Another 48 Hours


Left: Musician Casey Spooner. Right: Dealer Mary Boone with artist Terence Koh. (Photos: David Velasco)

Friday morning, I woke up in my hotel and checked the temperature in New York. Like I needed reassurance: “Feels like 17ºF”—a clarion reminder that despite Miami’s miasmal humidity, ambling along the South Beach boardwalk trumps tromping through Chelsea in December. Then again, weather doesn’t exist inside a convention center.

Breakfast was at Jerry’s Diner, the art world’s temporary Peach Pit and a vague relief from the oppressive "South Beach Diet”—compulsory fasting due to lousy local food and service (offset, if you’re lucky, by occasional crudités “dinners”). At one table I spotted artists Dana Schutz and Ryan Johnson, at another Casey Spooner chowing down with photographer Matthu Placek. Casey and I chatted about Yvonne Force Villareal’s party the evening prior at the Standard, easily the best fete of the week. Comparing itineraries (a popular Miami sport), he told me: “Tonight, I’m going to rehab.”

Hopping into our white Jeep SUV (when in Miami . . .), my friends and I sped across the Venetian Causeway to Pulse. Just outside, a billboard read GOLDMAN PROPERTIES WELCOMES THE ART WORLD, as if we were ambassadors from another planet. I’m reminded of the scene in Tim Burton’s Mars Attacks! in which New Age hippies greet the aliens with a dove of peace; the invaders promptly zap it to ashes. The art world had descended upon Miami—Art Basel Miami Beach was the mothership. (Is that why they’re called “satellite fairs”?) Inside Pulse, odes to fashion ruled the roost with works at Torch Gallery, Monique Meloche, and Heather Marx Gallery appropriating logos from Louis Vuitton and Chanel. But a few booths impressed, with Galerie Anne Barrault, collage aficionado Pavel Zoubok, and San Francisco’s Rena Bransten Gallery setting particularly high bars.

We did some quick time at the book launch for Jack Pierson’s latest monograph, Desire/Despair—I didn’t get a book, but I did snag a tote bag (an alternative to the ubiquitous canvas White Columns and Venice Biennale sacks)—then headed to the Shore Club for Vanity Fair and MoMA’s party for Doug Aitken. A bungle with the bracelets prompted a swarm of angry VIPs outside—overentitled peasantry gearing to storm the Bastille. I pulled out my press card and talked my way through, but inside it was even worse. I exchanged bleary-eyed glances with MoMA curator Klaus Biesenbach. “You’re everywhere,” I told him. “Isn’t it perverse?” he replied.

Left: Artist Nate Lowman with friend. Right: Artist Isaac Julien. (Photos: David Velasco)

Next was Le Baron, a karaoke after-hours joint underwritten by Emmanuel Perrotin and hosted that night by Maya Stendhal, this year in a new location. The change of address didn’t prevent yet another crowd from forming at the door. But it was the weekend and the tables were turned—here Miami descended on the art world. The guard was a goalie, stretching his arms wide to form a blockade. People flashed business cards (Paper Magazine, Surface) hoping to bluff their way in. I spotted Casey Spooner among the mass and grabbed on, forming a human chain, and together our small entourage cut a line through the crowd and past security. Inside someone was doing an awful rendition of “Smells like Teen Spirit,” and in a moment of dubious tact (one of many, no doubt), I asked musician David Byrne if he thought he’d cover one of his own songs. “Not this round,” he answered graciously. To the crowd’s delight, Casey did karaoke to “Nightclubbing,” and when he forgot the lyrics, he just improvised: “Can’t we end this song already? When does your plane leave? Haven’t you bought enough? Sold enough?” Truth to power?

Saturday was Aqua (“cute, small West Coast–y drawings,” declared a friend), where Seattle’s James Harris Gallery and Portland’s Small A Projects made good impressions, as did two videos by Josh Azzarella at Lisa Boyle Gallery in Chicago. From there, we sped to the Design District, where Moss was abuzz with groupies swooning over design stars Constantin Boym and Maarten Baas. We hit NADA (significantly better than rumored) for a spell, before running through the largely uninspired photoMIAMI.

Good timing is everything—too bad it seemed to have deserted us. My friends and I arrived an hour late for Scott Hug’s party for K48 (with a performance by Mirror Mirror), but the place was still empty (Miami set new standards for “fashionably late”), so we climbed back into our vessel and headed to the Jalouse party, held in an incongruously bright, unmarked storefront in South Beach, just off the main strip. Inside, my friend joked with Nate Lowman, “Word around the fair is you died.” “Really? Who told you that?” he asked. We reminded him of his eight-hundred-pound tombstone in the main fair. “Oh right, that thing. I was just confused because I almost did die last night.” (Huh?) Amid a few crazies and some underwhelming, overly chic people, he was the only familiar face, so we headed off to Miami megaclub Mansion, where quirky French uniquery Colette was advertising lessons on how to dance like Justin Timberlake. We met up with Sarah Lerfel, the store’s beloved owner, who promised that in an hour we’d be dancing just like the pop savant. But time was precious—especially on the Saturday night of the fair—so off we went back to the Raleigh for Visionaire’s highly anticipated soiree.

The line for the Visionaire party recalled Disney World—or a slaughterhouse—with the wait divided into several stations, a meager attempt to minimize crowd anxiety. Inexplicably, you had to show your prearranged pink-neon VIP wristband at each of the four “checkpoints.” Slava Mogutin and posse dropped by, blanched at the line (and the unsympathetic gatekeepers), and departed for friendlier ground. Terence Koh swooped in with a friend and tried to cut ahead, but it wasn't that kind of event, and security roundly thwarted his attempt.

Left: Artist Walead Beshty with Wallspace co-owner Jane Hait. Right: Artist Ryan McGinley. (Photos: David Velasco)

Once you passed the barricades, the party wasn’t so bad, with free cocktails, Petrossian caviar, and complimentary bottles of Imperia vodka. But it wasn’t so great, either—as artist Walead Beshty noted earlier, Miami is all “short conversations with people you like and long conversations with people you don’t,” and this party was a case in point. Someone remarked that Visionaire functions are heading wearily in the direction of Spago. A friend introduced me to Simon, one of several half-naked models hired to roam around the party. Eyeing his glabrous chest, I asked his age. “Sixteen,” he said. Tacky? Probably. Just when I feared that the party was getting a bit “too Miami,” I spotted Isaac Julien on the deck. We discussed his current project (still in the early stages), a biopic of the artist’s old friend Derek Jarman produced by Tilda Swinton. While we chatted, Ryan McGinley was introduced to Julien. “Looking for Langston was the first artwork I remember seeing. It was an inspiration,” said McGinley, who looked genuinely in awe. It was a touching moment, seeing one artist pay serious respect to another in that environment. I decided to take my leave, running into V Magazine editor Christopher Bollen near the door. “I think I’m dying. I’m like a computer that needs to be reset,” he said.

Word spread of another Jalouse party at the Mynt Lounge, with a performance by Los Super Elegantes. We headed up the strip and ran smack into a throng of unsavory Miami clubbers clamoring for entrance at the bar’s flashing maw. Matthew Higgs and Anne Collier eyed the depressing crowd dubiously before splitting for higher ground. Dash Snow paced frantically out front. It was like Jake and Dinos Chapman’s Hell, animated, tanned, and tumid with silicone. Enough was enough, I thought, and we jaunted back to the more soothing environs of the Raleigh’s expansive back patio.

My plane was leaving in a few hours, but I decided on one final late-night snack at Jerry’s. On the way, I bumped into Dana Schutz leaving NADA’s party at the Sagamore (where apparently Graham Watling of Miami Ice Machine proposed onstage to NADA fair director Heather Hubbs). “Too much MSG. Jerry’s almost killed me!” All that muerte . . . it’ll be a wonder if the art world makes it home in one piece.

David Velasco

Left: Artists Brian Kenney and Slava Mogutin. Right: Designer Maarten Baas. (Photos: David Velasco)

Left: Simon Kopec. Right: Whitney curator Shamim Momin with V Magazine editor Christopher Bollen. (Photos: Patrick McMullan)

Left: Artist Jack Pierson. (Photo: David Velasco) Right: Visionaire cofounders Stephen Gan, Cecilia Dean, and James Kaliardos. (Photo: Patrick McMullan)

Left: Dealer Maya Stendhal. Right: Mirror Mirror's David Riley and Ryan Lucero. (Photos: David Velasco)

Left: Photographer Bruce Weber with Fashion File's Tim Blanks. Right: Dealer Pavel Zoubok. (Photos: David Velasco)

Left: Dealer José Freire. Right: Colette's Sarah Lerfel with Casey Spooner. (Photos: David Velasco)

Left: Designer Kai Kühne with Jason Falkner. Right: Participant Inc. director Lia Gangitano. (Photos: David Velasco)

Left: Dealer Anne Barrault. Right: Nightlife impresario Ingrid Casares with artist Ryan McNamara. (Photos: David Velasco)

Left: Zoe Jackson with RoseLee Goldberg. Right: Dealer James Harris. (Photos: David Velasco)

Left: Rena Bransten Gallery's Jenny Baie with Rena Bransten. (Photo: David Velasco) Right: Writer Anthony Haden-Guest with artist Daisy Dickinson. (Photo: Patrick McMullan)

Left: ARE Weapons' Paul Sevigny. Right: Matthew Marks' Sabrina Buell with artist Megan Marrin. (Photos: David Velasco)