Art Miami Turns 25
December 8, 2014

Alexis Diaz at Galerie Ernst Hilger

Alexis Diaz at Galerie Ernst Hilger

Bäckström's Saddle at Wetterling Gallery

Bäckström’s Saddle at Wetterling Gallery

Todd Merrill Studio

Todd Merrill Studio

Malcolm Liepke at Nikola Rukaj

Malcolm Liepke at Nikola Rukaj

KAWS at Leslie Sacks

KAWS at Leslie Sacks



By Samantha Katz | December 8, 2014

Art Miami celebrated its 25th birthday during Art Basel Miami Beach 2014, and just like a Sagittarius, it captivated only the most intellectual and enthusiastic patrons. This year, the acclaimed art fair, now the longest-running in Miami, partnered with 130 of the world’s most prominent galleries to showcase artwork of the 20th- and 21st-centuries, once again earning its place as Miami’s premiere anchor fair.

Kicking off with a private preview to benefit the Pérez Art Museum Miami, Art Miami kept visitors busy throughout the week by launching a series of related initiatives, including the presentation of its sister fair Context, site-specific installations, solo artist projects, and a host of new collaborations. Serving as a leading cultural destination during an otherwise chaotic state of affairs, Art Miami partnered with galleries from 25 cities across the U.S. and 16 countries, including Argentina, Canada, Japan, Israel, England, Italy, France, Holland, Spain, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and the Netherlands.

Within a fair that is dedicated to showing and selling a wide variety of work, these booths were among our favorites:

Contessa Gallery, Cleveland, OH

Contessa Gallery is a collector-oriented gallery based in Cleveland, OH. While many galleries focus primarily on artist representation and promotion, Contessa’s mission is to assist clients in developing collections that can be passed down through generations. Their expansive booth at Art Miami showcased new works by contemporary artists David Datuna and David Drebin, as well as iconic pieces by modern masters Jasper Johns, Helen Frankenthaler, and Chuck Close.

In an unprecedented move, Contessa Gallery reserved half of their space for a presentation of works by Mr. Brainwash. The artist, whose real name Thierry Guetta, is best known for his role in the Banksy-directed and Oscar-nominated film, Exit Through the Gift Shop. Guetta transformed the booth to reflect his own pop-art style and personal studio space. Completed with painted walls and materials used to create his dynamic art, this exhibition pulled viewers into the world of Mr. Brainwash and immersed them with his new works made specifically for Art Miami.

Galerie Ernst Hilger, Vienna, Austria

Galerie Ernst Hilger in Vienna’s First District showcases work from Austrian modernist artists and several important international artists of the 20th-century, like Jean Dubuffet, Andy Warhol, and Keith Haring. Exhibiting a more contemporary selection during Art Miami, this booth featured the work of FAILE, Shepard Fairey, Cameron Platter, and Alex Diaz, among others.

The highlight of this booth was the work of Diaz. The Puerto Rican artist is recognized as one of the most important street artists today, and through his murals, he leaves his own singular artistic trail worldwide. His remarkable approach–consistently and exclusively using brushes and black ink–as well as his attention to detail are distinguishing qualities of his work that have earned him international acclaim. With regard to his choice of subject matter, he predominantly selects animal hybrids inspired by the respective local environment of the painting site.

Leslie Sacks Contemporary, Santa Monica, CA

Leslie Sacks Contemporary, based in Santa Monica, CA, exhibited the full range of its program during Art Miami. Presenting Post-War Contemporary works, visitors explored a series of pieces ranging from limited-edition prints to paintings, photography, and works on paper. Artists such as KAWS, Ed Ruscha, Frank Stella, and Manolo Valdes hung prominently in this corner booth. A complete set of ten screen-prints by KAWS’ entitled, Ups and Downs (2013) really made this exhibition pop.

Frank Stella’s “V” series from 1968, comprised of eight lithographs of his iconic chevron compositions, was presented alongside minimalist color-field oil paintings by Los Angeles-based artist Alex Weinstein. Large-scale digital photography by land- and city-scape photographer Jeremy Kidd was featured, as well as the glossy acrylic paintings of Venice Beach-based artist Charles Christopher Hill. And Korean-born, Milan-based artist Minjung Kim made her Art Miami debut this year with her elegant rice-paper compositions.

Todd Merrill Studio Contemporary, New York, NY

Perfectly befitting Art Miami’s coastal setting, Todd Merrill Studio’s booth presented a striking curation of contemporary studio pieces reflecting themes of nature, light, and water. Among the work exhibited were four light installations by Grimanesa Amorós, inspired by the Uros Islands, and steel works by K. Gretchen Greene based on the riptides. The booth also exhibited contemporary reinterpretations of historical decorative arts with new works by Beth Katleman, Molly Hatch, and Shari Mendelson.

Greene’s new triptych, Underwater, captured the artist’s consideration of environmental and economic impacts on coastal communities. The piece was made up of three panels, from which torched text and plasma cut curling forms narrate the artist’s recollections. Welded steel and lacquer sculptural waves were poised to crash, engulfing the viewer while reflecting the movement of memories as they appeared and faded away. The booth also debuted Greene’s most recent piece, Riptide, a welded steel and plasma-cut sinuous table.

Nicola Rukaj Gallery, Toronto, Canada

Nikola Rukaj Gallery of Toronto specializes in North American and European modern, contemporary paintings, works on paper, master prints, and sculpture. The gallery features exhibitions of works from the collection and through partnerships with museums and institutions, offers critically acclaimed paintings, works on paper, master prints, and sculptures. Highlights from this year’s exhibition at Art Miami included original works by modernist masters Cy Twombly, Richard Serra, Arshile Gorky, Nicolas Carone, Esteban Vicente, and more.

Malcolm Liepke’s figurative artworks caught our attention. The Minneapolis native focuses on creating works that portray moments of sensual pleasure and introspection. Neighbored with critically acclaimed, blue-chip artwork, his erotic yet innocent subjects were a breath of fresh air. The girls he paints have a certain aggressive but sensual appeal, and his palettes are so lush and vibrant that visitors could lose themselves in the smooth undulations against his heavily textured canvases.

Waltman Ortega Fine Art, Miami, FL

With a gallery space in Miami’s Wynwood district, Waltman Ortega Fine Art offered visitors an inside look at the incredible talent hailing from the sunshine state. With a highly dedicated staff and a seamless booth display, it came as no surprise to learn that Waltman Ortega has been participating in Art Miami for the past 10 years. Exhibiting an eclectic array of artists, such as Ludwig Wilding, NOART, Jorge Enrique, and Jonathan Huxley, this gallery seemed to impress collectors both old and new.

Tax Heaven, a light and crystal diamond wall assemblage by NOART drew a crowd, as it was kept secret until this week’s display at Art Miami. Another prominent work on view at this booth was the floor sculpture Falling Waters by Enrique. The artist employed Japanese joinery technique and painting to produce this piece. “Radical architecture” can be best used to describe this piece, as it occupied three-dimensional space in a very anti-organic, geometrical way.

Wetterling Gallery, Stockholm, Sweden

Wetterling Gallery is one of the leading spaces for contemporary art in Scandinavia. The gallery’s ambition has developed towards providing a platform for international artists–both new and established–with an increasing emphasis on Swedish artists and with focus on painting, sculpture, and photography.

The booth’s focal point was a hybrid saddle-cycle sculpture, titled Saddle Tramp, by Linda Bäckström. Her work portrays a traditional male world that is characterized by the romantic notion of Americana culture, the cowboy stereotype, and wide-open spaces. Here, “horse powers” meet but both are concerned with the same dream of freedom. Bäckström is fascinated by the assertive grandeur of the cliché that is the USA, which contrasts so strongly with the cautious restraint that so often rules in Sweden.

Zemack Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv, Israel

The Tel Aviv gallery Zemack Contemporary Art was a fan favorite at this year’s Art Miami. Their goal is to give recognition and focus to figurative art created by established Israeli artists. Additionally, they have come to foster the Israeli art scene by introducing internationally recognized works. Their eclectic booth, showcasing artists Yigel Ozeri, Phillippe Pasqua, and Eran Shakine, included traditional oil on canvas, photography, sculptures, and prints in voile and fabric.

Additionally, the exhibition showed a video and stills by Lee Yanor. Her work is intense, dark, and beautiful. Yanor`s emulsions and holograms–photos made with experimental techniques–provoke a deep humanistic stance as well as an advanced sense of movement, time, rhythm, pulse, and the human body. He work creates a dialogue where identity, exile, dreams, and memories interweave through the use of art, dance, photography, music, sound, set design, and technology.

Todd Merrill Studio
80 Lafayette Street
New York NY 10013
Phone: 212 673 0531
Website: www.ToddMerrillStudio.com
E-mail: [email protected]
Instagram: @ToddMerrillStudio
Todd Merrill Summer Studio
11 South Main Street
Southampton, NY 11968
Phone: 631 259 3601