Starting tomorrow, the center of the art world will be Miami. For about a week, during Art Basel Miami Beach, artists, curators, gallerinas and celebrities wishing to be part of the art scene, will be partying, I mean, looking at art, down south. One of the main reasons I’m looking forward to Miami is the Ice Palace, so I asked my tweep Stephanie Theodore to give me a behind-the-scenes look at what its like to be a gallery participating at one of the art fairs.
Liv: This is your first fair appearance as a gallery (Theodore:Art). How do you feel?
Stephanie: I am so excited! It’s such an opportunity to get my gallery’s program in front of a large audience in a short period of time. I love working at fairs. I’ve worked at many fairs – ABMB, the IFPDA (NY print fair), ADAA Art Show, London Art Fair. It’s such a concentrated blast of people really wanting to look at art and talk about art.
Liv: What made you decide to attend a fair?
Stephanie: I started my gallery after taking some time to think about what I wanted to do and who I wanted to work with. For me, getting my artists’ work in front of a larger, more varied audience is the whole point of doing fairs. My gallery is small in size and modest in its founding intentions. I am still getting the word out about it. Art fairs provides a vehicle for reaching an interested and active viewing and collecting audience.
It’s great to be visible. I had a gallery in the early 90’s in NYC, and was private dealing and curating for quite a few years after I closed in 1993. I would run into people who would say “where have you been? Are you still in the art world?” which was silly – I was doing lots of things, out of the limelight. Doing fairs is a way of fighting back against the “out-of-sight-out-of-mind” forgetfulness of the art world.
Stephanie: Pulse is a thoughtful and slightly eclectic mix of galleries – some more established, some newer galleries, with a wide variety of work shown. I felt that my artists, while still technically emerging, have pretty solid practices and exhibition histories, and needed a context that would let them shine. I know many of the galleries that have done Pulse in the past, and feel comfortable about showing here.
Liv: Who will you be showing?
Stephanie: I am exhibiting the work five of the artists I represent – four from the UK: Alasdair Duncan, Juliette Losq, Darren Norman and Richard Paul; and Andrew Witkin from Boston. I have known each of them and their work for several years now, and am grateful for the opportunity to get the work out into the world. I didn’t want to start a gallery again unless I had really smart, interesting and gifted artists to collaborate with. And here they are. Duncan investigates graphics and signs and their tenuous attachment to meaning; Losq is a brilliant draftsman in the service of psychogeography; Norman’s sculpture and two dimensional work capture transformative experiences; Richard Paul takes on the absurd nature of consumer seduction; and Andrew Witkin, well, let’s just say he de- and re-constructs experiences of looking, collecting, and consuming art.
I am really happy that Alasdair Duncan (aka Lecky) is coming all the way from London to be my “booth buddy” at the fair all week – he’s smart, funny, and articulate about art and ideas. Great company and a solid artist. And he’s bringing Cadbury!
Liv: Any must-sees that you are particularly excited about?
Stephanie: I love getting to ABMB first thing. I spend my time and attention on younger artists, but sometimes it’s enlightening to see more historically celebrated work. The secondary market material at the big fair can provide some real treats and surprises. There are amazing older established galleries – Konrad Fischer, Massimo de Carlo, Elvira González, Mai 36, Xavier Hufkens, Margo Leavin – that present some amazing works…real treasures. Margo Leavin is a hero. She’s had a gallery in LA since 1970, and was instrumental in bringing critical attention to the LA art scene. So I like to visit – it’s always a carefully curated booth with a lot of engaging work.
I pay attention to the UK galleries – obviously. and I like to see new work by friends and acquaintances – Paul Winstanley, Maureen Gallace, James Welling and David Shrigley seem to be in the fair every year, which makes me happy. I have work by all of them.
But I tend to do a slow and thorough crawl. It’s difficult to find time to see so many exhibitions while the gallery is open, so the fair is a brilliant opportunity to indulge my eyes! Plus, it’s great to see two decades worth of friends from all over the world in one building.
Closer to home, I want to see all the galleries exhibiting at Pulse – I am familiar with some of them, but not all, and would like to understand the larger picture of this fair.
Liv: How do the European fairs you’ve attended (Frieze this year, etc) compare to the American fairs? Is there a major difference?
Stephanie: This year I didn’t travel as much, so I managed to get to Frieze and that’s all. Frieze is so different from all the other European fairs – the combination of its size, its focus on contemporary art, its great ancillary programming, and of course, the location. I am so impressed with the way the Frieze Art Fair organization creates a whirlwind of activity around itself that affects the entire city. For one week all life in London revolves around art.
I really like FIAC, especially the Cour Carrée – a beautiful venue, and an invigorating exhibition. I would love to be there as a visitor or an exhibitor.
Stephanie: I am arriving on Saturday, to spend two days relaxing and thinking. Set-up goes till late on Monday. Tuesday is for final touches, then there is an evening preview – SHOW TIME!. Installation means grungy clothes, unpacking, unwrapping. I have rolled drawings that have to be flattened, frames to be assembled, a large shelf piece with many components by Andrew Witkin to be installed. It’s a lot of work, but we have it mapped out pretty clearly, so it’s just about spending time and paying attention to the details. I have a little alcove space that will be filled with small works from a wider variety of artists, some of whom have been in my group shows, like Daniel Levine, Jonathan Calm, and Man Bartlett, and work by Matthew Draper and Sam Dargan (the former just had a show in the gallery, the latter will have a show in January). I get the feeling that the alcove hang will take longer than the rest of the booth! Having Lecky in Miami will be a big help.
Liv: What are you hoping to get out of Pulse? Besides selling works.
Stephanie: Visibility. How else could tens of thousands of visitors to Pulse take a look at the work I present? I really look forward to good questions. Making some new contacts, reconnecting with collectors, curators and advisors that I already know. Getting the work out there – the whole reason I am there. Representing my artists.
Liv: Will you have the chance to enjoy Miami at all while you’re there? Or is it all work, work, work?
Stephanie: I will be working hard, for sure! Miami usually means playing hard too. I will take it a little easy, though – no partying till dawn for me, I have to get up and exercise. But at such a gathering of like-minded people in a warm climate, there’s bound to be some fun. And I love catching up with old friends. There’s nothing better than going out for drinks with two people and ending up with a party of ten poolside at the Delano. It’s a gathering of the art tribes.
Pulse is happening at the Ice Palace December 2nd – 5th, 2010. Check back here for daily Miami posts starting tomorrow (Tuesday, November 30th).
Images: The lovely Stephanie Theodore / Alasdair Duncan, Signs for the Future: Iliri Gar, 2010 / Richard Paul, The Raw and the Cooked, 2009 / Darren Norman, Everything, 2009