With between 13 and 16 art fairs plus a hundred or so independent curatorial projects, group shows, parades, concerts, parties, and prayer meetings all going on this week in Miami it was impossible to see everything under the south Florida sun. But I, with notebook, a few double shots of espresso, pen and cab cash in hand got around to as much as I could in the little time I had. Here's what I liked:
Art Basel Miami Beach
I went to the opening night preview at the Miami Convention Center and was bowled over. There were over 180 exhibitors at this, the most prestigious of the art fairs, but most of it was not my cup of tea. There were alot of blue chip secondary market dealers who filled the place with boring expensive swag. $30 million Picasso of Dora Maar anyone? Yeah, I didn't think so.
The Art Nova booths that surrounded the perimeter promised some exciting young work but fell flat for the most part too. The fake tits and even faker tans on the super rich cougars made for some interesting people watching especially when you added in the Pig Roast/Karl Marx effigy burning. Watching a pig made to look like the father of communist thought with his defeated, flaming face being feasted on by diamond-encrusted fingers and artificially whitened teeth was at once an utter delight and complete horror to witness in the land of Jeb.
V.I.T.R.I.O.L. the lead man of black metal/grind core duo Anaal Nathrakh, in a recent issue of Decibel magazine, while fending off an interviewers inquiry's about the authenticity of the role misanthropy plays in his worldview vs. the forming of AN's dark sound was asked what would happen to Anaal Nathrakh's bad attitude if he were given unlimited power. His answer: "There is a very real sense in which the most misanthropic thing of all would be to do nothing."
Enter Gavin Brown's Enterprise booth: It was incredible. There were no blast beats, roaring guitars, and cookie monster vocals but there was a whole lot of nothing happening in the presence of unlimited power. Brown got a huge corner plot and left it totally empty except for a bench in one corner and a cigarette package on the end of a fishing line that was being lazily drug about by some kind of slowly rotating machine attached to the rafters in the middle.
Hardly misanthropic, what appeared to be a middle finger to the ravenous cha-chingery going on all around was reported to have sold for $160k… Twice… "Snarl, crunch. Mmmm…This Karl Marx pig is delicious," went the cougars. "Honey Roasted?", "Yes, Mmmm...", "Can you had me my wallet? I need to wipe my mouth with cash."
I'll let you intelligent crowndozen readers decide what is true or false above. Since my mind melted way too soon after arriving I won't go on about this behemoth anymore but Walter Robinson has a comprehensive report at artnet.com.NADA (New Art Dealers Alliance) Fair
Mostly a continuation of the wispy, mind over matter immaterial horseshit on display at the Art Nova booths in Miami Basel, NADA thankfully had more to offer the down to earth and picture hungry, despite annoying stench of elitism.
Oliver Kamm/5BE GalleryAndrew Sexton had a great drawing that looked like a skilled high school student's version of a Boston album cover with his last name used as the "band" name. When I talked to the friendly and approachable Oliver Kamm about the virtues of it's accessible rock and roll influenced tropes he quickly insisted the allegories and conceptual framework made for work that is much loftier than mere mereness. How dare I assume a Yale MFA make art than is only well crafted, clever and cool.Ingalls and Associates
The video pieces "Mutropolis" and "The Invisible Man" by Charles Huntley Nelson were enthralling, well produced, down tempo music video style examinations of racial identity and self consciousness. Julie Kahn had a really cool video called "Mobius" in which different types of lawn grooming equipment played a humorous role in a dancing investigation of human interaction.
KS ArtJeff Davis's waxen melty head candles were psyche-o-gothically wicked. While Thurston "Sonic Youth" Moore had some cool collages that paid homage to various musical royalty.
Most noted for his video work for Antony and the Johnsons. Glen Fogel usually uses antiquated film for moving picture work but here he showed a striking image of Mick Jagger with the eyes pinched out and replaced with a fuzzy glowing line of robins egg blue. Obviously a still from a recent video it revealed a Mick Jagger who looked like an emaciated black and white Incredible Hulk with a light saber blade emanating from his face.
Picture Box Inc.
This totally cool little book publisher had a cacophonously colorful display of artist's comics, small books, and cool knick-knacks. Trenton Doyle Hancock debuted his "Trenton Doyle Hancock Handbook", Paper Rad's "Trash Talking" DVD was there and Taylor McKimens "The Drips" Comic were among a lot of other great stuff for very cheap.
"Santa?" 'Yes Aaron.' "Can I have everything from Picture Box Inc. for Christmas instead of all that stuff I listed in the C12 gift guide?" 'If you're good Aaron.' "Ok Santa. Thanks."
BellwetherJanson Stegner's mannered painting of a woman cop in a rustic setting sensuously lazing about titled "Sarabande" made me rethink those disparaging things I said about folks who are turned on by people in uniforms.
White ColumnsWilliam Scott had some great socially conscious paintings among the too hip hipness that Matthew "Egghead" Higgs kept lurking around. I think he was trying to destroy me with his mutant mind wave emanating glasses so I had to go.
Seriously, Higgs has done a great job of contemporizing this venerable nonprofit. It makes being unrepresented and a part of their programming an ever more enticing place to start the long haul up the art career mountain. If only The Drawing Center, Artists Space, and Art In General would follow suit.
I always like Scope for it's young, raw edge. There are usually performative things going on in the hallways, exuberant young independent curatorial projects, more affordable art, wacky installations, and in short an air of whimsy and freedom amongst the myriad booths that make the other fairs seem like their trying too hard not to offend their shoppers. In the fun and sun of Miami this atmosphere definitely blossomed more so than in the New York versions I've seen the past few years. I always come away from this fair having found some really cool new work being represented by galleries I've never heard of. Scope Miami '06 was no exception.
Charlie Smith LondonGavin Nolan had some weird large oil portraits that borrowed the painterly blur of Francis Bacon to create a Chuck Palahniuk-esque view of their subjects. While James Unsworth had some dark, Paper Rad influenced pieces that drew me in for a second look.
Michael Scoggins is the man. Having work at this point in his career at Art Basel (Diana Lowenstein), Pulse (Freight and Volume), and Scope (Saltworks Gallery) is no small feat but take a look at his fun, idiosyncratic, large scale reproductions of childhood school papers and notebook drawings and you'll understand. He didn't disappoint with some of the new Patriot Letters pieces Saltworks had on view at their booth. Iona Rozeal Brown's Afro-Asian themed work was more than skin deep too.
Sigga Bjorg Sigurðardóttir's work was a refreshing blend of Maurice Sendak and Matta.Locust Projects
Working with Tampa based robot artist Joe Griffith Negativland presented "Rightmightland" an animatronic Abraham Lincoln that gesticulated an outtakes track of the "voice of Abraham Lincoln" stolen from Disneyland that repeated "Right makes Might, Let us have faith that…Might makes Right…" etc. with an announcer coaching in between attempts. The press release says that Negativland is pleased to present "a forgotten milestone in the history of robotics." The paintings, Coke and Pepsi video were great too. I've loved Negativland since I was an acidheaded art school student so seeing this was awesome. Joe Griffith is a helluva nice guy too.
RareJohnson Foster had an entertaining new found object made sculpture on display at Rare's booth. The snake made of bike tires coming out of the back of it was a nice touch.
John Avelluto had a few interesting new video game and toy inspired pieces on display at this space I'd never heard of. One featured a demonic robot lopping off the head of some soccer player I'd never heard of. It had totally metal spikes coming out of one side. Other pieces looked like childlike takes on 8 bit Nintendo screens making them look like messy Johnson Foster influenced cory archangels if he stuck to images and objects.
Katherine Mulherin Contemporary Art Projects
Drue Langlois, formerly of the Royal Art Lodge had some awesome little handmade dolls and an amazing assortment of affordable little comic book influenced watercolors. Also on display were a couple of dense intaglio looking ink drawings by Oscar De Las Flores who was recently featured in Juxtapoz Magazine. Seth Scriver's new work deserves mentioning as well. Katherine Mulherin was a total sweety for taking the time to talk with me about these artists and their work despite my threadbare pockets. Thanks Katherine.
Daniel Davidson had some really awesome drawings and paintings on display at this funky little Richmond, Virginia space. I want to see more.
Pulse sports some older small and medium sized galleries who don't make the elitist cut at Art Basel or NADA but who are established enough to look down on the anarchic spirit of Scope. It is a polished, sensible, mid-sized fair now in it's second year with a lot of quality work on display.
Richard Heller Gallery
I love Richard Heller's eye for illustrative work. He shows Daniel Clowes, Former Royal Art Lodgers Neil Farber and Marcel Dzama, Lamar Petersen, Travis Millard, and a bunch of other great imagists. He's come to my attention in the last year through his presence at Art LA and Pulse.
Tops in his booth this time around were works by Brendan Monroe. Monroe's narratives appear to float from the hindquarters of Hayao Miyazaki like a chocolate cloud of chunky goodness. Check more of Brendan's work here.Feigen ContemporaryMegan Greene's white pencil and gouache on black works are elegant morbidities inspired by jewelry, lace and plant life. I dig 'em. Jennifer Coates had some new wickedly intricate, subtly colored landscape based abstractions that were completely enthralling. Small collage drawings by Edwina White carried small bits of retro class too.
Freight and Volume
As mentioned before Michael Scoggins is hittin' it hard. He showed more cool shit here. Fun word paintings by Erik Den Breejen that sported phrases like "If you don't like it then get the fuck out of my house." (inspired by music lyrics according to codirector Yasha Wallin) gave Scoggins a run for his money.
Sarah-Jo and Lisa had a booth packed with the best of their usual subjects. A small painting of a weird monkey by Laurie Hogan caught my eye though.
Carrie SecristGuy Limone had a string of his signature tiny plastic figures going from floor to ceiling in Carrie Secrist's booth. They became more colorful at roughly human viewing height. I felt like a giant looking at them.
Virgil De Voldere GalleryNicholas Touron's work looked like instruction manuals made by Inka Essenhigh if she were still painting in her super-graphic style.
DCKT ContemporaryExene Cervenka of famed LA punk band X makes cool collages. Who knew?
PostmastersGiant VHS Video Cassette anyone? David Herbert made one just for you.
Pavel ZoubokHolli Schorno had some ultra tight collages made from mechanical illustration texts I couldn't get enough of. Aaron Noble's comic inspired abstraction's (featured in Beautiful Magazine) kicked ass too.
Perugi Arte ContemporaneaLaurina Paperina dominated this Italian Gallery's booth with cartoony cutouts and wall drawings that looked like something straight out of Adult Swim. Fausto Gilberti had some neato black and white ink drawings that had loads of musical references past and present while Jason McLean painted on saws, shoes, and baseballs to great effect. This was the most vibrant and wild booth in the whole fair.
Mark Moore GalleryTodd Herbert who also had some new work on display at Jack Shainman's booth surprised with his mixture of out of focus snowmen in the background and super delicately painted bubbles in the fore. Seeing these on the web doesn't do them justice. To get the bubbles you have to look at them in person. They are really beautifully detailed. Ali Smith had one of her remarkable pink abstractions on display as well.
One in the Other Contemporary
Luke Caulfield's photo realistic painting of a young guy in a Manowar T-Shirt throwing the devil horn hand signals gave a good indication of the current cultural relevance of both representational painting and the heavy metal world. It made this metal head painter feel right at home.
Lyons Weir Ortt Contemporary Art
Lyon's Weir showed some of Mark Newport's really clever, well wrought, embroidered comic book covers. Check out his hand made costumes while you're digging through the hyperlinks. Though they weren't on hand they are pretty great too.
This super cool Chicago dealer had 2 of Todd Pavlisko's images of Jesus made of pink and purple retail price fasteners. They were light, fun odes to the consumption happening all around. Alexa Horochoski's large sports car and couch like sculpture with bumpin' bass and hydraulics paid homage to car culture with metallic purple gloss paint and pinstriping. The plush rug underneath was a nice touch.
PPOW GalleryMala Iqbal had some cool new work that showed her mixture of muted grafitti-liscious moves with post apocalyptically colored landscapes. Walter Martin and Paloma Munoz's untitled c-print of a close up of one of their snow globes showed a glacier with tiny people being jarred or jumping off. It was quaint, evil fun.
AQUA ART MIAMI
This little art fair held at the Aqua Hotel in Miami Beach had the freshest vibe of all the art fairs I went to. The midsized rooms of the hotel played host to a small amount of marginalized galleries and independent curatorial projects that led to the most surprising discoveries of my whole trip. With a really cool breeze running through the place and a nice pool in the middle of it all Aqua was comfortable and spacious despite it's modest size and everyone was really welcoming and easygoing.
New Image Art
New Image Art had a cacophonous display of lowbrow heavies and unknowns from the left coast. Director Marsea Goldberg was totally cool.
This Chicago based gallery had some great little drawings by The Big Lebofsky. Eric Lebofsky that is. Wayne White had some of his funny word cutouts on hand too.
Keith Talent GalleryThe Fascist Fruit Boys sculptural installation by Shaun Doyle and Mally Mallinson is the nightmare everything in your refrigerator plays out while you sleep.
Bucket Rider Gallery
Chicago's Bucket Rider had some Cody Hudson skateboards in the bathroom that I couldn't stop looking at. Chris Uphues impressed with tight little pictures of ghosts and snowflakes on black. Their incredible detail and touch kept me fixated.
This Brooklyn space had some great new Amy Hill metal head paintings. I've been a fan of Amy's for years but hadn't seen anything new in a while. What a relief. I feared she'd stopped painting. Paul Kuhrman had some kick ass baseball cards embellished and/or vandalized with painting and drawing. I'd have a link to images somewhere on the web but nothing exists at this point. Ken Butler's homemade instruments were great, as were Edward Monovich's mixed media works.
Six Space GalleryRussell Nachtman stood out in this LA Gallery's room.
Other GallerySimon Hughes neat little mixed media works stood out because of their use of sparkly stickers.
Joshua Levine's highly polished wall mounted sculptures of mutated deerlike beasts fascinated me.
This Lower East Side space was a pleasant surprise to discover so far away from home. I guess I should start checking out more galleries around Canada, Maccaroni Inc. , Rivington Arms and the like. Pretty much everything they had was smart and the proprietor Sean Horton was completely cool.
Platform GalleryScott Fife's cardboard, glue and screw made heads of famous art and political figures are great. They look like they're made of dull sheet metal with the potential to be robotic. They would be even more amazing if they were but I'll settle for how well they capture the likeness of their subjects.
Lisa Boyle GalleryJeffrey Beebe's narrative watercolors had all the style and collectable mojo of a fastidious little indie comic. Tom Long rizzled my retizzles tizzoo.
Acuna Hansen Gallery
This LA gallery had a funny group of super small paintings of film stills focusing on Tom Cruise. Their deadpan simplicity made me chuckle. Turns out they were made by my old friend, brooklyn based artist and art professor, Mark Stockton. Good job Mark.
I haven't seen the work of Rob Matthew's since he was in the "Wagon's East" show at the now defunct King Fisher Projects back in 2004. It's nice to see he's getting weirder.
Bridge Art Fair
Held at the Catalina Hotel on Miami Beach it's hard to know where to fit this fair in on the art world credibility ladder. It suffered from a handful of whack galleries and cramped rooms some of which were stiflingly hot. There was still a smattering of cool stuff to see though.
This little Chicago space had some cool new works by my old diekasehause cohort Jeremiah Ketner who was manning their back corner space in the Catalina.
Jonathan Levine Gallery
The usual lowbrow suspects were on full view in Jonathan's room. Jonathan's publicist, the always friendly Debra Anderson, showed me a portfolio of Louis Cordero's small drawings that blew me away. If you think the zombie head we recently featured here on C12 was cool you should see what he can do on a flat plane with some marking sticks. P.S. What I saw are way better than what Levine has on that hyperlink and they were cheap (between $300 and $500) too.
Brooklyn's McCaig-Wells had some amazing new Amy Hill paintings. Like the metal head paintings I wrote about above these were tight little oil portraits in baroque frames but instead of the usual longhairs these were monsters that looked like devolved Mermen and Martians from '50's schlock films painted by Rembrandt's understudy. Wow. I want to see more.
Billy Shire Fine Art
This sturdy lowbrow king had a room filled with goodies from everyone you read about every month in Juxtapoz. The cheap drawing portfolio on the bed was pulling a huge crowd so I had to jet but Joe Sorren had a nice new painting.
Flow Miami Invitational Art Fair
I didn't like too much of what I saw at this tiny little fair but Jay Lehman from Morgan Lehman Gallery showed me some cool new work by Andrew Schoultz who just showed at Jonathan Levine Gallery. And he sold me a cool little black, oval patch that has "Prisoner of Art" written in pink on it for 5$.
Despite being in paradiselike weather conditions, my head, freshly melted from Miami Basel, exploded after seeing everything else in a day and half. So I got on an airplane and came back to New York where what was left of me instantly froze.
Extra Special Thanks to Wendy Olsoff, Penny Pilkington, and Jason Murison of PPOW Gallery for taking me down with them. This wouldn't have been possible without their help.