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Bambaseled: The Pleasures & Follies of Art Basel Miami '13

Compacted art car at Ferrari Supercar event

All photos by Neil Wolfson

Our party posse crept stealthily into South Beach over the MacArthur Causeway as the moon rose over Biscayne Bay looking like a half-rotten mango. Our intended destination, Art Basel Miami 2013, the  international art expo that has metastasized into a party slash ultra  klusterfuk where the worlds of international art, fashion, music, film and commerce randomly collide with occasionally amusing results.

a 100Our first stop was the Ferrari art car party at  1111 (or did I get it backwards?) Lincoln Road, the parking garage/mall/event space. The centerpiece was, of course, the mild hybrid LaFerrari supercar, a formidable phallus on wheels doing 0-60 in G force-numbing 2.8 seconds. For the under-endowed art-collector crowd, this beast boasts 963 horsepower (who needs penile enhancement?).

Also on display were a Keith Haring painted vehicle and other assorted art-enhanced cars. The crowd was a diverse mix of wealthy art nerds, models/hos-on-the-make and motorheads. The Veuve Clicquot flowed liberally, but the only solid sustenance provided was popcorn (insuring lots of tipsy behavior). You'd think that the Ferrari folks might have provided better nibbles to halo a seven-figure conveyance -- perhaps something less French and American like a 15-year-old Barolo and white-truffle pizza. Sure the car's the star, but viewers should drool over the car and not from starvation.

Waking the next morning in the Portofino Tower's master  pad of our congenital host and pal J.J. who has done well indeed in the complex world of private equity, we managed to make a brief appearance at the ungodly early 10 a.m. Art Basel press reception. There we were welcomed and watered by the powers that be and the ubiquitous sponsor and unfortunately-named Ruinart champagne. Beating a hasty retreat to the satellite and slightly puny Ink Art Fair VIP reception at the Dorchester, we happily  hoovered delicious Cuban sandwiches and chugged Perrier water 'til noon.

After a much needed afternoon spa session at the Portofino, our entourage trundled up to the Miami Botanical Gardens where BMW was revealing the Jeff Koons painted art car. The neo-psychedelic  dream machine, a GT2 which actually raced at Le Mans, is one of a long line of "art cars" from the likes of Calder, Lichtenstein, and Warhol first commissioned in the '70s. Karolína Kurková, the waning super model, handled the reveal after an intro from the affable Koons and numerous BMW brass. Afterwards we fed ravenously at venerable Joe's Stone Crab with securities lawyer extraordinaire Jake the Snake and hobbled back to JJ's for a long winter's nap.

a 080We night-shifters sprang up at noon and ambled off to the Raleigh Hotel for the Louis Vuitton Collection Icon honoring the visionary architect, designer and photographer Charlotte Perriand. The door is tight and the crowd is Euro-fab with gaggles of press and fashion dames smoking heavily and inhaling stone crabs, barbecued lobster, and filet mignon.  We ate our fill and chatted with a dubious gentleman from Houston (he showed us his fake CBS credential) who pumped us shamelessly for upcoming party information. Finally, we exited, our vision slightly clouded as if emerging from an over-chlorinated swimming pool.

The evening commenced at yet another BMW event at the SLS Hotel (Hey, BMW, did you know that SLS is the model name of a high-performance Mercedes?)  touting  the i8 supercar (Am I at Art Basel Miami or the recent L.A. Auto Show?). This futuristic plug-in hybrid looks sci-fi sculptural and develops 600 horsepower while going a miraculous 95 miles on a gallon of petrol.

We attempted Aby Rosen's annual sit down dinner at the W Hotel and were told politely that there were no seats available for our entourage (which now included Hollywood power producer John J. of Family Guy and Ted fame). As consolation, we were invited to return in a hour for the après-dinner fete. Thanks but no thanks, as we  were summoned to the penthouse of the Delano Hotel for the launch of Jankele Swim for Art Basel. There were no fewer than 12 stunning models circumnavigating the roof, decked out in extraordinary custom-made swimsuits that evoked the golden age of old Hollywood on Chest Awareness Day. Our producer pal was a happy man as he collected digits and dreamed of the proverbial casting couch.

First stop on Friday was the Superdry store press reception on Lincoln road. The British based company combines vintage American styling with Japanese graphic design (think Godzilla T-shirts). More importantly, the event was nicely catered by Sushisamba and the press was gifted with bathing suits and flip flops (spare no expense).

a 059Next we piled into JJ's vintage Hudson Hornet and motored to toney Hibiscus Island for the niche media/Merrill Lynch fete. Since our friend Jason Binn left the company to launch Dejour Magazine, the level of amenities (everything in trade deals) has severely diminished. Jersey-born cover-girl/actress Zoe Saldana (remember the films Avatar and Crossroads) was the guest of honor. She sat with husband/pretty boy/dishwasher/ artist Marco Perego in a bodyguard-protected VIP area looking bored. At the exit, we were presented with a commemorative crystal Merrill Lynch Bull (the perfect re-gifting item for the broker who lost us all that cash on JDS Uniphase).

Finally, we tootled off to nouveau riche Star Island (home of Diddy, Russian oligarchs, et al) for the abortion that was the Haute Living Magazine party. The mag, allegedly funded by dirty laundered Russian Rubles, is the consummate aspirational blowjob. At the door of appropriately dubious and cash challenged former tycoon Thomas Kramer' estate, members of the press and other invited guests were told that the only way to gain access was a $200 contribution to an unknown charity (perhaps the Kramer home for unwed mothers), Furthermore, the folks who did get in were a motley crew of club kids, unsavories, and ladies of the night. We beat a hasty retreat from the ugly mob that was forming. A friend who ponied up the $200 reported that chef Todd English cooked, Jaden Smith spun, Lenny Kravitz hung, Thomas Kramer letched, and Dom Perignon flowed. Home, James...

Saturday began at the Sagamore Hotel brunch. This annual station of the cross draws a broad-ranging crowd of fossilized retirees, schnorrers (hi, Shaggy, Arnie, and Drew) and actual artists, dealers and collectors who stood in long lines, sipping mimosas while awaiting crepes.

a 071Follow the Leder, Marc Leder that is, to the Sun Capital billionaire's Saturday night blowout at his posh new digs at Ocean House South Beach. Marc, a Nice Jewish Boy from Long Island, became a playboy of the western world when he divorced wife Lisa for allegedly shtupping a tennis pro.  His Art Basel fete took place around the pool, where guests guzzled Veuve and the host was surrounded by numerous hotties hanging on his every word, hoping to land this very big fish. We have attended several of his Hamptons blasts over the years where he was unjustly pilloried by the local government and Page Six for having too much fun. We can report that he is a gentleman and a most excellent host. Party on, Marc.

The evening concluded at yet another congenial billionaire's extraordinary shindig. Michael Saylor encored his annual monster soiree at historic Villa Vecchia on the Intracoastal. Guests caught the water launch near the Fontainbleau Hotel and made a red carpet entrance to the magnificent property. Miraculously, the event was sans guest list ensuring a large beggars banquet. The alcohol flowed endlessly and when food ran low, the host ordered hundreds of pizzas to keep the hungry hordes happy and soak up the booze. Scantily-clad lovelies in Spandex danced to a smokin' hot band and the evening could not  be dampened by occasional squalls. We left around 2 AM with guests still arriving. Hey, Saylor -- thanks again!

Sunday dawned at the Fairchild Tropical Gardens brunch in Coral Gables. This  very civilized and Waspy affair is the traditional conclusion of our Art Basel Miami meanderings. Uptight guests looked askance at our gal pal's rather sexy and revealing attire. No matter, this is Miami. Get over it. We contented ourselves to walk among the exotic native foliage and admire the magnificent flora and fauna.

a 082Our Gulfstream chariot awaits at the private airport and -- dreading the cold winter winds and snow and ice of NYC -- we muse wistfully on the future tropical delights of Art Basel Miami 2014.

MoCCA Fest: NYC's Premiere Indie Comic Con

mocca posterI spend a lot of time going from convention to convention, be they for anime, games, comics, or all of the above. After a while you get something I call “con fatigue.” But the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art Festival (MoCCA Fest) is a convention that always leaves me feeling refreshed. MoCCA (April 6 – 7, 2013) at the 69th Regiment Armory (68 Lexington Avenue, NYC) is the best event to see some truly unique and fresh talent emerging in the world of independent comics.

Read more: MoCCA Fest: NYC's Premiere Indie...

The Salon: Art & Design in NYC

taj tableIncluding the opening day, The Salon was held for the first time at the Park Avenue Armory (643 Park Ave) from November 8 -12, 2012 providing a large range of art objects, painting, sculpture, furniture, and decorative items which met for most the objectives of the show, museum –quality works of art.

The show was organized by the New York based Sanford L. Smith & Associates and the French Syndicat National des Antiquaires. They selected 56 galleries from Paris (27), New York (14), London (six) and other cities presenting in 53 booths more about 700 art objects. All work chosen for the salon were vetted and organized into categories:

  • Furniture and Decorative Art of the 20th Century
  • Twenty and Twenty First Century Design
  • Paintings and Drawings
  • African and Primitive Art
  • Ancient Art
  • Furniture and Decorative Art in 18th – 20th Centuries
  • Sculpture

The Salon included a fund raiser for the Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club. Several panels sponsored by the SCENE magazine were offered covering respectively design value creation in real estate and through the social media as well as on the Vanderbilts bringing “French Grandeur” to America and Deconstructing Modern Design.

The breadth and quality of the Salon was astounding covering hundreds of years of art and design creations and presenting many galleries who were never in New York before. Only comparatively few decorative objects from the contemporary design period were puzzling and difficult to ascertain, yet they found their audience too. Certainly the art, genre, style and period preferences of the well clad upscale audience were readily met by the exhibits in well arranged spaces.

It would be difficult to identify a single established 20th century artist whose work was not shown. Further, this first salon was not crowded during my two visits as Armory art shows frequently are, thus allowing for undisturbed talks of exhibitors and collectors, an advantage pointed out by visitors and staff, in short, as one visitor put it, the salon was a collector’s paradise.

Apart from an overall compliment for this well managed show it is difficult to do justice to all exhibitors and the plethora of objects on view. Among my favorites were the Carpenters Workshop Gallery (London) with its astounding upside down Taj Mahal table, the unending attraction of Rene Lalique’s work mounted by the DJL Lalique gallery (Glen Cove, New York) and kindred art nouveau objects arranged by the Jason Jacques Gallery from New York.

Among the most notable pieces of furniture was DJO Bourgeois’s desk in steel and Bakelite from the Galerie Marchilhac (Paris). Their Zürich counter part, the Gallery Gmurzynska featured the suprematist PROUN portfolio of prints of which only three copies are known to exist, one held by MOMA. For the artist El Lissitzky the Russian Proun stands for 'Project for the Affirmation of the New'. Zlotowski (Paris) devoted all of its space to showcase paintings by Le Corbusier offering an amazing contrast to his style in architecture. And the German-American artist Richard Lindner had two of his eroticizing paintings on view at the Galerie Pascal Lansberg (Paris) exhibit.

As noted the work shown spanned centuries with the oldest paintings on display presented by the Paris and Geneva based De Jonckheere gallery specializing in old masters and specifically Flemish painting. The darkened exhibit space featured The Harvest painting by Pieter Brueghel, a panel by Lucas Cranach the Elder, and the magnificent “Temptation of Saint Antony in a panoramic landscape” by Jan Mandijn. At least for this writer, the picturesque landscapes, village scenes and portraits by the other masters shown in this booth were not as intriguing as Mandijn’s imagination of St. Anthony’s temptations. Following Hieronymus Bosch’ imaginary creations Mandijn demonstrates superb craftsmanship with surreal and detailed scenes. Masked people and bizarre creatures are leaving caves surrounded by strange insects, birds and other fantastic objects against the background of a seemingly peaceful landscape. What he presents transcends our imagination.

If you have missed the show you may want to visit two galleries across from the Armory on East 67th Street. At Friedman & Vallois the focus is on the French artist Rachid Khimone selecting totems and masks created over the last five years using bronze, iron, wood and mixed media. The objects evoke Africa and her traditions. Jumping into 21st century, the Lohner-Carlson Silences exhibit at the Erik Thomsen's gallery of Asian art presents Active Images 1990-20, combining the best of moving images and photographic approaches. The images are shown on a series of high resolution video panels and provide a poetic and elegant glance at seemingly normal scenes. Yet they succeed in unframing our structured visual perception of reality and moving us out of that perception box, if we look closely enough embracing a meditative patience.

You can learn more at,

Art Basel Miami Assembles Finest in Art World

art baselArt Basel Miami (December 6 -9, 2012) has for 11 years been one of the top art festivals in the Americas and it returns to the Miami Beach Convention Center (1901 Convention Center Drive  Miami Beach, FL).  An extension of the Swiss Art Basel festival (aka “the Olympics of the art world”), which also has a branch in Hong Kong, Art Basel Miami  features over 260 leading art galleries from USA, Canada, Europe, Latin America, Africa and Asia and over 2,000 individual artists (exhibitors TBA).

Special sections will feature projects by emerging artists, new artworks, public art projects and, performances, video and sound art. 

Other programs include

Film series
Video art exhibition
Art Basel Conversations (past participants include Ai Weiwei, Chuck Close, and Catherine David)
Art Salon (sort of like an art version of TED talks in which artists give short presentations)

Art Basel Miami is one of the largest art fairs in the US, and attracted over 50,000 visitors in 2011. This year will be sure to continue to bring the finest in art from all over the world.

To learn more, go to

Art Basel
December 6 – 9, 2012

Miami Beach Convention Center
1901 Convention Center Drive
Miami Beach, FL 33139

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