One of the funniest things about Miami Art Week, every year, is that people (myself included) act like going to a bunch of art shows is analogous to a tour in Afghanistan. I will excuse myself a LITTLE because I often drive back and forth between Miami and North Broward. Those who make that drive daily will tell you, it resembles a scene from a movie where people flee some disaster or alien invasion.
Even so, come on; it is looking at art not mining uranium.
The next time I complain feel free to throw this in MY face.
There are some truly magnificent pieces at various shows this year. But at a number of shows I kept walking up to things thinking they were "Mr. Brainwash" and sadly they weren't. Why in the name of all that is holy would anyone imitate that? In my opinion it is a JOKE, something created to make fun of the art business and collectors. You can pretend to be "in on it" if you like but you really aren't.
Unless you are actually Banksy, you are not.
I suppose when something makes money it repeats like burping up a bad burrito. It is a sort of art Nigerian scam. Remember when "Mr. Brainwash" rented the giant place on Miami Beach for years? Did ANYTHING sell? And if so what museum bought the piece with Darth Vader holding a can of fucking Dr. Pepper? And what is its current value? When all the details come about about Mr. Brainwash comes out some day; it may well not harm the value of those pieces. But the people imitating it? I suspect there will be depreciation.
This wasn't just one fair, although Context seemed practically DEDICATED to this development.
Usually you see a large number of Andy Warhol pieces but I saw fewer this year. Do not FEAR! There were still plenty of paintings and mixed media works that LOOKED like Warhol. Lots of celebrity pieces and many of them were SPARKLY!
Fuck 8th generation pop art. Fuck sparkly photos of celebrities. Fuck Star Wars or Disney character pieces and fuck you if you think any of that is interesting or ironic or hip or whatever bullshit you tell yourself so you can pretend you have a soul. Also Banksy/Mr Brainwash has run its course. Early on it was provocative and fun but it is all now a parody of a parody of a parody. It is a Pussy Riot concert at a Vladimir Putin re-election party.
Is this pandemic related? Or has everyone lost their damned mind?
That is the vast majority of humanity.
I mean they had miserable, horrible lives and tried to make some sense of it through the creative process and were despised despite their talent. The very institutions selling and supporting their work after their deaths would show a living artist LIKE them to the door POST HASTE should they have the temerity to show up. Perhaps calling after them "get back to us after you die!"
Recognize these sorts of artists now, while they live.
Some folks will point out that I wrote something about the Gee's Bend quilters at Art Basel. Yes, I did. But those were proud women who took control of their lives and work. Supporting that work supports the artists who are still there, still creating right NOW (more on this soon).
The coughing, maskless crowds remind me of Starbucks employees who have to put up with thoughtless customers. Some folks are willing to endanger others trying to make a bizarre point at some imagined intersection between medicine and politics. The employees (the artists and gallery owners) have to put up with the manner-less potential customers. I wasn't at many collector previews? But the word was that people were more polite and masked. Keep in mind. Most of the gallery people were masked but not all the fair employees were nor were the majority of fair attendees.
Most fairs made no effort whatsoever to enforce masks. Three of seven even asked for proof of vaccination and only one enforced masks, at least when I was there. There were a lot of reports talking about vaccination cards and enforced masks but ALL of those people went to previews, not the actual fairs. I am not knocking them for this. You cannot write a preview about the fair after it has opened. Even when I went to the previews, mask wearing was, at best, about the same as at a Publix.
First of all I saw some chickens behind the Ice Palace where NADA was held. I feel unlucky if I go to Miami and don't see wild chickens. Please don't sacrifice them. They are pretty. I literally watched one of the chickens thinking about crossing the road. It stood there. It looked back and forth at the traffic, ultimately deciding; “fuck it, I don’t really need to get to the other side.”
Not long before this, on the same busy street, I watched a young woman cross, against the lights, with cars coming from both directions. She never looked up from her cell phone. One day the chicken will be the dominant species.
Nada, as always, was a fun and interesting fair. Read more of my non ranting thoughts HERE.
Favorites from various fairs
There were no ridiculous publicity stunts that received wide coverage. In fact the things that WERE for publicity were fascinating and even for good causes. You could call THIS a publicity stunt but it is also just plain cool. The linked piece is from the Miami Herald and it is a wonderful story that happened at Art Miami. I did two pieces on Art Miami (one, two).
Then there were Untitled and Ink Miami which were both as good, if not better than usual.
Untitled held its opening the day before the other fairs which was smart. They were the only game in town and it gave people, gawkers and collectors, a chance to look at their leisure without worrying about getting to the next fair. All of that would have been for nothing if they hadn't had one of, if not the best, collections of art in the entire week. I did three pieces (one, two, three) on the show. It could have been more than that but some photos didn't come out. Untitled also wins in the category of set up. Their fair is always set up to avoid crowding and it has wonderful light, not just this year but EVERY year.
Ink Miami is held at the Dorchester Hotel and is free. They were the best about covid precautions of any fair and they also have the bonus of having pieces that are affordable scattered among the unaffordable (for most of us). You see pieces by Man Ray and then, in the next space, young artists starting out. This is always a fair to attend for quality and manageability.
Certainly there is a great deal that is gross about Art Week in Miami. The usual South Florida money grabs and faux celebrities desperately trying to be seen. The traffic sucks too but let’s be honest; all these things are endemic in South Florida. When was that idyllic time when there was no traffic on I-95?
The week is a rare opportunity for people who enjoy art and not because you might get a glimpse of a privately held Picasso. It is because you will get to see a significant number of artists who are not yet in museum collections but one day will be.