Review and Photos by Liana Minassian
Art Basel, one of the largest art fairs in the country, rolled out its red carpet to Miami last weekend. People from all over the world flocked to see the latest innovators of the art world and their work. Spread out over the Wynwood Arts District and South Beach, Art Basel seemed too large for the week it stretched out across; with so much to see it was hard to pick and choose things to do.
Certainly a highlight of the exhibition though was the Gen Art Vanguard New Contemporary Art Fair hosted by Fage Total at Charcoal Studios. The fair boasted panel discussions, an official party and cocktail receptions, and an auction and educational presentation for a local non-profit organization, Arts for Learning, by artists featured in Gen Art.
The first event I attended was the VIP and press preview of the participating galleries. Upon entering, I was immediately taken by the towering Colin Christian sculpture of a busty glittering space cadet on her knees looking prepared to play futuristic football. It’s cartoonish Japanese style fit with the design and pop art theme of the show and set the stage for the eclectic mix of art featured at Gen Art.
Also noteworthy was the installation by Fage Total featuring artists James Marshall (Dalek), Gary Baseman, and AJ Fosik. Each artist created unique pieces inspired by the company’s Greek yogurt product and were positioned among white covered benches and a wall made entirely from silly putty, made to resemble the yogurt. Some of the most eye catching art rested in the anti-kulture gallery. Local artist Dolla, formerly a street artist and poster designer, displayed his woodblocks, spray paint cans, and benches painted in a graffiti style. Their vibrant colors and odd characters excited me and made me want to meet their creator. Luckily, Dolla was there and explained his inspiration came from “watching a lot of TV and cartoons especially.” His characters, which contrasted with the bright surrounding colors, were often gray because he wanted a “zombie-like living dead feel.” Dolla’s humility and cooperation was greatly appreciated from an art novice like myself and his nod to me the next night boosted my admiration of him as an artist.
Gen Art’s official party was a blast. In addition to Fage Total, Acura (complete with one of their cars on display), sponsored it as well as Bombay Sapphire, who provided the free drinks and adorable models in their tiny ocean blue halter dresses and white flower swim caps. Artist LEBO was also onsite painting a colorful fifteen-foot mural on a wall next to the Acura. The beautiful people of Miami stood around admiring it, bathed in the blue and green glow of the surrounding lights with cocktails in hand. Guests mingled with artists, Gen Art staff, and even Venus Williams. Meanwhile, urban communicators Graffiti Research Lab provided live laser graffiti projected on a nearby building. The big hit of the night, however, was the silly putty wall inside. After a few drinks, guests went to town writing their names or sayings in it and taking turns drawing pictures with their fingers.
On Saturday, I was fortunate enough to observe FAGE Studio: Discover. Taste. Create. which was a lunch and learn between artist Gary Baseman and a school group participating with Arts for Learning. Executive Director Sheila Womble, explained that the reason behind the event was to get kids to experience what art fairs are like, how they can get involved, and the creative process an artist goes through to get there. Baseman sat with the kids, showing them how he draws his recognizable characters and then encouraged them to create their own with the materials provided. Womble stated that Arts for Learning’s goal was to “get kids to be creative,” and they certainly achieved it that day. Pink cupcakes, fluffy clouds, and snake-like creatures sprung to life off the pages ready to do their creator’s bidding.
All in all, the Gen Art fair put on a memorable string of activities that certainly enhanced my experience at Art Basel and left me anxiously anticipating next year’s exhibition.