Art Miami, entering its 27th edition, remains the most established art fair in Miami. It expanded its scope with Art New York, and this year, with the inaugural Palm Beach Modern & Contemporary Fair. As Miami’s premier anchor fair, Art Miami attracts thousands of collectors, dealers, curators, and artists from all over the world. With a showcase of more than 125 international art galleries, this fair shines a spotlight on every gallery and artist who are involved. Here, a couple of Miami’s top galleries and a couple of their artists share their views on Art Miami.
Bernice Steinbaum Gallery
Bernice Steinbaum, after a successful run of more than 20 years in New York City, moved her gallery — which was the first commercial gallery in the still-undeveloped area of Wynwood — to Miami. A former crack house, her gallery became a cornerstone for the now thriving Wynwood Arts District. The gallery closed in 2014, but Bernice, a formidable presence in the local and national arts scene, emphasizes the importance of fairs like Art Miami. Home recuperating from pneumonia, Steinbaum became more energized the more she spoke about art: “When a fair boasts 82,000 attendees, that means 164,000 eyes have looked at your booth. You want as many people to share your vision as possible.”
Bernice Steinbaum Gallery has a long history of exhibiting at Art Miami, and the fair has been very good to her and her artists. Kicking off its 26th edition, Art Miami hosted a private cocktail reception and screening of the award-winning film “Bernice” — the story of art pioneer Bernice Steinbaum’s lifelong efforts to assist artists of color and female artists in achieving the recognition they deserve. The event also celebrated her gallery’s 10th year as an exhibitor at Art Miami.
Her energy grows as she speaks about art, and her excitement builds as she shares what she has in store for this year’s Art Miami. In the past, she has featured a variety of nature themes. “I try to create an atmosphere in my booths, like in my gallery. I firmly believe that coming to a gallery should be a religious experience.” The theme this year will be “Give Them the Bird?” — a tongue-in-cheek theme that will promote her undying love for nature and animals. Her booth will undoubtedly be filled with birds like the ones displayed in beautiful cages by Troy Abbott, one of her artists. “Everyone is looking to nature today,” adds Bernice when describing artists that catch her eye. “I’m interested in recycled material. It’s exciting to me.” Bernice prefers talking about her artists, rather than herself, and even throws out an invitation: “You must come visit when I’m feeling better; I’ll make great coffee, and you can see the art.” While waiting for her new gallery — which will be connected to her home in Coral Gables — to be completed, her artists’ work is displayed, along with her own work. “Of course, much of my art is work by my artists. Clients visit and always want the work that’s not for sale.”
Looking forward to another great year at Art Miami, Bernice sings its praise. “It’s a very accessible fair with prices that are very doable. There’s a wide spectrum of art, and everyone can find something they like. Art Miami is also the oldest fairs in Miami and gives back to the community. I like that.”
Diana Lowenstein Gallery
The Diana Lowenstein Gallery, a fixture in Wynwood Arts District since 2006, has been exhibiting with Art Miami since its inception. As an active gallery owner and director, Diana Lowenstein has been a force in the international art scene as a passionate promoter of Argentine art. For over twenty years, her gallery has participated in high-caliber fairs including FIAC in Paris, ARCO in Madrid, Art Basel, Art Chicago, and Art Miami. “My association with Art Miami started from their first edition in 1991 with my gallery, then located in Buenos Aires. In the long period of 27 years, the fair experience has been back and forth. But since the new administration took over, Art Miami placed itself among one of the best art fairs.” While her gallery has exhibited in other Miami fairs, she has returned to Art Miami. “After participating in Art Basel Miami and Pulse, I realized that my gallery needed to support the Miami Art Fair.”
Contemporary art has always been Diana Lowenstein’s focus in her shows, and her taste is reflected in her gallery with an eclectic mix of paintings, sculptures, photography, and installations. Art Miami features a unique opportunity for her artists. “Art Miami offers, at that time of the year, a different alternative in comparison to the rest of the fairs and placing, for me, in second place, but working hard to become the best.” With such an enormous spotlight being shown on the artists exhibited, gallery owners have a difficult decision to make when selecting which of their artists to exhibit. “Sometimes I base my decision on repeating artists that were very successful in previous years, but always including new artists, to give to collectors the surprise element.” Diana Lowenstein works to introduce new artists, but maintains a roster of over forty international artists.
Often gallery owners don’t get the same experience from a fair as the attendees because it’s work for them — setting up, promoting, and selling. “Unfortunately, you are right, I never have time to visit the fairs, but when I do, I found myself purchasing art from my colleagues. The collector side never ends.” Diana, like most gallery owners, is also a long-time art collector. While she has a reputation as a promoter of Argentine art, that is not what she collects. “I was never an Argentine art collector. Before opening my gallery in Argentina in 1987, my husband and I collected international art. That remains the program of the gallery to this day. Nevertheless, Argentine artists have always had a special place in my heart.”
Once again, Art Miami is expecting another record year, and gallery owners, such as Diana Lowenstein, look forward to Miami’s Art Week. “I am very optimistic about the success of Art Miami, and that is my approach from the first day of the fair.” This year the Diana Lowenstein Gallery will feature works by Argentine artist Graciela Sacco and will also feature a solo show of the artist at the same time in the gallery.
Artist with Diana Lowenstein Gallery
Michael Loveland, a Miami-based artist who graduated from the New World School of the Arts, participates in exhibitions and art fairs in the U.S. and abroad. As one of Diana Lowenstein’s artists, he feels fortunate to be among those chosen to be exhibited in Art Miami.” I think it’s very helpful to show in a fair like Art Miami, if you’re lucky enough to be chosen. I have been a lucky one over the years.” Michael lived and studied in New York for seven years, but has returned, making Miami his home base. “I moved back to Miami because I was much more inspired to make art here. I found the art scene very closed off in N.Y. and almost imposable to get involved in during the early 2000s. The first year back in Miami, I was featured in an art magazine, and a gallery in New York contacted me to offer me a solo show in Chelsea. Funny, I had to leave New York for people to see me in New York.”
Having grown up in Miami, Loveland has experienced, firsthand, the growth of Miami’s art scene. “The Miami I moved from to go to college in Baltimore at MICA — Maryland Institute College of Art — was not the Miami I moved back to! The scene has grown 100-fold since the early 1990s.” Loveland’s colorful art is inspired by “the aesthetics of grassroots PR,” including found objects, graffiti tags, homemade political posters, and hand-painted business signs. “I usually say, “I make stuff happen” — whatever that may be.”
Loveland’s first show was with Diana Lowenstein Gallery in 2007; the show was curated by Jose Carlos Diaz, who is now curator of exhibitions at the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburg. Loveland has since exhibited at Art Miami several times. “I have shown a few times over the years at Art Miami. I did walk the fair most years to see what they were up to before Diana Lowenstein Gallery started showing here. Last year, I had a solo presentation in a public area of the fair. It was great, and I met lots of wonderful people.” How does Art Miami rate among other fairs in this artist’s opinion? “I would say it’s like many of your top art fairs in New York, but with a more South American/Caribbean feel. I am showing this year at EXPO Chicago. I always love to see what’s being made in the windy city. I also love visiting Frieze New York Fair.”
Exhibiting in fairs like Art Miami really validates up-and-coming artists like Michael Loveland.
Because of the attention of fairs like Art Miami, Loveland’s work is now placed in museums. “I recently had my works placed in a couple major art museums’ permanent collections. I got to sit in front of my work hanging in the Brooklyn Art Museum last year and watch other people take photos. It really made me feel that what I do truly means something and will be around for a long time.” When asked to be interviewed for Trillionaire Magazine, the artist responded, “I would love to have a trillion dollars. How many zeros is that?”
Artist with Bernice Steinbaum Gallery
Troy Abbott, a Miami Beach based artist represented by Bernice Steinbaum Gallery, is known for his brilliant and beautiful cage sculptures featuring digital images of birds. In 2002, his first
“CAGE” sculpture sold to a prominent Miami Beach collector. His series of digital bird-cage sculptures have shown at several galleries and exhibitions around the world and will be featured again at Art Miami 2016. Abbott, like his art, is fresh, innovative, and an example of the type of work that artists are producing currently. Abbott believes that Art Miami reflects the world of art today. “Art Miami is a broad-stroke survey of what is going on around the world in art. As with most art fairs, sales are front and center for most galleries, but that does not mean everything shown is strictly commercial in quality. The galleries’ exhibitions stretch from editions to unique works — from painting and photography, to textile and generative digital art. It is an eye-opener for art professionals, as well as the general public. The “fair” aspect of the venue makes it a very casual and entertaining experience. Being housed beneath two giant city blocks in air-conditioned tents, it’s certainly not your typical, white-walled gallery experience.”
With over 100 galleries exhibiting, fairs like Art Miami are often overwhelming to artists and to viewers. “Larger fairs like Art Miami’s are more broad and varied in what is being shown — kind of like a supermarket versus a fruit stand,” says Abbott. “Art Miami galleries more often show several artists in their booths at once. And while this does add to the excitement and energy of the fair, it can leave some visitors needing to sit for a while and discuss the experience a bit.” While fairs like Art Miami attract collectors and art lovers from all over the world, Abbott believes there’s more to Miami than Art Week. “Miami has a lot to offer artists in terms of culture and inspiration. I am not talking about big-city museum culture; I am talking about street-city culture. While Miami has several museums, the heart of Miami’s culture lives inside its neighborhoods and its people, with its diverse mix of residents and the amazing neighborhoods they have created. There is a lot to draw from if you venture off the trendy Brickell and South Beach neighborhoods. Although some may call it gritty, I see it as very rich … inspiration is everywhere. The museum scene is steadily improving with new directors and curators ﬁlling vacant positions and redirecting Miami’s once small-town ideas into a big-city vision. With relatively affordable studio spaces and the annual art fairs in December, Miami is a great place for artists to get a start and ﬁnd exposure for their work. Overall, the art scene is pretty supportive. It’s not New York by any measure; Miami is still a small town in terms of art, but it’s growing every day.”