Thursday, January 5, 2012

Art Basel Satellite Fairs

From Art Miami to Scope to Zoom, alternative shows bring variety to Basel week

Art Basel Miami Beach can be described by several superlatives for its place in South Florida's art world: It's the biggest and most widely advertised art fair. It presents the most expensive works. And measured against other art events, it attracts the most collectors and gallerists.

Yet the main attraction at the Miami Beach Convention Center is just one of more than a dozen satellites spread across Miami Beach and Miami's Wynwood and Midtown neighborhoods that transform early December into an art bonanza.

Several vast, temporary tents spread through Midtown, which has become a can't-miss destination for the art crowds.

Celebrating its 10th year in Miami, contemporary Scope Miami moves back to Midtown this year - it had relocated to Wynwood in 2009 - in a 70,000-square-foot space for 62 galleries that range from local gems such as Miami's Spinello Gallery (showing interdisciplinary artist Agustina Woodgate, whose work investigates the relationship between childhood dreams and adult socialization) to newcomers such as Berlin's Dada Post, which is exhibiting internationally for the first time. There is also mainstay Christopher Genry Gallery from New York, which will feature work by Olek, a Polish-American artist known for her vast installations of fiber and crochet.

“It's great to be back in Midtown so we can have synergy with fairs such as Bridge and Art Asia,” says Scope director Mollie White. “We're also making use of the iPhone Collectrium application this year. You can take a picture of an image, and it recognizes that image and pulls up all the information on that artist and gallery.”

The geographically and culturally themed Art Asia, which shares Scope's tent, will host dozens of galleries from Asia, North America, Europe and the Middle East, including Shanghai's Feizi Gallery, which will present “Li Xin's Ecstasy,” an eye-popping mixed-media installation that depicts the life of a virtual human.

Miami's most venerable fair is Art Miami. Now in its 21st year, it will display works from 100 international galleries in a 100,000-square-foot Midtown space.

Across the causeway at the South Seas Hotel, a short walk from Art Basel Miami Beach, Zoom Contemporary Art Fair will also take an intimate, thematic approach, focusing on Middle Eastern art. Twenty exhibitors will showcase artists representing galleries and nonprofit organizations from 11 countries.

“Zoom changes its focus every year to highlight something. This year we wanted it to be what is happening in the Middle East,” says Sam Bardaouil, a member of the Fair’s selection committee. Artists include Khaled Hafez (Egypt), Shoja Azari (Iran), Zoulikha Bouabdella (Morocco), Nazif Topcuoglu (Turkey), Sara Rahbar (Iran) and Halim Al Karim (Iraq).

Zoom will have a linear format and will explore a theme of “the clash of the icons.”

“Art that's described as ‘Middle Eastern’ is no longer confined to calligraphy or images of veiled women,” Bardaouil says. “Contemporary art should not be seen through the lens of religious affiliation.”

About 45 blocks north of the convention center, the popular New Art Dealers Alliance (NADA) returns to the Deauville.

The fair, comprised entirely of nonprofit artists' organizations, is in its eighth year and includes a hip array of galleries from Miami's Twenty Twenty Projects and Bas Fisher Invitational to New York's 179 Canal and Le B.A.N.K of Paris.

“I'm also excited about The Hole from NYC run by Kathy Grayson [formerly at Deitch]. She's presenting an ‘arted’ living room where essentially everything is an art work,” says Heather Hubbs, NADA director. Hubbs says the overall booth design will be created by designer and architect Rafael de Cardenas, who also will oversee contributions from the artists, who include sculptor Robert Lazzarini, painter and graffitist Barry McGee and video artist Takeshi Murata.

Hubbs says the fair's 2009 move from a warehouse space in Miami to the hotel on the beach was a cost-saving measure that proved to be successful. NADA is teaming with nearby Canyon Ranch Hotel and Spa, where several gallerists are staying, to curate a sculpture garden by female artists during the fair.

While most of 2009's Basel satellites have returned, absent is Photo Miami, popular for its large-scale prints and creative photo displays. The fair was scheduled to return for a fifth year with the theme “The Lyrical and the Profane” and such artists as Penelope Umbrico, Fernando Montiel, Geraldo Montiel Klin and Els Vanden Meersch. But FOTOmarkt, the investment group that owns Photo Miami, canceled in late October, citing funding difficulties.

By Jaweed Kaleem

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