Pop Culture Packs Powerful Punch at SCOPE Miami Beach

There is much to see beyond the flash and celebrity-infused work at SCOPE Miami Beach.

Marcos Amaro, "When Visual Guidance Isn't Enough." Courtesy of Stephen Smith.

If there’s a theme at SCOPE Miami Beach, it just might be pop—pop art, pop culture, popcorn: it all applies. With a playful spirit and Andy Warhol knockoffs and celebrity references abounding, one has to dig a little deeper at SCOPE, but there is still unique art to be found.

Leading the way, literally, is Brazilian artist Marcos Amaro, with a stunning installation of a plane crash greeting viewers at the entry. Presented by Andrea Rehder Gallery of São Paulo, the piece combines aircraft debris with a crystal chandelier and an orange tarp of the sort used by Brazilian military forces. It’s a work with layered meanings, referencing travel, the environment, and warfare.

Matthias Contzen, <em>Planet Om</em> (2016). Courtesy of Callan Contemporary.

Matthias Contzen, Planet Om (2016). Courtesy of Callan Contemporary.

Making its US debut is meticulously crafted marble sculpture by Matthias Contzen at New Orleans’s Callan Contemporary. Using power tools, the artist has hollowed out a marble sphere in an almost honeycombed network of openings. “Once you peek inside, there’s another whole universe being discovered,” gallery owner Borislava Callan told artnet News of the $78,000 work, titled Planet Om.

Our favorite moment of the fair, however, was found at the booth of London’s Lawrence Alkin Gallery, where British artist Lucy Sparrow has opened her own deli, stocked entirely with her signature fabric pieces.

Lucy Sparrow, <em>Sparrow's Deli</em> (2016). Courtesy of Alkin Gallery.

Lucy Sparrow, Sparrow’s Deli (2016). Courtesy of Alkin Gallery.

“I went to a Subway and took loads of pictures,” said Sparrow to artnet News of her preparations for the site-specific piece, which features everything from a bin of tiny pickle slices to a squeeze bottle of mayonnaise, plus a full array of assembled sandwiches. (A word to the wise, don’t show up hungry.)

Sparrow recently completed a Kickstarter project to bring a similar, bodega-themed installation to New York, where she showed earlier this year at the Affordable Art Fair. Due to space constraints, especially with another large-scale project in the hopper, she’s keen to sell the SCOPE work, which contains some 1,500 individual pieces and is priced at £30,000 ($37,500).

Chris Roberts-Antineau, <em>javelina</em>. Courtesy of Heron Arts.

Chris Roberts-Antineau, javelina. Courtesy of Heron Arts.

Another woman embracing the traditionally feminine art of sewing is Chris Roberts-Antieau at San Francisco’s Heron Arts. Her “thread paintings” are gorgeous tapestries with a folk art tinge, and are accompanied by taxidermic animal heads outfitted in embroidered fabric.

“She does this all by hand,” gallery owner Tova Lobatz assured artnet News.

Jan Huling, <em>Melek</em>. Courtesy of Duane Reed Gallery.

Jan Huling, Melek. Courtesy of Duane Reed Gallery.

Also putting the focus on craft is Jan Huling at Duane Reed Gallery in St. Louis, with her stunning beaded sculptures. She careful threads beads in colorful patterns, and then she glues them in careful rows on mannequin forms of animals, amid sparkling medallions. “It’s pretty tedious work,” a representative from the gallery told artnet News, but the results make it all worthwhile.

Meanwhile, at New York’s Michele Mariaud, work by Joan Salo referenced embroidery without involving fabric. His carefully drawn line paintings appear to be precise rows of thread, even on close examination.


Joan Sal, <em>Untitled</em> (2016). Courtesy of Michele Mariaud.

Joan Sal, Untitled (2016). Courtesy of Michele Mariaud.

Gallery owner Michele Mariaud was excited by the energy at the fair. “It’s very eclectic, and it’s not too snobby,” she said to artnet News. “It’s not so much about investment—it’s more about art.”

That’s good to keep in mind in between all the Donald Ducks and the Kate Mosses and emojis—and the Hitler clutching a stuffed animal paintings.

Arnix Wilnoudt, <em>The Tragedy of Lucretia</em>. Courtesy of McLoughlin Gallery.

Arnix Wilnoudt, The Tragedy of Lucretia. Courtesy of McLoughlin Gallery.

Sometimes the fair’s blinged-out aesthetic can get overwhelming, as with the $7,500 gumball machine full of glass diamonds, Diamonds Are Forever, presented by This Is Addictive at the booth of Lurie Gallery in Carmel.

A larger-than-life, hyperrealistic bust of Pablo Picasso, by Jamie Salmon at Anthony Brunelli Fine Arts of Binghamton, for instance, was downright unnerving. Although it had nothing on Arnix Wilnoudt‘s $96,000 equally lifelike, heartbreaking mermaid corpse, The Tragedy of Lucretia, at McLoughlin Gallery, San Francisco.

Knowledge Bennett, <em>8 Mao Trumps Red</em>. Courtesy of Sarah Cascone.

Knowledge Bennett, 8 Mao Trumps Red. Courtesy of Sarah Cascone.

Other times, though, the celebrity and pop art angle works, as with Knowledge Bennett‘s 8 Mao Trumps Red, a Warhol tribute that merges pop great’s iconic Mao Zedong silkscreen with Donald Trump’s sneering face. (The same image of the president-elect, in fact, that was appropriated by Deborah Kass for her own Warhol-inspired anti-Trump piece.)

At the booth Miami’s Macaya Gallery, it was the first Trump-related piece we spotted in the city, and it was surprisingly powerful.

Chris Roberts-Antineau, <em>John Wayne Gacy Murder House</em> (2016). Courtesy of Red Truck Gallery.

Chris Roberts-Antineau, John Wayne Gacy Murder House (2016). Courtesy of Red Truck Gallery.

A less expected reference was to serial killer John Wayne Gacy, in a disturbing piece also by Roberts-Antieau. A beautifully appointed dollhouse, the second in the artists’s “Murder Houses” series, is absolutely delightful until you look down and see the excavated cellar, full of skeletons, below the kitchen floor. Scar your children with it for just $26,000 at New Orleans’s Red Truck Gallery.

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