Can the contemporary art community in Miami harness the busy aura of Art Basel Miami Beach…in February? The creators of Art Miami aim to find out with the launch of Art Wynwood, launching its inaugural edition over President’s Day weekend.
Seeking to attract a new sector of commercial interest alongside the Miami International Yacht & Brokerage Show (this comes directly from their website), the fair’s roster will include galleries from London, New York, Amsterdam, Paris, Dublin and Mexico City. Locations not often seen on the platform of an international art fair are also included with Cleveland, Memphis and Coral Gables.
Locally, we’re aware of Wynwood’s expansion into the popular consciousness as a destination; a place where every Second Saturday, tourists and locals teem the streets near NW 2nd Avenue not in search of anything in particular but the faint taste of creative culture. There are pressing questions as to how this fair will…well, fare. Is Wynwood ready to hold the weight of an art fair touted on the same platform as Art Miami? Director Nick Korniloff believes it can, but acknowledges the uphill climb. ‘Wynwood, like the Wynwood Arts District, is about energy and attitude’, he notes, ‘the fair is about a community that continues to grow, and with that growth comes certain growing pains both positive and negative.’ Korniloff stresses the cooperation between the community at large (not just limited to the art galleries and studios) in order to ensure the success of the fledgling fair. ‘The fair will have a distinct look that is reflective of the district as a whole, but also of what Miami has to offer. The art on exhibit for sale will be edgier than Art Miami’s and will capture the urban feel of the district.’
Whether or not the ‘feel’ of Wynwood can properly be contextualized is not what’s in question here, but if a series of galleries from outside Miami can somehow go to task on capturing what the visual art constituency embodies. What’s more, only five galleries lie within the ten-mile demarcation of the Wynwood Arts District are represented: Bernice Steinbaum Gallery (a consistent fixture at Art Miami), Dot FiftyOne Gallery, PanAmerican Art Projects, Galería de Arte Ascaso (known as Ascaso Gallery locally, it also has two satellite locations in Caracas and Valencia in Venezuela) and 101 Exhibit (in the heart of the Design District). So can this curious combination of galleries cause a stir?
For the past decade, only one period per year has the global spotlight firmly fixed upon Miami and its more than natural for a reflex to occur afterwards; why should December be our only defining moment? Art Wynwood looks to capitalize on an elite sector of potential collectors and patrons gathering for the Miami International Yacht & Brokerage Show, as well as the steady influx of tourists escaping bitter winters elsewhere. Wynwood Arts District Association (WADA) Board Member and arts matron Bernice Steinbaum agrees, ‘With the addition of Art Wynwood, the Wynwood Arts District will continue to thrive well-after the five days of art fairs in December, continuing the district’s success through the rest of the year.’
Like any new venture, the local community is bound to feel some trepidation about an art fair which carries the name of a district not easily defined or encapsulated by the presence of contemporary art, alone. Second Saturday Artwalk, while a welcome cultural attraction complete with food trucks and live music, is an example of an event which does not readily qualify as a financial advantage for galleries in the area. In fact, many galleries close their doors as a way of filtering out those who are simply ‘along for the ride’ on a busy Saturday evening. Perhaps it is that dynamic that contributes to the tiny number of Wynwood-based galleries at this newborn fair; but it is, nevertheless, a risk in bowing out when the gallery listing includes so many international projects known to pull in active and educated collectors. If those galleries don’t hail from Miami specifically, it may be a notable advantage: well-established patrons tend to look for long-established investment opportunities, which in terms of contemporary art in Miami is only an at embryonic stage. The cultivation of a contemporary art culture can be bolstered through foreign influences and, more importantly, through foreign investment. Art Wynwood is a prime instance of this type of thinking. The fair, in effect, touts Wynwood as a location, a destination capable of cradling an emerging collector’s hub while attracting the likes of those immediately comfortable with artists and their galleries owning tags of ‘London’, ‘Paris’ and ‘New York’.
Like the early days of Art Basel Miami Beach, the local community has cause to be cautious about the presence of a new art fair: will outside influence overshadow hometown uniqueness? Will this experiment yield genuine opportunity or fiscal and logistical headache? If one thing is certain, Art Wynwood is an innovative solution to the mid-season art fair gap in Miami. ‘Our goal is to quickly inform the international art market that another true quality marketplace exists in Miami during the first quarter of each new year,’ says Korniloff, ‘we not only believe that Miami and the tri-county region of South Florida will support Art Wynwood, but that ultimately it will thrive and become a fair of choice…to reinforce old collector relationships and create new collector relationships.’ Alright, Wynwood…game on.
Art Wynwood Contemporary Art Fair