Conquering Art Basel Miami Beach is no easy feat. With 247 galleries from North America, Europe, Latin America, Africa and Asia converging in Miami Beach for the 3–day long festival featuring both established and up-and-coming artists, the experience can be a bit overwhelming — and baffling. Why did a Popsicle painting go for $50,000, Sylvester Stallone fall hard for the $1.6 million “Love” sculpture or a bacon painting sell for $13.5 million?
Have no fear. With the help of my four-legged sidekick (and Instagram sensation) Miss Pickle, I am about to make this world a lot less scary.
As the human behind my dog’s account @PickleBeholding, one that follows her gallivanting from gallery to gallery, I know a thing or two about the often-intimidating art world.
I am able to carefully curate each adorable shot of Pickle posing next to stunning creations, because I work as a private art advisor to individuals and companies. In other words, I help these people and companies figure out what art to buy! A lot of that work is taking away the fear and feelings of “stupidity” associated with art and the art world. Because you don’t have to be educated to appreciate contemporary art, it can be for anyone — of any shape or size. You just have to like something to appreciate it.
So I thought, now that Art Basel has come to a close, I would share some of my favorite works from the past week (including those at other shows), with Miss Pickle, of course.
Alejandro Diaz “Jesus/Cheeses”
2009 at Royale Projects, Booth C11, at Untitled Art Fair
When I look for art either for a collector, or myself, I try to find works that hits you in the gut, something that doesn’t need to be explained. The work “Jesus/Cheeses” by Alejandro Diaz does just that. Diaz is a master at using humor (another one of my favorite things) to address serious issues of race and class. This work in particular deals with Spanish accents and language barriers when trying to speak a non-native tongue, but it also breaks down preconceived notions of culture, society and status.
2. It wasn’t me…
Sakir Gokcebag “29 – Mirror”
2007 at Conrads, Booth N-113, at Pulse Miami Beach
A statement that I hear often, is “oh, but I could have done that” or “my kid could have made that.” And while often times it is true, especially with a lot of conceptual art being made these days, it is the nuance of these works that should not be overlooked. That holds true for this work “29 – Mirror”by Sakir Gokcebag, made of varying shoes all cut off at the toe. Gokcebag often works with ordinary objects — including shoes, toilet paper, umbrellas and coat hangers — but arranges or transforms these objects in a way that makes the viewer acutely aware of how precarious life is.
This work hit me particularly hard because it reminded me of the crisis in Syria, and the millions of Syrians walking hundreds, if not thousands of miles, to escape persecution. It is these subtle interventions that I find to be very moving. It may not be something that someone wants to live with, but it certainly is a work of art worth consideration.
3. Oh no! I’ve become 2-D!
Dominique Petrin “Installation”
2015 at Galerie Antoine Ertaskiran, Booth B7, at Untitled Art Fair
Now onto something more fun! I chose this installation by Dominique Petrin because walking by this work at the Untitled fair made my day brighter. There is a lot to be said for a work that just makes you smile. The other wonderful thing about it is that it is all hand-painted and hand-cut — everything from the squares on the floor to the different patterns of wallpaper and the framed works. This work exemplifies what I like to call the “MS Paint” aesthetic, where artists play with the flattening of space that occurs when working on a computer. For me, it is the color and skill seen by Dominique Petrin that makes this work stand out.
He Xiangyu “Wisdom Teeth”
2013-14 at White Space Beijin, Booth P2, at Art Basel Miami Beach
This work by He Xiangyu titled “Wisdom Teeth” was my favorite work at Art Basel. It is made out of bronzed wisdom teeth laid out in a grid on the floor. Even though this is the kind of work that is very difficult for an individual collector, I thought it was so powerful, personal and human. Because wisdom teeth are now obsolete for humans to have, and often cause so much trouble by being impacted, they have become something that we, as a society, just throw away. He gives new life to these teeth by making them something valuable again, as viewers think about the lives of these individuals who these teeth used to belong to. They may also recall the days when people would steal gold tooth implants.
5. You can do it Steve. I believe in you!
João Maria Gusmão and Pedro Paiva “Steve Wondering if He Could Actually Walk”
2015 at Galeria Fortes Vilaça, Booth B15, at Art Basel Miami Beach
The work “Steve Wondering if He Could Actually Walk”by João Maria Gusmão and Pedro Paiva stood out to me because of its humor and the artists’ ability to create something so endearing. I know I have said it before, but you don’t have to have a complicated reason to enjoy a work of art. If you just like looking at the work, creating stories for the work or if it speaks to you in any way, that’s enjoying and appreciating it. This work does that for me. I feel like I can relate to “Steve,” and I have had those days, too.
6. I glove you too!
Amanda Ross-Ho “Black Glove Right #2”
2015 at Mitchell-Innes & Nash, Booth C9, at Art Basel Miami Beach.
Amanda Ross-Ho is an artist who is able to subtly employ humor on the larger subjects that concern her, such as detritus and the leftovers objects of day-to-day life. By making a latex glove so much larger than life we are reminded of just how much we throw away, and how many objects that were once dear to us are now in a landfill somewhere. Yet, it is intensely funny to imagine the kind of person (or giant!) who would wear this glove — and possibly what kind of art they would make.
7. I didn’t choose the rug life; the rug life chose me.
Samara Scott “Still Life VI”
2016 at The Sunday Painter, Booth 2.04, at NADA Miami Beach.
This final work is by a British artist Samara Scott, who is most well known for her paintings that incorporate and pervert every day objects like sequins, toothpaste, tapioca, eye shadow and chalk, among other items.
This work is part of a different series she did of painted carpets. She would not only paint the carpets, she would install them in the entirety of the room, including the stairs, walls, ceiling and floors. This work grabbed me because of the texture, installation method and subject matter. The larger-than-life slice of green pizza with some spilled red wine, just feels like a Friday night. Not to mention it’s just super fun and interactive!
Main image is “After Migrant Fruit Thugs” by Fred Tomaselli