Artist & Writer, San Francisco Bay Area

Post 1: Rank, Miami Art Show 2010

1. The days leading up to my Miami trip were a blur. Like my new friend Laura Isaac posted in her blog notes, I had never been to Art Basel Miami Beach before, not even to Miami. In fact, it was just my 3rd trip to the East Coast, the 2nd of which was this past summer. Yeah, I get around. (No, not really.) When I arrived in Miami, I didn’t know a soul in real life, although I “knew” people from twitter conversations. Preparing for this trip was a series of frantic questions: how should I prepare? what would I wear? what will these people be like in real life? do they really want me there? I had a script that was to be read on Thursday morning, and some details where still up in the air. I liked the written portion, but how would it all play out? It was a 15 minute long piece (when read aloud) but I had a whole hour… what would happen in that remaining time? That was the hardest part to envision. Would they see that the underlying conversation was about the personal experiences that are layered in art hierarchies, and not just about twitter? And would they care? I wanted to help cultivate a conversation that would be productive. But the time I had going into the event was next to nothing, one main reason being that the day I left (on a red-eye flight) for Miami, I literally fell on my face (black eye!?!?) in a parking lot. It took 4 hours (that I needed to work on things) to stop shaking. Amazingly, the black eye never materialized, and the Hitler-moustache shaped wound above my lip healed enough by the next day so I didn’t look like a Nazi-wannabe. My bags got packed and I made it to the airport by 10:30pm, in time for my 11:55pm flight.
2. Something else I feared as I prepared for my trip, was that my friend’s daughter would take a further turn for the worse either just before, or while I was out of town. I’ve mentioned elsewhere, but for someone new to this blog- my friend’s daughter (9 years old) has leukemia. She relapsed for the 3rd time just before Halloween. I was so out of sorts at the end of that week. Despondent. So, besides the few other art deadlines I had for Nov 30th, and getting myself out of town, I was afraid of something catastrophic happening for their family. But I decided to power through and see this trip as an act of embracing Life, in her honor.
3. I did make a few notes on what I planned to do in Miami. Most of it centered around #Rank, the event that the amazing Jennifer Dalton & William Powhida organized to take place in Winkleman Gallery’s  space at the Seven art fair. I saw #Rank as a home base of sorts. I wanted to view the rest of Miami from that place. By the end of the week, I fit these in: Seven (duh, I was already there), The Rubell Family Collection (well…), Pulse (huh!), Art Basel Miami Beach (what the?), NADA art fair (hmm), and Aqua (hey!). I took random (now useless) notes as I walked through the fairs. There was so much to take in, that a first visit to any of these fairs seemed just about acclimating to the physical environment. The art was a blur. I’d pass through galleries from London, Sao Paolo, Berlin, Tokyo, Seoul, San Francisco (hello?), New York, New York, New York (how many galleries does New York have anyway?), New York, New York, Los Angeles, New York. The art I saw is still sorting itself out. I am hoping what’s important is what comes to mind a few days from now.  It’s my conscious experiment to see what happens.
4. I hate the way that Miami has arranged its streets. I’m sorry. I can’t figure out that NW 1,753rd St/Forgettable Ave/exit 8b comes right after the Interstate 945/Interstate 387 crossover, nor can I read those signs while I’m driving fast in narrow lanes trying to drive aggressively like these people who never use turn signals. The surprise cash only toll booth in the middle of the freeway well, surprised me. I was lucky I had cash at all. On my drive in from the Fort Lauderdale airport, I missed my freeway turn off, and exited in order to get back on & turn around… and I ended up trapped in what must be the Miami projects. I wondered if the people that live there feel trapped. Anyway, I couldn’t get out of there fast enough, as I have no idea what crime is like in Miami. Speaking of crime, it seemed to be happening everywhere I went, at all hours. Not because it actually was. But because in Miami (as opposed to CA where I’m from) the police seem to be dispatched to help with everything from construction zones (which are puh-len-ti-full right now, and ugly), to valet cars exiting parking lots for traffic diversions, and they ALWAYS had their lights blaring red, blue, purple (did they have to throw in purple because they are insecure they decided the 2000 election?) There are tall skeleton-like deserted buildings everywhere, even across from what seem to be luxury apartment complexes, and there is so much new construction. Why can’t they first get rid of the old abandoned ones? Or re-do them? I hope there’s a good reason. And in some abandoned places, the lot isn’t just an empty building. It’s a disaster of a place that clearly people try to live in (I’m thinking of one in between the Pulse fair and the Seven fair, in the Wynwood District.)
5. For now, I am left with the impression that money makes on art.  Of course there was a lot of discussion about the art markets at #Rank. The art fair venues varied from humble (hotel rooms) to enormous (high ceilings! perfect lighting! space to breathe! over-priced food on fancy square shaped plastic throw away plates with plastic sterling-silver-ware! this place makes me feel good!?), there was prestige of exclusivity (“this is important art right?”), and big big art everywhere (at Art Basel) on big white (or light grey or purposefully decorated) walls. Is any art ever presented without a context that influences?  And is there any hope to take in that much art and figure out anything meaningful?
6. My event, “The Interview” etc etc with the super long title (see below!), was supposed to start at 11am on Thursday (first thing on the first full day!) It got pushed back a little as details were worked out for #Rank, and I was very OK with that. In my opinion, it all worked out fine. I had my brother, a few #Rank folks (Jen, Bill, Laura, and…? anyone else? sorry I can’t remember!), and 2 artist friends from San Francisco (Dana & Ron) who brought 5 friends of theirs with them. It was quiet in there (for the most part) (except for the screaming audio track loop from a video in the adjacent room that came to crescendo every 13 minutes), and it was a just-right experience for me. During the reading, I was worried that the art hierarchy underlayer in the narrative wasn’t clear to those listening. How could it have been? It’s never mentioned in the actual script. So I wrote on the #Rank Chalkboard “it’s also about art hierarchies” during the reading (I was told that was helpful.) Afterwards, instead of a group discussion (which I had worried over), there wasn’t much time left, so I just chatted on the side with a few people here, then a few people there. The feedback I got was that it was very thoughtful/compelling, interesting & they enjoyed it; that works for me. Casual. Relief! Done! Oh and, I had asked William Powhida to read my script at #Rank, as another layer of meaning that I hope makes sense to somebody. He graciously agreed to read it. I was/am thankful. 🙂
Part 2 of this Miami thing coming soon…
A few related links for now:
1. Hyperallergic “Miami Basel 2010 Proves Market is Back!?” by Kyle Chayka, good overview w/a lot of links to other reviews & perspectives
2. “I fought the art… and the art won” by Laura Isaac, this is who I gladly hung out with The. Entire.Time.
3. “Miami Art Fairs- Wednesday” by Joanie San Chirico, who I got to meet & hang out with, but not enough!

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