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Art Miami triumphs in 24th year

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For art aficionados attending Art Miami, grande dame of the Miami winter art-fair season, the experience is similar to that of past years – a vast assemblage of high-quality contemporary art spiced with a smattering of 20th Century “old” masters.

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Since its beginning as a small regional fair in 1991, Art Miami has grown in size and prestige. Now only Art Basel Miami Beach exceeds it. What’s more, Art Miami now has a brood of offspring in Miami and elsewhere, as corporate parent Art Miami LLC creates and acquires additional venues to serve specific segments of the collector marketplace.

One such “child,” CONTEXT, shares Art Miami’s Midtown Miami tent farm at NE 1st Avenue and 31st Street. Art Miami created CONTEXT in 2012. Walk from one fair to the other, and you’ll feel the difference. The art on display in CONTEXT is edgier, sometimes humorous, often impenetrable. The exhibiting galleries show works of emerging and mid-career artists, some of whom are still polishing their technique.

Earlier in 2013, Art Miami acquired Aqua Art Miami, a small show housed in the Aqua Hotel on Miami Beach. (See related story.)

Other current and forthcoming Art Miami venues include:

• Art Wynwood, which occupies the Midtown Miami tents in February during the Coconut Grove Arts Festival and the Miami International Boat Show.

• Art Southampton, which debuted in 2012.

• Art Silicon Valley/Art San Francisco, which will launch in 2014.

Something for everyone

With works from 129 galleries on display, Art Miami and CONTEXT have something for just about everyone. Admittedly unfairly, I’ve chosen these six works to showcase:

• Gravity Male, an aluminum sculpture by Lorenzo Quinn, son of the late movie actor Anthony Quinn. On display in CONTEXT, it’s available through Galeria Ca’ d’Oro, which has showrooms in Miami’s Design District and in Rome, Italy.

• My World in Color, by Gina Pellón, in the booth of Cernuda Arte, a Coral Gables, FL, gallery specializing in Cuban art. Born in Cuba in 1926, Pellón left for Paris in 1959 and has lived and worked there ever since.

• An untitled painting by Howard Mehring in the booth of Connersmith, a Washington, DC, gallery. This huge mottled-gray image would not by itself have merited a second look, let alone a photograph, but it took on a new vibrancy as two women dressed in black paused to analyze and appreciate it.

• Nettie, from Mythology Series, 2012, by Jack Spencer. The gallery exhibiting this painting, Jackson Fine Art in Atlanta, hung it outside the booth where it would catch the eye of passersby moving from one tent to another. It certainly caught mine. The bright yellow flower and the dark, brooding hues of the figure and background create a striking contrast.

• Les jeunes et les jeux twistent (1964), by Max Ernst, shown by Die Gallerie from Frankfurt am Main, Germany. Ernst isn’t well-known today, but during his life (1891-1964) he was one of 20th Century Europe’s most prominent artists. The title of this abstract work suggests a twisting maze designed for children, but apart from its subject matter it is remarkable for the complexity of its technique and coloration.

• Foundling evokes instant empathy with soulful brown eyes, chubby cheeks, and a wisp of hair peeking out from under a pink bed cap. Then comes the realization that this engaging figure isn’t quite human. Artist Patricia Piccinini leaves its Linnaean classification to your imagination. Jenkins Johnson Gallery of New York and San Francisco brought this piece to the show.

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