Paul Laster’s Art Basel Miami Diary & Photo Album: Day Three

Because we can’t all escape from our desks to enjoy 72-degree weather and international contemporary art, Flavorpill’s resident guru Paul Laster will be bringing you daily bold-face name littered updates and photos from Art Basel Miami all week. If you missed the first two installments, read them here and here.


The art world scoop from Day Three after the jump…

It’s not easy to roll out of bed early, especially after rolling in late the previous night, but when you have a chance to visit the art collection of Debra and Dennis Scholl, you jump. For the past ten years, the Scholl’s have invited gifted curators to select works from their collection and install them in their home, which is situated on an island with a beautiful view of the bay. In his introduction to this year’s selection, ICA Boston chief curator Nicholas Baume referenced Liberace’s mansion in Las Vegas as his inspiration for giving each room it s own thematic character. Highlights included Pipilotti Rist’s seductive Pickleporno video in the sitting room; Tara Donovan’s six-foot-square cube, made from accumulated straight pins, in the Florida room; and Jim Lambie’s striped, color-tape installation on the staircase.

Leaving the calmness of the Scholl’s home behind, we journeyed to the Rubell Family Collection, where the brunch reception for 30 Americans was in full swing. The 30 Americans on view in the massive two-story space are all African-Americans, and the show reveals the Rubell’s long-term commitment to artists of various generations — ranging from the recognized masters Jean Michel Basquiat, Robert Colescott, and David Hammons, to the emerging Mark Bradford, Wangechi Mutu, and Hank Willis Thomas, who had an impressive room full of photographs that commented on issues of identity in advertising. But it wasn’t just the engaging works on the walls that wowed viewers — the brunch itself stopped people in their tracks. Jennifer Rubell, known for her imaginative presentations, provided an enormous table with hundreds of open boxes of cereal, rows of coolers with normal and soy milk, a line of coffeemakers preparing java, and a cone-shaped pile of bananas on the floor.

Nearby in Wynwood was an exhibition of Detroit and Miami artists in the studio of Hernan Bas, a creative homeboy, who will have 2009 solo shows at the Brooklyn Museum and Lehman Maupin Gallery. Detroit photographer Nicola Kuperus showed photos of women caught in a number of precarious positions while Miami painter Jaie Hwang presented pencil drawings of wispy figures. A corner of the large studio held the Omni Shop, an offbeat boutique of objects, editions, and apparel by artist friends. One of the more twisted objects was a skeleton version of the classic flamingo yard ornament. After such an eventful morning, we were ready for a rest and headed back to the beach.

Three hours later, we hit our first event of the evening: a book signing party for Rachel Feinstein at Barneys Co-Op on Collins Avenue. Rachel’s hubby and renowned painter John Currin, P.S.1 curatorial adviser Neville Wakefield, and Art Production Fund’s Yvonne Force Villareal and Doreen Remen were there to fete the occasion, while photographers Sandra Hamburg and Mary Barone recorded the fleeting moment. Nearly everyone there made their way over to the Miami Art Museum for the Yinka Shonibare opening and the Interview magazine party, right next door. Shonibare exhibited several headless figures riding bicycles in Victorian outfits made from African fabrics. As striking as they were, they couldn’t compete with Jeff Koons’s silver inflatable bunny, which hovered above the plaza, compliments of Interview.

It was the same balloon that was featured in last year’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and we were told that it will be the last time it will be on public view. The magazine’s party drew a savvy crowd. MAM director chatted with Interview creative director Glenn O’Brien; Renee and I shared crazy stories with Angela Westwater about our friend, and her artist, wunderkind Wim Delvoye; and everyone gushed over artist Alex Katz and his wife and muse Ada (pictured here).

However, we soon tired of Downtown Miami and craved the action back at the beach. Before we could get there, we had to make a stop on Watson Island for Ai Weiwei’s outdoor installation of 100 large, blue porcelain bubbles. The reception was held in a waterfront pavilion, dynamically designed by Piero Lissoni. Our friends from Vernissage TV were filming the event and photographer Todd Eberle was snapping pictures for his Interview mag photo blog. We introduced them both to the colorfully dressed Russian performance artist Andrey Bartenev, who in turn introduced his stylish friend, Internet media producer Alexandra Lerman. We talked about art and life with New York Times art critic Benjamin Genocchio, Mary Boone director Ron Warren, and brand-creator Richard Pandiscio, and then got back on the road.

The next destination was the Raleigh Hotel for two affairs: the Visionaire party to launch the new Pop-Up issue in the Raleigh oasis and the after-party for Steven Soderbergh’s film Che in the Raleigh ballroom. The Visionaire celebration was over-the-top with scores of topless male models displaying pop-up pages from the issue and a fountain of giant glasses, seemingly overflowing with Krug champagne. DJs extraordinaire Andrew and Andrew spoke about their recent trip to North Korea for the mass festival, where huge crowds of people create different scenes and messages, and MoMa curator Christian Rattemeyer and Athens Biennale artistic director Cay Sophie Rabinowitz shared their thoughts on New Orleans’ current Prospect.1 biennial. Back in the hotel rocker Marilyn Manson, with an entourage in tow, raced past as I photographed mega-collectors Eli and Edythe Broad. Since the Che party was going to take some time to cook, we decided to hit the street, too. Just as we were about exit to the Raleigh, Benicio Del Toro, Steven Soderbergh, and a slew of other folks, fast on their heels, entered. We dove back in for one more glass of champagne and then grabbed a taxi to the Mondrian Hotel for Russell Simmons’s party.

The Mondrian, which just recently opened, is stunning. Dutch designer Marcel Wanders has transformed the one-time apartment building into a decorative wonderland. Russell’s party, co-hosted by Whitewall magazine and artist Mickalene Thomas, who is featured in the 30 Americans show, commanded the second floor terrace, where the views of the pool and the bay were breathtaking. Kehinde Wiley glowingly talked with Tony Shafrazi; Russell conferred with his music mogul-pal Lyor Cohen; and Fab Five Freddy just stayed cool as he was introduced to a bevy of new artists. Never really wanting to leave, Renee and I strolled around the pool and cabanas until we finally gave into the night.