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#Ferrincontemporaryontheroad | REFLECT-ED Miami 2014

With this post, we launch a new section of the Ferrin Contemporary website with reportage from Miami. Follow along as director Leslie Ferrin documents the objects, people, and experiences relating to various ongoing projects under the purview of Ferrin Contemporary (#FerrinContemporaryOnTheRoad). A specialist in ceramics and a regular participant in the art fair (or art fare) scene, Leslie’s first-person coverage provides a subjective and filtered overview of the scene and seen along the path of her travels. When NOT On-the-Road, in a museum, private collection, partner gallery, or artist studio, Ferrin is based at Project Art in Cummington, Massachusetts where she also directs a live-work artist residency. Now, in an aggregated format, her Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook feeds are shared and linked as photographic and written posts in the Blog section of the NEWS on our website FerrinContemporary.com.

REFLECT-ED Miami 2014

The first week in December begins with the annual trek to Miami to participate in, explore, and enjoy the social and art fair events that surround Art Basel Miami Beach (ABMB), now in its 13th year. As a gallery, we have been showing  at various venues in Miami over the years, presenting ceramics and in the past also showing painting, photography, and works on paper. This year, Ferrin Contemporary presented selected works from MADE IN CHINA: The New Export Ware at Miami Project. This fair venue is the second stop in a series of curated exhibitions and talks that examine the contemporary, ceramic-centric exchange between eastern and western artists and markets through porcelain art works produced in Jingdezhen China. The project launched this fall when it was first presented at Independent Art Projects (IAP), our home base, located on the MASS MoCA campus in North Adams, Massachusetts. In addition to our own booth, we partnered with Kasher|Potamkin to show Sergei Isupov’s recent works from his Promenade series. Also showing at Miami Project, was one of our IAP partners Julie Saul Gallery.  Other IAP partners, Cynthia Reeves exhibited at Art Miami and Sienna Patti Contemporary showed at Pulse.

Now in its 3rd year, Miami Project is one of the premiere satellite fairs located in Miami’s midtown district. It is located close to the Margulies Collection, a noted private collection open to the public, as well as, the neighborhoods of the Wynwood Walls and the Design District. The 65000 square foot show was elegant, with lofty white walls and airy wide aisles, and conveniently located to amenities within the design district. The 80 dealers and their artists, primarily American from both coasts, are well established and the art shown was framed and well hung. It was our favorite venue to date. We heard over and over, “This is the best show and I like it here.” Translation: We like this type of presentation and we are comfortable in this environment where the art and dealers are familiar.

This year’s Miami Art Week scene was the usual combination of luxury marketing, blue chip art investing, and high contrast global economics. Words like frenzy, overwhelming, and vulgar were in regular use and many experienced in the trade shook their heads in a combination of amusement and disbelief. A Picasso plate was stolen at Art Miami and Jerry Salz , New York Magazine’s senior art critic, kept everyone rolling with laughter (LOL) with his relentless collages posted on Instagram and caption commentary that put him in the center of the action without ever leaving NYC. Many of his posts ended with “What happens at ABMB, stays at ABMB” in a parody of popular culture and the business of the art business.

The traffic and parking, while always a nightmare, made this year’s trekking feel more real when the national protests of the Garver and Brown verdicts intersected with the local unresolved case of the graffiti artist, Israel “Reefa” Hernandez who was tasered by police and died in 2013. The protest brought Interstate 195 to a halt, dozens of helicopters to the sky, and created a lock-down of the bridges and roads that surrounded the Wynwood fairs. In another tragic, real-life turn of events that could have been lifted directly out of one of Tom Wolfe’s fictional parody Back to Blood,  a 21 year old graffiti artist was hit by a police car on Saturday night in Wynwood and subsequently died of his injuries. The contrast between what was taking place globally and what was taking place on the ground in Miami was never more extreme than possibly during the inaugural year, when the show was delayed due to 9/11. The economic and racial divide was the topic of several strongly worded articles running in Hyperallergic, one of the many online publications providing live daily reports. The New York Times T Magazine covered the party and Kardashian -Miley celebrity scene in their followup.

#clayiseverywhere continues to be this year’s trending mantra at all the fairs. During the panel The Importance of Women Artists in Today’s Market, held at Miami Projects, a question was posed to the collector and founder of the Girls’ Club, Francie Bishop Gold, “Who are the women photographers who are trending?” She paused, smiled, and said, “Its not photography that’s trending…its ceramics.” The question provoked a short buzz and continued with a discussion of women as leading artists who use of clay and fiber materials and how that choice was gender driven. The panel was introduced with a reading of the usual dismal statistics that compared prices at auction achieved by women artists to those of male artists. The discussion centered primarily around collecting, exhibition practices, and gender ratios. Organized by Karen Jenkins Johnson, gallerist and exhibitor in Miami Project, the panel was followed by a curated tour of the fair, featuring selected works and conversations with women artists, including our own Sin-ying Ho.  After thirty years of so-called progress, it was a bit depressing to be discussing this topic or throughout the week, hear helicopters circling overhead during the #blacklivesmatter protests. But it was better that the issues were being aired than ignored, in the midst of all the glitz and glamour taking place around it.

An Aside about #Hashtags 

For those who have been puzzled by the constant use of the number sign in front of bundled word phrases appearing in photo captions, they are hashtags and function to convey and gather content in the various social media platforms such as Twitter and Instagram. That said, we use a few of them regularly to create photo albums that connect one event or program to another. In a future post, I will go into this further; but during Miami, each fair location and the week in general were collected under appropriate tags #clayiseverywhere, #miamiproject, #miamiartweek, #ferrincontemporaryontheroad, and #socialclay.

12 reflections on Art Week in Miami

1. MIAMI PROJECT

If you can only choose one fair, make it Miami ProjectWLRN Miami Herald News

Ferrin Contemporary presented selected works from Made in China: The New Export Ware featuring recent works produced in Jingdezhen, China by Caroline Cheng, Sin-ying Ho, Paul Scott, Robert Silverman, and Vipoo Srivilasa. Kasher | Potamkins booth showed selected major works from Sergei Isupov’s 2014 solo Promenade.” Kasher | Potamkin is a new Chelsea New York gallery located in the former Barry Friedman space. (Next fall, they will present a solo show of Isupov’s as an installation featuring sculptural works and and site specific wall paintings.)

2. MIAMI PROJECT

friends and colleagues

We chose this show for several reasons. Although relatively new, it is well run and we were surrounded by colleagues, our gallery partners, and art that seem to make sense next to ours. Our friend George Adams showed a recently consigned, ceramic selfie with tongue sticking out by Robert Arneson. Kim Dickey (currently showing “Mille-fleur” in the American art survey “State of the Art” at Crystal Bridges) showed two bird sculptures at Robischon whose booth was curated around the theme of birds, flight and sky. Jeffry Mitchell’s “Foo Dogs” were at PDX. Kris Kuski ’sAscension of Eos” was at Joshua Liner. Kuski is one of the many Virginia Groot Foundation award winners who were showing at the fairs. Photographer Andy Freeberg surprised us with a gift of his book Art Fare that included photographs he shot in 2010 of dealers and staff behind-the-scenes. The book featured our booth at ArtMiami. That was the year our red painted booth presented works by Sergei Isupov, Chris Antemann, and the lovely Lauren Levato came to work the show and we were reminded about how much had changed in four short years. Freeberg’s current work continues to follow his interest in working in the art world through environmental portraits and was shown by Kopeikin and Andrea Meisel at Miami Project.

3. Design Miami

collaboration and the special projects

Ephemera, sponsored by Perrier-Jouet, commissioned Vienna based duo Katharina Mischer and Thomas Traxler to create Small Discoveries. The project included mechanized plants moving, growing, and dying. Thinning Ice by MacArthur Fellow Jeanne Gang was sponsored by Swarovski. Both dealt with ecological issues and sustainability. To begin and end the show is the leather-clad Fendi booth celebrating Peter Marino, awarded “Design Visionary.” (Marino’s solo show is onview at the Bass Museum.)

4. DESIGN MIAMI

no names, no labels, no price lists

While clay may be everywhere, at Design Miami, you have to guess who made the piece or find someone in the booth who isn’t tied up with another VIP to ask. Then you have find a way to remember who did what where. You either needed to record voice or written notes on your phone or revert to taking notes with a pen on paper. I borrowed a pen and drew pictures on paper and left a card to receive digital information sometime in the future #oldschool. Elisabeth Agro, curator Philadelphia Museum of Art, used a pencil-written, paper cheat-sheet of her bucket-list dealers to visit.

5. DESIGN MIAMI

less is more and more is less

It is true that #clayiseverywhere throughout this fair, celebrating its 10th year with 35 dealers. Booth design is strong and in some cases overwhelms the work presented. Large low tables, mixed up and sometimes cacaphonic shelving, burnt wood shelf grid, colorful walls, clusters-as-still-lifes, and intensely lit individual works were a bit over the top. A quick overview of the ceramics reveals contemporary and mid-century works from the USA, France, Belgium, Holland, South Africa, and Korea. Of all the fairs, this one provided the most concentrated opportunity to view ceramic objects but this was primarily within the context of design, not fine art. (The highlighted links when clicked lead to web information that offers explanations of what was seen but not readily accessed at the fair. The list that follows refers to the series of images contained in the blog post with artist names and the dealers who presented their works.) Adam Silverman at Edward Cella Art + Architecture; Ron Nagle; Tony Marsh at Pierre Marie Giraud; Anders Ruhwald at Volume; Haas Brothers at R&Company; Maren Kloppman; Eva Hild at Hostler Burrows; Iris Eichenburg at Ornamentum; Studio Makkink & Bey’s Pyramid of Makkum (an edition of 7, that commemorates the original first produced at the Royal Tichelaar Makkum, the oldest dutch manufactory, est. 1572.) Presented within a wooden cabinet housing an assemblage based on everyday objects with detailed instructions to be assembled into a flower pyramid was exhibited by Priveekollektie. Selected ceramic sculpture from La Bourne, France produced from 1940–1960 was shown by Magen H Gallery. The Southern Guild from Capetown, South Africa, presented works by Ardmore Ceramic Art, a ceramic studio in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. The presentation of South African design was made possible by the department of trade industry.  Seomi exhibited artist-designed ceramic furniture. Jean Jacques Inc. presented an array of American and European ceramicists.

6. ART BASEL MIAMI BEACH

too large for one day let alone three hours so you can’t possibly see the whole show

For those who come every year, the #clayiseverywhere saying is true; but actually, clay is not as everywhere as it was last year-but if you weren’t there last year, then it seems as if it is everywhere this year. Great singluar works were on view throughout the show by clay masters Ken Price ,Toshiko Takaezu, and Betty Woodman along with younger artists Theaster Gates and Francesca DiMateo. CFILE’s Justin Crowe spent time there and wrote the filtered report on clay works at this fair. I noticed that he missed a booth off to the side with a set of pickle jars fabricated partly from wood, ceramic, and found objects. Like much of the work we were showing and looking at recently, they used collage and time honored repair methods to join history to the present in an object driven message delivered through the power of the familiar utilitarian object. Sudarshan Shetty, shown by Gallery SKE from New Delhi, presented a series titled “every broken moment piece by piece.”

7. ART BASEL MIAMI BEACH

shiny, reflective and selfies

There were way too many opportunities to take reflective selfies at ABMB, but the most powerful example might have been the two part work by the ultimate, selfie-ist Ai Weiwei whose selfie taken of himself (with police behind him pre-arrest in 2009) was presented behind and reflected upon a something-ton forty-inch cube of clear crystal. ABMB, with over 73000 visitors included 160 museum groups and more than 267 galleries from 31 countries. That’s a lot of PEOPLE. People was the word embodied in one of the booth’s rotating neon signs. A personal favorite, was a neon sign by Jeppe Hein that asked “ARE YOU REALLY HAPPY”.

8. ART BASEL MIAMI BEACH

a kid could do this

“a kid could do this” was one of the special curated projects at the entrance to this fair. Installed as period room setting, each artwork was hung above a wainscot moulding with the artists’ signature on the wall in vinyl shown in dim lighting under a ceiling with a scrimmed covering presented by Gallery Gmurzynska. (Catalog available.) The idea is that modern art elicits the comment “any child could do this ____”. Appropos to our #clayiseverywhere theme, the title and intent of this exhibition could have been used as a starting point for an exhibition that explores the ongoing debate about intentional and unintentional abstraction by artists who come from the “Art World” to suddenly start working with clay and those who work with clay but climbed up the art ladder through training from the “Clay World.”

9. AQUA

Glazed and confused

AQUA lost a bit of its charm and uniqueness without the eye of the original founders Jacque Chartier and Dirk Park at the helm. But it was still art fun to cruise through at the end of a long day. Our Berkshire neighbor William Baczek has been exhibiting consistently, and presented illustrator Travis Louie along with well-known artists from our area Susan Mikula and Scott Prior. Victori Contemporary presented Jae Yong Kim’s wall of ceramic donuts. This was our most-liked photo and elicited the best captions comments. His interview in twelvmag about how he came to “make the donuts” is priceless. (Kim’s donuts were also shown by Lyons Weir at ArtMiami)

10. PULSE

Now located on the beach

This solid show started in Wynwood ten years ago and is now under the direction of Helen Toomer. Toomer moved it to the beach this year. Adjacent to the boardwalk and steps from the ocean, the show is beautifully installed with plenty of white space to show off the fresh, contemporary, material-driven artworks shown by well-known galleries that feature both established and emerging artists. Included in the varied materials and media was plenty of photography and conceptual installations. These provided a good setting for Sienna Patti Contemporary to show works by Susie Ganch and Lauren Fensterstock. (Fenderstock’s work was shown this summer at Independent Art Projects in North Adams, Massachusetts.) A major seated man by sculptor Viola Frey was presented by Rena Bransten. Tthe work of emerging artist Alwyn O’Brien was shown at James Harris Gallery in an organic grid-glaze-figurine collage sculpture. These assemblages are a new trend in ceramic sculpture as they push the limits of the clay’s fragility. A gorgeous series of works by Kathy Butterly at Shoshana Wayne greeted visitors at the entrance of the fair.

11. THE PARTIES: SCENE + SEEN

plan A, Skypad and more…

What’s Miami without a few parties? Special thanks goes out to Kasher|Potamkin and particularly Andi Potamkin for hosting the Miami Project exhibitor party on the boat. We felt honored and pampered; it was definitely a lovely benefit of being a dealer exhibiting at the fair. We were on a boat. Then there was the Saturday night let-it-all-down penthouse party held by our uber host and hostess Stuart and Julie Chase at Skypad-on-the-Bay. Twinkly lights, sunrise/sunsets, and birds eye view of the backed up traffic, police lights, and reflections of boats across the water. Gathered there were various #artberkshire regulars, museum professionals, visiting photographers, and, of course, the weary dealers. Stuart Chase, director of HistoryMiami, announced the Knight Foundation award of a matching grant to develop a new photography center dedicated to the photography of Miami. We were all there to congratulate and cheer on this initiative. I lacked any initiative at that hour and only took a shot of the view before sitting down to enjoy the company in real time. Monday we took a spin through the current exhibitions at HistoryMiami museum and discovered how the Beatles foresaw Miami Art Week as shown in the photograph of the group on their 1966 Butcher album cover.

12. And then there’s UBER

No one could have gotten anywhere without them and their friendly coupons.

And we’ll be back, same time next year.

ARTICLES OF NOTE:
HYPERALLERGIC
Miami Artist Run Over by Cop Dies of His Injuries  by Benjamin Sutton
Hundreds Take to the Streets to Seek Justice for Artist Killed by Miami Police by Jillian Steinhauer
#BlackLivesMatter vs #artbasel by Jillian Steinaher
Blacked out in the Art World  anonymous
From Kim Kardashian to Miley Cyrus Looking Back on Art Basel Miami’s Week of Excess in the New York Times T Magazine
Provacative Art Basel Tweets Make Jerry Saltz the Jonathan Swift of Social Media WSJ
Jerry Saltz’s Fake Instagram Week at Art Basel Vulture.com
Twelvmag.com’s Kamara Williams interviews Jae Yong Kim Ceramic Genius
Artnet with Picasso Stolen from art fair in Miami
CFILE’s Market Report | Art Basel Miami Beach