If an artwork lingers in your mind two weeks after you discovered it, chances are high you have found something special. The frenetic pace of scouting new art at 22 fairs, negotiating sales, rhythmic socializing and lots and lots of walking (in heels!) doesn’t afford a great opportunity to get intimate with art. Part of my curatorial gift is my visual sensitivity. Sensory overload is very real for me so, I have learned to tune out sights that don’t appeal to me.
This ability works very well at art fairs where there are thousands of artworks to see and evaluate. I typically first walk a fair alone, get into a flow, zoom in on what catches my eye and ignore the rest. After scouting new talent, I do some quick research, speak with the gallerist and then bring in my client. I highly recommend emerging collectors visit as many art fairs as they can to sharpen their taste. It may feel overwhelming, but searching for treasure is never easy. Oh, and definitely wear comfortable shoes!
Here are my favorite artist discoveries from Art Week Miami 2012, all of which were found at various satellite art fairs, located in Miami’s arts district Wynwood, which showcase emerging and mid-career talent. I have also provided gallery prices to give you a sense of the market.
I was absolutely mesmerized by this captivating photograph on my first night in Miami at a party for Just Mad Mia, an art fair highlighting talent from Latin America and Spain. Adriana’s works are really theatric performances, mixing elements of fantasy, realism, and advertising with a dark psychological twist. Her compositions are heavily influenced by classic portraiture and painting which she uses as a stage to broadcast social critiques. The use of high Western culture to illuminate social dysfunction in her own country, Colombia, presents layers that I cannot immediately comprehend, yet I like the confrontation of fantasy and reality. Her carefully staged photographs sometimes feel claustrophobic, sometimes ironic, often wicked. Despite the veneer of sweetness depicted by fairy tale like subjects, sinister actions lurk outside the frame of the photos and the viewer is left wanting to know more. This photograph from her Icons series is titled Maria, is produced as a series of 7 and priced at $12,000. I would love an opportunity to share a bottle of red wine with Adriana and probe her mind. Adriana is represented by Bogota based, Galeria El Museo. Learn more here.
I am a big fan of both irony and play so I lit up when Amanda’s unstretched canvases greeted me after too many booths of dark and conceptual art. Her childlike works make you feel momentarily cozy and then at second glance you notice the subtext and sophisticated palettes. Amanda’s work looks deceptively simple and I can imagine she has a ball making art in her playhouse. Her work proudly reflects femininity and domesticity, which feels refreshing and easy to be around. Not that Amanda is a Goody two-shoes; she winks at the viewer with her slightly sinister titles that leave you wondering what the work is really about (the title of the work to the right is "Face to Face with your True Nature"). Par for the course, Amanda lives happily with her family in a Colorado farmhouse while being represented by a hip gallery in Amsterdam. Sounds like a storybook life to me. Maybe not exactly nursery material, these fun works selling for around $3,500 are sure to find “happy” homes. See more of Amanda’s works here.
If you have ever had the yearning to say “I own an artwork by a bona fide genius” at a cocktail party, here is your chance. Judy is best known for her complex and lyrical installations, including set designs for theatrical performances, and has been widely recognized for her pioneering talent including receiving the coveted, MacArthur Foundation's “Genius” award in 2004. What I stumbled upon at Scope Miami were her intimate collages, which like her large-scale installations, reflect a perfect balance between deliberate planning and whimsy. I love this small work on paper brimming with vibrant energy titled Jaipur and think having the pleasure of owning it for $5,000 is a bargain. Her gallerists at Accola Griefen are also a delight. This short Art21 video about Judy's complex installations is a thrill.
The works of this Moscow born, NYC based artist have been compared to the likes of Goya, Brueghel, Egon Schiele, Henry Darger and Japanese woodblocks. If you are thinking, “that is quite a bit to take in”, it is. Dasha’s works are bizarre and that is why I like them. She also has the wit and wickedness of an absurdist novelist. Her somewhat unsettling fantasy scenes are clearly a product of the artist’s lucid imagination and it would be pointless to try to deconstruct every detail, however the big picture draws you in with a WOW and then the titles makes you giggle. Would you expect a drawing called “That Only What is Real is Permanent” to look like the one to the left? I should mention that all her Mylar drawings, priced at $14,000, SOLD OUT at the NADA Fair where her gallerist Zach Feuer showed. Check out an interview with the curious Dasha here.
I would imagine New York based artist, Michael Mapes to be a very detailed and patient man that couldn’t decide between becoming an artist and a forensic investigator so, merged the two. My best description of his work would be --photographic based portraits on a scientific canvas-- if that makes any sense to you. Michael creates elaborate specimen boxes containing portraits created by cutting up hundreds of photos of the subject, throwing in their hair, nails and other DNA specimens into glass vials, gelatin capsules, magnifiers, or baggies. Got it? Best you just take a look at this point. I vote for Michael as the best forensic artist at Art Basel Miami 2012 and kudos to his gallerists at PARLOR for their bold eye. Michael is available for commisions and for a mere $2,000, you can have yourself immortalized.
While I found her at Art Platform L.A. not Miami, I wanted to share my favorite artist discovery of 2012, since we are days away from 2013.
Cairo born, Los Angeles dwelling, Sherin’s works navigate the duality of her existence in form and spirit. Arabic ornamentation is juxtaposed with Western minimalist aesthetics. The traditional reimagined within a contemporary frame. Part organic, part precise. Half flat, half three-dimensional, her works feel both ancient and modern. Her mixed media paintings feature hand-cut ornamentation with psychedelic Kool-Aid colors that pulsate with energy. Sherin’s works are ultimately a lush blend of beauty and meaning. Her works have been shown around the world and she was awarded a California Community Foundation Visual Art Fellowship in 2012. The work I have my eye on is priced at $7,000 and Santa knows which one. Curiously, Sherin is not represented in her hometown, but in San Francisco by the fine minds at Wendi Norris.
Every art collection reflects the unique personality of the collector and my picks reveal quite a bit about me. That’s what it is all about my friends. Buy what you love and you will never regret an art purchase.
Wishing you and yours a wonderful holiday season.