Art Fairs

Miami’s law of attractionDecember is a very special month for the arts in Miami. I wonder if such observation could only be true within the art community, or if it’s a generalized idea that after the arrival of Art Basel Miami Beach in 2002, we look at this time of the year differently. During the ABMB days, the city pullulates with thousands of top cultural visitors who are ready to spend. We probably shouldn’t overestimate the facts, but those days are definitely an offer that many wouldn’t refuse. Certainly, ABMB has propelled the arts in the city. Already in its fifth edition, it will not only attract those many – or more – high profile cultural visitors – mostly collectors and art professionals – but has also increased the number of exhibition programs featuring young and progressive art galleries that are not participating on the main exhibition venue at the Miami Convention Center. The success of the event could be measured by several means, but there is one factor, a growing factor, that probably says it all. More art fairs. This year, there are another eleven art fairs happening besides ABMB. Opinions about if having so many events happening at the same time is good or bad vary, and they are as diverse as the art fairs, but among the Miami’s art community, you can sense the anticipation. ABMB itself could result in a predictable event. It brings the usual hundred and something international galleries carrying mainstream contemporary art. On the other hand, the dynamics of the collateral events is developping at a faster pace. And that’s what’s beautiful about ABMB: its has generated the ideal playground where a high profile market can be easily targeted. That’s obviously attracting many other art fairs that have added “Miami” to their names at this time of the year. Pulse will be celebrating its second edition this year together with Aqua Art Miami and Design Miami, others like Photo Miami will premier. Scope Miami only, has set up a 40,000 square feet north Wynwood to host 80 exhibitors. The fact that so many art fairs are taking place at the same time is indeed stressful. But this fact is also convenient for many art collectors that would like to experience more than what ABMB is offering. In fact, by reading the announcements of many of the art fairs, we can clearly see how they are expanding the spectrum of offer by creating a structure for those less known galleries and art dealers to showcase their art productions. It’s still difficult and expensive to get included in them, and there is also selection criteria, but the art fairs are sold out and many galleries have already secured their ticket to the Miami Art Extravaganza by their means. Locals galleries are not alien to those thoughts. Ambrosino Gallery from North Miami – and more recently also in Wynwood – is now presenting its artists at Pulse, while ArtSpace/Virginia Miller Galleries from Coral Gables is at Bridge together with Wynwood’s Dorsch Gallery and independent art dealer Carol Jazaar. But most local organizations have bet on having visitors attending their venues and have put together their December programs hoping to produce sales worth of a year work. It is almost certain that visitors will find difficulties in orienting themselves through such a maze of events and local galleries have less chances when it comes to competing with the marketing logistics of the art fairs organizers, resulting in many of them ending up watching their efforts wasted. What a wonderful opportunity this time of the year would be for the arts in Miami, if the city would have already consolidated a cultural life that would deserve the attention on its own. Not there yet. Sadly, Miami’s art community is still fragmented and competitiveness dominates. It will take time, and more millions spent before we could see that happening. Meanwhile, is not a bad idea to consider paying attention to what’s happening around ABMB better than depending on it. These art fairs are attracting their own audiences, that consequently sums up. They are creating a perfect scenario for getting visibility, they are also making visitors stepping out of Miami Beach. Engaging with them could be highly beneficial for Miami’s youngest organizations seeking exposure and to generate networking. The New Dealers Alliance, NADA, is a good example of how it looks like having results out of collaboration. There is a significant number of new galleries arriving to stay in Miami. Jacob Karpio from Costa Rica joined venture with a local gallery in 2002, Luis Adelantado from Valencia, Spain opened its doors just in front of the Rubell Family Collection’s building about a year ago, together with Enmanuelle Perrotin from Paris that established itself north west Wynwood, and more recently, Go Go Gallery from Seattle and Pan American Gallery from Dallas have set in. The bar is rising. It is probably a dream having local art dealers working together, and they probably shouldn’t up to a certain degree, but one thing is clear. Isolation will only lead to isolation and obstructing other’s endeavors could only be the result of being unable to see the bigger picture. What is now local competition, tomorrow will be national and international competition. The number of local galleries participating in ABMB has decreased and not even Miami’s most recognized names seem qualified to be players in the international arena when it comes to competing with galleries from New York or Cologne. When those thousands of visitors come to Miami every December, it’s Miami’s art scene what is at stake. A mature art scene is one that will accept the differences of the other, and will enjoy its success as it would be its own. It’s true that ABMB has attracted international attention to Miami’s art scene, but it was Miami what attracted ABMB in the first place. Let’s not forget that Miami is the Magic City. By Abel S.

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