The History and Presence
If you are a visual artist or art dealer/gallerist in today’s ever changing visual art world, and you’re not aware or know about the Miami art fairs that take place each year-end and are clustered around Miami and Miami Beach, then you have a problem that needs urgent attention.Almost a decade ago, the founders and organizers of a European art fair called Art Basel (which of course, takes place in Basel, Switzerland), decided to try an American version of their successful European model and started an art fair in the Miami Beach Convention Center and they called it Art Basel Miami Beach or ABMB for short.ABMB’s success soon spawned other art fairs, which are called “satellite fairs”, since they all revolve around ABMB’s dates and presence on America’s coolest and most international beach city.And thus satellite art fairs with names like Scope, Red Dot, Bridge, Pulse, NADA and others began to appear around Miami at the same time as ABMB. Soon, someone came up with the novel idea that these art fairs could also take place in hotel rooms, and the “hotel fair” was born. Many of these also began to appear, none better than the Aqua Art Fair, now called “the best hotel art fair in the world.” Having just done Aqua, I can testify brother, that the Aqua organizers have it down, and in my limited opinion, this is indeed the best hotel art fair in the world.I am told by Miami journalists from Rumor Control that during that week of the ABMB art fairs, roughly 20% of all the art work sold in the world exchanges hands in Miami.Furthermore, as the magnitude of the event grew, so did the attendance by both the “need to be seen” crowd and by even more worldwide collectors and, just as importantly, the press.Thus now the news media not only discusses what’s new or who’s hot in the art world, but also they let us know who Sly Stallone or other Hollywood stars of all magnitude are acquiring. It has become cool for Hollywood stars and wannabes to collect art, which in most Einsteinian dimensions is a good thing.“I meet more art collectors that week in Miami than the entire year in DC,” related one local art dealer.“Over the years,” added another, “about 80% of my sales take place at, or because of art fairs in Miami, New York, LA, etc.”
How to get there as an individual artist
If you are a visual artist in 2011 and are not aware of these events, and are not trying to get there (get your artwork there is what I mean), then something really big is missing from your artistic arsenal (unless you’re happy just painting or drawing or photographing or sculpting, etc. and could care less who sees and possibly acquires your work – if that’s the case, then skip the rest of this post and more power to you!).But, if like some of us, the commodification of your artwork doesn’t bother you, and the fact that when you or your gallery sell one of your pieces, you feel honored and pleased that someone laid out their hard earned cash to simply add one of your creations to their home or collection, then Miami in December should be in your radar.If you are already represented by a gallery, why not discuss Miami with them? The enormous expenses associated with the art fair scene are the main reason that most art galleries do not consider them. And this is a darn good reason, as most galleries are run by the skin of their teeth and the expense associated with doing an art fair are enormous and could wreck an entire financial plan in less than a week.But, what does it hurt to bring it up to your gallerist? Who knows where that may lead?How about if you are a cooperative gallery? Why not consider applying to one of the art fairs and spreading the cost of the booth amongst the exhibiting artists? A word of warning: the better fairs are juried and that means that someone gets always rejected. But the same key that allows cooperatives to survive for decades (spread the expenses) should and must be the key to give them a presence at the art fairs!And many, many co-ops are routinely showing now at art fairs in Miami, NYC, LA, London, Madrid, etc. The fact that they are returning to the fairs means that they’re having a positive experience there.There are also hotel fairs. These are fairs that essentially take place in a local hotel, where the room is often emptied out and turned into a temporary gallery by the out of town galleries. The best hotel art fair in the world, according to many, is the Aqua Art Fair, held at the Aqua Hotel in Miami Beach, and having just participated in it, add my name to the list of people who thinks that this is the best hotel art fair on the planet. And at Aqua I saw at least two cooperative galleries…There are also individual artists-based fairs – after all, with 22-25 art fairs around the area, new models are apt to develop – and they have! The Pool Art Fair is one of these, focusing on unrepresented artists. They had a bit of a drama this year in Miami, as the fair was shut down by Miami police due to "lack of a permit", but this fair has been around for seven years, so I'm sure they'll be back next year with all the right paperwork.A little Googlin’ of Miami art fairs (or just art fairs in general) will reveal just how many fairs there are and where.