Miami: A different place than last year

Contributed by Sharon Louden / Thank you, Sharon Butler, for giving me the opportunity to be a guest contributor from the art fairs in Miami Beach this week. I started with Pulse, Untitled and Art Basel Miami Beach. Like many in the art community, given the current political climate and all that’s happening in the world, my mind is in a different place than last year. However, I remembered something artist Michael Waugh wrote in a thread on my Facebook page recently: “Aesthetics and cultural production are a crucial aspect of the domination of capital. Sometimes work that directly addresses an issue can be the least engaged with the hegemonic process.” True. Everything is political, and every kind of expression counts. Aesthetics in painting can be powerful.

Jason Middlebrook, “Red Cliffs,” 2016, acrylic on walnut, 23.5" x 29.5" x 1".
Jason Middlebrook, Red Cliffs, 2016, acrylic on walnut, 23.5 x 29.5 x 1 inches.

Jason Middlebrook has always impressed me not only by the rigor of his work, how it has grown over many years, but also how he shows his work professionally: he never seems to be locked into one gallery arrangement, and he shows his work in numerous places. I really admire that. This piece was in Jeff Bailey’s booth at the Untitled Art Fair.

I also enjoyed talking with Brad Thomas, an artist based in St. Paul, Minnesota, who was manning the Soco Gallery’s booth. He shows with the gallery as well, and I love the multiple roles he plays with the gallery, which is relatively new. Here is their installation of  Clare Rojas paintings.

Clare Rojas
Left to right:
Clare Rojas, Untitled, 2016, oil on linen, 15×13 inches.
Clare Rojas, Untitled, 2016, oil on linen, 15×17 inches.
Clare Rojas, Untitled, 2016, oil on linen, 13×15 inches.
Clare Rojas, Untitled, 2016, oil on linen, 13×15 inches.
Clare Rojas, Untitled, 2016, oil on linen, 15x13inches.
Clare Rojas, Untitled, 2016, oil on linen, 15×13 inches.

As I was leaving Untitled, I really enjoyed this wall of 90 individual works by Sean Bluechel at Galerie Laurent Godin of Paris, France.

Sean Bleuchel, Untitled, 2016, 90 individual works, oil on canvas, each 10x8 1/8".
Sean Bleuchel, Untitled, 2016, 90 individual works, oil on canvas, each 10×8 1/8″.
Sean Bleuchel, Untitled, 2016, 90 individual works, oil on canvas, each 10x8 1/8".
Sean Bleuchel, Untitled (detail), 2016, 90 individual works, oil on canvas, each 10×8 1/8inches.

Over at the main fair, Art Basel Miami Beach,  I had a conversation with artist Mark Tribe about the 99% and what it means in the art community. Is the “99%” just defined by economics or by reputation, exposure, traction? We walked through the fair, discussed the notion of 99%, and saw these pieces.

I love Shiela Hicks’ work because it inspires me–it always has. Here is one of her wonderful linen, synthetic fiber, wood and aluminum pieces at Galerie Frank Elbaz:

Sheila Hicks, Immersion, 2016, Linen and synthetic fiber on wood and aluminum, 59 x 59 x 1 in. / 150 x 150 x 3 cm at galerie frank elbaz.
Sheila Hicks, Immersion, 2016, linen and synthetic fiber on wood and aluminum, 59 x 59 x 1 inches at galerie frank elbaz.
Sheila Hicks, Immersion, 2016, Linen and synthetic fiber on wood and aluminum, 59 x 59 x 1 in. / 150 x 150 x 3 cm at galerie frank elbaz.
Sheila Hicks, Immersion (detail), 2016, linen and synthetic fiber on wood and aluminum, 59 x 59 x 1 inches at galerie frank elbaz.

In the NOVA section at Art Miami Basel, I found an impressive installation that merges painting and sculpture by artist Kostis Velonis at Kalfayan Gallery from Athens and Thessaloniki, Greece.

Kostis Velonis, Installation view at Kalfayan Galleries.
Kostis Velonis, Installation view at Kalfayan Galleries.
Left: Kostis Velonis, Untitled (“Whistle While you Work” Series), 2016, acrylic, pastel, watercolor and color pencil on canvas, 100x100cm at Kalfayan Galleries; Right: Kostis Velonis, Untitled (“Whistle While you Work” Series), 2016, acrylic, pastel, watercolor and color pencil on canvas, 100x100cm at Kalfayan Galleries.
Left: Kostis Velonis, Untitled (“Whistle While you Work” Series), 2016, acrylic, pastel, watercolor and color pencil on canvas, 100x100cm at Kalfayan Galleries; Right: Kostis Velonis, Untitled (“Whistle While you Work” Series), 2016, acrylic, pastel, watercolor and color pencil on canvas, 100x100cm at Kalfayan Galleries.
Kostis Velonis, “Fleeing, Having Fled, Having Taken Flight,” 2016, acrylic, pastel, watercolor and color pencil on canvas, 100x100cm at Kalfayan Galleries.
Kostis Velonis, Fleeing, Having Fled, Having Taken Flight, 2016, acrylic, pastel, watercolor and color pencil on canvas, 100x100cm at Kalfayan Galleries.

All of the work at Galeria Luisa Strina’s booth was outstanding. I loved  everything except for the lighting, which was mixed and often dark. Nonetheless, here are a few things that stood out:

Caetano de Almeida, “Remanso,” 2015, acrylic on canvas, 220x170cm at Galeria Luisa Strina.
Caetano de Almeida, Remanso, 2015, acrylic on canvas, 220x170cm at Galeria Luisa Strina.
Left: Fernanda Gomes, “Untitled,” 2011, wood, paint, 86x51x3.5cm Right: Fernanda Gomes, “Untitled,” 2015, wood, paint and metal, 30x30x11cm at Galeria Luisa Strina.
Left: Fernanda Gomes, Untitled, 2011, wood, paint, 86x51x3.5cm. Right: Fernanda Gomes, “Untitled,” 2015, wood, paint and metal, 30x30x11cm at Galeria Luisa Strina.

A few other works to round out the day:

Matt Connors, “Untitled,” 2016, 10 parts, dimensions variable, installed dimensions: 59.5x504x2.5cm at The Modern Institute/Toby Webster Ltd.
Matt Connors, Untitled, 2016, 10 parts, dimensions variable, installed dimensions: 59.5x504x2.5cm at The Modern Institute/Toby Webster Ltd.
Yuko Shiraishi, “Signal (6),” 2016, oil on canvas, 153x137cm, at Annely Juda Fine Art in London.
Yuko Shiraishi, Signal (6), 2016, oil on canvas, 153x137cm, at Annely Juda Fine Art in London.

Next post: What caught my eye at the Satellite Art Fair and NADA. More soon. Thanks so much!

About the author: Educated at Yale University, Sharon Louden is represented by Morgan Lehman gallery. She is a Senior Critic at the New York Academy of Art and the editor of Living and Sustaining a Creative Life: Essays by 40 Working Artists. Louden is currently working on a second book entitled, The Artist as Culture Producer: Living and Sustaining a Creative Life, which will be published in early 2017 by Intellect Books and distributed by the University of Chicago Press.

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Two Coats of Paint is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution – Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. To use content beyond the scope of this license, permission is required.

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2 thoughts on “Miami: A different place than last year”

  1. Thanks for sharing the fairs with us. My favorites (knockouts) are Sheila Hicks, and the two paintings from the “Whistle while you work” series by Kostis Velonis. Confident, fresh, mature aesthetic. Will keep my eye out for them.
    Thanks again, Sharon.

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