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Flavorpill at Art Basel Miami Beach: Days 4, 5, and 6

It was still hot and humid on Friday so we began the day with the Nada Art Fair at the Deauville, a sprawling, shabby-chic hotel that hosted the fair in the lobby and two ballrooms. The Richelieu room featured galleries with solo exhibitions, which were far better than what was on view in the group show hangings in the Napoleon room. Highlights included Brendan Fowler’s canceled concert posters in fractured frames at Rental; Patrick Jackson’s stacked sculptures of kitsch objects at Francois Ghebally Gallery; and Scott Hug’s pie chart pieces at John Connelly Presents. We ran into Kavi Gupta in the lobby and he invited us to an impromptu celebration at the hotel’s Tiki Bar so we stopped looking at art long enough to enjoy a mojito by the pool.

Moving on, we hit the Bruce Weber party at the Standard. A large crowd was gathered on the boardwalk by the bay, where the photographer was signing copies of his new book. We shared thoughts on art and parties with writers Anthony Haden-Guest and Glenn O’Brien while snapping pictures of Patti Smith and Weber and his co-host, the Standard owner Andre Balazs. After an hour of champagne, hors d’oeuvres, and conversation, we headed over to the Wolfsonian for the opening of A Celebration of New Voices, curated by Todd Oldham. We spoke with Todd in the lobby and then proceeded to the fifth floor, where Megan Whitmarsh had sewn objects of everyday use, such as a Kleenex box or stick of gum, cleverly installed in the display cases with the museum’s industrial design collection.

After a stop on the second floor to see a new Rolls Royce installed in a gallery not much larger than the car (we’re still not sure how they got it on the elevator), we went back to the lobby for a performance by YouTube sensation Leslie Hall and her two back-up singers. The campy act was over-the-top hilarious and highly entertaining. Having our fill of art, food, drink, talk, and entertainment for the night, we headed home.

We got an earlier start on Saturday. The Sagamore brunch has been one of the best ABMB networking events since the first fair in 2002. Although this year’s brunch was crowded and the art hanging throughout the hotel notable, fewer players were present. We talked about the Miami art scene with MOCA North Miami director Bonnie Clearwater and discussed alternative exhibition possibilities to the satellite fairs with Ethan Cohen. Since we were walking distance from the convention center, we ventured back into ABMB to catch some things that we missed on opening day, including Jorge Pardo’s Mexican-style open house near the fair’s center.

After a lunch in the Design District, we took another walk through Design Miami and then walked a few blocks south to Art Miami, which was packed with visitors. We ran into Art Miami press rep Dan Schwartz in the VIP Lounge and he introduced us to fair director Nick Kornloff, who seemed pleased with the fair’s success. Cruising the aisles, we were caught by Don Porcella’s surreal pipe-cleaner figure and James Croak’s dirt-formed Man with a Shovel at Stux Gallery and Bernard Roig’s Burning Man sculpture (with flames rising from his chest) and Kate Clark’s enchanting, life-like sculptures of deer with human faces at Claire Oliver Gallery.

Desiring something edgier, we drove over to It Ain’t Fair, where we met co-organizer Al Moran and got a tour of the show from Al and his brother Mills. David Benjamin Sherry had a commanding display of photographs that filled one whole room, while Julia Chiang constructed an installation of salutations, such as “Love Always” and “Sincerely Yours,” from candy ring pops that dripped down the walls. In the backspace, filmmaker David Lynch exhibited a series of dark, moody photographs that were accompanied by Danger Mouse songs, which were triggered to play by a sensor.

Synchronized swimmers at the Raleigh for David LaChapelle’s blowout party

Synchronized swimmers at the Raleigh for David LaChapelle’s blowout party

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Next stop was the Key Biscayne home of French collectors Charles and Marianne Pilotaz, who were showing Asian contemporary art from their friend Anthony Japour’s gallery. Marianne is an interior designer and had revamped their house to look like a modern residence straight out of Jacques Tati’s film Mon Oncle. We ran into mother-and-daughter art dealers Lillian and Rebecca Heidenberg, who rode with us to the Wynwood Art District for gallery openings.

Our first reception was Carlos Betancourt’s dynamic show of computer-generated, mandala-like photographs of people and flowers and painted, totemic assemblages of everyday objects at Diana Lowenstein Fine Arts. Equally energetic was Federico Uribe‘s circular wall sculptures of concentric arrangements of books, plastic forks, records, and other commonplace things at Praxis International Art. We also popped into openings at Kevin Bruk, Snitzer, and KaBe Contemporary, which was showing José Antonio Hernández-Diez photographs of people who had been touched by the loss of a loved one posing for photos in a fictional time machine that was actually a Maserati.

Done with the gallery crawl, we dropped off our guests in South Beach and headed over to the Raleigh for David LaChapelle’s blowout party. Sponsored by the luxury automobile Maibach, the party took over the whole back yard of the famous hotel. It was centered on the theme Happy New Year 1932, the year the Maibach was first introduced. A jazz band and dancers performed onstage, while synchronized swimmers did several numbers in the pool. At one point, LaChapelle and Daphne Guinness jumped into the pool and swam to a floating ice sculpture of the coveted car, which they broke into pieces and danced around. At midnight, hatcheck girls passed out party favors and everyone celebrated. We got out while we could still drive and, once we got in bed, dreamed about Esther Williams.

We were slow moving the next morning, but made it to Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden brunch for Yayoi Kusama’s installation of outdoor sculptures. We had sushi and champagne and then went back to the Design District for a visit to the De la Cruz Collection. Carlos and Rosa de la Cruz were greeting guests as we entered and we spoke with them and Charles Cowles about the collection and the new building. There were large installations by Guyton/Walker, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Ana Mendieta, Jim Hodges, and Rachel Harrison, as well as individual paintings, sculptures, and videos by a diverse group of American, Latin, and European artists.

It was starting to rain when we jumped back into the car and drove some 20 blocks to the Scope and Art Asia fairs. Both fairs had some good eye candy and we chatted with artists and dealers as we wound through the maze. Upstairs at Scope was a special exhibition called the Market, where photos of patrons were read like palms and artist designs were tattooed on paying customers. Art Asia also boasted a special exhibition of important works of Asian art, curated by Leeza Ahmady. Meanwhile, just around the corner from these adjoined fairs, Brooklyn’s Pierogi gallery and Hales Gallery of London set up shop in a 12,000 square foot space, where they made solo presentations of gallery artists. And, to our amusement, their mud and concrete yard was home to a flock of wild roosters, hens, and chicks that strutted around like collectors in the fairs.

Since we were in the heart of Wynwood, we decided to tale a look at the Wynwood Walls, a mural project organized by Deitch Projects and Goldman Properties, which controls a big chunk of the real estate in the area. There were awesome murals by Barry McGee, Os Gemeos, Futura, and Shepard Fairey, among others. We saw Kenny Scharf painting a second mural, even though his first one was amazing. There was an indoor space, where paintings by Ryan McGinness, Swoon, and others were on view, as well as Martha Cooper’s photo-documentation of the making of the massive works of art.

Ready for a drink and a bite to eat, we headed over to Kehinde Wiley’s annual fish fry at the Shore Club. The party was generously spread around the hotel’s back pool, where revelers from the established Jeffrey Deitch and Sam Keller to the emerging Derrick Adams and Hank Willis Thomas enjoyed sumptuous soul food and danced the night away.

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