Aqua Preview-Miami 2011

It is amazing how each fair exists as a distinct ecosystem of culture.

Don’t get me wrong, there is overlap. I overheard two collectors raving about Art Miami at Art Basel, but the vibration of each event is drastically different.

This might be present in my mind because the two fairs I visited yesterday were so drastically different. Basel was clean and to the point. Aqua, which is galleries installed in hotel rooms of the Aqua Hotel, vibrates with energy of possibility-the hope of making it big.

Basel is business suits. Aqua is mustaches.

There is good and bad to be found at both, but let me share with you what stood out at Aqua for me.

First, I would like to recommend the exacting realism of Carly Walto’s oil renderings of quartz and other semi precious stones being shown by Toronto’s Narwhal Art Projects. These works are not only technically breathtaking, but for me touch upon the new age movement that defined so many parents (including my own) of children of the 70’s and 80’s.

James O’Donnell’s I miss you goddammit, a series of four well executed graphite drawings of disembodied hair styles paired with handwritten text, are  lovely balances of subtle humor and the human condition presented on a human scale. I like to chuckle when I see a work, and think I can relate, and these pieces did that for me.

The wide eyes and exaggerated features of Travis Collinson’s colored pencil and graphite portraits in the Eli Ridgway room, were strongly reminiscent of Lucian Freud’s earliest works, and deftly executed.

I also was happy to see Cynthia Constentino represented by Northampton gallerist William Baczek. Constentino has been a favorite of mine since I first saw her Hummel scale, gun wielding little girls at a Lenox Gallery many, years ago. Nanny Vonnegut prints and Susan Mikula’s dreamy, saturated photographs were represented by Baczek as well.

As I mark the half point of my time here in Miami, I am finding that this trip is a crash course in context. I am gaining a greater understanding of where my work as an artist and the Berkshires fit into this condensed version of the global art market and from this, a greater understanding of where I would like to go.

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