My busy Saturday at Art Basel Miami Beach included checking in with two St. Pete galleries and a Tampa-based photographer...
De la Cruz Collection
I began the day at the newest of the private collections that have sprung up like mini contemporary art museums in Miami’s gallery and design district— the De la Cruz Collection. Its three-story, 30,000-sq. ft. space opened in 2009, though the collection itself has a considerably longer history. Two floors featured recent work by contemporary artists whose careers are hot, including several of Thomas Houseago’s distinctively primitive figural sculptures and an awesome paper collage painting by Mark Bradford. Most moving, however, was a third floor devoted to works by artists including Felix Gonzalez-Torres and Ana Mendieta. Visitors were invited to take from a sculpture first realized in 1990 by Gonzalez-Torres (who died in 1996) that consisted of two stacks of paper, one reading “Nowhere better than this place,” the other reading “Somewhere better than this place.” A room devoted exclusively to Mendieta’s work— her outdoor performance-sculptures, in which she engaged the landscape by leaving impressions of her body behind et cetera, her drawings and video— emerged for me as one of the weekend’s most soulful experiences.
This year SCOPE turned out to be one of the brasher fairs, packed with art oglers and the kind of dumb art tricks that spur fair-goers to whip out their camera phones— e.g., a low relief styrofoam sculpture of the Mona Lisa exhibited by Gagliardi Art System, a gallery from Torino, Italy. Two St. Pete galleries— C. Emerson Fine Arts and Mindy Solomon Gallery— had booths at the fair, and both reported doing good business amid the hubbub.