Welcome to Post #4
By now, all 20+ art fairs in Miami have already opened their doors to the public. Art Basel Week is in full motion and every gallery who is here will be trying to make money in the next few days. Everyone paid a hefty price to be here. The openings, parties, special events, VIP’s are all one big orchestrated parade to entice and entertain collectors. I find it amusing to watch the crowd come and go. Some come to shop, others to watch yet others have no idea why they are here, they just follow the crowd. There are also many artists in town scouting galleries, promoting their work and just checking out what is going on in the art market. Everyone here has a reason to be part of this week-long circus.
We will be attending our booth for eight hours each day. By Saturday, you kind of forget what day it is since you are talking to people all day long. Once the fairs kick in, I like to meet people who engage at some level with the art. Unfortunately, not many take the time because an art fair is a marketplace designed for quick consumption and not a cultural experience. A large percentage of the artwork in these fairs is shallow, superficial at every level, sleek, shinny, glittery, flashy and eye-candy but lacks substance beyond its pretty surface. Being in Miami is similar to my experience of buying cereal at a big supermarket. When I stand in the middle of the cereal isle, all I see is an endless parade of brands. Yet, despite the superficiality and banality of it all, one can still find people that are here to engage at some intellectual level and artwork that still remains current, engaging and challenging. Yes, there are still people who are buying what they love and not necessarily what is hot or fashionable. That to me is refreshing and exciting.
When visiting other fairs, I enjoy looking behind the main walls and in the less visible areas of each booth. There, I may find the best work of the fair. I love to be surprised by the works that don’t necessarily scream at you but rather quietly await to be discovered. Not everything that shines is worthy of praise.
Besides the obvious commercial goal of the art fairs, I come to Miami to network with other galleries and artists. I have met wonderful people here in past years who are genuine and have a similar take on this whole thing. I make a point of connecting with other galleries who I find compatible with mine in some level. My gallery and the artists I represent have beneficiated from collaborations I have established while at the fairs. It adds value to my efforts of being here. Also, I enjoy scouting for new artists. At the end, there are real people around here doing really interesting work and making real connections. It is not all about the big facade, unless you make it to be.
For now, I have to go back to work to my booth. The next three days will be a race to the finish line. I will post more details about it in my next posts.
I am enjoying this insider’s view of Miami Art Basel week. I can appreciate how much work goes into setting up your space, then dealing with dozens and dozens of people day after day. I also appreciate your critiques of shiny, glitzy, superficial art. I’m happy to see your work on the wall–good stuff! We met in Grand Rapids in April and you and your wife gave me a ride to Indiania. Your work is important. Keep it up.
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