Saturday, December 08, 2018

Art Basel Miami Beach week: Saturday

The weather for Saturday was fantastic! And the aisles of Context Art Miami and its sister fair Art Miami were packed!

Wall to wall people.

Just as its larger companion piece did last year, my "Your Portrait in a Gallery of Portraits", which is an interactive video drawing that employs a hidden miniature camera to bring your image into the artwork, attracted a lot of attention and a lot of selfie photos.

The first celebrity sighting of the fair occurred when Professor Alan Dershowitz, who has taught law to more Presidents and Senators and Congressmen/women than all other law professors combined, dropped by the booth and ended up with a small lithograph of President Obama in his collection. "I voted for him!" he told me.

We then sold a nice tryptich by former DC area artist Amy Lin, who now lives in South Africa! It went to a local Miami private collector.

Amy Lin
The the following happened - and this has happened many, many times before, but never with the end result that I'm about to relate.

A very attractive lady and her equally pretty daughter came by and were quite taken with one of my "obsessive series" drawings - the one that I've always titled in some variation of "Suddenly she wasn't afraid any longer", and which depicts a figure - usually female - jumping into a void of white paper.

This work is charcoal and a little, tiny bit of watercolor on the body of the woman. Using the double encrypted "form" of writing that I've developed over the years and which marries Celtic Ogham and navy Falcon codes. On her back I've written in this code "No fear" and a double hand gesture for "freedom."

After I described the work, I could see that they quite liked it - but they walked away nonetheless.

A few minutes later, a young woman came by, became mesmerized by the work and bought it. I packed it and got it ready to be delivered the next day.

Half an hour later, the first two ladies returned, and were shocked to see that the work had been sold. Things became very emotional and the younger lady began crying.

It broke my heart! I've never seen anyone cry because they liked one of my pieces so much that they became emotional over the loss.

I consoled her and let her know that I could try and reproduce the work - after all, it is one my obsessive images. She would not be consoled and walked away in tears.

A while later, a bit calmer, she returned, and we began to discuss a possible commission, which we eventually agreed on - I then gave her a small lithograph that I had done in art school as a present.

There are lessons there for all kinds of things; more later when I produce the new work.

Tomorrow is the last day, and then the grueling dance of re-packing, re-loading and driving the work back begins...

Friday, December 07, 2018

Art Basel Miami Week: Friday!

Friday is usually the beginning of when the photo-takers and collectors begin to flow back and buy art.

A first happened yesterday and was closed today: We actually made an Artsy-aided sale!

Here's how it breaks down...

Last night, late into the night, as the beach wind whistled past my fifth floor windows at the Hollywood Towers in Hallandale Beach (or are we in Fort Lauderdale Beach?), I got an email from Artsy.
---- Please Respond Above This Line -----
Hi, I’m interested in purchasing this work immediately. I saw it at Art Basel this afternoon and fell in love with it. 
Please contact me at 561-XXX-XXXX as soon as possible so I may purchase it. 
Thank you So much!

About this collector:
XXXXXXX has been an Artsy member since December 2018.
This artwork is on view at CONTEXT Art Miami 2018 through Dec 9.

F. Lennox Campello
Daphne II, 2018 
Charcoal and Conte on Paper 

Contact For Price
This is an inquiry sent through Artsy regarding interest in the work “Daphne II” (2018) by F. Lennox Campello. Please respond to this inquiry by replying directly to this email.
And there was no scam here... it was the real thing - so this work was sold to a very nice lady from Boca Raton who first saw it at the fair, and emailed and image to her daughter, who then found it on Artsy's page on the Context Art Miami fair and contacted us to reserve it for her mother!

We also managed a nice sale of two of uberartist Michael Janis' scraffito works to a nice Villanova couple.

Saturday next...

Thursday, December 06, 2018

Art Basel Week: Day Three

Halfway there...

Traffic to Context Art Miami has been really good - it is clear that the management listened to last year's signage issues, and now visitors know how to get to and from Art Miami to Context Art Miami.

A BZ to the Art Miami management for that.

After almost a decade and a half of doing art fairs, my experience has been that most art fair managers think they know what's "best" and seldom listen to the feedback from the galleries, which they so furiously seek! Good examples of that has been the prodigious down spiral of Scope, Pulse and others...  and the same prodigious recovery of those same fairs - once they started listening to the constructive criticism and feedback.

How are sales?

I have no idea how other galleries are doing, but in the seven years that I have been doing this art fair, and the dozen+ years that we've been coming down to Miami for Art Basel week (#artbaselmiami), the triad of Friday, Saturday and Sunday is when the majority of the sales of art take place.

So far, we have sold a few works - including a cool Batman video piece from my "Naked Superheroes" series.

And lots of fair goers are still loving life as part of my interactive video piece Your Portrait in a Gallery of Portraits.

Anyway... today I sold a 2009 drawing, a recent Frida drawing and the Batman video piece... so feeling cool and OK.

Also yesterday I got a GIANT commission to do an interactive video piece for a new building in McLean (thanks Paula).

Erwin Timmers (co-founder of the Washington Glass School) also got a commission to "re-do" this piece, but with red glass instead of clear glass... cough, cough...

Decree 349

Chances are that readers have not heard about Decree 349.

The brutal Cuban dictatorship is often viewed in the mainstream American media through rose-colored glasses, and the atrocities committed over the decades that the Castro brothers' have been strangling the people of that once prosperous island, often ignored or dismissed.

Described by Amnesty International as “dystopian”, this "new" law, Decree 349, which was signed by the Castro hand-picked "president" Miguel Díaz-Canel in April, and was then published in Cuba’s Gazette newspaper in July, is expected to be ratified and signed into law this month by Díaz-Canel.

“Amnesty International is concerned that the recent arbitrary detentions of Cuban artists protesting Decree 349, as reported by Cuban independent media, are an ominous sign of things to come. We stand in solidarity with all independent artists in Cuba that are challenging the legitimacy of the decree and standing up for a space in which they can work freely without fear of reprisals.”

Amnesty International further notes that:

Under the decree, all artists, including collectives, musicians and performers, are prohibited from operating in public or private spaces without prior approval by the Ministry of Culture. Individuals or businesses that hire artists without the authorization can be sanctioned, and artists that work without prior approval can have their materials confiscated or be substantially fined. Under the new decree, the authorities also have the power to immediately suspend a performance and to propose the cancellation of the authorization granted to carry out the artistic activity. Such decisions can only be appealed before the same Ministry of Culture (Article 10); the decree does not provide an effective remedy to appeal such a decision before an independent body, including through the courts.
Amnesty International is concerned that the decree contains vague and overly broad restrictions on artistic expression. For example, it prohibits audiovisual materials that contain, among other things: “use of patriotic symbols that contravene current legislation” (Article 3a), “sexist, vulgar or obscene language” (Article 3d), and “any other (content) that violates the legal provisions that regulate the normal development of our society in cultural matters” (Article 3g). Furthermore, it makes it an offence to “commercialize books with content harmful to ethical and cultural values” (Article 4f).
It is already brutalizing Cuban artists; as reported in The Guardian, artist Tania Bruguera and others have already been arrested over this new law:

Bruguera, whose work currently fills the Turbine Hall at London’s Tate Modern, was taken by police from her home in the Cuban capital on Monday morning ahead of a planned demonstration outside the ministry of culture. Her fellow artists Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara and Yanelys Núñez Leyva were also picked up on the street by police on Monday and transported to the Vivac prison on the outskirts of Havana, a move that suggests they will be detained for a longer period. 

Bruguera was released within 24 hours but taken back into custody as she headed to the ministry of culture to protest. All three – along with fellow activists Amaury Pacheco and Michel Matos – have vowed to go on hunger strike.
Read the Amnesty International report here and The Guardian article here... as soon as I find this in the American press, I will link that as well, but don't hold your breath. 

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Art Basel Week: Open to the general public

The Context Art Miami art fair opened to the general public today, as the illuminati and VIP holders had their night last night. I arrived a little early and walked the fair... below are some of my faves so far:

The DMV's uberartist Tim Tate also knocks this technology into new dimensions... below are his works at Context, right next to a Banksy piece!

Rolf Ohst's works with Munich's Galerie Benjamin Eck also stands out, not just because of the artist's spectacular mastery of hyper realism, but also his subject matter of big, beautiful women.

David Kassan's portrait of Raya Kovensky also caught my eye - not just for the gace and elegance of the subject, and the mastery of the artist, but also by the oversized hands. Kassan has legendary skill, which is evident in this work.

Also at Gallert Henoch, I loved Eric Zener's Cradle - one can feel the power of this dive, and the spectacular blue punches the solar plexus of the mind as much as the diver's punch of the water surface.

Ten Contemporary was full of great work, but I was particularly taken by the sculptures of Max Leiva.

I've admired Scott Scheidly for a long time now... and he's really delivered some brilliant new paintings to this fair - with really good price points - As it has been the case for the last couple of years, the Trumpinator is all over the fair, the subject of many artists... but no one does DJT better than Scheidly... note the tiny hands.

The Galician mass murderer and suffocater of the Cuban people also makes an appearance in Scheidly's talented universe in a memorable new depiction of Castro.

More works by this brilliant artist, apparently obsessed by Republican presidents:

This gallery (Art Spoke) also has a series of outstanding and more intimate paintings by Scott Listfield, where an astronaut is the central figure in a series of somewhat unusual settings - The Trumpinator makes an appearance there as well.

I think that Spoke Art should really look at the work of DC area artist F. Lennox Campello - he would really fit in this stable of artists!

When I first saw the below sculpture from far, I thought it was a new work by the DMV's Mark Jenkins...

It wasn't...

I also liked these sculptures being showcased by Paris' Nil Gallery... no labels, so no idea who this artist is... there's a lesson there.

Opening time was getting close and I ran out of time in my walkthrough of Context, but not before I came across this painterly display of talent by Rafel Bestard from Catalonia's Galeria Contrast.

We are next to Miami's Projects Gallery, which is showcasing its "Janis Project", which has been to more cities than I can recall! Some really excellent work by Frank Hyder!

And here's the artist (Frank Hyder) with the "real" Janis... DMV uberartist Michael Janis!

More as time permits over the next few days...

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Art Basel Week: The Big Night!

The VIP opening took place tonight - started at a little bit before 4:30 for the illuminati, and at 4:30 for the "super" VIPs, and at 5:30 for the VIPs, which is essentially anyone in Miami with a relative showing at any of the many Art Basel week fairs in the very moist and warm Greater Miami area.

We showed up at out booth around 1PM, just to make sure all the loose ends were tightened up.

DMV uberartist Tim Vermeulen drove straight from the DMV and set up his wall on the second booth and all of a sudden, both booths were done!

And then the crowds arrived...

Including the "interesting" and "artsy" people in the crowd...

And there were a lot of photos being taken...

The opening night ended at 10PM, and after all those hours on our feet... and having seen and met many DMV area VIPs (such as uberartist Tim Tate, who is showing in several Miami art fairs this week)... multiple art dealers with sore feet headed to their temporary Miami rest places... the "real" fair opens tomorrow.

Eve shows up at auction

My drawing Eve, Agonizing Over the Sin, has appeared at auction! This is a 1998 charcoal on paper and one from my "obsessive" series of images.

See the lot and other photos here.

Monday, December 03, 2018

Art Basel week in Miami: Big day minus 1

Since we've done so much so far, and installations for Context Art Miami is moving forward well, today is a lazy start, and everyone hit the beach across from the hotel (Hollywood Beach) for a few hours in the sun.

By two o'clock, we're all back at work, installing work, labeling work, etc. Artists J. Jordan Bruns, jet-lagged and bleary-eyed, but smiling, arrives from Japan and begins to hang his work. A little later, New York painter Matthew Langley also arrives and begins the process - and it is a process which Langley has developed - to hang his grid of paintings - and the second booth begins to look good!

Across the aisle, LBK begins to unpack the pedestals and her work that goes on it.

Meanwhile Audrey Wilson is up on the ladder, laboriously adding the tedious and precise task of adding the artists' names to the walls.

A bit later, the fair director walks by, and let's me know that the names need to be removed, as the fair does not allow them.

Puzzled, I remind him that I had sent an email several weeks ago, asking if it was allowed, and had an email from the fair management telling me that it was OK to put artist names on the wall. It is his turn for him to look puzzled, and I tell him that I will find the email and send it to him.

I do this, and find him again - I let him know that I am willing to take the names down, if it is such a big deal, but I need to know now - rather than later, as Audrey is still up on a ladder putting names up.

A little later, Audrey finishes putting the names up.

Just after that we get the official notice that the names have to come down.

Audrey goes back up the ladder and names begin to come down and about $200 is wasted in the process.

Years ago I learned that one shouldn't waste time fuming over things which cannot be changed or controlled, so we move on.

But this isn't the biggest set back of the day.

Later that night, the box containing two of Wilson's three pieces at the fair, which she shipped from her school (Kent State) have arrived at the hotel, and Audrey unpacks them in her room, to get them ready to be hung on Tuesday.

To everyone's dismay, the pieces have been seriously damaged during the shipping process.

Like the professional that she is, Audrey hits the road looking for replacement parts for her complex piece, which marries electricity, found objects, cast glass, neon gas and blown glass.

She returns disappointed ("the hot shop sucks", she notes), but armed with some supplies and  soon her and LBK and furiously working on repairing one of the two pieces.

The two work late into the night, and the morning of Tuesday, to rebuild one of the two damaged works - the other will have to wait for a visit to a lighting warehouse in Miami on Tuesday.

Tomorrow DMV area painter Tim Vermeulen arrives, sets up his wall, and we should be ready for the VIP opening at 4:30 PM.

Goodbye sir!

When I was a Navy Lieutenant, and President Bush was the VP for Ronaldus Magnus, I had the honor to brief him. Afterwards I was pleasantly surprised to receive a hand-written note via guard mail (does any former Navy guys in FB remember guard mail?) thanking me for the brief. 

Bush was the last US President to serve in combat... fair winds and following seas Sir!

Sunday, December 02, 2018

Art Basel week in Miami: Big day minus 2

Today LBK and Audrey Wilson, the key elements of the Alida Anderson Art Projects team in Miami's "big dance" of the art world, woke up early and by 8AM were at the marshaling yard for the Art Miami and Context Art Miami fairs.

By the time I got there around 10AM, the artwork had been unloaded and delivered to our two spaces at C321 and C322.

Booth C321 at Context Art Fair - the beginning
Soon the unpacking and hanging of the work begins, and the two begin the time consuming task of installation!

Konopinski and Wilson installing Erwin Timmers' latest piece

A few, exhausting hours later - the booth (this is C322) is beginning to look quite a bit, almost ready...

Next is the art of putting the labels up. It wasn't that many years ago that foofy galleries would not put up any labels for artwork, as the idea being pushed was that true art was too special to be addressed or commodified by something as crass as a label that gives you the basic information of the piece (title, artist, media and price).

That has essentially become a thing of the past.

We headed back to the hotel room, except for LBK, who still had a lot of work to do with the artists from the Scope Art Fair, which she's assisting as well!

Saturday, December 01, 2018

Art Basel week in Miami: Big day minus 3

The art fair opens on Tuesday for the VIP preview and then on Wednesday to the public...'

Arrived today and relax ops for the day as the work starts tomorrow...