Aqua Art, 2008. Image via: Vernissage TV. See their coverage here
Should Miami fairs continue to transition from hotels to tents as exhibition venues, the Aqua fair hotel in South Beach would be a real loss. Everyone should be excited about proper showrooms/booths, Aqua included, but their South Beach arm has more character and community than any other fair I’ve attended. The center courtyard is beautiful, there’s an intimate feel to the rooms, and the over all vibe of the show is fun. In short were it not for the fact that hotels have short walls, and a number of restrictive rules Aqua Miami is a perfect exhibition space.
The fair however is not so flawless. Organized with the stronger galleries at ground level (an arrangement I doubt was accidental; almost all fairs give premium placement to their best exhibitors) the influence of Barry McGee permeates the fair to the point of monotony. Cinders Gallery from New York provided some of the more obvious examples of this artist’s stronghold, though there are really too many artists and dealers with this affinity to count.
Galleries that performed at the highest and lowest levels of the Aqua spectrum for the most part stayed away from McGee’s influence. Jordan Eagles abstract blood paintings on Plexiglass are about as cliche as it gets, but I assume Krause Gallery has collectors with equally poor taste since I’ve been looking at this work for over two years now. I hope they sell out of this stuff so we don’t have to see it at so many art fairs, (it was at Red Dot New York last year, a venue it probably deserves).
Meanwhile in this same fair, Gregory Lind Gallery exhibits the subtle black stripe paintings of Mel Prest beside a light hearted wire-like sculpture by Seth Koen. The pairing for its contrast alone is fantastic. Karla Wozniak, an artist featured in a masthead this summer also had some great watercolors on display at Lind as well, while both Joy Garnett at Platform and Jason Dunda at Katherine Mulherin stood out from the crowd.
These finer works make slogging through a lot of the inevitable crap of any fair worth it, though more than that it’s the approachable community of dealers who make Aqua so enjoyable. It took me two hours to get out of a relatively short exhibitor list on the day before it closed. Given the amount of art I’d seen at that point, I’d say that’s a good sign