte for Moving the Still

Vogue Daily —

There’s been a Wendell Castle revival brewing for some time now as more and more people see him as a key pioneer of the American craft movement and the dean of art furniture. His sculptural work is on view at the R 20th Century booth at Design Miami (just behind the main fair). Castle will be on hand to sign a recent book on his work in conjunction with a current show at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Ridgefield, Connecticut.

From left: Unique floor lamp in hand-carved and stack-laminated walnut with glass globe. Designed and made by Wendell Castle, Rochester, New York, 1970; Early “Kangaroo” chair in hand-carved walnut and slung leather. Designed and made by Wendell Castle, Rochester, New York, 1962

Photo: Courtesy of Sherry Griffin/Courtesy of R 20th Century

Vogue Daily —

Is free-spirited uncertainty the new black? The Paris-based team behind the club Le Baron—a staple of fair-week nightlife for the past seven years—has decamped from its Delano Hotel home and will be moving to a secret location each night. Social media and the new Le Baron app ( are the keys to completing the treasure hunt.

Photo: Courtesy of Le Baron




Art Basel Miami Prep:
Four Veterans of the Fair Share Their Packing Lists and Itineraries

by Mark Guiducci

For those in the art world, the precision of an Art Basel Miami Beach itinerary usually verges on that of a military operation. It is, needless to say, essential to strategize appropriately. Deciding what to wear, where to eat, who to meet, and when to sneak in a moment on the beach are given almost as much thought as the week’s primary question: what art to see. For these four young professionals, planning, however, can only go so far. At the end of the day, art world operators have to pack what will best allow them to think on their well-heeled feet.

Vogue Daily —

Clockwise from top left: Alexander Gilkes, Jessica Kreps, Rebecca Bronfein Raphael, and Kimberly Chanin.

Vogue Daily — Specialist,


What to bring:
A Balenciaga silk dress (for our party), a Maje blazer (because it’s so cold in the convention center), my Bottega Veneta sandals with a bronze heel (five years of fairs and they’re still going strong), and a bright yellow Hogan tote that I “borrowed” from my mom six years ago—it fits everything and makes me easy to spot in a crowd.

Where to be:
I always look forward to a date with friend and art advisor Nilani Trent. We’ve met for dinner on Thursday night of the fair for the past five years and it’s a delicious tradition. This year we’re going to Cecconi’s because I moved back to New York from L.A. in January and I’ve been craving their wood-oven baked meatballs ever since. Then a nightcap at Le Baron.

What to bring back:
My wish list includes works by Karl Haendel, Jacob Hashimoto, Marilyn Minter, and Hiroshi Sugimoto’s Seascapes.

Pictured: (from bottom left to right) Jacob Hashimoto; Marilyn Minter, Honeydew, 2012

Photo: (clockwise from top left) Claudia Uribe; Courtesy of Maje; Courtesy of; Courtesy of Regen Projects, Los Angeles © Marilyn Minter; Courtesy of Mary Boone Gallery

Vogue Daily — Specialist,
Vogue Daily — Owner, Chanin Art Advisory

Owner, Chanin Art Advisory

What to bring:
Dresses by Maria Cornejo, Prabal Gurung T-shirts (the best!), gold Cartier sunglasses, my Hermès notepad in the color blue jean . . .  and the requisite “family size” bottle of Advil.
Where to be:
Gagosian Gallery and Blum & Poe will be my initial stops this year during First Choice, then a visit or two to the De la Cruz collection, which is always inspiring, followed by a coveted standing dinner reservation at Casa Tua. And hopefully I’ll have a quiet moment of pool time at the SLS Hotel.

What to bring back:
I’m looking forward to picking up a pair of Alaïa booties and a very cool arctic-white patent leather Chanel bag I currently have on hold with Sofia at the Webster—however, Art Basel is truly about having access to great art!

Photo: (clockwise from top left) Courtesy of Hermès; Courtesy of Chanel; Courtesy of Prabal Gurung; Courtesy of; Courtesy of Cartier; Courtesy of SLS Hotel South Beach

Vogue Daily — Owner, Chanin Art Advisory
Vogue Daily — Cofounder, Paddle8

Cofounder, Paddle8

What to bring:
My Globe-Trotter Trolley case enables a swift hop off the plane and onto South Beach; Common Projects Achilles sneakers ease the ambulant days and transition from casual to formal; and my iPhone 5 loaded with CameraBag and Über apps, and plenty of Miles Davis and Pink Floyd.

Where to be:
The Dash Snow Initiative auction we’re coordinating with Chanel on Wednesday, December 5, to support the Henry Street Settlement featuring phenomenal artworks by the likes of Nate Lowman, Richard Prince, and Jeff Koons. Otherwise, Cuban cafecitos at the local cafes, upbeat reunions at Soho Beach House, and a pasta indulgence at Casa Tua.

What to bring back:
An Adam McEwen graphite work or a Barry X Ball marble bust.

Pictured: (top left) Barry X Ball, Envy/Purity, 2008—2012

Photo: (clockwise from top left) Courtesy of Sperone Westwater; Courtesy of; Robin Hill; Courtesy of Globe-Trotter
Vogue Daily — Cofounder, Paddle8
Vogue Daily — Associate Sales Director, Lehmann Maupin Gallery

Associate Sales Director, Lehmann Maupin Gallery

What to bring:
As an art dealer, you cannot get through the fair without the iPad app ArtBinder. It is the sleekest and most tech-savvy way to show images to clients. Otherwise, I just got a pair of Warby Parker Everett sunglasses in tortoise, having had a sunglasses emergency when I broke my Dior frames. And I don’t leave the hotel without my Bobbi Brown Rose Gold lip gloss.

Where to be:
My coworker Carla Camacho and I have started a tradition on the opening evening of the fair. We go to Scarpetta for the spaghetti pomodoro with a big glass of Brunello. It’s the perfect way to unwind after a long day.

What to bring back:
I have been eyeing Lesley Vance’s works on paper—maybe I’ll go for it! I also wish I could get a tan.

Pictured: (top right) Lesley Vance, Untitled, 2011

Photo: (clockwise from top left) Courtesy of ArtBinder; Courtesy of Fontainebleau Miami Beach; Courtesy of David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles, CA; Courtesy of Warby Parker; Courtesy of Bobbi Brown
Vogue Daily — Associate Sales Director, Lehmann Maupin Gallery


  • 12/10/12 at 1:06 PM
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  • Art Basel Miami Dispatch: Day Three

    From December 6-9, the art world—and just about everyone else close to its orbit—trek to Miami for the 11th installation of art mega-fair Art Basel Miami Beach. Our man on the ground, photographer Alexis Dahan, takes us inside the tents, to the streets, and gives us a glimpse of the most exclusive parties. Here, Dahan captures the Basel party wrap up.

    Photographs by Alexis Dahan
    December 2012
    Miami Beach
    Relaxing at the beach
    Photographs by Alexis Dahan
    December 2012
    Doreen Remen at Maria Baibakova's cocktail reception for Matthew Brannon's commission for Lincoln Center
    Doreen Remen at Maria Baibakova’s cocktail reception for Matthew Brannon’s commission for Lincoln Center
    Photographs by Alexis Dahan
    December 2012
    Consuelo and Gianno Castiglioni at Marni party
    Consuelo and Gianno Castiglioni at Marni party
    Photographs by Alexis Dahan
    December 2012
    Carolina Castiglioni (<em>right</em>) at Marni party
    Carolina Castiglioni (right) at Marni party
    Photographs by Alexis Dahan
    December 2012
    Karla Otto at Marni party
    Karla Otto at Marni party
    Photographs by Alexis Dahan
    December 2012
    Stefano Tonchi
    Hermes party for their collaboration with Hiroshi Sugimoto
    Photographs by Alexis Dahan
    December 2012
    French artist Bernar Venet at the Rubell familly collection party for his collaboration with Bugati
    French artist Bernar Venet at the Rubell familly collection party for his collaboration with Bugati
    Photographs by Alexis Dahan
    December 2012
    Murakami installation at the Rubell family collection
    Murakami installation at the Rubell family collection
    Photographs by Alexis Dahan
    December 2012
    Cecilia Dean at the Visionaire / Net a Porter party at SLS Hotel
    Cecilia Dean at the Hillary Rhoda at the Visionaire, NET-A-PORTER.COM and MR PORTER.COM party at SLS Hotel
    Photographs by Alexis Dahan
    December 2012
    Stefano Tonchi
    Hillary Rhoda at the Visionaire, NET-A-PORTER.COM and MR PORTER.COM party at SLS Hotel
    Photographs by Alexis Dahan
    December 2012
    Cynthia Rowley and Bill Powers at the Richard Prince party at Chez Andre for Hi Collaboration with Arizona
    Cynthia Rowley and Bill Powers at the Richard Prince party at Chez Andre
    Photographs by Alexis Dahan
    December 2012
    Stefano Tonchi
    Glenn O’Brien at the Richard Prince party at Chez Andre
    Photographs by Alexis Dahan
    December 2012


Street Style From Miami Art Basel

This past weekend, the fashion-meets-art crowd convened for their annual convention of parties sponsored by vodka brands — and maybe a little art buying, too. Whether for day or night, Art Basel outfits seemed driven by deliberately counterintuitive moves: full sequins in broad daylight, raffia belts over evening looks, and one Florence Welch impersonator. The spring crop-top trend made many appearances, and the warm weather seemed like it was daring people to figure out their SS13 looks a few months early. Click ahead to see what we mean, arranged from day to night as Miami goes all out.

  • AFROPUNK in MIA: Art Basel, A Retrospect

    The AFROPUNK ARMY are always doing fly things around the country and world, and Miami was no excpetion! We sent our contributor Faisal to take up the scene of this years Art Basel, the gathering of Arties from around the world to show, party and mingle in MIA. Check out Faisal what the AFROPUNK art kids are doing, and how their presence was received. Art for AFROPUNK sake!

    By Faisal X. Tavernier, AFROPUNK MIA Contributor

    AP’s Boots on the Ground,

    I’m checking my email on my mobile gadget before heading into a meeting. “New news from Afropunk with Art Basel in the subject line hunh?” AFROPUNK is linked to Art Basel too? I click the link. Boom! Crunched between the lines heralding Andy Allo’s AP exclusive and a link to download Yasin Bey’s (Mos Def’s) new remake of “I Don’t Like,” the question “Whose going to Art Basel this weekend” is asked. I am, so I click. Up pops a butterfly-esque Nina Simone-mélange-of-a-painting talking about ArtAfrica at Art Basel? This is like the third time I hear about ArtAfrica: a special exhibit of Black Artists set up in a giant tent in Miami’s infamous Overtown next door to the historic Lyric theater.

    I’m like, “Damn, how do I link with Afropunk at ArtAfrica?” I send a quick email to the AFROPUNK Army link and get a digital shout back saying they’re interested! I have a call with the content  She calls and gives me a few instructions. A few days later, voila! Faisal is a bonafide, certified, deputized AfroPunk Army storm-trooper and you’re reading this! That’s said to convey, If you read AfroPunk you might/could write for AfroPunk. Join the AFROPUNK Army.

    (Above: Carl Juste Gallery)

    Art Basel in Brief

    If you’re remotely tuned to the entertainment and art scene in “the bottom (MIA)” you can’t dodge the left, right, front, and back-side bombardment of rave and revelry that blooms and busts about Art Basel weekend. Art Basel takes Miami by storm every year since it first migrated from Sweden a dime ago in 2002. Art Basel is like this hybrid culture
    grafted into the city for a weekend. Ensuing is a sort of mellow-frenzy where parts of the city morphs into this eclectic, artsy-chic, celebrity-driven rat race laced with a whole lotta cheese (big money spending.)

    The Art Basel time of year becomes something epic; the people, parties, exhibits, shows, and vibe in general has a magnetic attraction: so much to do, so little time, so many heads coming through, so much inspiration to take in, so many opportunities to be advantage- ized. From the profoundly prolific to the sacrilegious and strange; you never know what you’re gonna experience as you walk the streets, galleries, and pop up shops of Wynwood, the Design District, or Miami Beach and the like.

    I’ve been stickin’ and movin’ through these Art Basel events since 2002 and Black artists (local ones in particular) tend to get that Jackie Robinson treatment (yeah you can play with us, but we’ll disrespect you in the process) so I try real hard not to get caught up in the illusion of inclusion. 2012 promised to be a lil more open, so we made the effort to see if it was so.

    People, Places, and Spaces We Met

    Among so many other things, Thursday night was the V.I.P. reception and semi-opening for Global Caribbean IV French West Indies & Guiana: Focus on the Contemporary Expression at the Little Haiti Cultural Arts Center, curated by Haitian Sensation Edouard Duval Carrie’. Yours’ truly Faisal X.T. hosted the event organized by GlobalFlow PR who needed a French/Creole/English-speaking host to move the crowd. So, I saw the show, crowd, and art from a fortunate and lofty position.

    -Nia Devine, Omilani, and a few others sang and blessed the evening that was opened by
    the all-female drum brigade, The Sasa African Dance Ensemble.

    -There were nearly 16 artists from Haiti, Jamaica, Guiana, Guadeloupe, and Martinique
    exhibited. Photographer David Muir was on hand to sign copies of his book Pieces of

    -Jamaica. The Green Family Foundation presented an exhibit chronicling the work of ethno-musicologist and historian Alan Lomax.

    -I got a chance to parlais with Asser Saint Val (pictured right). With an interst in metaphysics, history, and social science, Saint Vals’s vision is to use visual art as a vehicle to communicate the phenomenon of melanin, by transforming melanin into an ambiguous living form which will perpetuate imaginations, and at the same time, commenting on the social taboos associated with the melanated individual. Sounds like to me!

    As the night began to wind down, quite a few Black Art vanguards rolled through. Black Arts in America Ambassdor and publisher of ICABA Antonia Williams-Gary, the face and mind behind the Do You Basel? campaign stopped to chat on her way to ArtAfrica. “There is so much more inclusion of all things from throughout the African diaspora this
    year, including the Caribbean. And even a strong Nigerian presence from the continent” she said.

    My homeboy, Haitian-born, war-torn, and award-winning photojournalist Carl Juste rolls through and says, “yo Faisal, you haven’t seen my new gallery, come on follow me.” I grab a few of those delicious lil ackee and saltfish treats they were passing around, grab my stuff, and follow him out of the Little Haiti center, down a side street next door, and enter a quaint space with a few heads milling around sipping red wine and Barbancourt. “Here it is Papa, my new gallery,” says Carl as images on the walls with eyes, colors, and emotion command me to look at them. My stare of amazement was broken by Carl’s rasp, “yo I’m closing shop, we rollin’ to ArtAfrica, you wanna ride with me.”

    We get there and I meet Artrepreneur Najee Dorsey, Black Art in America Founder/ CEO and his wonderful wife. Najee is the driving force behind an international movement to bring Black Art to the forefront.

    To my surprise, my cousin and incredible painter Carlito Craig was a featured artist in ArtAfrica. I also met T. Elliot Mansa whose mesmerizing pieces capture the grit of the Miami grind. So much to do, so little time.


    I link again with Carl Juste and a few of his crew (architect/artist Mikhaile Solomon and Gala who runs an orphanage in Jacmel, Haiti.)

    Tonight we’re hitting this Graffiti Art show featuring a live performance by the god Rakim at Miami’s top shelf spot for live music, The Stage (Respect to Natalie and Samantha at The Stage for recognizing the importance of and putting us on the list.)

    (Below: Not-so-innocent Bystander at Rakim show at The Stage, Miami)

    Because the show was in the design district we’re able to hit the Celebrity Art Series sponsored by Black Art in America. I spy Que Simmons founder of the Celebrity Art Series chilling with Danny Simmons, (brother of Russell and head of RUSH Philanthropic Arts Foundation). We exchange a few words on Being Black and Being Art! Que and Najee are on a special mission.

    (Danny & Que Simmons) 

    (Above: Rakim mural at The Stage, Miami)

    I can say all kinds of things about the Rakim show. Suffice to say with a live band (even though they ain’t look of the BRC-type,) the microphone fiend was super superb and supreme. The Stage was able to capture the essence of Hip Hop with that combo of live music and graffiti. (ch ch ch ch check out, ch checkout, check out the video.)

    (Left: Rakim Allah at The Stage, Miami)

    Saturday: 2 Much 2 Little

    I had all intentions of hitting the official AFROPUNK joint Fade to Black, but by the time I log on to get on the list they say the list is closed. Never one to fear a closed list or getting in anywhere, I decide to go out there. The line is around the corner, the parking is dismal, and I really don’t want to contend with the bullsh*t that’s often part and parcel to these environments. So I bounce! A few days later, I go back to the flyer to see about getting some pics and words for your reading pleasure and see my friend Esther Park was one of the Fade to Black organizers. She said it was bananas. Hopefully we’ll get some pics to do some post-partum AfroPunk Art Basel coverage.

    Black Arts in America said it best, “African-Americans having a visible presence in Miami during Art Basel week afforded the international arts market a unique way to become familiar with the multitude of artists and depth of thought in the black arts community.”

    (Above: Sasa African Arts Ensemble)

    (Above: Thelma Golden Tribute, Art Africa)

    Stay tuned and get prepared! Next year, if we’re still around, and the cosmos permits, we gonna AFROPUNK Art Basel on a whole other level.

  • ===
  • Essays

    Looking Around Miami Basel: Where Did All the Bodies Go?

    Works by Nick van Woert at Yvon Lambert’s booth at Art Basel Miami Beach (all photos by the author for Hyperallergic)

    MIAMI — There are many stories about the origins of art: ancient Greek historian Pliny suggested art was born when a Corinthian maiden traced the outline of her lover’s shadow on a wall, while an Asian legend tells of a young man who could not paint the Buddha because of his enlightened glow, and so was forced to paint his reflection in a pool of water. What these two stories share is the emphasis on the rendering of people as a foundational element of art. Fast-forward many millenia, when the story of high-priced contemporary art is vastly different from those origin stories, and walking through the latest incarnation of Art Basel Miami Beach, I was struck by the marginalization of the human form in the blue-chip work on display. What happened?

    Francesco Vezzoli’s Art Kabinett display

    Today’s high-end commercial art world is awash with abstraction of all types or collections of objects that convey their meaning in a manner far away from the representation of the human figure. And when the figure appears, it is often in the form of commentary on a historic ideal. Works like Nick van Woert’s sculptures at Yvon Lambert grapple with idealized classical forms; in fact, many of the figures on display throughout the fair — like Francesco Vezzoli’s Art Kabinett display or Daniel Silver’s work at Galería OMR — either directly quote or reference classical sculpture in some way, and when the human figure appears, it is often in a broken-down, precarious, deconstructed, or mysterious manner. The absence of the form is most noticeable in Jose Dávila’s cut-photo series, Topologies of Indentity, which was on display at Travesia Cuatro. In this collection of well-known photos of famous 20th-century artists, Dávila cuts out the artist so all we are left with is his or her setting as clues to the identity of the missing person. Some, like Jackson Pollock and Marcel Duchamp, are obvious, others less so, but it is the artist’s erasure of the body that creates the tension in the works. While I would argue that these pieces aren’t particularly successful at resonating past the tired old strategy of topologies, they transform the figures into something that looks more timeless, feeling more like classical silhouettes than mid-century photographs.

    Jose Dávila, “Topologies of Indentity III” (2012) at Travesia Cuatro

    A more common tendency in the work at Miami Basel was to construct a figure out of common objects that together form a disjointed semblance of a person — a move not exactly emotionally engaging but that makes you conscious of notions of consumerism, domesticity, or representation. David Altmejd’s “Untitled 4 (Bodybuilders)” (2012), Justin Lieberman’s “Colleen” (2012), Sarah Lucas’s “Beefcocktitbuster” (2012), and Gabriel Kuri’s “Double Self Portrait as Coordinate V8″ (2012) all fit comfortably into this category. The human form has no coherence beyond a suggestion of a head, eyes, genitals, or some other shorthand that your imagination has to fill in.

    Clockwise from top left: Sarah Lucas’s “Beefcocktitbuster” (2012), Gabriel Kuri’s “Double Self Portrait as Coordinate V8″ (2012), David Altmejd’s “Untitled 4 (Bodybuilders)” (2012), and Justin Lieberman’s “Colleen” (2012). (click to enlarge)

    That’s not to say that these figures don’t have personalities, like the very Doctor Who-suggestive scarf in Lieberman’s “Colleen,” but in essence they are simply armatures for a message, or in the case of Kuri’s work, a self-portrait of sorts. Why has the figure disappeared or been deconstructed to such a degree? Surely there isn’t a lack of talent, as any visitor to an open-studios event can easily see that there are countless artists capable of rendering the human form with varying degrees of success. The answer may be in the strange conundrum we find ourselves in as a culture that is increasingly embracing its diversity but hesitant to impart value judgments on bodies of different kinds. Unlike the classical era or the Renaissance, there is no one body ideal that encapsulates contemporary culture.

    GIF of Hank Willis Thomas, “Baron of the Crossroads” (2012)

    With the emphasis away from ideal bodies, artists often resort to popular celebrities to portray idealized notions of the human form, although I would argue that strategy is the ultimate lazy cop-out. Rather than grappling with ideals of beauty or touching the sometimes contentious third rail of identity politics in contemporary culture, artists seek refuge in the safety of suggestion rather than representation. It’s no surprise to me that some of the best artists grappling with the human figure at Miami Basel were artists of African heritage, like Hank Willis Thomas, whose work often deals with portrayals of African Americans in the media and how those ideas have shifted over time. His “Baron of the Crossroads” (2012) is a fitting commentary on the shifting ground from which we find ourselves seeing figures and human forms. In this poignant work, the picture blurs when you look at it directly, but at an angle the image is in focus; it plays with your preconceived idea of how you should look at the image and what it means to see something correctly. Across from Thomas’s work, and also in the Jack Shainman Gallery booth, is a painting by London-based artist of Ghanaian descent Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, whose dark female figure almost melds into the background so that from certain perspectives she appears to almost disappear or, at best, be rendered in silhouette. These two works make it tough to see the figures clearly, but each forces you to look closer and not take the act of looking for granted.

    In Jack Shainman’s Miami Basel booth, Lynette Yiadom-Boakye’s “Treacle for Silk” (2012), left, hangs across from Hank Willis Thomas’ “Baron of the Crossroads” (2012), right.

    Another thing I noticed was that the few paintings that directly portrayed figures tended to be by older artists, like Chuck Close, Alice Neel, Mel Ramos, Duane Hansen, or Philip Pearlstein; they created their works decades ago, or, if the piece was more recent, it was the continuation of a body of work (strange how we use the word “body” to refer to a grouping of art) they started a generation ago.

    But all this is not to say that the figure has completely disappeared from the halls of Miami Basel. Some artists, like Yinke Shonibare, Leigh Ledare, and Jack Early, grapple with it in their own way, and while Shonibare’s work seems like a rather dull depiction of the figure using mannequins, Ledare and Early resort to photographic images, suggesting that photography has come to dominate (monopolize?) our understanding of the human form. Other artists like Betty Tompkins and her infamous Fuck series choose the extreme close up to disorient you and force you to focus on a part of the body not normally writ so large. Sculptor Rachel Kneebone offers a suggestion of Rodinesque figures but abstracts them until it is hard to tell if something is a limb, torso, or something else. Performance artist Marina Abramović, another artist exhibiting at Miami Basel, suggests the body in her work through crude mannequin heads spiked with crystals or odd-looking chairs that can’t help evoke how uncomfortable they would make anybody attempting to sit in them.

    Jiro Takamatsu’s shadow paintings, like “Shadown (Yumiko Chiba Upside Down)” (1997) on right, are beautiful renderings of human forms. (click to enlarge)

    I refuse to believe that there is nothing original to say about the figure, and it would be foolhardy to think that could even possibly be true. There were a few artists who were doing interesting things in their portrayals of bodies that I want to note. Three artists provided some hope for new directions, even if the ideas don’t feel fully developed. Jiro Takamatsu’s beautiful shadow paintings are exciting works that suggest the human form without the specificity of culture. While they evoke the work of Lee Friedlander and Marvin E. Newman, they seem to go beyond their renderings, as they remove the shadows from their suggested sources and box them in, creating forms that are elusive but moody. Street art twins Os Gemeos also consistently use the human form in their work. If their painted figures lack a wide range of facial emotions — a strange quirk of their art — the bodies contort on the surface of the painting against colorful backgrounds. In “Untitled” (2012), a number of figures join together to form a two-headed animal, which is neither coming or going. The body feels recognizable as it slips into abstraction and different pockets of space here and there.

    Os Gemeos, “Untitled” (2012) at Galeria Fortes Vilaça

    Perhaps the most curious work that evoked the human form beyond any straightforward representation was Markus Schinwald’s “Untitled (legs) #29″ (2011), which was seemingly made from, or at least based on, furniture legs. The spritely form was sandwiched between two walls and seemed to contort into place. You could almost feel the muscular movement of the sinewy object trapped in place and not clearly climbing or descending anywhere. Even if there is something flawed and clumsy in Schinwald’s work, it humanizes the form so that it feels emotional, which is the basis of being human, isn’t it?

    Markus Schinwald’s “Untitled (legs) #29″ (2011) in the Yvon Lambert booth, with a close up of the work on the right

    Which brings me back to the original premise for this post. In a fair dominated by colorful abstraction, large-scale photography, mirrored works (often with text), and highly designed objects, the human form is no longer as central to this strata of the art world as it may have once been. If modernists kept themselves busy ripping the body apart into shards and facets, or rendering it into biomorphic forms or gestures of color, in the contemporary world those explorations tend to happen in the worlds of photography and video, which are both art mediums that were represented at Miami Basel but felt less prevalent than the sculpture, installation, and paintings all around. I would even argue that video was marginalized throughout the fair.

    Painters and sculptors long ago ceded the terrain of the body to photographers and video makers in search of new frontiers, just as painters in the 19th century sought innovation in optics and other representations of the “real” when photography could easily render the world around them in crisp detail. Part of me hopes that the body will reemerge as a central focus of contemporary art, but another part of me knows that that boat has sailed, while all of us are left on the piers looking at the world through the disjointed consciousness of contemporary life.

    Art Basel Miami Beach 2012 (Miami Beach Convention Center, 1901 Convention Center Drive, Miami Beach) took place from Wednesday, December 5, to Sunday, December 9.

  • ——
  • Galleries

    Domesticity as Subversion at Miami Art Basel

    B. Wurtz, “Untitled (pan paintings)” (1991–2002) (all photos by the author for Hyperallergic)

    MIAMI — This morning, the mother of all Miami art fairs, Art Basel Miami Beach (ABMB), opened its doors for a press and VIP preview. Although it was pretty crowded for a preview day, the fair also felt calm and subdued. And the art matched the tone: much of what was on view seemed safe, emphasizing tried and true artists whose work might amuse, arouse, or provoke, but not offend.

    As I wandered around, though, I remembered that quiet isn’t necessarily a bad thing: it can create a space for humor or contemplation. And scattered throughout the fair I found a good number of artworks that embraced that space by way of domesticity.

    My first hint in that direction, and one of the first displays that I thoroughly enjoyed, was an installation of pan paintings by B. Wurtz. Wurtz had a mini-retrospective at Metro Pictures last year, and despite Roberta Smith’s adoring review in the New York Times, I couldn’t connect with the work. But at ABMB, Metro Pictures has installed two walls with wonderfully colorful tin pans painted by the artist, and their playfulness — their embrace of the kitchen, traditionally the forced province of women, the way they poke fun at geometric abstraction by undermining it with the most basic everyday objects — delighted me.

    Haim Steinbach, “mandarin red 2″ (2008/12)

    Wurtz isn’t the only one at the fair bringing domestic, everyday objects into art: Tanya Bonakdar is exhibiting a staid, powerful shelf assemblage by Haim Steinbach. Steinbach’s “mandarin red 2″ (2008/12) features a plastic cauldron, a metal and wood cart core, and five dog chew toys on one of his signature bi-colored wedge shelves. As always, the artist seems to have imbued the banal items with a powerful, enchanting force by virtue of his arrangement.

    Grayson Perry, “Expulsion from Number 8 Eden Close” (2012)

    There were also artists working in media more traditionally associated with craft than art — not a novel practice, as that artificial barrier has been tenuous and tested by artists for a long time, but enjoyable nonetheless. Grayson Perry, who is best known for subverting the craft/art divide with his vases, is showing a tapestry at Victoria Miro’s booth, titled “Expulsion from Number 8 Eden Close” (2012). The scene is a domestic drama elevated to a play on classical Adam and Eve expulsion paintings, and its incredibly intricacy and texture heighten the absurdity of the scene. Over at Anton Kern Gallery, meanwhile, Laura Schnitger has a work made of of quilted and bleached cotton and linen. “We Are Sexy” (2012) conflates two of women’s traditional roles — as homemakers and sex objects — into a patterned play.

    Lara Schnitger, “We Are Sexy” (2012)

    More examples dotted my walk through the fair: a piece by Ghada Amer, who embroiders her paintings, at Tina Kim’s booth; threaded canvases by Nicholas Hlobo at Stevenson gallery; Florian Pumhösl’s worn and stained lace cloth splayed out on a black background at Galerie Buccholz; fantastically surreal works by Pedro Reyes at Galeria Luisa Strina, for which Reyes printed digital photos onto canvas and then made “interventions,” including overlays of wavy, wild string. And all that craft and domesticity reached their apotheosis at the booth of Mother’s Tankstation, where Japanese artist Atsushi Kaga and his mother are handcrafting bags and laptop cases, as my co-editor Kyle Chayka detailed here.

    A work by Florian Pumhösl

    Pedro Reyes, “Personality Crisis” (detail) (2012)

    Despite their connecting threads, these works are different, as they engage with domesticity in varying ways: elevating the everyday, rethinking beauty, and blurring the line between art and craft. But I was drawn to all of them, perhaps because I’m drawn to art where the viewer can see evidence of both the artist’s ideas and his or her hands. And at a fair that illustrates quite well the disconnect between the art and real worlds, the injection of bits and pieces of everyday life feels like a small, quiet subversion.

    Art Basel Miami Beach (Miami Beach Convention Center, 1901 Convention Center Drive, Miami Beach) is open through Sunday, December 9.

  • The Women of the Miami Project

    ’ Daniela Comani, “Beau De Jour” (2012) (all photos by the author for Hyperallergic)

    MIAMI — The first artworks I enjoyed when I walked into the Miami Project, one of two newcomers to Art Basel Miami Beach fair week this year, were paintings by Monique Prieto at ACME. Then I discovered photographs by Lee Materazzi. After that, there was Daniela Comani’s wonderful installation “Beau De Jour,” and it was around that time that it hit me: So much of the work I was loving at the fair was by women.

    This isn’t, obviously, a surprise. Women have always made great art (and plenty of bad art, too, just like men). But anyone who think gender disparity and gaps don’t still exist in the art world is kidding himself. Auction discrepancies are miserable, and while museums are coming around (MoMA mounted a Cindy Sherman retrospective!), they still have a long way to go (they only gave her half the 5th floor).

    So at Miami Project, which, it should be noted, has made an impressive debut this year, I let myself follow the women and be led by them. I was not disappointed.

    Lee Materazzi, “Level with My Backyard” (2012)

    The aforementioned Materazzi, whose photographs were on view at Quint Contemporary Art, makes smart, funny photographs of herself trying to hide or fit into, or embrace, domestic spaces and objects. But the hiding is always obvious and never complete, the embraces ridiculous, and the pictures seem to represent the psychic struggle of a woman confronting social expectations — in an outsized, deliberately absurd way.

    Ann Toebbe’s work at Steven Zevitas

    Also tackling the burden of domesticity is Ann Toebbe, whose incredible cut paper and painted collages on view at Steven Zevitas offer flatterned, aerial views of houses, apartments, and rooms. Get up close and you see that the works are amazingly intricate and detailed, with small scraps of paper coming together to create, say, the pattern on a dining room table. Toebbe’s perspective on these spaces is key — it both disorients the viewer at first and offers her, a woman, a symbolic way to master them.

    Women’s issues are not, however, confined to the home, and other female artists at the fair confronted an array of questions, from sexuality to the representation of women in pop culture. Daniela Comani’s “Beau De Jour” (2012), at Charlie James Gallery, was one of my favorite pieces. For the installation, Comani set up rows of nearly 100 faux DVD cases, all of them famous movies slyly renamed by the artist to subvert gender norms. Pretty Woman becomes Pretty Man, and Dirty Harry becomes Dirty Harriet while the cover images remain entirely intact — a subtle trick that makes the new titles sneak up on the unsuspecting viewer.

    Daniela Comani, “Beau De Jour” (detail)

    Similarly, but somewhat less successfully, Andrea Mary Marshall has an installation at Allegra LaViola’s booth in which she defaces Vogue magazine covers, turning them into Vague magazine and adding commentary about the ridiculousness of the cover images and tag lines. Nearby, Adriana Zarate is showing a series of playfully dark paintings at the New Wall Gallery that depict tall, thin women in modeling poses — but with deadpan animal heads.

    Andrea Mary Marshall, “Vogue/Vague Magazines” (2011)

    Paintings by Adriana Zarate

    One of the best examples I saw of a female artist dealing with sexuality was Susan Silas‘s Love in the ruins; sex over fifty series at CB1 Gallery. Three photographs on view show exactly what the title says — people over 50 having sex, and the pieces are charged and evocative. Silas seems to issue a challenge question: When was the last time you saw older, imperfectly human bodies engaging in blatant sexual activity?

    Susan Silas, “Love in the ruins; sex over fifty”

    Karen Finley, over at Coagula Curatorial, is also trying to help us all deal with our sexuality a little more comfortably and openly in a performance called “Sext me if you can,” for which she is soliciting sexts from strangers, asking them to send “your wildest personal image.” She then interprets the photos as delicately pornographic paintings, using small, oval canvasses, like Victorian miniatures, and painting live at the booth yesterday and again at 2 and 5 pm today.

    Karen Finley getting ready to perform “Sext me if you can”

    Like Finley, a number of women at the fair are engaging with the broader culture rather than just “women’s issues” (although I often think that phrase makes light of the fact that women are half the world’s population, and all of its mothers). Lauren DiCioccio, at Jack Fischer Gallery, has a more delicate approach than most: in her most striking works, she has sewn multicolored thread over spreads from book. DiCioccio has a system for each one, including different colors for every letter, and the results are a softly beautiful commentary on the decline of the book as something useful and its rise as an art object.

    One of Lauren DiCioccio’s sewn book spreads

    Erika Rothenberg, on the other hand, is less kind to our culture, offering some brilliantly biting pieces near Comani’s work at Charlie James’s booth: “America, the Greatest Nation on Earth” (2012), a black-and-white community message board that lists a series of depressing meetings like “Battered Spouses” and “Jobless Club”; and two rows of original greeting cards with such original messages as, “a note from your foetus … Dear Mom, Remember, abortion is murder. Love,” and signed off by a picture of the fetus.

    Erika Rothenberg, “America, The Greatest Nation of Earth” (2012)

    Erika Rothenberg’s greeting cards

    Laurina Paperina’s wall of drawings and paintings at Fouladi Projects is equally colorful and energetic in its judgments, though the aesthetic is far more surreal. Paperina pokes fun at everything from our eating habits to our superheroes, with a penchant for crazy-eyed, cartoonish animals and figures. And she had what was probably my favorite painting of the whole fair, as it seemed to satirize and sum up so much of what the art fairs are about: Keith Haring riding a penis rocket into the sky.

    A work by Laurina Paperina

    The Miami Project (NE 29th Street and NE 1st Avenue, Miami) continues through December 9.

  • ==
  • Galleries

    Can an Art Fair Ever Be More Than an Art Fair?

    Devon Dikeou, “Not Quite Mrs. de Menil’s Liquor Closet” (detail) (click to enlarge) (all photos by the author for Hyperallergic)

    MIAMI — NADA art fair has a reputation in Miami: it’s thought of by a lot of people as one of the best, most interesting art fairs in town. It upholds its claim to newer and more cutting-edge work on its website: “Each December in Miami, NADA runs a renowned art fair to vigorously pursue our goals of exploring new or underexposed art that is not typical of the ‘art establishment.’”

    NADA is, in fact, a welcome alternative — or perhaps the better phrase is “accompaniment” — to Art Basel Miami Beach (ABMB) and the other blue-chip fairs. But at the end of the day, an art fair is still an art fair — and NADA is one. Which is to say: there are some very good, striking, thoughtful works on view at this year’s NADA, and there are also a lot of boring ones.

    The fair actually seems surprisingly similar to ABMB in its penchant for 2-D works; painting, in particular, is present in strong doses. Quirky, self-conscious plays on geometric abstraction can be seen every two or so booths, which struck me as something of a throwback. A few examples stood out, all of them practices that deviate from the rules by playing with and calling attention to their materials: Joe Fyfe‘s collage pieces incorporate fabric shapes alongside painting; Shila Khatami uses lacquer on aluminum to create unconventional surfaces; and Jess Fuller turns lines into blotches and rectangles into patches, as well as shredding her material selectively but mercilessly.

    Work by Jess Fuller at Martos gallery

    Tomoki Kurokawa’s paintings at Nanzuka gallery

    Like these works, much of the best art at the fair seemed to have a sense of humor. Not to the point of shtick, mind you, but there’s just so much seriousness, and self-seriousness, in Miami, that the artists avoiding it were the ones who drew me in. Tomoki Kurokawa‘s small paintings at Nanzuka gallery, for instance, borrow visual tropes from manga but remix them into something surreal. One of my favorite pieces was an installation by Estonian artist Marko Mäetamm at the booth of Temnikova & Kasela Gallery. Mäetamm created blue watercolors and accompanying text for a series called Our Daddy Is a Hunter, and while the story sings the praises of the unnamed father, with his hunting gun and knife and big pants, the images show him hunting and ultimately netting his family. It’s dark stuff, but also funny; as the gallerist told me, “You know, it’s Estonia, not Greece. They don’t take everything so seriously.”

    Marko Mäetamm, “Our Daddy Is a Hunter”

    Another fantastic installation came from artist, collector, and Zing magazine editor Devon Dikeou. For NADA, Dikeou created a standalone, walk-in installation called “Not Quite Mrs. de Menil’s Liquor Closet.” The piece is inspired by, and very loosely modeled on, famed collector Dominique de Menil’s liquor closet, in which she apparently keeps miniature artworks mixed in with the glasses and drinks. Dikeou has created her own version of the closet, its mirrored shelves filled with bottles, glasses, and artworks from her own collection — drawings, postcards, photographs, and more by the likes of Marcel Dzama, Dan Colen, and Sarah Staton. Despite its hodgepodge nature, everything comes together perfectly. I mean it purely as a compliment when I suggest that this is what many people wish their Tumblrs and Pinterest boards would be: a portrait of the creator by way of a curated showcase of her aesthetic sensibility.

    The exterior of Devon Dikeou’s “Not Quite Mrs. de Menil’s Liquor Closet”

    Inside the faux liquor closet

    A handful of other galleries are showing work that similarly springs from clever or smart ideas, with great aesthetic results. Justin Berry‘s mini solo booth at Interstate Projects, in the Nada Projects section of the fair, features three digital prints. For one of them, Berry photographed two covers of the same book side by side and then digitally manipulated them to remove the text. The resulting, nearly twin pictures are pastel landscapes that in any other context would probably look cheesy; somehow, here, they’re entrancing. His two other photos appear at first glance to be simple black-and-white landscapes, but it turns out they’re nature scenes shot within video games. Virtual space has rarely looked so real.

    One of Justin Berry’s video-game landscapes

    John Houck is also moving from the digital realm to the physical, and his mesmerizing prints command a wall at On Stellar Rays. Houck has a long, intense process for these works: He uses software that he wrote to generate every possible combination of a given number of rows, columns, and colors. He then uses another program he wrote to create an index print of the combinations on a single sheet of paper. Finally, he creases the paper, lights it, and photographs it a number of times. The final print looks like an infinitely dotted, striped rainbow, and it contains both illusionistic creases and real ones.

    Work by John Houck at On Stellar Rays

    Houck told me that he enjoys transforming his digital process into more traditionally tangible art objects, since he often doesn’t really know what the works will look like until they’re printed. “That was the best part — that it had to live outside the computer,” he said. But it seems notable that some of the best and only “digital” art at NADA exists on paper. Maybe for now, at least, there’s only so alternative an art fair can get.

    NADA Miami (The Deauville Beach Resort, 6701 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach) continues through December 9.-



10 Actually Fun Works to See at Art Basel Miami Beach

Art Basel Miami Beach 2012 (all photos by author for Hyperallergic)

MIAMI — Entering into the cavernous mouth of an art fair, it’s pretty easy to know what to expect — some blue-chip art, some provocative booths, and a few rare modernist works sprinkled throughout the contemporary avalanche. Thankfully, there are usually a few pleasant surprises. Here are ten works I actually enjoyed seeing at Art Basel Miami Beach (ABMB) 2012.

The hits range from examples of South American abstraction in floor- and wall-sculpture to two classic Philip Guston canvases, and a whole wall of grinning, blood-sucking vampire mouths. Check out the photos below for my shortlist, in no particular order.

1. Jesus Rafael Soto, “Color y Blanco Superior” (1994) at Maxwell Davidson gallery

Soto is all over ABMB, and for good reason — his energetic, exuberant, and often interactive abstraction is a perfect fit for Miami. It helps that Soto is smart in his approach to abstraction as well, moving into the third dimension.

2. Ivan Navarro at Paul Kasmin gallery

Navarro’s infinity tunnels are always a trip, and these have provocative action commands echoing inside of them. I’d scream, too.

3. Los Carpinteros, “Kosmaj Toy” (2012) at Sean Kelly gallery

This is a giant sculpture made of LEGOs. It’s kind of like a Calder made by a 5-year-old. Totally awesome.

4. Os Gemeos, Untitled (2012) at Galeria Fortes Vilaca

Street art’s most famous twins have a few pieces around ABMB, and it’s nice to see the delicate colors and textures of their murals play out on a smaller scale.

5. Sterling Ruby, VAMPIRE series (2012) at Pace

Ruby’s fabric mouths are perfect for a post-Twilight society that could use a dose of humor.

6. Luis Tomasello, “Objeto Plastico n° 470″ (1979–1984) at Galeria Elvira Gonzalez

Alongside Soto, the Argentinian Luis Tomasello’s sculptures and wall pieces featured prominently in a few booths. Their op-art visual effects make them mesmerizing.

7. Allora & Calzadilla “Armed Freedom Lying On A Sunbed” (2011) at Gladstone Gallery

After representing the U.S. in the Venice Biennale, the Puerto Rican duo has continued on their campaign to lampoon American iconography. Here’s an allegorical figure fit for reality TV.

8. LaToya Ruby Frazier at Galerie Michel Rein

The young photographer’s work, on display in the Art Positions solo show section, continues to be daunting and inspiring. Her self-portraiture is powerful, but the real star is her documentation of her changing hometown of Braddock, Pennsylvania.

9. Philip Guston, “Melancholy Studio” (1977) at McKee gallery

One of the must-sees at this year’s fair is McKee gallery’s pair of epic, late Philip Guston canvases, pieces that any museum would be happy to be own. Guston’s symbology of the artist in his studio explodes into surreal, barren frames covered in the artist’s signature knotty brushstrokes.

10. Roni Horn, Untitled (“Water is best.”) (2011)

Horn’s placid, deep pools of poured glass are the perfect art-fair art — visitors can gaze into their depths and see themselves staring back in the limpid surface, a quiet, meditative experience.

Art Basel Miami Beach (Miami Beach Convention Center, 1901 Convention Center Drive, Miami Beach) runs through December 9.


Highlights of Design Miami 2012

Friday, December 14, 2012 10:00 am

With the excitement of Art Basel Miami Beach and DesignMiami behind us, we recall the stress of trying to see it all: the countless parallel fairs, special satellite exhibitions, the designer talks and, of course, the many parties where one had the chance rub elbows with the likes of Kanye West or Pharell Williams, who held the launch of his new book Places and Spaces I Been at the DesignMiami tent.

When it came time to check out this year’s offerings at the fair I enlisted the help of my friend and design connoisseur Marianne Russell, principal and owner at Miami’s renowned pioneer design shop Arango Design, recently named “Best Independent Retailer Globally” by the iconic design manufacturer Alessi. As we walked through the shows, here’s what caught her eyes.


R18 ULTRA CHAIR stood out at DesignMiami. This innovative and super comfortable chair is produced by the same machines and similar materials used in the production of Audi cars; it is designed for Audi by Germany’s Clemens Weisshaar and America’s Reed Kram in collaboration with the car company’s engineers. By using composites in a thin carbon sandwich on the seat with high strength folded aluminum legs, they developed a sturdy chair, with a comfort-flexible back, weighing just 77 ounces (4.85lbs) or 2.2kg! Audi plans to use the chair in their offices and showrooms. I wish it would also be made available for purchase by the public.


GLASS BOWLS, designed by the Danish, Tora Urup, are handmade in solid glass in a limited edition of five per color. The difficulty in making the bowls and their extraordinary beauty lies in their clarity, and a sensation of one bowl being suspended, floating, or nesting within the other (each with a price tag of 4,800 Euro).


PINKIE FLOOR LAMP, designed by America’s Wendell Castle, makes you smile. The large bubblegum pink lamp is made of fiberglass-re-enforced plastic coated with custom color auto paint. It stands 41 inches tall and uses just one bulb (meant for a serious collector at $35,000). Presented by R 20th Century, NY.


BLOWN GLASS STOOLS, created in a workshop in France at Cirva in Marseilles, by Belgian designer Sylvain Willenz. The stools are hand made using heavy (55lbs or 25kg) globs of molten glass mouth-blown into a form in a quick 45 second process; this fast action is necessary before the glass hardens. The solid and sturdy stools challenge the fragility of glass. (Available in a limited edition of 10 per color for $12,700). Presented by Victor Hunt Designart in Brussels.


MARBLE TABLE is handcrafted in a single piece of elegant Carrara marble and designed by Ifeanyi Oganwu. The low, organically carved table displayed its legs widely for maximum stability, posed on the dark “Playing with Tradition” carpet by Dutch designer Richard Hutten. Presented by Priveekollektie Contemporary Art I Design, The Netherlands.

The items Marianne and I chose cover a wide range of what was in display, from the creative uses of existing technology, like the R18 Chair, to the most basic traditional craft of the Cirva’s blown glass stools, with room for some fun, like the whimsical creations of Wendell Castle (albeit very serious fun, as Marianne correctly noted; the price tag on one of his lamps was $250,000!

Overall the fair had a good balance of vintage modern, new fresh designs, and boundary pushing ideas. Of course prices quoted there are exorbitant  (very 1% oriented), but it’s important to see these in context, the fair being a place for design galleries that cater to sophisticated international collectors rather than a wholesale trade show. And while it’s featured pieces might not reach everyone’s living room, the influence of the concepts and ideas shown there can be quite far reaching.

Paul Clemence is an award-winning photographer whose work is part of many collections, including the Mies van der Rohe Archives and housed by MoMA, New York.  He exhibits both in the U.S. and on the international fine art circuit, from classic B & W prints to large scale photo installations. A published author, his work can also be seen in major design and lifestyle publications. His “Architecture Photography” Facebook page receives over half a million hits monthly.

Photographs by Paul Celemence.



Design Miami 2012 preview

Galerie BSL
Among our picks of what to see at Design Miami this year is the stand of Paris’ Galerie BSL, which is bringing along new works by David Adjaye, Noé Duchaufour-Lawrance, Taher Chemirik and Charles Kalpakian. The gallery describes the cabinets by Kalpakian (pictured), a French Lebanese designer, as ‘functional paintings’.
Location: main fair at Design Miami

By Nick Compton

Design Miami is now back in rude health, after the inevitable late-noughties wobble. The shift to South Beach and closer ties to Art Basel/Miami have helped the revival. As has a much stronger showing from domestic galleries, further proof that the American design scene is well out of it’s long stretch in the doldrums. And the exhibition organisers are determined to maintain the upward momentum.

This week’s show will be held in a pop-up pavilion, designed by New York multi-disciplinary darlings Snarkitecture, next to the Miami Beach Convention Centre. ‘Drift’, as the Pavilion has been called, is a striking cluster of inflatable tubes carefully lifted and arranged to create a walk in topographical model.

Snarkitecture are also appearing inside the pavilion. Chicago’s Volume Gallery (see W*133) are showing new design pieces by the duo as part of the Design On/Site satellite show, alongside galleries such as Milan’s Erastudio Apartment gallery, Tel Aviv’s Design Space and Beirut’s Carwan Gallery, premiering new designs by Gaetano Pesce, India Mahdavi and Noam Dover and Michal Cederbaum, respectively.

The main fair is dominated by first rank design dealers from New York and Paris, amongst them Galerie Kreo, which is showing new works from Pierre Charpin and Jean-Baptiste Fastrez.

Here’s our selection of exhibitors who definitely deserve a visit during the fair and the new designs they will be premiering. Thinking and re-thinking ‘making’ and craft remain the key concerns for contemporary designers. And if there is a common theme to all the works we have highlighted here, it is this elevation and exploration of process.


Art Basel Miami Dispatch: Day Two

From December 6-9, the art worldand just about everyone else close to its orbittrek to Miami for the 11th installation of art mega-fair Art Basel Miami Beach. Our man on the ground, photographer Alexis Dahan, takes us inside the tents, to the streets, and gives us a glimpse of the most exclusive partieslike W’s Dior Homme party to celebrate Bruce Weber’s new film. Here, he shares day two.

Photographs by Alexis Dahan
December 2012
Stella McCartney and Laure Heriard Dubreuil
Stella McCartney and Laure Heriard Dubreuil at Stella’s Tea Party at the Webster
Photographs by Alexis Dahan
December 2012
Diane von Furstenberg in an autograph session with Stefano Tonchi
Diane von Furstenberg in an autograph session with Stefano Tonchi after their Design Talk at Design Miami
Photographs by Alexis Dahan
December 2012
Stefano Tonchi
Stefano Tonchi after his Design Talk at Design Miami
Photographs by Alexis Dahan
December 2012
Harry Brant, Laure Heriard Dubreuil and Peter Brant II
Harry Brant, Laure Heriard Dubreuil and Peter Brant II at the Valentino party at the Webster
Photographs by Alexis Dahan
December 2012
Robert Rabensteiner
Robert Rabensteiner at the W and Dior Homme party
Photographs by Alexis Dahan
December 2012
Stefano Tonchi and Kris van Assche
Stefano Tonchi and Kris van Assche at the W and Dior Homme party
Photographs by Alexis Dahan
December 2012
Sofia Sanchez
Sofia Sanchez Barrenechea at the W and Dior Homme party
Photographs by Alexis Dahan
December 2012
Calvin Klein
Calvin Klein at the W and Dior Homme party
Photographs by Alexis Dahan
December 2012
Giambattista Valli and Bianca Brandolini d'Adda
Giambattista Valli and Bianca Brandolini d’Adda at the W and Dior Homme party
Photographs by Alexis Dahan
December 2012
Bruce Weber
Bruce Weber at the W and Dior Homme party
Photographs by Alexis Dahan
December 2012
performace at the dior homme w magazine party
Performance at the W and Dior Homme party
Photographs by Alexis Dahan
December 2012
Johan Lindeberg and Max Vallor
Johan Lindeberg and Max Vallor at the Chanel-hosted dinner and auction to benefit The Henry Street Settlement at Soho Beach House
Photographs by Alexis Dahan
December 2012
Allison Sarofim and Gimbattista Valli
Allison Sarofim and Gimbattista Valli at the Chanel-hosted dinner and auction to benefit The Henry Street Settlement at Soho Beach House
Photographs by Alexis Dahan
December 2012
China Chow at the Art Sy and Chanel party
China Chow at the Art Sy and Chanel party
Photographs by Alexis Dahan
December 2012
Madness at the Art Sy and Chanel party
The scene at the Art Sy and Chanel party
Photographs by Alexis Dahan
December 2012
Vladimir Restoin Roitfeld
Vladimir Restoin Roitfeld at the Chanel-hosted dinner and auction to benefit The Henry Street Settlement at Soho Beach House
Photographs by Alexis Dahan
December 2012
Ana Beatriz Baros
Ana Beatriz Baros at the Chanel-hosted dinner and auction to benefit The Henry Street Settlement at Soho Beach House
Photographs by Alexis Dahan
December 2012


Design Miami 2012 report

Swarovski Crystal Palace teamed up British designer/architect Asif Khan to create a dazzling installation entitled ‘Parhelia’ during Design Miami

It has to be said: there is nothing like visiting Miami in December. Good weather and sandy beaches aside, our annual trip to the Floridian coast was all in the name of design and art, of course. In the last few years, the moneyed town has used its natural assets to attract the art, design, fashion and nightlife world’s most illustrious characters, thus helping to secure Design Miami’s place on the fair circuit.

Under the direction of Marianne Goebel for the second time, this year’s fair was no slouch. As well as hosting an impressive selection of design galleries, both from home and abroad, Design Miami also presented three impressive projects from luxury industry bigwigs, Fendi, Perrier-Jouët and Swarovski.

All long-time advocates of cross-industry collaboration, the brands’ efforts were particularly engaging due to the design talent they enlisted. With Design Miami taking on the role of instigator, Fendi added the next chapter to its ongoing Design Performances series by teaming up with Belgian designer Maarten de Ceulaer. Best known for his whimsical cabinets which at first look like a pile of colourful suitcases, de Ceulaer chose to reinterpret the fashion house’s iconic Pequin motif in a three-dimensional way, creating an eye-catching landscape out of leather pieces in classic Fendi colours.

Perrier-Jouët, the new tipple of choice at Design Miami and Art Basel, also took advice from Goebel and her team before selecting the London-based Studio Glithero to create their mesmerising ‘Lost Time’ installation.

Swarovski Crystal Palace, the experimental design arm of the Austrian crystal makers, chose to back another Brit, Asif Khan, who’s dexterity at architecture, furniture and industrial design had him perfectly placed to produce ‘Parhelia’, an interactive 20 ft structure encrusted with 1.3 million glittering crystals, which emulated an ice halo right on the tropical shores of Miami. Using a single LED as a light source, as well as harnessing the changing light conditions in the gallery space throughout the day, Khan created an inspired exploration of light and design.

Elsewhere within the fair, we were seduced by the combination of new and iconic collectible design on display. The French galleries did particularly well; Demisch Danant staged a wonderful tribute to Pierre Guariche, while Galerie Patrick Seguin‘s collection of Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret was well-matched with an equally beautiful stand.

Cleverly positioned adjacent to Art Basel in the heart of South Beach, Design Miami was just the springboard for our week of perusing the emerging talent at NADA (New Art Dealers Alliance), enjoying the stellar program of talks by the likes of artist James Rosenquist (creator of the iconic Illy logo, which, ‘along with the Mona Lisa, is one of the most reproduced paintings in the world’, said Illy art director Carlo Bach), wandering the graffiti-lined streets of Wynwood, and exploring the Miami Design District – where Dior Homme and Louis Vuitton both got in on the art action. Not to mention heading out on festivity-filled nights that often led us to Andre Saraiva‘s pop-up club, Silencio, at The Delano. Once again, all in the name of art and design.


Black art, artists becoming more prominent in Art Basel PDF Print E-mail
Written by Antonia Williams-Gary
Sunday, 16 December 2012

antonia_gary_williams_-_web.jpgThis has been a most outstanding year so far for black art artists and collectors at Art Basel Miami, Miami Art Fair and dozens of satellite fairs around Miami and the wider South Florida and it’s not over.

The afterglow includes several additional openings, such as an exhibition by the Kuumba Artists Collective, shows that will remain open and additional gallery installations. Be sure to stop by the Little Haiti Cultural Center Gallery. This January’s “Second Saturday” art gallery walk in Wynwood will, no doubt, contain much of the flavor that just took place at Art Basel. 

For the past two years, I have been urging all of you to learn more and to get involved and participate in this serious movement: the promotion of black art and artists and elevating the dialogue about their work and what impact it has on society and the marketplace of ideas and the politics of producing and collecting black art.

This year offered a feast, including a lively debate about the very definition of black art that took place at the University of Miami’s third annual discussion of “Contemporary African Diaspora Fine Art.” Frederick John Eversley, an established mainstream sculptor, showing at the first Art Basel,  Basel, Switzerland, says of himself that, while he is black, he is the anti-black artist, suggesting that any label other than “artist” marginalizes him and, therefore, reduces him to second-class status in the otherwise lily white art world.

Responses came from panelists Tuliza Fleming, curator for the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture; Laurence Choko, a Paris-based gallerist; Julie Walker, journalist and cultural critic for The Root; Juanita Hardy, president of Millennium Arts Salon, Washington, D.C.; and Ludlow Bailey, curator and art broker.

Black Art in America ( established a strong foothold in town with its promotional campaign using the slogan, “Do You Basel?”

So, did you Basel?

Here are a few other highlights from my week at Art Basel.

First, I realized, once again, that art speaks no written language as I watched my 2-and-a-half-year-old granddaughter’s visceral response to what she saw as I strolled her around SCOPE Art Fair.  She pointed to what interested her, from the flaming tower of television screens to the reflecting pieces of fractured glass, to the tower of cartoon-covered boxes.  It was a valuable lesson for me to remember that all our senses are involved and words are inadequate to describe the feelings that art provokes and the little children do lead us.

During the Black Art in America-sponsored workshops at the Wolfsonian Museum, I learned from Patric McCoy, Chicago patron and advocate of black art, that we should all be art collectors, that we need to declare ourselves so and that too many of us don’t because of four myths: we think we need to be rich; we think we need to have encyclopedic knowledge before we collect; we think we need to keep our collections private; and we think we should magically know the market value of every piece in our collection.  I am an art collector and, there, I said it.

An eye-opening discussion followed Patric’s presentation that continued into a panel presentation in which I participated. It included one of only a handful of black certified appraisers of black art, Diane Dinkins-Carr. She underscored the necessity of having our work appraised, especially for insurance purposes. Panelist Celeste Beatty of the Harlem Brewing Company inherited a major collection which she uses to support nonprofits by donating appraised pieces for their fundraising auctions.

So much to see, so little time, so I read the newsletter published by Robbie Bell, who collected daily updates on matters such as where to go and which artists to see, that were well researched and full of useful information.  To subscribe to her newsletter, visit

Art Africa, in its second year, was bigger and better and will grow into a significant presence next year.  Kudos to Neil Hall for this effort.

The Ward Rooming House, under the auspices of the Black Archives History and Research Foundation of South Florida, is now an art gallery and will rotate its collection of local artists, including Pervis Young, Oscar Thomas and Ferdie Pacheco, every month.  Be sure to visit this restored gem of a building in the Historic Overtown Folk Life Village.

So, did you Basel?





Jonathan Cheban Opens First Restaurant Project Sushi MiKasa in South Beach

Reality television star, owner of Jet Set Jewelry and Elite Daily, Jonathan Cheban is expanding his empire with the opening of his first restaurant project, a South Beach outpost of Sushi MiKasa, New York’s high-end omakase-centered Japanese eatery.

On December 15, Cheban’s first restaurant venture will open at Shelborne South Beach (1801 Collins Avenue). After teaming up with Sushi MiKasa founder Chef Kevin, of Sushi Seki, Cheban said he is excited to bring one of his favorite restaurants to one of his favorite cities

“Now that we’ve found the perfect location, Chef Kevin and I can’t wait for Miami to enjoy the unparalleled Sushi MiKasa experience,” said Cheban. “For real sushi lovers, Sushi MiKasa will prove to be what’s been missing from the Miami dining scene.”

Open nightly, Sushi MiKasa’s menu will mimics the Brooklyn original, but Cheban added his own spin to the restaurant’s design, which will feature a “cool, relaxed atmosphere courtesy of interior designer Josh Wollowick.” With Art Deco and gold mettalic accents, peacock blue velvet and highly polished teak tables, the restaurant will seat 65 guests and include a sushi bar for 10 people.

Menu items will include classic Japanese dishes like edamame, miso soup, Nabeyaki Udon, Zaru Soba, chicken/beef terryaki, beef negimaki, Chilean sea bass and seaweed salad, but also feature signature Chef Kevin dishes like tuna pizza, kampachi yellowtail, chopped toro, bonito, chopped eel avocado and more. Both mixed platters of MiKasa Original Sushi for one person or to share are available. Chef Kevin’s fish is flown in daily from Japan via New York City and according to the press release, “his inventive sushi creations and homemade sauces will be the focus of the menu, along with salads, soups and hot dishes.” Desserts will include mocha and fried ice cream.

For more information, visit

 Miami: America’s Next Great Architectural City?

Coconut Grove Condo / BIG; Image via DesignBoom

Miami, Florida is booming with new architectural projects by big names: everything from new condominums by BIG,to the new Miami Beach Convention Center. So why are so many big projects migrating to Miami Beach? The city is turning itself into an American and civic center.

Join us after the break for more.

1111 Lincoln Road / Herzog & de Meuron

Take, for example, the cultural institutions along Lincoln Road. The new addition of Herzog & de Meuron’s Parking Garage satisfies a necessity while also providing a rich, cultural gathering space, thanks to its designed social functions. The architecture breaks out from the anticipated form of the “concrete box for cars” and instead turns it into something that fits within the context of the neighborhood, physically and programmatically. The firm will also be expanding the Miami Art Museum, scheduled to reopen as the new Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) in 2013.

The Bacardi Building to be restored by ; Photo by Marc Averette

There are also many cultural restoration projects in the works. The Bacardi Building, a modernist tower designed by Enrique Gutierrez in 1969 will be restored by Frank Gehry to house studios, offices and housing for artists of the National Young Arts Foundation. The exterior, which features a rich mosaic, will remain untouched.

1111 Lincoln Road / Herzog & de Meuron

What is it about Miami that is motivating developers to bring in renowned architects? In an article in Architect Magazine by Ian Volner, architects Herzog & de Meuron admit that the culture, weather, food and community are major attractions for Miami. But its history of Art Deco architecture and its obsession with air-conditioned, indoor spaces, are some of the negative characteristics that their new design for the Miami Art Museum hope to address. In their design, the heavy temple-like structure of the exterior is offset by the openness of the interior spaces, the abundance of hanging vegetation, and ample shaded outdoor spaces. Note those motifs, and recognize them even in the parking garage on 1111 Lincoln Road. Like the Miami Art Museum, Herzog & de Meuron’s design for the parking garage incorporates as much outdoor space as possible, shading, and vegetation.

New World Center / Frank Gehry; Photo © Rui Dias-Adios

With the real estate market in Miami booming, the city has the opportunity to reinvent itself with a contemporary architecture, a refined sense of culture and community and with the assistance of talented and respected architects and designers.   We look forward to watching as these projects develop.

BIG leads the grove at grand bay in miami
BIG leads the grove at grand bay in miami

BIG leads the grove at grand bay in miami
Dec 08, 2012

first image
‘coconut grove’ by BIG, miami, florida
all images courtesy of BIG

the grove at grand bay residences, located on the former site of the grand bay hotel and just minutes from key areas including the airport,
downtown miami and coral gables shall leave an imprint on the south bayshore drive community, redefining luxury and breathing new life
coconut grove for decades to come. developed by terra group in collaboration with BIGraymond jungles, nichols brosch wurst wolfe & associates,
esrawe, desimone, and HNGS, miami’s leading real-estate development company, the construction is scheduled to 
begin in the fourth quarter of 2012,
completing end of 2014. upon completion, the project seeks leed certification silver designation, the first such 
structure in coconut grove.

rising 20 stories over the bay-front, grove at grand bay will showcase 96 expansive residences with panoramic views from every angle as the two 
take off from the ground and clear the surrounding buildings, readjusting their orientation to capture the full breadth of panoramic views from 
sailboat bays
and the marina to the miami skyline. the interactive movement of the two towers creates a new dancing silhouette on the grove’s skyline.

whether in the shade of the buildings’ twisting facades or inside, residents of the grove at grand bay will fully experience and relish living amid the 
open air.
the gardens and architecture will fuse seamlessly at the amenity levels, maximizing indoor outdoor living experiences that are unique to the 
south florida climate.
views down into the gardens, towards the surrounding canopied neighborhoods, and beyond sailboat bay will offer peaceful,
verdant backdrops to elegant
residential interiors and vast balconies. the interior design of the individual units are refined towards minimalism and 
luxury. with an open flow-through floor plan,
each residence will showcase 12′ ceilings and 12′ floor-to-ceiling windows, first among florida 
developments, and spacious outdoor terraces with wraparound
balconies that create a continuous indoor/outdoor living environment.

porte cochère entry

’miami has developed a contemporary condominium vernacular that combines brise soleil style balcony shading with floor-to-ceiling windows in order
to best enjoy the panoramic water views of the area. we propose to elaborate on these indigenous elements and continue the evolution of the local
condominium architecture.’ bjarke ingels, founding partner, BIG.

pedro martin, chairman, chief executive officer and founder of terra group has stated:

‘grove at grand bay’s impressive aesthetic and unparalleled service are tantamount to the evolution of coconut grove and raises the bar to olympic 




communal space

ocean view from apartment

view of gardens and pool from balconies

marina views

aerial view of towers

at night


As Miami-Dade real estate and hotel markets boom, more players want in

Miami real estate and hotel markets are booming
Miami real estate and hotel markets are booming

According to a Miami Herald report, Miami real estate is headed upward and more players are wanting in. Case in point:A Miami-based private equity firm, with capital from Turkey, Brazil and Peru, is snapping up prime South Florida real estate, including the historic Surf Club in Surfside.

Fort Capital focuses on prime, often waterfront, real estate, typically in distress or in need of a change. The firm bought most of the Capri South Beach and repositioned the Miami Beach condominium. It acquired The Strand restaurant in South Beach and the nearby Pelican Parking garage, and earlier this year added the Millennium at Bay Harbor condominium to its portfolio.

In another instance, the trailblazing Delano, which revitalized the destination in 1995 and is now being marketed for sale after an $11 million renovation, is flanked by the historic National Hotel, in the midst of a major restoration, and the Philippe Starck-designed SLS, formerly the Ritz Plaza, which opened in June after eight years and about $85 million.

“Miami is a hot market now, so it’s hard to get a hotel,” said Keith Menin, principal of Menin Hotels, which is developing the latest — but certainly not last — addition to the busy scene. The company’s 87-room Gale South Beach & Regent Hotel at 1690 Collins Ave. is set to open in early December, more than a year after finishing most of the renovations on the family-owned Shelborne just up the road.

After a recession-fueled pause, when visitor numbers dropped and financing dried up, Miami-Dade is in the throes of a hotel buying-and-building boom. Or, more appropriately, a re-building boom.

Local investment is following a national trend.

Shelling out billions

According to a recent report from Bjorn Hanson, a dean at the Preston Robert Tisch Center for Hospitality, Tourism and Sports Management at New York University, the lodging industry is expected to shell out a projected $5 billion this year on upgrades after curtailing spending since 2009.

Improvements could include everything from redesigned lobbies to better technology in rooms and meeting areas and more appealing fitness centers and restaurants, according to the report, which notes that the expected spending boost is due to vastly improved occupancy numbers and average daily rates.

In Miami, industry experts say robust tourism numbers, the scarcity of available land and the willingness of banks to lend money again are drawing waves of investors who see hotels in the destination as a must for their portfolios. Potential buyers include private equity firms, real estate investment trusts, major brands and some foreign investors.

“Miami is improving faster than a lot of the other markets, and it is a major, major market,” said Suzanne Amaducci-Adams, head of the hospitality group at the Bilzin Sumberg law firm. “So everybody wants to be here.”

Through September, hotels in Miami-Dade were more than 76 percent full, a small gain over the first nine months of 2011 despite a dip during the summer. But room rates have continued to climb, up nearly 7 percent to almost $163. And hotels countywide are making more revenue per available room; that figure grew about 8 percent to more than $124.55 through September.

Observers say the area is also gaining stature internationally because of the growth of arts and culture, as well as its ability to attract business from places including Russia and Asia in addition to Latin America.

“We really are just maturing and becoming a much more sophisticated global destination, and that’s really what is driving this,” Amaducci-Adams said.

Hotel transactions volume is expected to reach $650 million in the county this year, a 13 percent increase over 2011, according to brokerage Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels. And that figure doesn’t includes the hundreds of millions more being poured into upgrades at properties including the Perry Hotel South Beach (formerly Gansevoort Miami Beach) and Trump Doral Golf Resort & Spa, which mogul Donald Trump says he’s spending $200 million to fix up after he bought it for $150 million earlier this year.

Like the Doral and a few sites near Miami International Airport, a sliver of the current action is happening on the mainland. Only a Hampton Inn has gone up in the downtown Miami or Brickell area since the JW Marriott Marquis opened in late 2010, capping a decade that saw the arrival of the Mandarin Oriental, Four Seasons, JW Marriott, Conrad, Viceroy and Epic.

Hotel upgrades

Now, the stalwart InterContinental Miami is about to wrap up a $30 million upgrade and the former Continental Bayside Hotel is undergoing a renovation that is expected to finish in early 2013, when the property at 146 Biscayne Blvd. will become the first hotel in the budget-friendly b2 brand.

But the bulk of the investment action is happening in Miami Beach, which still commands the highest room rates.

Gregory Rumpel, managing director of Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels in Miami, calls it “a truckload of cash” that will reinvigorate the remainingproperties in disrepair to push rates even higher when all the projects are done.

“Once we get these derelict buildings renovated and repositioned, I think it really helps the image, improves the vibe,” he said. “It creates more velocity, more activity.”

Like Menin’s Gale, many projects are resurrections of dilapidated, decades-old buildings that are historically significant. Because most of the popular areas for hotels lie within protected historic districts, any changes are subject to tough standards and approval.

“It would be a lot cheaper for developers to come in and knock down these buildings, but you can’t,” said Max Comess, a director in the hotel group at commercial real estate investment banking firm HFF. “And the trade-off is that you have some really amazing architecturally significant buildings to work with. I think that’s what makes Miami so appealing, not only to investors: It’s really like you’re staying in a museum.”


Kobi Karp Architecture and Interior Design, a Miami firm, is working on a handful of such projects on the beach, including the restoration and addition of new buildings at the Surf Club in Surfside, which will include a condo-hotel; the transformation of a complex of decrepit buildings into boutique hotels in the Collins Park neighborhood of Miami Beach and the Hotel Versailles in Miami Beach.

The firm’s principal, Kobi Karp, said the volume of hotel restoration projects has increased in the last couple of years.

“They are challenging, but they’re also inspirational because you get to work with a history and a story that was there before you,” he said.

Comess is marketing the Haddon Hall hotel at 1500 Collins Ave. and adjacent apartments to potential buyers. That traditional South Beach area has been on the front end of development, with renovated properties on Ocean Drive and Collins Avenue including Hotel Breakwater, Dream South Beach, Room Mate Waldorf Towers, the Surfcomber and the Shelborne all coming online last year.

After a summer soft opening, the SLS at 1701 Collins Ave. holds its official grand opening event in early November, when the renovated and newly branded James Royal Palm also opens and the Ritz-Carlton, South Beach finishes a $10 million room refresh.

Many projects are still in the pipeline, including the transformation of the Continental Oceanfront South Beach Hotel at 1825 Collins Ave., which is scheduled to open next year as B South Beach.

The Chetrit Group, a New York-based developer that bought the Tides at 1220 Ocean Dr. last year and made it part of the hip King & Grove brand, is behind the planned restoration of the Collins Park buildings and the Hotel Versailles. The group is also planning an extension of the Tides as well as a project at the empty Fairwind Hotel at 10th Street and Collins Avenue.

Often finding themselves priced out of the heart of South Beach — or simply without anything to buy there at any price — investors are also looking north for opportunities.

New York-based Sydell Group, which owns the NoMad Hotel in Manhattan and developed the Ace hotels there and in Palm Springs, had five cities in mind when executives decided to start an upscale hostel concept. They found the first location off the beaten path in Miami Beach at the old Indian Creek Hotel, 2727 Indian Creek Dr., some 10 blocks north of the heart of South Beach buzz. After buying the hotel for $12 million in January and putting about $8 million into upgrades, the company will launch the new 65-room Freehand with a soft open in December.

Sydell Group CEO Andrew Zobler said the goal was to create a place with an affordable price point that would attract youth and energy — distance from the South Beach action notwithstanding.

“I really like the location. I think a lot of our audience are going to ride bicycles,” he said. “The beach is not that big a place. You can pop from one place to the next on a bicycle. I think a lot of the energy is moving up the beach.”

More buzz

At the Lifestyle/Boutique Hotel Development Conference at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach earlier this month, a panel of industry experts agreed that the south doesn’t have a monopoly on buzz.

“South Beach is starting to creep up to this part of the beach as well,” said Patrick Goddard, president and chief operating officer of Trust Hospitality.

The popular W South Beach, at 22nd Street, and Perry at 24th have already pushed the hip factor far north of Lincoln Road, and the upcoming Edition at 29th Avenue is expected to do the same when it opens late next year.

Marriott announced two years ago that it was buying the old Seville Beach Hotel to become an Edition, a chic and exclusive new brand formed in partnership with hotelier Ian Schrager. The Miami Beach location will be the only one in the United States when it opens.

Jay Coldren, Marriott International’s vice president of lifestyle brands, said at the hotel conference that the company’s investment in the Edition is unusual — Marriott does not typically own the hotels it operates — and a sign of Miami’s significance in the world.

“We’re really serious about this market, the future of this market and what it means to the global positioning of the brand,” he said.

Slightly north of the Edition, the Saxony hotel at 3201 Collins Ave. is coming back to life courtesy of Argentine developer Alan Faena. And the old Cadillac Hotel at 3925 Collins Ave., now the Courtyard Miami Beach Oceanfront, changed hands late last year for $95 million. New owner Hersha Hospitality Trust is adding a tower with another 93 rooms to the property, scheduled for completion by the end of 2013.

Hersha, a Philadelphia company that also has property in New York, Boston, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and California, had been eyeing Miami for years before making the purchase. Back during the height of the real estate market, said CFO Ashish Parikh, prices were prohibitive.

“The market obviously went into a freefall,” he said. “At that point we really didn’t know where Miami was going to shake out. As we looked at the trajectory, we thought last year Miami was shaping up to have a nice long run — and it seems like that’s coming to fruition.”

Comess, of HFF, predicts a “wave” effect that started with reconstruction of oceanfront hotels and will move inland to properties across from the beach, then farther away from the water in Miami Beach, followed by downtown Miami, Coconut Grove and Coral Gables.

A fall newsletter from hospitality consulting firm HVS Miami suggests investors should consider looking beyond Miami-Dade to the Fort Lauderdale area, Florida Keys and West Palm Beach. While Broward has seen some investment, the volume is far less than its southern neighbor.

Other markets

“Statistics show that Miami is not the only hotel market in South Florida illustrating strong performance indicators,” the HVS report says. “Investors could benefit from widening their ‘gateway city myopia.’ ”

But for those who are set on Miami-Dade, Comess said, Miami Beach could start to get too pricey.

“The premium’s obviously on the beach, and that’s the first place everyone wants to be,” he said. “But as pricing gets ridiculous on the beach and exceeds peak levels, both guests and investors will start coming inland to find more attractive deals in terms of places to stay.”

Some of the most talked-about future projects are planned for the mainland, though specifics are far from clear. Genting Group, the Malaysian company that bought the Miami Herald building for $236 million last year, had initially said it planned a 5,000-room resort complex with a casino. But after state legislators failed to approve expanded gaming, the company has said it plans to scale the project down.

Swire Properties plans to include a 265-room hotel in its $1.05 billion Brickell CitiCentre project, and developer Craig Robins has said his $312 million vision for the Design District includes a hotel.

And the market is clamoring for more select-service hotels such as Courtyard by Marriott, said Ezra Katz, chairman of real estate investment banking firm Aztec Group. In Miami-Dade, at least two Aloft hotels from Starwood are on the books for early 2013, in the Brickell area and Doral.

The Miami International Airport area also has potential for future development, Katz said.

“It’s a very healthy market, and that airport generates a lot of traffic,” he said. “You may not get rich, but you won’t get poor.”

The South Florida hospitality industry, of course, is wary of boom-and-bust cycles after recovering from the impact of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and the recent worldwide recession. Industry players say there doesn’t appear to be a bubble in the making but warn about the unexpected.

Outside influence

Peter Zalewski, a principal with Bal Harbour-based consultancy Condo Vultures, said added inventory could be an initial drag on occupancy and pricing. And, he pointed out, hotels are especially vulnerable to outside events.

“We’re one international incident away from the whole scene changing,” he said.

In this post-recession phase, tourism boosters and visitors alike are enjoying the progress.

Interior designer Colette Anderson, visiting from the Atlanta area recently as part of the lodging conference held at the Fontainebleau, toured the new SLS with a group and “took 100,000 pictures.”

“It’s just quite fascinating that there’s a big construction boom down here in South Beach,” she said.

The constant redevelopment helps to keep interest fresh in Miami, especially as northerners are making their winter vacation plans, said Chanize Thorpe, editor of the Condé Nast site

“You’ve got these kind of classic hotels that are reinventing themselves,” she said. “I think that’s one of the reasons why people will continually be interested in what’s going on.”


Zaha Hadid commissioned to design Miami Skyscraper

The northern portion of the Biscayne Wall © Marc Averette via Wikipedia

The Miami Herald has just announced that will be designing her first skyscraper in the Western hemisphere in Miami: America’s Next Great Architectural City. The female powerhouse has been commissioned to transform a waterfront property, currently occupied by a BP Station at 1000 Biscayne Boulevard, predominantly into a residential high rise. The skyscraper will rise above the neighboring Museum Park and fill a void in the wall of towering condos, commonly referred to as the “Biscayne Wall”. Details of the design are expected to be released next year.

This news comes shortly after Zaha’s loss to Norman Foster in an intense competition to design New York City’s next high-profile office tower on 425 Park Avenue. You can watch the A-list architects battle it out here as they present their ideas to the jury.

As we reported last year, Zaha was also selected to design a Miami Beach parking garage at Collins Park, which was approved for construction by the Beach Historic Preservation Board last month.

Check out the preliminary renderings of the Collins Park garage, after the break…

Miami Beach parking garage at Collins Park © ZHA
Miami Beach parking garage at Collins Park © ZHA
Miami Beach parking garage at Collins Park © ZHA
-Vincent JohnsonLos Angeles, California

Vincent Johnson is an artist and writer in Los Angeles

Vincent Johnson’s New Abstract Paintings: The Cosmos suite (2012)

Golden Dream (2012), part of the Cosmos Suite of paintings by Vincent Johnson

California Toilet, Filthy Light Switch (2010) by Vincent Johnson. Archival Epson print (Private Collection, Miami, Florida). I provided this image as I realized its clear similarity to Golden Dream, which I completed a week ago in my studio in Los Angeles.

Two at Night (2012) from the Cosmos suite of paintings, Oil on canvas, 30×40 inches

Cosmos. Oil on canvas  2012 by Vincent Johnson

Cosmos Red Yellow Green. Oil on canvas 2012 by Vincent Johnson

Green God. Oil on canvas 2012 by Vincent Johnson

This new painting series is part of my ongoing exploration of painting materials and techniques from the history of painting. The works combine knowledge of painting practices of both abstract and representation paintings. The works concern themselves purely with the visual power that paintings can do through the manipulation of paint. Some of the underpaintings are allowed to dry for months; some of those are built dark to light, others light to dark. None are made in a single setting. Most are worked and reworked using studio materials. Each new series takes a different approach to the painted surface from how the paint is applied, to varying the painting mediums. This suite concerns itself with the layering of paint by building up the surface and altering and reworking the wet paint with studio tools.

Two larger paintings will be completed and photographed on Sunday, July 15, 2012 and posted here.

Vincent Johnson, Grayscale painting: The Storm (2012). Oil on canvas, 30×40 inches, created in studio in Los Angeles, California

Vincent Johnson, Grayscale painting, Snow White/White Snow (2012). Oil on canvas, 30×40 inches, created in studio in Los Angeles

Vincent Johnson is an artist and writer in Los Angeles

Vincent Johnson, Nine Grayscale Paintings, Beacon Arts Center, Los Angeles, (2001). Oil on canvas. Each panel is 20×24 inches.
photograph of silver paint on my hands in studio, Los Angeles, during the creation of Nine Grayscale paintings.
Vincent Johnson – in Los Angeles studio working on Nine Grayscale Paintings, 2011

Vincent Johnson

Los Angeles, California

Vincent Johnson received his MFA in Fine Art Painting from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California 1997 and his BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He is a 2005 Creative Capital Grantee, and was selected for the Baum: An Emerging American Photographer’s Award in 2004 and for the New Museum of Contemporary Arts Aldrich Art Award in 2007 and for the Art Matters grant in 2008, and in 2009 for the Foundation for Contemporary Art Fellowship, Los Angeles. In 2010 he was named a United States Artists project artist. His work has been reviewed in ArtForum, The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, Art in America, Art Slant and many other publications. His photographic works were most recently shown in the inaugural Pulse Fair Los Angeles. His most recent paintings were shown at the Beacon Arts Center in Los Angeles.

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