My Alaskan background has influenced my perspective toward art and that fact revealed itself in a dramatic way as I meandered the halls and exhibits of Art Basel/Miami Beach, Design Miami and Art Miami/Context recently.  It is my intention to share an overview of these exciting events as well as my perspective as an average layman, untrained in matters of art.  Perhaps some of my readers will be inspired and challenged to rediscover their own imaginations as I have!


I noticed stark contrasts between my ideas of art and those of others, as you can see in the photos of the crystal moose above from the show (Courtesy of Art Basel) and the furry one below from my personal photo library.  Both caught my attention and warranted a closer look.  I have decided I like them both!


For many years I beheld the real, living animal in its wild habitat, a creative expression of both beauty and raw strength.  Recently, I stood before the massive crystal “re-imagining” of a moose at the Miami Beach Convention Center.  Funny as it may seem, this is the Christmas season and I kept thinking, what a great Christmas ornament!  This is a magnificent rendition and there were many enthusiastic viewers.  I am unsure where to place such an ornament, however, should I purchase it.

Art certainly seems to be a matter of personal perspective.  Here is another example of differing perspectives to compare:  First, from the artist, oil on canvas flying parrots, from AJLart Gallery, Berlin, (courtesy of Art Basel):


Then compare it with a flying American bald eagle photograph from my personal album.  Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so they say, and I need no art credentials to admit that both are magnificent.  The flock of parrots are imaginable and swift-appearing, yet I think I prefer the one, strong bird.

Eagle flying


Next, a landscape from my personal album, a red sky in Seward, Alaska.  Below, a glowing night scene.  (general view, Galerie Nordenhake, Berlin; courtesy of Art Basel).


I hope I have persuaded you to consider (and expand?) your own creative expression, so let’s move on to the greater story beginning with Art Miami, below is a general view courtesy of Art Basel.



Did someone say, “wear comfortable shoes?”   In the Wynwood/Midtown area of downtown Miami, a parallel event to Art Basel Miami Beach was drawing great attention.  Large outdoor tents contained aisle upon aisle of exhibition art that ranged from small and delicate to massive and irreverent.

Art Miami kicked off the opening day of Art Week with a much anticipated debut of BANKSY Out of CONTEXT.  Banksy, a satirical graffiti artist, debuted five wall reliefs featuring the artist’s stencils.  Art Miami worked in conjunction with new photo-sharing platform I PXL U for its inaugural edition of CONTEXT Art Miami, bringing the wall reliefs which weighed six-and-a-half tons.  This artist doesn’t travel light!  Below from Banksy, (courtesy of Art Miami). 


Wall graffiti is part of our contemporary culture and cannot be denied, though not all can be considered art with material value in my opinion. Much about our generation and social message are manifested on walls.  Someday archaeologists will dig up graffiti depictions from our day and work to discover the social threads of our time. Decisions will be made about how we lived and related to one another. Let’s hope they have a sense of humor!

Art Miami is the city’s premier fair, the original and longest running contemporary art fair in Miami. This year it showcased art from more than 125 of the most prestigious international art galleries

Below, a new favorite of mine from Banksy, “FLAG”, 2007, screen print on gold Formica (courtesy of Art Miami).  You may rightly conclude that I am now a Banksy fan, though I am still trying to identify the car model.  Perhaps we shouldn’t analyze art too much?


On display and for sale was a rare treat from the past that I really appreciated.  This oil on canvas is entitled Coco an Ruban Rose by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, 1841-1919.  It was available for purchase for $2,200,000 and presented by the San Porter Fine Art Gallery, Great Neck, New York.  (courtesy of Art Miami I think the price is just a bit high for my budget! 



Back at Miami Beach, the press gathered in the Convention Center for the opening media reception where a number of dignitaries, instrumental in bringing Art Basel/Miami Beach to this opening moment, prepared to share their thoughts and excitement.  Left to right (at the podium) is Mayor of Miami Beach, Matti Herrera Bower; Norman Braman, Chairman, Art Basel Miami Beach Host Committee; Guy Morin, President of the Government of the Canton of Basel-Stadt; and, Marc Spiegler, director of Art Basel (Co-director, Annette Schonholzer, not shown here.)


This year’s edition featured 257 leading international galleries with work ranging from the Modern period of the early 20th century to the most contemporary.  More than 680 galleries competed to participate.  Selections from 31 countries across 5 continents were presented with about 50 percent of the galleries coming from the U.S. and Latin America.  (statistics courtesy of Art Basel)

A captivating piece caught my attention early in my tour presented by Kujke Gallery, Seoul, and Tina Kim Gallery, New York. (courtesy, Art Basel)  This piece thoroughly stimulated my imagination and prepared my senses for the rest of the offerings. Perhaps this is what a layman like myself needs in order to better appreciate art in general.  Sparkle.  This is much more impressive in person than in a photo.


Below, a general view below, Hirschl & Adler Modern, New York:  (courtesy Art Basel)  The detail of the sculpture of the dogs is incredible.


Calling all Starbucks lovers!  Here is a unique art piece made of acrylic and mixed media on a cuckoo clock.  Add this to your art or clock collection, presented by Jani Leinonen, “Starbucks Cuckoo”.  (courtesy of Art Basel).  How much coffee must a person drink before coming up with this idea?



If a work of art doesn’t make logical sense to a common man (or woman), perhaps it will speak of harmony or color, conflict and movement.  Hey, I think I’m learning something here!  Consider this offering below from Gering and Lopez Gallery.  (courtesy of Art Basel).  I found it fun and colorful and thought-provoking.  Probably, that was the artist’s intention!  What amazed me in this piece was that each item was painted individually.  Then another would overlap it, and then another and another.  The artist had to know from the very beginning what the final picture would look like—and then paint it backwards!


Perhaps you are an animal lover.  Here is a remarkable creation from Petah Coyne, UNTITLED #1375, (No Reason Except Love), of taxidermy peacocks presented by Galerie Lelong.  (photo courtesy Art BaselAnd yes, the birds are (were) real!



Every morning before the exhibits opened various open forums were held to give the public the opportunity of listening in and responding to the thoughts of art experts as they considered various topics.  Rethinking the Encyclopedic Museum was the topic this day among an engaging trio of art thinkers:  Thomas P. Campbell, Director and CEO, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Michael Govan, CEO and Wallis Annenberg Director, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles; and, Moderator, Andras Szanto, Author and Consultant to Arts and Philanthropic Organizations, New York.  (L-R: Szanto, Govan, Campbell)



Film and video works by today’s most exciting artists were featured at the Convention Center and outdoors in SoundScape Park on the massive projection wall of the New World Center.  The program spotlighted both emerging and established artists from Latin America, Asia, the United States and more.  Seen below are art selection viewing pods within the Convention Center.




In collaboration with the Bass Museum of Art, Collins Park in Miami Beach was transformed into an outdoor exhibition with large-scale sculpture, video, installation and live performance known as Art Public.  Passers-by had the pleasure of freely viewing and enjoying the event.  Even the air space above Miami Beach became the stage for skyline art and messaging.  Each day a marriage proposal was broadcast by an airplane banner! (photos courtesy of Art Basel)


This day was a beautiful sunny one, the perfect way to appreciate the sculptures in the natural setting.  Above, cast aluminum and white enamel by Ugo Rondinone, presented by Gladstone Gallery.  Below, from artist Mark Hagen, (“To Be Titled, Additive Sculpture, Miami Screen”), a work created from cement and stainless steel, presented by Almine Rech Gallery, Paris.  (photos courtesy Art Basel))


Below, painted aluminum of “Twin Vortexes” by Alice Aycock, presented by Galerie Thomas Schulte and Fredric Snitzer Gallery, New York.  (photo courtesy Art Basel)I must admit, this one stimulates my curiosity and makes me think of a number of things such as the curly metal band that unwraps to open a can of ham.  Ah, the good old days before plastic…



Running parallel with Art Basel/Miami Beach, the tents of DESIGN MIAMI filled space on the Miami Beach Convention Center grounds adjacent to Art Basel offering a global opportunity for designers, collectors, curators and critics to come together.  The design of the entrance set the stage for what lay within.  Intriguing!  I didn’t even make it inside the door before snapping these photos, courtesy of Art Basel and Design Miami.


Creative designs in jewelry from various collections were on hand for viewing, such as this collection of Louise Nevelson, Russia, 1899, presented by Didier Ltd., London, (courtesy of Art Basel)


Below, collections of (left) Salvador Dali and (right) Pablo Picasso. (courtesy of Art Basel)



Above, this red desk is presented by Galleria Rossella Colombari, Milan.  I love this desk!  Below, Galerie Jacques Lacoste, Paris, general view.  Cozy and quaint, isn’t it? (photos courtesy of Art Basel)



ZSOLNAY, Genie Bottle, C.1898, Porceline. (Porcelain).  Where’s Aladdin when you need him?


A general view, porcelain vases presented by Jason Jacques Inc., New York. (courtesy of Art Basel)

My tour of the larger fairs of Miami’s Art Week took me on a full journey into the minds of creative artists, even causing me to question how I think about form, color and texture.  The multiple-fair event offers more than any writer can cover comprehensively in one piece.  The experience taught me much about art, certainly, but especially about the artists themselves.  I realized that I have “art” within me as well.  It seems we are all seeking ways to express to the world the things that matter to us and ways to define who we are.  Some do it with graffiti; others with oil, some with metal or glass or furnishings and design.  I do it by writing.

This layman has been affected by Art Basel/Miami Beach and Art Miami/Context.  Officially, I think I just graduated from Imagination 101.  Can somebody please sketch that for me?

K. Martin, 12/13/2012

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