East Enders Fly South for Art Basel

Everyday existence around the fairs became an immersive, surreal fantasy world where everything experienced was the product of someone else’s imagination.
The Wynwood Walls, a mural installation that has transformed a dilapidated warehouse district in Miami, is always a mecca during Art Basel week and was mobbed on Saturday night. Jennifer Landes

   Art Basel week in Miami, which ended on Sunday, brought the usual international crowds and galleries, satellite fairs, and installations everywhere. In addition to the galleries that did show, a number of East End dealers and artists participated even if they weren’t showing.
    The Miami Project, a new fair this year from the organizers of artMRKT Hamptons, attracted Halsey Mckay Gallery and Eric Firestone Gallery of East Hampton, Mark Borghi of Bridgehampton, and Boltax Gallery from Shelter Island.
    The open-plan fair, filled with light and space, was designed with a minimalist aesthetic that incorporated the sophisticated feeling of Miami’s design district. It was a foil and a respite from the rather crowded and overwhelming Art Miami fair next door. Mr. Borghi, who took art to both fairs, said last Thursday that business was good — even better in a follow-up phone call on Monday.
    At Art Miami, he sold 15 works, including two by Eric Fischl and a suite of three Robert Ryman paintings that went for $280,000. At the Miami Project, he sold four works — by Alex Katz, Joan Mitchell, Conrad Marca-Relli, and Sam Francis.
    “The market was extremely active,” Mr. Borghi said. “People came to those fairs to buy.” Other works he sold were by Anish Kapoor, George Condo, Takashi Murakami, and Cecily Brown. Two museums put works on reserve.
    Max Fishko, a managing partner of the Miami Project, said last Thursday that he was pleased with the fair’s design and its “Florida-like vibe,” as well as its overall reception. “We have some good energy, and I think we’re doing well with the customer base. Obviously we have a lot to learn. This is a complicated business, and it’s constantly changing, so we always find areas for improvement.”
    He said he was seeing many familiar faces from his other fairs in Texas, San Francisco, and on the South Fork, among them Beth Rudin DeWoody, a part-time Southampton resident, and a number of significant collectors. He called this the kind of synergy he was looking for across all of his fairs.
    Karen Boltax, of the gallery on Shelter Island, said last Thursday that she had sold some works, and Hilary Schaffner of Halsey Mckay said on Sunday that after a slow start for the gallery, foot traffic and sales picked up over the weekend.
    On Sunday, the Miami Project sent out a release summarizing some of the more significant sales, including two Andrew Schoultz gold flag paintings to Sean (Diddy) Combs at Marx and Zavatero Gallery. Mr. Schoultz’s paintings were seen at Eric Firestone’s gallery in East Hampton over the summer. Mr. Firestone’s gallery also did well, with more than $100,000 in sales for Tseng Kwong Chi’s photographs from the “Downtown New York” series.
    Art Miami has been in existence for 23 years, a decade more than the Art Basel Miami Beach fair that takes over the convention center. Art Miami seemed reinvigorated this year, with a separate section called Context that offered work by edgier and younger artists. The fair organizers announced last week that they were taking over the Aqua Art Miami fair, which takes place each year in the Aqua Motel in South Beach, with a gallery in each room showing pieces by emerging artists. Stephan Keszler was also at Art Miami, with the Banksy murals he showed at his Southampton gallery two years ago placed in the fair’s most prominent public spaces.
    With parts of the beach transformed into enormous sand craters, planes flying overhead with banners proclaiming “WE’RE RICH AND WE CAN DO WHAT WE WANT” by Jack Pierson and “BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH . . .” by Mel Bochner, an alligator sculpture in the bay, organized installations of mural art in Wynwood, and random bits of sculpture everywhere, it was difficult to go anywhere without seeing something related to the fairs. Everyday existence anywhere around the fairs became an immersive, surreal fantasy world where everything experienced was the product of someone else’s imagination.
    Other hotels such as the Deauville in North Beach and the Standard on an island in the bay off Miami Beach also showed art. Peter Dayton, who has shown previously at various Miami fairs, took up residence at the Standard during the week as the Rock ’n’ Roll Shrink, prescribing healing aural balms based on childhood memories for those in need of some musical therapy. It was part of the presentation by Kara Finnerty at the Paul Kasamin Pop-Up Shop in the hotel. Mr. Dayton’s artwork was also on display there.
    At the big fair, as Art Basel Miami Beach tends to be known in casual­speak, a number of East End artists both past and present had work on view. Mary Boone showed art by Barbara Kruger, Eric Fischl, and Ross Bleckner. Cheim and Read brought a Lynda Benglis piece. L & M Arts brought one of the more talked about pieces, “Greedy Schmuck,” a black-and-white piece by Ms. Kruger, who has a house in East Hampton. Gagosian showed works by Richard Prince. Some of the historical artists from the East End who had work on view included Dan Flavin, John Chamberlain, and Roy Lichtenstein. Joan Washburn brought work by Nicolas Carone, Ray Parker, Jackson Pollock, and Jack Youngerman.
    Mr. Borghi said it was important to bring completely fresh work to the fair. “I begin to think about Miami in July and start to lay out the booths in my head. At Art Miami, I brought only a couple of things I have ever shown before. You need fresh material. There is very little point in taking the same inventory year to year.”
    He holds back special work and saves it for the fair. He said it is what makes his clients “zoom to the booth to see what you have,” and maybe walk away with a new purchase.

Mark Borghi at his Art Miami booth. 

Max Fishko, center, chatting with collectors at his Miami Project fair.

Art in the Air by Jack Pierson and Mel Bochner.

Two of Lynda Benglis's sculptures at Cheim & Reed.

Barbara Kruger at Mary Boone Gallery.

Ms. Kruger also turned up at L & M Arts's booth with a much discussed piece.

Peter Dayton wrote out a prescription as the RocknRoll Shrink at the Standard Hotel.

Several of Banksy's murals were shown by Stephan Keszler of Southampton at Art Miami.

Part of the scene in Wynwood on Saturday night of Art Basel week in Miami.

More Wynwood scenesters hanging out by the murals.

Richard Prince was on view at Gagosian in the convention center.