The fair opened with a preview on January 17, 2013, and runs through the Martin Luther King, Jr., Day holiday weekend (including Monday, January 21).
The 20 participating galleries are from distant international locations including Argentina, China, England, France, and Russia; Miami; elsewhere in southern Florida; and other U.S. cities. Some are exhibiting in Miami for the first time. Some have had a previous Miami presence but not in large shows such as Art Basel Miami Beach or Art Miami.
Contemporary and emerging artists
The works on display at the Miami International Art Fair are by established contemporary and emerging artists, some well-known to art aficionados, others whose names few will recognize but whose creations merit an audience.
Strolling the three decks of gallery space aboard Seafair, you’ll see a wide variety of media, including jewelry, mixed-media, painting, photography, sculpture, and video. Some of the works have a crisp, edgy style that is rich in social commentary and subject to interpretation on multiple levels. Others reflect artists’ individual views of the world and objects in it, ranging from charming near-realism to extreme abstraction.
The fair also includes Sculpture Miami, a waterside display of large-scale works by major international sculptors, adjoining the dock in Bayfront Park.
As spouse Rosalie and I walked this year’s edition of the fair, we followed our usual practice of “collecting” individual works we both would want to own. We didn’t realize until later that most of what we chose was three-dimensional in nature. Plenty of paintings and a scattering of photos hung on the walls, but we bypassed them in favor of sculptures and a jewelry display.
You’re entitled to make different choices, but anyway please enjoy some of our favorites from this fair:
Gallery worth a glance
The co-directors of the new Setford & Bridges gallery are veterans of the fine art world. David F. Setford, who oversees the gallery’s office in Glens Falls, New York, has served as chief curator at the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach, Florida; director of curatorial affairs at the Naples Museum of Art in Naples, Florida; and most recently as director of The Hyde Collection in Glens Falls.
William M. Bridges, in charge of the Paris, France, office, has spent two decades immersed in fine art, most recently as a specialist for the inaugural Naples, Florida, office of Chicago-based Leslie Hindman Auctioneers. He has acted as a representative at sales and auctions for several major collectors. His specialties are 19th and early 20th century paintings and works on paper, and modern silver.
At the Miami International Art Fair, Setford & Bridges has art by “old masters” of 20th Century modern art such as Andy Warhol, Jim Dines, and Robert Motherwell. “These artists are of course very well known,” Setford said, “but the individual works – having just become available on the open market – are unusual and therefore of particular interest.”
Bridges noted that the gallery also is showing works of contemporary artists, some just beginning to expand their exposure beyond a solid regional base. This “emerging” category includes Beverley Mastrianni, a sculptor in Saratoga Springs, New York, who has exhibited in the Albany area and southern Vermont, and participated in creating art for the Saratoga train station. This fair is her first Miami venue. We were especially captivated by her Wild Water, a sculpture made of engraved aluminum, acrylic paint, and mahogany wood. To our eyes, it captures the energy of a mountain brook leaping down a precipitous slope.
Another Setford & Bridges client, Stephen Knapp of Princeton, Massachusetts, is globally renowned for complex “lightpaintings.”
The Drang Gallery of Padstow, Cornwall, England, is displaying fish sculptures by Alastair Gibson, a South African who studied balance engineering and worked in the motor sport industry for 22 years.
Gibson served as lead mechanic for the Benetton Formula 1 team and as race team chief mechanic for the BAR Honda Grand Prix Team. He has drawn upon similarities between modern Grand Prix cars and game fish to create a series of sculptures using Formula 1 parts and technology.
Rosalie found Gibson’s Gold Carbon Sturgeon sculpture especially appealing because she has written at length for Examiner.com about sturgeon, a living relic of prehistoric times that is being raised today on fish farms in Florida. The sculpture is made of carbon fiber, titanium, and stainless steel, and is gold plated.
Birds and Candy
The works of two artists shown by Robert Fontaine Gallery in Miami caught our eyes. Inside a birdcage, a colorful finch was twittering and flittering about. We took a second look and realized that the tiny bird was a video on a tiny screen mounted inside the cage. To keep this feathered friend as a pet, you wouldn’t need to buy birdseed but you would have to feed it electricity.
Troy Abbott, creator of this avian construction, masterfully depicts seemingly natural objects, technologically constructed. Behind the screen and on the floor of the cage, you can see the electronics that make this bird look “alive.” His approach to art blurs the distinction between the natural world and its illusive, man-made opposite.
Paul Rousso is a pop-culture artist who uses the mixed-media transfer process on hand-sculpted acrylic to form huge rumpled dollar bills and other currency, and candy-bar wrappers. His satirical approach to these everyday objects treats them as social detritus while at the same time inflating their importance to society.
Rosalie complains that most of the fine-art jewelry she sees is too big and heavy to wear comfortably, and too clunky to be attractive if it is worn. This time she found a sublime exception, a display of jewelry containing emeralds from Colombia, shown by Daniel K of New York.
An emerald begins life in a cluster of stones of a mineral called beryl. Its green hue comes from trace amounts of chromium and/or vanadium. It emerges from the ground in an octagonal tube, like a quartz crystal but more delicate.
Making pieces of emerald into earrings, necklaces, rings, and other fine-art jewelry requires great precision and a gentle touch, an artist’s eye for style, and an appreciation of the material’s cool, luminous glow. The merchandise Daniel K brought to the fair showed all of these qualities in full measure.
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