WLIW Arts Beat


Art Basel Miami

Art Basel Miami is the place to be for art lovers and art-professionals alike. The high profile art fair, along with its surrounding Miami Art Week events, hosts galleries from all over the world including New York City’s own P•P•O•W.

AIRED: March 14, 2018 | 0:05:11

>> This is like being at


That is how hard it is

to get in here.

>> To call it an art fair

would be an understatement.

15 years ago, Art Basel,

the high-profile art event

in Basel, Switzerland,

created an outpost

in Miami, Florida,

and since then, Art Basel Miami

has exploded,

creating fertile ground

for other satellite art fairs

to pop up around it,

attracting celebrity clientele,

and welcoming a sea of visitors

to the city

for what's now Miami Art Week.

So it's no surprise that

Art Basel Miami is the place

to be for gallerists

from all over the world, too.

Wendy Olsoff is co-founder

of PPOW,

a gallery in New York City's

art-famous Chelsea neighborhood.

>> The Basel brand is one

of the oldest art fairs

in the world.

We have done it

the last five years.

I mean, it's clearly the most

important and best platform

for us to show our program.

>> The return on investment

for art professionals

like Olsoff can be huge,

but it's a big investment.

>> You have to apply,

and there's a committee,

and you have to pay a fee,

and then you have to pay

a lot of money once you're here.

So you get a lot out of it,


You know, art fairs are always

gambles, but, for us,

it's been successful.

>> Success for a gallery

can mean more than sales,

though, of course, Olsoff

and her compatriots

are there to sell art.

It can also mean new


and wider recognition

of their artists' work.

Hew Locke is one of

PPOW's artists.

He's shown elsewhere

during Miami Art Week,

but his mixed-media installation

The Wine Dark Sea

is his first at Art Basel.

>> This is a big one,

shall we say, you know?

It's serious business.

So it's a mix of selling,

which is very important,

because that's what it's about,

but also,

it's a major networking event.

>> Speaking with Locke after

the event

from his home in London,

he says it was a successful fair

for him.

He sold work and made

new connections,

but it was also an artistically

stimulating experience.

>> I'm always going around,

seeing what's going on.

"Oh, they're coming

with something new.

Oh, they're

coming with something new.

Oh, I didn't know

that they were doing that now."

Generally speaking, the level of

the quality of work

is pretty high.

The standard is really high,

and that's what makes it really

quite interesting

and fascinating to go around.

>> Basel is a big art fair

with smaller off-shoot art fairs

that have sprung up around it,

so the array of work on display

in the city is vast.

At the nearby

Pulse Contemporary Art Fair,

artist Jim Campbell's

combination of video

and photography

makes passersby pause,

as do photo-realistic drawings

and optical illusions

created by glass art.

The New York-based

Flowers Gallery shows

Patrick Hughes' remarkable

works of reverse perspective.

The gallerist says the only

thing more fun

than looking at these paintings

is looking at people

as they look at these paintings.

In some cases, the materials

that make up the work are

just as interesting.

Take "Teenage Metamorphosis,"

created with silicone,


found objects, and human hair.

There are elevated uses of


toys, and cardboard.

Back at the main event,

Art Basel, Ramiro Gomez

is one of the only artists

creating on-site.

Gomez is also represented

at the art fair by PPOW.

His work focuses on a labor


he feels is not just

underappreciated but underseen.

In his largest work on display,

children with expressive faces

play in a park,

all painted on canvas.

Accompanying them are faceless


painted separately on cardboard

and placed on top of the canvas.

>> Cardboard is a universal


that's directly accessible.

It's vulnerable to getting

discarded quickly,

and I think that that really

relates to the subject matter.

The figures and paintings

of people that are doing labor

that is so transient,

so ephemeral really speak

to the use of materials

like cardboard.

>> Gomez's mother is a janitor.

He says reflecting that work

is very personal to him,

so he also asks permission to

photograph people as they work

and creates portraits for them

on cardboard.

Gomez arrived early to Basel

to continue that work here.

>> I arrived Sunday afternoon

and came right

to the convention center,

where I saw everything

from the truck unloading these

very valuable works of art,

scrubbing the floors,

installing the lights,

setting up the booths --

I mean, all this labor

that goes into it

that's unnoticed in technical

terms on a public level.

>> Gomez is honored to highlight

that work

and send people who are integral

to the success of

Art Basel Miami home with a

piece of it.

It's a small gesture, he says,

but he thinks

it sends a message.

>> I'm very excited by returning

something to them.

>> And at an event surrounded

by fancy cars,

fashion, and Instagramming


Gomez's work brings attention

back to the heart of it all,

the power of art.


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