Launch and Learn, Day Three

Day Three sent us to the openings of two fairs (the Launches) and two lectures/ presentations (the Learns). A full, interesting and intriguing day filled with design and art. Read on …

The day started at Espacio 23, the new (vanity) museum showcasing the collection of developer Jorge Perez. His collection of contemporary art includes many of the big names, Kentridge, Ai Wei Wei are just the start, beautifully displayed in a large and bright space. Note: Institutional names are interesting here – Frost Art Museum, Frost Science Museum, Frost School of Music sometimes provide a source of confusion. The Miami Art Museum was transformed to the Perez Art Museum Miami (PAMM). How long will it take for this new museum to also be called The Perez? Hmmm …

The morning panel populated by a group of university museum directors* explored the importance of academic museums. I was interested in what would be said because my last position was in a university museum. Each speaker started by telling what was special about their institution; the consensus centered on access to resources provided by the college or university. Next, they were asked to address the differences between university and public museums. Like the universities they are part of, these museums are sites of dialog, debate, and critical thinking. Then, they were asked to speak about collections policies and practices. The only input unique to university museums was that they are active parts of their institutions; collections are open to and used by students, faculty, and scholars. Finally, the panelists were asked what public museums can learn from university museums. The two responses were to take risks and because of shorter planning times, to be “nimble.”

It was an worthwhile morning, organized in part by Art in America. The audience learned in closing that extended interviews with the directors will be posted on the Art in America website (https://www.artnews.com/c/art-in-america/). Thanks to them for this informative morning and the opportunity to see Espacio 23. Thanks to the museum for a light lunch and their sponsors for the goodie bag (got to love the goodie bags).

A quick and safe drive home – the causeways and roads are not yet clogged with Art Week traffic – to pick up Constant Companion and head to the opening of Design Miami. This annual fair of everything design is a neighbor to Art Basel Miami Beach. The parking lot on which it was located in the past is now partially transformed into a public park. It’s ok.

I love seeing some regular features and vendors at this fair. For the past few years, the John Keith Russell Gallery has shown the simple gifts of Shaker material culture.

Two fair sponsors always create interesting, sometimes innovative displays. Swarovski’s presentation of crystals was, well, sparkling. Perrier-Jouët commissioned Andrea Mancuso to create an intimate, immersive space encrusted with small ceramic pieces evocative of the vineyards to showcase six couvées and champagne bowl. Constant Companion was wowed by this display, as he is each year.

Perrier-Jouët
Swarovski

This year, I took especial note of Design Miami’s Curio Program. These small-scale installations are said to be inspired by the cabinets of curiosities of old. The first I ran across was the Kerr Gallery showing beautiful examples of African art, not usually present at this design-centered fair. The decorative nature of this rich and varied body of work reminded me of the original Dallas TV show. Linda Gray, the actress who played Sue Ellen, JR’s wife, filled their Texas home with pieces from her personal African art collection. Interesting how TV can perhaps influence trends; the Huxtable house in the Bill Cosby show was a gallery of African diaspora (today’s term) art.

Constant Companion and I were particularly drawn into the graceful ceramics of Paris-based ceramicist Karen Swami at another Curio. These wheel-thrown, oversized pieces are all one-of-a-kind. Her work is described as dry, fractured, and cracked ground that she revives with washes of pure gold. My photo does not do them justice.

Local gallerist, Mindy Solomon (hostess of the Progressive Brunch), presented four artists in her Curio. Lee Kang Hyo’s Korean stoneware stood out to me, a joy to see this work. Other artists spotlighted include Basil Kincaid, Linda Lopez, and Donté K. Hayes.

Our time at Design Miami was short; we had two more stops to make by day’s end. We both wanted to walk through this year’s Scope fair; I had plans to meet a friend there. Once my friend and I found each other (always a challenge) and caught up on the past few weeks’ news, we started our stroll through art. Constant Companion started ahead of us and we each went at our own paces.

The first artwork that caught my attention was by Tawny Chatman in the Galerie Myrtis booth. Her photos are manipulated with other components such as gold leaf, paint, and illustration to, in this case, resemble a Klimt painting. Another woman represented by this gallery is Delita Martin – haunting paintings of women.

Sunday’s Best, the Redemption, 2019

At the far end of the first row of booths was a corner booth of the Naila Art Gallery from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The artwork of paintings of one fashionably dressed Saudi woman artist, Mashael Fahad Al-Athel, was represented. Like the next artist, she was very much a part of the exhibit. A first for Scope.

Mashael Fahad Al-Athel

In another booth, my friend and I were both drawn to Olga Kosheleva’s oversize sunglass sculptures – “Global Vision” – which focus visually on global warming and Mr. Trump. Kosheleva’s equally oversize personality is almost larger than her creativity, as she meandered around the fair to draw attention to her artwork. We found her and another exhibitor!

Olga Kosheleva
Global Vision

Oh, we saw much, much more at both fairs, these are just some highlights of special works that caught my eye or tickled my fancy, including a fish sculpture at Scope, not as wonderful as our fish sculpture (see Nov. 21 post).

Anonymous Fish

But the day was not yet over! Each of the fairs offers its own variety of public programs. The local store CA Modern Home paired with Herman Miller and the Eames Office for a special retrospective exhibit that focused on the amazing, timeless work of Charles and Ray Eames. This event was listed on the Design Miami VIP listing. The Eames’ grandson, Eames Demetrios, spoke about their lives and the ideas behind their amazing objects. He illustrated his narrative with a series of short films he’s assembled. The film, “A Gathering of Elephants” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_yqvlRwaHHM), is particularly special.

The cats’ Eames chair, chez nous

After a full day of two air launches and two learning experiences we rolled home, into bed, to get ready for Day Four.

*Included were Textile Museum, George Washington University; Lowe Art Museum, University of Miami; Hood Museum, Dartmouth; Museum of Fine Art, Spelman College; and Tang Teaching Museum, Skidmore College.

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