Tuesday, November 29, 2011

And the openings begin: ABMB Day One

Tonight was the openings for Art Miami, Scope, Red Dot and some other fairs, and I had a chance to stroll through those three and chat with some gallerists and artists.

Over at the Art Miami press lounge, the buzz, from some journos and locals, other than the street trees being "decorated" in shirts and tops, was Art Basel's "contraction" or how ABMB had reduced the number of galleries at last year's ABMB.

"I'm not sure if this is was a result of the economy," said a savvy Miami art writer, "Or ABMB throwing a bone to the satellite fairs."

He must have seen the quizzical Klingonesque forehead expression in my face, because he expanded by adding that the economy seems to have had a profound impact on the number of galleries applying to the satellite art fairs, as more and more galleries stay home due to lackluster sales.

"I know of a local Miami gallerist who sold a million dollar painting at ABMB last year and this year he didn't get invited back," he postulated, "And so he went to the next best fair, Art Miami."

Heads nod. "And yet, ABMB week has a record 260 art galleries this year," someone says.

"What's the art fair food chain looking like this year?," I asked. By that I meant to ascertain as to which ones were the top fairs. Another journo chimed in and noted that she thought that after ABMB, Art Miami was the best satellite art fair, followed by Pulse and Scope.

Heads nod.

"But Scope is in a real down spiral," noted yet a third voice, this time belonging to a local artist whose gallery is at Art Miami. Several heads nodded in agreement looking like a Nirvana video.

"And Red Dot is surprisingly picking up former Scope galleries left and right," added the guy who had coined the term "contraction."

"Uh?... why is that?", I asked, recalling that one of my own dealers had turned down an invitation from Scope and chosen Red Dot.

"I'm going to check this out over the next few days," he expanded, "But I'm told that Red Dot more than doubled its size from last year and that a lot of 2010 Scope galleries are now showing at Red Dot, especially a lot of Asian galleries."

"Free booze and food at opening night..." commented a new voice.

While there is free booze (all kinds of wines, Herradura Tequila and Finlandia vodka non stop) and food (be ready to fight) at Red Dot's opening night, in my opinion there's also a huge change for the better over the last few years. In fact, I would opine that this is the best Red Dot that I've ever seen and I know that Scope now realizes that Red Dot is breathing down their neck when it comes to the art galleries' food chain... and Red Dot has food and booze... heh, heh...

The two fairs, next to each other, still have huge differences. Scope seems to be stuck a little in a presence and feel that was cool and popular when everything that hanged sold; that's a thing of the past. Red Dot booths hang a lot of artwork.

And while the minimalist look of the Scope galleries may still show a once cool approach to art fair presence, the lack of crowds and lack of red dots and alleged mass exodus to its neighboring art fair, where hanging is a bit more relaxed (read that a gallery can hang more artwork in their booths), plus the fact that this year's Red Dot's booths are quite a bit taller than usual (affording more vertical wall space), may reflect the realities of the new art fair world.

"I think the days when an art fair director could dictate to a gallery what artist to hang are rapidly coming to an end," opined a local art blogger.

"What about Art Miami?" I asked.

"Art Miami has become the second choice if a gallery can't get into ABMB" was the consensus opinion, and my own walk-thorough showed a highly sophisticated art fair with a very good blend of art galleries and a sharp, elegant presentation in most of them, with a clear and surprising lack of trendy art and more of a lean towards commodifiable artwork.

I haven't seen Pulse yet, thus I asked about Pulse.

"I think Pulse has learned the Scope lesson and is making an U-Turn on its brand," opined someone and heads nodded.

I Klingoned my forehead and the opiner expanded, "Pulse is doing a great job of still appearing cool and trendy while its galleries shift to more traditional artwork that can actually be sold... check out how all of a sudden realism is all over Pulse."

The next few days will tell... meanwhile, over at Scope, I had heard some good buzz over Trawick Prizewinner David Page's performance; he's there with Baltimore's Jordan Faye Contemporary. Page's unique work really stood out at Scope. A couple of other DMV are dealers are also at Scope: Hamiltonian, Civilian and first time Scoper Heiner Contemporary, who was showing the amazing work of (e)merge wunderkind Avery Lawrence plus Elizabeth Huey, David Kramer and Jon-Phillip Sheridan.

Heiner has one of the best looking art fair booths of all time, courtesy of Lawrence's familial wallpaper, part of his "Moving a Tree" project.

There are no DMV galleries in Red Dot or Art Miami, although AM has two Baltimore dealers in their roster.

Tomorrow the hot ticket is the opening party at Aqua, where yours truly has been busting his keister for the last two days preparing for tomorrow night's opening.

Celebrity sighting: Doctor Quinn Medicine Woman is two booths across from Norfolk's Mayer Fine Art! Jane Seymour's artwork dominates the booth of her gallerist, and paintings, watercolors and sculptures by the actress and artist, who was there tonight, all 85 pounds of her, dominate the booth. Her watercolors are by far her best work...


Andrew W said...

Knock 'em dead tonight Lenny!

art basel miami 2012 said...

I've been in Miami for 5 years and as being an art lover, I attended almost every art fair in Miami. Every time I got to see different art work of different people which is actually brought by some organizations in Miami art Basel's art events.