Pep Raleigh

Kate Sutton at Art Basel Miami Beach

Left: New Museum curator Eungie Joo. Right: Artist Erwin Wurm, curator Peter Doroshenko, and dealer David Maupin. (Photo: Kate Sutton)

A WISE MAN said something once about “mo’ money mo’ problems.” If that’s the case, I was looking forward to a breezy week in Miami. As it turns out, the money’s not all gone, and neither, really, are the problems. Tuesday evening, I went from a nine-hour plane ride to nine straight hours of opening festivities for Art Basel’s tin anniversary. My night began at the fair’s official welcome cocktail at the W hotel. Cohosted by Kreëmart, the event served up desserts designed by artists such as Richard Tuttle, Ryan McNamara, and Regina Silveira. The cake stations were tucked in the various enclaves around the W garden, making them difficult to track down. “Did you catch the Paola Pivi suites?” writer Louisa Buck asked me over a slice of McNamara’s debit card cake. “It’s inside the hotel too?” I marveled, before realizing she meant Pivi’s “sweets,” the González-Torres–esque pile of Swedish fish, shaped into the words FREE TIBET (naturally). “This is clearly a suitable audience for that message,” a friend snarked, surveying the poolside scene of fresh-pressed suits and stilettos.

Two hours down—seven to go. Next up was “Home Alone,” selections from the Adam and Lenore Sender collection, installed in their Miami pied-à-terre—though that’s a bit of a malaprop, since their other house is in Miami too. Curated by Sarah Aibel, the exhibition took over the manor, from the kids’ rooms up through a Sarah Lucas–themed master bedroom and out onto the terrace, where a “naked,” flaccid Frank Benson sculpture regarded the bar. “Anyone who lives here has seen this house before,” a local noted, as I explored a nook in the kitchen. “It’s been all over the real estate listings for months.” What would Richard Prince’s Spiritual America—touchingly installed above the bathtub in the “Kids’ Bathroom”—bring to the asking price?

Left: Dealers Jacob King and Janice Guy. Right: Dealers Alexander Hertling and Daniele Balice.

Our next stop was the Rubell Family Collection, which was reveling in “American Exuberance.” While the show neatly co-opted the remarkable permanent installations by Cady Noland, Jason Rhoades, and Ryan Trecartin, Charles Ray’s orgiastic, sculptural self-portrait Oh! Charley, Charley, Charley . . . was cordoned off with velvet ropes. “Can we add some fornication?” asked an unruly guest. I had a feeling this wasn’t the first time she’d broached the question tonight. “No!” chided Don Rubell. “And that’s exactly why that rope is there.”

We contemplated the Ferrari/Peter Brant/Tobias Meyer party in a parking structure on Lincoln but opted instead to stick with the more, uh, hospitable-sounding Soho Beach House, where White Cube was holding its second annual bash. Dependably crowded, the party was bustling with OBA sightings (Hirst, Emin, etc.) and suspiciously enthusiastic endorsements for the paella. In a back corner, guests could pick up garish bathing suits, glow-in-the-dark sunglasses, and Afro wigs, questionable embellishments to already questionable fashion choices. “It’s ’70s-themed,” a friend shouted over the music, as if this explained something.

Battling jet lag with two hours to go, I capped off my evening at Le Baron’s notorious pop-up at the Delano’s Florida Room. Grabbing a spot atop a booth with dealer Alex Hertling, collector Nathalie Fournier, and Gilles Renaud, I enjoyed an excellent vantage point of all the other early birds getting their worms. Dear Miami, has it already been a year?

Left: Artist Laurent Grasso with collector Jean-Pierre Lehmann. Right: Artist Teresita Fernandez. (Photos: Kate Sutton)

Wednesday morning and Art Basel’s First Choice preview came all too soon. Just shy of noon, Gagosian’s booth was swarming with the tabloid-friendly entourages of Julian Schnabel, Vlad Doronin and Naomi Campbell, and Diddy (here to host a dinner for a Raphael Mazzucco artist’s book). Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas were around too, but by far the visitor who set the most tongues wagging was collector-blogger Adam Lindemann. His presence was only remarkable in the wake of his online invective, “Occupy Art Basel Miami Beach, Now!” which, in a loose interpretation of the operational verb, actually advocated boycotting the fair. Lindemann, apparently oblivious to irony, claimed he didn’t see the big deal in his showing up after all. Others did. “I’m waiting until he leaves my booth to go back to it,” a gallery director sniffed. The pen, I guess, is mightier than the charge card. You thought Occupations were only for the 99 percent.

Thank God for the art: There was a charming suite of Jack Smith works on paper at Gladstone, a smart new Glenn Ligon text painting at Regen Projects, and some Robert Overbys punctuating the booth at Andrew Kreps. Lots of Gabriel Orozco, too. Like lots lots. The fair wasn’t without peril. At Sies+Hoke, Kris Martin’s metal starbursts were so sharp the gallery had to post a sign telling viewers that they were entering the booth at their own risk. Perhaps more dangerous was Ryan McGinley’s Turken and Tampon, which inspired mass double-takes outside Team Gallery. “It’s hard to imagine a more brutal image,” dealer Jose Freire admitted. “But that’s why I’m showing it.”

Left: Dealer Helene Winer. Right: Artist Clifford Owens.

After a full day at the fair, we dropped by the opening for Erwin Wurm’s whimsical show at the Bass Museum, though we cut out before the crowd absconded to Mr. Chow. One of this year’s features was the strange (sometimes outright bizarre) bedfellows headlining dinner invitations, which is how I came to dine at the Raleigh with Jeffrey Deitch, Maybach, and the Kingdom of Morocco. Our scant SoBe evening wear seemed insufficient armor for the suddenly chill weather.

“Miami,” Sophia Lamar glowered and shivered as we walked through the lobby. “Shit Miami.”

Anticipating the fanfare of Raleigh parties past, I was slightly surprised to see the dinner confined to a modest area by the pool, with couches lining a Marrakesh-themed tent and tables decorated with A4 sheets reading JEFFREY DEITCH/MOCA, MAYBACH, THE KINGDOM OF MOROCCO, and, charmingly, ONE SEAT RESERVED FOR LAUREN KING. “How do I know whose guest I am?” I whispered to my companion. “It doesn’t matter,” he observed. “There are only enough seats for about half of us. Couldn’t Maybach throw in a few extra tables?” Apparently, we were informed, Mercedes Benz had just announced the discontinuation of the line. Another guest nodded toward the pool, where a Maybach had been installed so that it appeared to be driving across the water: “They must have spent the money trying to float that car in the Esther Williams pool.”

“It makes me feel a little better that Paris and Nicky don’t have a table either,” a friend chimed in; as if she had spoken the magic words, two waiters appeared with a tiny table, which they placed in front of the Hilton sisters, leaving them with two extra chairs. I eyed my companion. “We’ll wait,” he said.

Left: Dealers Brent Sikkema and Michael Jenkins. Right: Dealer Ron Warren.

It was a wise call. Deitch soon placed us at a tiny table of our own, which we shared with the fabulous Francesca von Habsburg and her partner. With a touch of situational irony, our proximity to the DJ booth meant we could barely hear the Baroness explain her recent sound art commissions. Deitch—dashing between dinner guests to ensure everyone was seated—periodically paused to ask the DJ to lower the music, but, like the petulant blonde teenager she appeared to be (“That has be a Richards sister”), she would merely wait until the museum director got stuck in a photo op to crank up the volume again.

I stayed for the opening notes of the afterparty, but decamped early to catch S4lem’s live set at the Delano’s Water Station. Slipping into a cabana with Fabiola Beracasa, May Andersen, and Matthew Stone, I staked out a prime poolside seat for the show. Little did I know the unique perks of my perch. As the band broke into a mournful cover of “Better Off Alone,” two strippers began to slide into the pool, culminating in some shallow-end girl-on-girl action that shocked even the more jaded art-worlders. “I found them for, like, a hundred dollars on Craigslist,” the Hole’s Kathy Grayson confessed.

After the show, I stumbled behind Sophia Lamar to Paris! Paris!, Le Baron’s swankier older sister, which was making its Miami debut at the Shelbourne. The club mixes cabaret and karaoke, but by the time I arrived, I couldn’t tell which one I was witnessing. Diversity is encouraged in the late night options, but old habits are hard to break: Somehow or another, I found myself finishing off the evening back at the Florida Room.

Left: LA MoCA curator Paul Schimmel with Christie's Amy Cappellazzo. Right: Artists Xavier Cha and Frank Benson.

Left: Artist Damien Hirst. Right: Collector Mera Rubell, artists Ryan Trecartin and Lizzie Fitch, and collector Don Rubell. (Except where noted, all photos: Andy Guzzonatto)

Left: Artist Ryan McNamara. Right: Dealer Emmanuel Perrotin.

Left: Dealer Sadie Coles. Right: Dealers Francesca Kauffmann and Chiara Repetto.

Left: Young Kim. Right: The Hole's Kathy Grayson.

Left: A dancer at the S4lem concert. Right: S4lem's Jack Donoghue.

Left: Paris and Nicky Hilton. Right: LA MoCA director Jeffrey Deitch with Pharrell Williams. (Photos: Kate Sutton)

Left: Collector Adam Lindemann with dealer Amalia Dayan. Right: Dealer Larry Gagosian.

Left: Designer Ron Arad and Haunch of Venison's Stephanie Schleiffer. Right: At Adam and Lenore Senders’s house.