MIAMI BAZEL 2019 – MEETING THE CHALLENGE

This was probably my 7th Miami Bazel and so far the most challenging of them all. What was the challenge?  It was attending all the VIP openings, receptions, breakfast invitation and ….yes, there was also art.  But we never shy from a challenge and met this one head on. We attended most of the events, drank and ate everything that was offered and tried to see all of it.

Lessons of this Bazel are: get there Sunday or early Monday morning, private collections have the best art (and best food), LYFT Share is not a good option anymore, must stay below 45th street and eat something during the day if you plan to drink at every event….(This is in addition to my previous blog lessons – comfortable shoes and don’t rent a car).

Notable things this year: Numerous variations of Mona Lisa, extraordinary amount of various depictions of male penises in every possible media and a much larger presence of Asian and Cuban galleries then in prior years. As a big supporter of US-Cuba relations, I particularly liked the presence of Cuban galleries as a sign that notwithstanding the crack down on Cuban travel they could still come here.

I am not going to advocate for some fairs over others, mainly because most of them gave me press passes (except for Design Miami, who didnt like my blog, and thus I skipped them). Instead here’s our schedule which some people thought was not humanly possible.

Monday: our plane was late and we missed the fabulous opening and the show at the Faena. (see the lesson above, get there Sunday or Monday morning).

Tuesday:

We started with leisurely breakfast at the de La Cruz collection to ease into the craziness of the next few days.  I particularly liked the fact that they had several attendants who knew and explained the exhibits and the artists. It helped to appreciate the various pieces, as in contemporary art the idea is not always self evident.

From there we continued to Untitled, which I thought was much better this year than in the past and walked on the beach to SCOPE’s press preview.  SCOPE and Untitled are similar in style, while SCOPE is a more established fair. However, this year there were no cocktails offered at SCOPE which was disappointing…

From there we moved to Miami side and rushed to Prizm, which was supposed to start at 5pm. The fair was located in a gorgeous historical DuPont building in downtown Miami but unfortunately they were late setting up and the reception was not about to start till 7pm. This relatively small fair is focused on African and Afro-American art.  The fabulous smell from the kitchen in preparation for the reception almost caused a riot with my crew because turned out that I never budgeted any time for a meal. (Hence the lesson above, eat something during the day). We did go thru the exhibition, but unfortunately had to leave before the reception and the concert.

Next, we rushed to the huge and almost unmanageable Art Miami +Context.  After moving thru couple of rows we stumbled on the open bar sponsored by Tito Vodka… where I met friends who managed to get seats on comfy couches. I don’t remember much after that, but turned out that I made friends with exhibitors from Red Dot/Spectrum who sent me VIP invites for the next day’s opening.

Leaving Art Miami is very blurry in my memory but I know that we made it to ICA reception later on. ICA had a Yayoi Kusama exhibit that I was looking forward to but it required separate tickets which were too late to get.  They did have an open bar… Keep in mind that we were still hungry as our last and first meal was at 9 am at de La Cruz.

At this point I was promising food to my people at our next destination, ArtHood Reception, where our friend Gene exhibited his beautiful jewelry collection.  The invite promised food/drink and music which at this point was a huge incentive to my crew.   Indeed, there were generous drinks there but no food and the band was on a break.  Luckily, the fair was very small and after hanging out with our friend this was time to finally eat something.  Actually the meal was way overdue, and way too late.  We found a 24/7 sushi place where hungry and completely drunk I ate pretty much everything in sight.

Wednesday:

I barely managed to get up. Having a bad hangover, we headed to my favorite Margulies collection. Orange juice and coffee made walking around manageable and while I didn’t think I could eat after last night’s meal their bagels were still appealing. Some of the exhibits were new while others we have seen before.  Especially, I like the old superheroes in nursing home exhibit. Never gets old, pun intended.

From there we continued to El Espacio 23 Private collection.  It was my first time there. They served a lavish breakfast (if I knew I wouldn’t eat the bagels in Margulies) and had a very interesting art.  Besides the art, the guest were a sight: colorful and imaginative cloths, interesting hairdos, etc. I enjoyed just watching the crowd as they were coming in. Totally worth the visit!!!

At this point we had about three hours before Aqua so we moved back to Miami Beach side and checked out Casa Faena’s flower installation as they were preparing for an evening VIP reception.  I didn’t have invites for that one but since we had lots of evening plans decided not to pursue them. From there we walked to the Cadillac hotel to see their retro installation and proceeded to hang out by their pool in very comfortable sun beds.  My friends had some wine but I still couldn’t tolerate any alcohol.

And then there was Aqua; deliciously weird and colorful and…sponsored by Tito Vodka! The star of the fair was a young artist from Baku with down syndrome. My friends bought two of her pieces and it looked like there were more buyers for her art.  I liked a piece by a Korean artist and almost bought it when it was first quoted to me at $500. For some reason the price went up to $20,000 a minute later; something must have been lost in translation and so was my interest.

After Aqua we transferred back to the Miami side to Red Dot/Spectrum and thanks to my new friends and their VIP invites I got eight of my friends in. There was also a little snag in the plans because I left my phone charging in the Lyft car, but after some terrifying moments and 30 minutes later I got it back.  Side note: if you lose your phone in Lyft, you cannot contact Lyft to report it, because the only way to contact Lyft it thru your phone which you left in their car. Luckily, my phone was on and we kept calling it until the driver realized that he should pick up, and we made arrangements for him to come back. By the way, Lyft charges extra $15 for the service.

Red Dot/Spectrum was extremely busy but there was some good art and we stayed till the very end at 9 pm. At this point, we decided to forgo Fridge Art reception and just walked around the area.

To finish the night, we checked out the late night event at the Edition basement, but got there way too early and had a night cap in the hotel bar instead.

Thursday:

A much lighter day and no hangover in the morning.  First thing we did, was to move from our hotel on 74h street to Lexington on 43rd. See lesson above, to live below 45th street. The commute from 74th was lengthy and the traffic was getting to be horrendous since most people arrive on Thursday.

After dropping off our luggage at the new place we went to Rubell Opening Reception. I believe they moved to a different location; the place looked unfamiliar but some of the art remained the same.  After coffee and some pastries we were ready for a new day of art. There were two installations by Kusama, and I was eager to go in.  Couple of weeks prior I stood in line for over an hour to see her show in New York, but had to give up due to bitter cold and an announcement that there is no chance of us getting in.  I was also glad to see our “old friend”, a wooden doll with a nut cracker in her private parts and somewhat surprised at the installation of sexually explicit nature of a boy with a goat encouraged by his father.  The piece symbolized supportive behavior of fathers towards their sons. Who could have guessed..

We skipped the brunch at Pulse and the NADA opening and went back to Miami Beach for a Vernisage at the main Miami Bazel fair. I liked the fact that it was less busy and less crowded and the pace seemed slower. However, we didn’t see the $130,000 banana piece and only learned about it thru the media.

After Bazel, a light lunch was due (lesson learned). From there we went to check into our new hotel, unpacked, checked out the pool and took a nap-first one this week.

In the evening, we attended a glamorous fashion show at the National, courtesy of InList (free drinks served) and continued to the customary annual PAMM opening. It was a good idea to arrive late to avoid the crowd at the entrance.  Good music was playing; we met several friends and stayed there for awhile.

The night was still young and I suggested to check out SCOPE party at the Oasis. About eleven of us piled into a huge Lyft car and drove to SCOPE. The party was disappointing, barely any people there but the guy at the entrance didn’t want to let all of us in. He kept saying that my invite is plus one and not plus eleven.  I kept insisting that it doesn’t matter; I brought eleven cool people to his boring party. I won but we didn’t stay long and went to eat at South Beach.

Friday:

Good news- the days are getting easier. We started with a great breakfast and champagne reception at the Museum of Art & Design at MDC, downtown Miami. My first time there. Generous Latin breakfast/lunch was served while big band played Latin tunes. Great installation upstairs called Black Power Nap. The premise was that in crowded inner city ghettos people cannot sleep due to noise, crime and police activities. So they created a relaxing space with beautiful African music, hammocks, bean bags, and sun beds for relaxation and meditation.  I got into a hammock and wished I could stay all day.

Our next stop was Craig Robins Collection at DACRA. A nice breakfast was served, but we couldn’t eat a bite (but could and did drink the mimosas) and joined a gallery tour. This didn’t take long. I was getting very sleepy and over dozed on art and mimosas but felt that we need to go more thoroughly thru Art Miami and Context which we didn’t really see earlier in the week.

After Art Miami I felt that I must have a nap or I won’t last thru the evening. After taking a nap and disappearing off the radar for few hours we gathered a group for early dinner at a Turkish restaurant next to the Wolfsonian, our evening reception.  By way of some negotiations’ I managed to get about 10 of my friends in.  I like the Wolfsonian; it’s a real museum and this time I went thru all of its exhibits which I do not do every year.

For the late evening we decided to check out the events at the National and the Delano, but since there was nothing too exciting we just walked all the way back to our hotel on 43rd. The blocks in Miami are not same as in New York; it took over an hour and exhausted we went to sleep.

Saturday

Last full day in Miami. The morning started with the legendary breakfast at the Sycamore Hotel.  Frankly, I didn’t have an invitation and we just crushed it. And it was worth it, good music, good food and good vibe. Since most of our old and new friends were leaving that day, we said our goodbyes and went back to our pool.  Pool!!! Finally!!!

One last fair for this week that I absolutely had to attend was Pulse which we did late in the afternoon. It was a good walk from our hotel via the boardwalk. Pulse this year seemed much smaller.  The main attraction in my opinion was a fabulous presentation by our friend Tatyana Okshteyn of Black & White Art Space. Very beautiful photographs accompanied by two videos commenting on end of the current art era and beginning of a new one. As far as I know she got several invitation to exhibit the installation in several museums.

We finished the evening and the week with dinner at friends house…

Miami Bazel, see you next year, hopefully!!!

 

 

 

 

 

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