Thursday, January 07, 2010

MIA Day 2 - Set Up & VIP Night

0245 - I wake up, thinking that I've heard Little Junes crying. Even though I am exhausted, it takes me forever to go back to sleep.

0730 - I wake up half an hour before the alarm. After S-S-S (read yesterday's account to know what that means), I head out to MIA. On the way I stop over at a Cuban deli and buy some Cuban pastries to share with the Hyders. I end up eating my share on the drive to the Miami Beach Convention Center.

0930 - Arrive at MIA. It's $15 to park all day, but the parking lot is directly on the other side of Exhibit Hall A, which is where MIA takes place. It's a long assed walk and during the walk I discover that one should never wear brand new shoes to an art fair. Today I have to hang and prepare my booth, so I'm wearing jeans, but I've brought the suit and tie for later tonight, when the VIPs come. It's gonna be a long day, as the fair ends at 11PM.

0945 - My booth still doesn't have electricity, and I discover that I've forgotten my power drill, so I start hanging seven Tim Tate self contained videos using a screwdriver. I'm concerned because I can't test the videos until I get electricity into the booth. SO I start arranging the other work to be hung. As soon as I am finished, a floor cleaning crew shows up and wants to clean my booth's floor. I remove all the work and wait while they steam clean the cement floor.

1015 - The cement floor is nice and clean, the booth's walls are freshly painted, and the work is all back in, spread out and ready to be hung. But no electricity. I begin to hang all of Tate's metal boxes components of his video work, and unpack Sandra Ramos, Cirenaica Moreira and Marta Maria Perez Bravo's work. A dozen long trips to the Hyder's van to store away the packing detritus follows.

1200 - All the Tate's metal wall boxes are hung, and the cardboard boxes containing the glass and video parts are aligned under them, on the floor, like soldiers itching to join a war. But there's no electricity.

1225 - I hang Michael Janis' heavy-assed "Lovers" in a few minutes, then spend a friggin' hour aligning and hanging his four smaller pieces. But at the end it looks good.

1230 - The sculpture floor stands arrive, and I open the FEDEX shipment box containing Erwin Timmers' two sculptures. When I open the box, they are both broken.

1330 - I've hung Ramos and Moreira, and the electrician arrives! I then hang my own work last.

1400 - I've got electrical power, so I begin the process of testing and then hanging the video components of Tate's seven sculptures.

1640 - Tate is done being tested and hung; it all works fine and even the digital projector has been set and is projecting Ophelia video onto the wall.

1700 - The electrician (a really nice guy) finishes my booth and now I have lights. I am sweaty and my feet are killing me.

1715 - I borrow a ladder and put up artists' names and adjust the lights, managing to cook some hands in the process.

1730 - I head for the bathrooms with a suit and a cordless shaver. I emerge a few minutes later as "Mr. Art Dealer," all clean and slick. The digital video player has ceased to work and 30 minutes of fiddling by me and my neighbor yield zip results. This means that I can't project videos onto the wall; my master plan for attracting moths to the light. Great...

1800 - The fair starts and I realize I don't have any "merchandise removal passes" which is the piece of paper given when you sell something so that the client can take it with them. Someone points out to me that my front wall is unlit, and I realize that the electrician forgot to install one key light fixture. I rush to the office to see what can be done. Result: That front part of the booth will be dark tonight, but at least I've got plenty of sales exit forms.

1900 - Slow, some family members who live in Miami show up. My cousin Estrellita, a high powered "green" lawyer buys one of my drawings. Even though it is VIP night, unlike other fairs, there's no free booze or food anywhere to be found. I realize that I haven't had a drink of water all day and that my lips are parched. I pay $4 for a bottle of water.

1905 - Prof. Chawky Frenn comes by with a few friends and we chat a little.

2000 - Women in Miami really like to wear those spiky boots, I notice. Because there's no free booze, the crowds are lethargic.

2050 - More work sold: more of my drawings and a cool Ann Plant glass landscape. The client who buys the Plant also buys one of my drawings. And he knows about the WPA Auction and Mera Rubell's part in it (have the Miami papers done a story???). He also asks if I was one of Mera Rubell's "sweet 16." I launch into my Rubell story. I talk him into flying to DC for the WPA Auction after I show him online the piece that Rubell selectd. As usual, the Tate videos attract a lot of attention. I almost sell Janis' "Lovers" but can't close the deal.

2100 - A husband and wife couple who are on the Collectors' Committee for the Miami Art Museum come to check out the Sandra Ramos work - they love one of her collages, but ask for a card and then leave. A while later they return with a local art dealer, who also has a booth at MIA. He gives the piece a good endorsement. Then the husband backs into the pedestal holding one of Ann Plant's sculptures and knocks it down on the floor, where the glass piece shatters into a million pieces. A hush envelops the floor. It looks like the poor old guy is about to have a heart attack. It's a $500 piece (thank God only $500). They apologize; no one offers to pay for the broken artwork. The guy looks really frail and I'm really nice to him because I don't want him to stress out any more. The client who bought the other Plan piece returns and he almost breaks into tears when he sees the demolished piece. "Iwanted that!" he cries to the couple. I wrap it up and give it to him. He now owns two Plants. The museum couple tell me that they're really interested in the Ramos, but then they leave again.

2215 - I notice that a glass of champagne costs the same as a bottle of water. Weird... And my new shoes are killing my feet.

2300 - VIP night over. Tomorrow the show opens to the public. And tomorrow I am bringing food and water. I've never been to an art fair where the exhibitors don't get any refreshments.

2315 - I walk the long-assed walk to the parking lot and drive back to Little Havana. Once I get there I realize that I've forgotten to call my wife and that I've left my suit bag back in the booth with my shaver.

2355 - My new shoes are off my wounded feet and I am heading to bed, but I start to write this post. My cousin has filled the fridge with beer; is he a mensch or what?

2359 - Blog updated with this post. I am exhausted but OK. Tomorrow the show opens to the public at noon. It would be nice to make enough sales on opening day to cover costs.


ambermaida said...

Fascinating account of day 1 at MIA. I was reading this and reliving my set up experience at Art Expo NY 2009... Also had on new shoes, forgot a ladder and barely stayed hydrated. Best wishes!

The Right Reverend James W. Bailey said...


I read this and couldn't help but think that Lady GaGa probably did less than you did on the same day and had 53 assistants to help her do it.

"Weird...And my new shoes are killing my feet." which point Lady GaGa would have simply snapped her fingers, thus ordering her 10 shoe assistants begin massaging her toes - one assistant per toe.

One day the easy life of an art star will catch up with that of a pop star.