Hidden Gems of Miami’s Satellite Art Fairs
Because you can’t possibly see it all during fair week in Miami.
Here’s an obvious thesis for you: You can’t see it all during Miami fair week. With so much art on view, the default mode of viewing definitely becomes Internet-style scrolling-and-scanning. So as a service to our reader, while we were here we set out specifically to focus on things you somehow might miss on a quick first fly-through.
To that end, we homed in on a few satellite art fairs that are varied in their character: the indispensable “cool kids” fair, NADA; the venerable behemoth across the bay, Art Miami; the teeming Scope, heavy on Lowbrow and street art; and Untitled, looking (as you’d expect from its name) demure and rather preppy in its big tent by the sea.
Emily Mae Smith at Laurel Gitlen
Broom Life appears to be a portrait of the world’s most laid-back broom, anthropomorphized with wig and sunglasses, and chillin’ underneath the sun. There’s a backstory—it continues this artist’s series following the trouble-making broom from Fantasia—but really it’s just a memorably quirky image, and worth looking out for.
Brad Troemel at Tomorrow
The post-Internet poster boy is making progress translating all that buzz into memorable objects/events, here taking the form of a series of panels, shown suspended in the center of the space, that look like pastel-hued gradient abstractions—but are actually, on second glance, active ant farms with the insects toiling away inside an environment created out of a colored gooey substance. On third glance—by “glance” we mean asking the dealer—the whole thing opens onto an even more baroque artist-contrived scenario: each of the panels is named after a cluster of charities, and whichever one contains the most industrious insects gets a portion of the work’s sale price at fair’s end.
Jon Rafman in his hotel room
This is a hidden gem in a very real sense. You literally have to find Rafman—the Montreal-based artist whose web-based works have been breaking the internet since before it was cool to do that—in his hotel room (you’ll have to ask around NADA to find it). While you’re standing out on Rafman’s balcony, the artist straps you into a virtual reality headset, which plunges you into an exact simulation of the very hotel room you are standing in, only to have reality erode around you in an Inception-style finale. In terms of sheer coolness, this gets the gold.
Chitra Ganesh at Durham Press
It would be easy to miss the Brooklyn-based Ganesh’s prints along a corridor at the edge of Art Miami—but they are typically great. Titled “Architects of the Future,” the series continues Ganesh’s interest in imagery from the 1960s and ’70s that explore Indian mythology in comic-book form, and creates a kind of cosmic dream narrative.
Cornelia Schleime at Berlin Lounge c/o lvbg
In the fair’s Context section, and in this booth sponsored by a Berlin gallery association, you’ll find a real discovery: Schleime, born in East Germany, creates large, collage-style compositions out of material found in her own secret police file after the Berlin Wall came down, a quite literal melding of the personal and the political into art.
Saul Steinberg at Jonathan Novak Contemporary Art
Japanese Sunset, #16, a wry, lovely watercolor landscape with a lonely figure lost in its midst, from 1971, from the late artist most famous for the soft surrealism of his New Yorker cartoons.
Curtis Wehrfritz at Gallery on Wade
Wehrfritz uses laborious, vintage camera processes to create photos that are also real one-of-a-kind objects. A smallish work from his “The Lost Canoe” series—an empty canoe hovering on the water in a forsaken wilderness, rendered in dreamy black-and-white—suggests something mythic or a crime scene photo from another time and place.
Jorge Opazo at Pabellon 4
Comic references abound at the fairs (particularly this one), but this Chilean artist’s collages put them to refined ends, adopting pages of vintage comics and then blacking them out in regions, transforming the Pop images into odd formal non sequiturs.
Viktor Freso at Aureus Contemporary
The artist creates large paintings of zippy floral lattices, inspired by vintage wallpaper from the days of Communism in his native Slovakia. The fact that he’s painted them to take on strange new life when viewed through 3-D glasses seems like a bit of a gimmick, but is actually quite neat.
Peter Dreher at Koenig & Clinton
Dreher has been painting the same glass of water for decades, over and over again, in thousands of small, focused canvases. Viewed together, the subtle daily modulations of light in crystal become the real subject matter. It’s a bit like On Kawara, if On Kawara… painted the same glass of water for decades.
Deb Sokolow at Western Exhibitions
Sokolow’s booklet-style work, which spins a tall tale about Frank Lloyd Wright’s career-spanning battle with a secret society of secretaries, exudes puckish verve.
Peter Rostovsky at Kristen Lorello
Tucked away in the back of the booth is a spooky painting by the New York artist of a ripe full moon on a storm-swept night. It’s a neo-romantic riff that here feels like a blast of fresh, clarifying air amid Miami’s feverish fair frenzy.
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