Art Week, with the “friend who came for dinner”*

Last year, I went a bit crazy and somehow had the energy to blog every day about our Art Week adventures. This year, with the anomie of nearly nine months of restrictions and reinstatement of restrictions life moves more slowly. Months ago, the anchor fair and the main draw – Art Basel Miami Beach – announced that it was canceling its 2020 edition. Art Miami/Context, the local yet very international version(s) followed suit and also canceled.

By this time last November, just before the Thanksgiving holiday, digital and sometimes physical mailboxes of art fair aficionados and followers were overflowing with announcements, offers, and enticements to attend. This year, more than a trickle has been filling my mailbox. Art fairs, museums, galleries, hotels, and more have ramped up to provide excellent experiences with contemporary art despite all of the uncertainty which we continue to wait through. All are in hopes that the usual collectors and dilettantes will attend, in-person or virtually. 

The New York Times headlined recently, that “the show goes on.” Here’s a sampling of this year’s fare. I’m sure I’ve not included all the varied activities:

Art Fairs. Art Miami/CONTEXT is virtual in 2020, their 31st year, on Artsy the largest and leading global online marketplace for fine art (Dec. 2-20). The on-line catalog (https://www.artsy.net/unsupported-browser) allows visitors to browse and, of course, acquire art directly from the 175 international galleries.

Untitled, ART enters its ninth year with online viewing rooms (Dec. 2-6) instead of the huge tent on the beach (https://untitledartfairs.com/). This year’s virtual edition is offering some interesting conversations with a focus on the Caribbean. Curating in the Caribbean (Dec. 3-4) organized with the Caribbean Art Initiative. Scope’s Immersive Miami Beach (https://scope-art.com/show/immersive-2020/visitor/) also takes visitors from a fair exhibited in a beach front tent to a virtual environment (Dec. 1-6).

Pinta Miami Live 2020 (https://www.pinta.art/) includes galleries from Latin America, US, and Europe and artworks from over 400 artists. They are also presenting private pop-up events during the week, and a series of conversations with collectors talking about contemporary art in Latin America among other programs.

Design Miami is the only live fair located this year in the historic Moore building, a former furniture showroom built in 1921, in Miami’s Design District. Arranged over four floors of the building, with a theme of “America(s),” ten galleries present work in a traditional fair booth format. The enormous sculpture by Zaha Hadid left over from Miami’s Institute of Contemporary Art residence in this space stretches over the atrium space.

Museums. The museums of the region are continuing their now eight month practice of virtual exhibits and programs. One of the newest museums on Miami’s scene is the Museum of Graffiti located in Wynwood, an area known for its proliferation of contemporary mural art. This “museum” is celebrating its 1st anniversary with shows by local artist Ahol Sniffs Glue (David Anasagasti) and New York’s graffiti pioneer, LA2 (Angel Ortiz). Another exhibit, in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, is featuring the work of over 30 South Florida graffiti artists and illustrators on denim jackets.

LA2 (Angel Ortiz), Wacky Robot

Hotel lobbies and poolside bungalows. In previous years, a number of hotels have been taken over by distinctive art fairs; their rooms transformed into individual gallery showrooms. Other hotels organized art exhibitions in their interior and exterior spaces to attract visitors and community members to increase the amount of art possible to absorb.

Notable among the latter are the Betsy and the Sagamore. Along with the exhibitions, the Sagamore has hosted an annual “be there, be seen,” Saturday morning brunch which grew in size from year to year. The brunch continues this year in a new format including social distancing and an upscale charge. Three curated exhibits of work by Miami artists will be displayed in the bungalows leading to their pool, “Everyone has a story to tell…” “The Gaze” and “The Sagamore Walls.”

Art Week at the Betsy* fills the two buildings of the hotel with displays of international artwork (https://www.thebetsyhotel.com/journal/art-basel-at-the-betsy) too numerous to list!

*More later about both of these hotel based exhibitions.

The Confidente Miami Beach hotel, located in Mid Beach is hosting an exhibit of art work by Salvador Dali. On show is a collection of works on paper and bronze sculptures including a 10-foot sculpture, Saint George and The Dragon. This exhibit remains on display through mid-January.

The City of Miami Beach is presenting, No Vacancy, a juried contemporary public art competition of ten artists in ten more of Miami Beach’s hotels (www.mbartsandculture.org/artweek). Participating hotels include Avalon, The Betsy, and Lenox Miami Beach; the entire exhibit is walkable.

Sbe, an international hospitality (hotel) group will drive art viewers from property to property for another progressive experience. Art Drive will transport viewers to six exhibits including murals and sculptures located in a number of South Beach’s hotels including the Shore Club, the Delano, the Redbury, at the Miami Beach Convention Center (our city’s premier COVID testing site), and The Bass, recently transformed into a contemporary art museum.

Our house is faced with a dilemma that centers on the choices of on-site visits available. The usual quandary of having much too much art to see on any given day is compounded by the “friend who came for dinner*” (COVID-19).What to do – attend select, in-person venues alongside hopefully socially-distanced people or remain home with the knowledge that we might be missing something!

Perhaps I’ll have some reports to share as the week goes on and we decide to venture out for a few art-filled excursions. In any case, we all hope there will be a next year.

*Our friend who came to dinner (https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0033874/) is the irascible grumpy guest (Monty Wooley) … We all know one. He has been replaced by COVID-19, unfortunately with much sadder results.

In the Design District

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