BLOGGING: Tacoma's Lynn Di Nino hits Miami Beach

By Lynn Di Nino on December 6, 2011


EDITOR'S NOTE: Tacoma's own Lynn Di Nino is in Miami, Florida for the annual Art Basel Miami Beach art trade show. She was kind enough to agree to blog about it for the Weekly Volcano.

Next year set yourself on fire by buying a $40 ticket to Art Basel Miami Beach (ABMB), the world-class fine art trade show. Whether you're an artist, a student or an art patron - you will be intoxicated with exposure to the high level of quality and variety of work from all over the world. Much of the work this year was inventive, outrageous, clever and thought provoking. The 10th annual mega event drew an additional 21 satellite art fairs - in warehouses, hotels and public spaces all around Miami and South Beach. This year there were more than 50,000 fair attendees, breaking last year's record.

Art Basel Miami Beach scene

If you go to the Vernissage, the invitation-only party preview, you will see a lot of rich-looking clean and very well dressed couples - most definitely the art patrons, the life blood of these heady exhibitions.

Because it's warm, you might see men wearing white leather shoes with no socks.

In addition to flamboyant fashions, and trays of special appetizers with free cocktails, you will experience miles of paintings, fine line drawings, sculpture, and photographs. The sculpture will be cast and fabricated resin, bronze imitating cardboard, Carrera marble imitating a Styrofoam carving of Mona Lisa, and an abundance of highly labor-intensive, expertly crafted wall pieces made with X-Acto knife paper cut-outs, knotted very fine plastic line, and hand-sewn sequins covering surfaces larger than your couch. You will see sexually explicit work, political pieces showing banks burning, and glorifications of everyday objects.

A memorable piece in the labor-intensive category was a full-scale gramophone on a grid of hanging buttons like a 3-D pointillistic sculpture in space. This piece sold. Another work used light blue wire mesh panels that were sewn into the transparent shapes of a bathroom sink, a faucet and an electrical panel. Each was framed in Plexiglas.

Every early December Miami Beach hosts Art Basel Miami Beach (originating in Basel, Switzerland), "the most prestigious art show in the Americas. More than 260 leading galleries from North America, Europe, Latin America, Asia and Africa take part, showcasing works by more than 2,000 artists of the 20th and 21st centuries." This is just ABMB - when you multiply the other 21 venues by the number of galleries represented within each, and the number of artworks they present, that totals approximately 5000 artworks. Looking at these quantities of curated work hones the art appreciation skills.

The shows

AQUA, a charming small scale art deco hotel, serving as a satellite venue, held a very pleasant surprise: Tacoma's own Nicholas Nyland was showing his artworks with the well-established Seattle cooperative gallery, SOIL. The spirit here was bustling yet relaxed with live music and free drinks in the courtyard. Except for AQUA's focus on West Coast galleries, there seemed generally to be no venue concentrations of art styles, locales or price ranges.

The galleries exhibiting in the biggest show pay $30,000 for 540 square feet for five days, and at PULSE - a less formal yet popular venue - the price was $20,000 for their 28-hour event. Modigliani, a framed Banksy, Henry Moore, Picasso, Chuck Close, Warhol, Lichtenstein and Keith Haring originals were for sale. A Henry Darger watercolor was for sale at $145,000, and a Diane Arbus photograph for $36,000. A Joseph Cornell piece sold during this show for $580,000, and there were many red dots.

New York gallerist Lucy Mitchell-Innes, director of Mitchell-Innes & Nash, attributed strong results to emerging collectors. "We saw a whole new generation of thirty-something collectors, seriously interested in looking and learning - and now buying as well, with many more women collectors making their own independent collecting decisions,'' Mitchell-Innes said via in a release. Even in a recession the people with money have to find safe places to put it, and right now Wall Street is not considered as safe as investments in high-end art.

The one

Out of some 5000 artworks I personally viewed, many stood out, but one in particular was compelling to me. Investigate for yourself the artists Glaser/Kunz and the gallery that represents them here. These sculptures have video-projected faces that are animated very realistically (also eerily) and they speak a poetry formulated from interviews with homeless people. To learn more about their work, click here.

The piece sells for $121,000.

How do we rate?

Is there good work like this here in the South Sound? You bet there is. Tacoma is a parallel universe to Miami in that their art patrons buy elsewhere - outside their own city (unless Art Basel is in town). World-class museums like the ones we have, and schools of higher learning contribute to the nurturing of a local art patron culture.

We've the quality art, now we need our patrons.

LINK: Lynn Di Nino's Art Basel Miami Beach Slideshow