Top Boutique Art Fair in South Beach Strengthens Reputation as a Must-See Destination
During Miami Art Week, Realizing Record Sales and Attracting Nearly 11,000 Attendees.
Aqua Art Miami, long known as a top art fair for emerging and mid-career artists during Miami Art Week, closed with record-breaking attendance and sales figures as it wrapped its 10thAnniversary edition and its second year as part of the Art Miami LLC family of fairs. Nearly 11,000 international collectors, museum professionals, art world luminaries and enthusiasts visited Aqua, with many galleries rehanging their walls throughout the week as works sold at a record-breaking pace.
Since 2005, Aqua Art Miami has been held in the eponymous South Beach art deco hotel, with spacious exhibition rooms surrounding a breezy, intimate courtyard. This year’s edition showcased 46 dynamic exhibitors from around the world, including North and South America, Europe and Asia. The fair has become a must-see facet of Miami’s Art Week, with thousands of patrons visiting the Aqua Hotel to view the increasingly dynamic range of galleries that choose to present in the fair’s signature unique ambiance and relaxed atmosphere.
“Aqua has consistently offered a range of galleries featuring emerging voices and established artists, and the affiliation with Art Miami has allowed us to take Aqua to the next level. Not only does being part of the Art Miami family strengthen Aqua’s ability to attract increasingly diverse and notable galleries while continuing its role as an incubator in showcasing new talent, but our expanded reach also enables us to build an exciting and loyal audience of new collectors and serious art world influencers, capturing the excitement and energy of the activity on the beach,” said Jennifer Jacobs, Director of Aqua Art Miami. “We were delighted by the record-breaking attendance and sales as well as audience response to the fair, and we already have requests for 2015 applications from high caliber galleries and an extremely high percentage of exhibitors anxious to return. Aqua has tremendous momentum for the future, and we cannot wait to begin the programming for the next year’s edition.”
Starting with the private VIP Preview, which had collectors queueing up down the block, interest in emerging and mid-career artists translated into record-breaking sales of works, such as Seager/Gray Gallery of Mill Valley, California which reported the sale of a blown glass bird by artist Jane Rosen for $24,000 and a book sculpture by Andrew Hayes for an undisclosed price on opening night. More than 3,000 patrons interacted with gallerists, artists, curators and fellow collectors in the alfresco Aqua courtyard as guests enjoyed curated music bySound.wav. Throughout the week, Aqua welcomed museum professionals and affiliate groups at a nightly happy hour, and hosted an event on Saturday showcasing British Art and Design, sponsored by the British Consulate, Industry Gallery, Quintessentially and Modern Magazine. By the fair’s close on Sunday, December 7, Aqua reached just under 11,000 in total attendance, demonstrating a continued year-on-year increase from 6,000 in 2012 and 10,000 in 2013.
Throughout the fair, the classic South Beach hotel was filled with some of the most influential names in the art community. From art collectors to museum representatives, celebrities and bold faced names, Aqua Art Miami attracted art world luminaries such as Lewis Kruger, a collector and the Chairman of the Museum of Arts and Design in New York City; Maria Brito, celebrity art advisor to P. Diddy Combs and Gwyneth Paltrow; Carmen Lilly, fashion stylist and art advisor to and Rihanna; Joseph Becker, curator at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Wendy Kaplan curator and department head at the Los Angeles Contemporary Museum of Art; Sydney Williams, curator at the Palm Springs Art Museum; Jane Stoker, collector and philanthropist; and Lisa Roberts, collector, author and trustee of Philadelphia Museum of Art, among others.
Michele Mariaud, owner of New York based Michele Mariaud Gallery and a first year exhibitor at Aqua, remarked, “Our artists received instant international exposure and recognition at Aqua Art Miami. Emerging artist Joel Kuntz received two commissions from important European collectors and we sold more than fifteen robots by the artist. Albert Delamour’s Orotone and Zhou Hongbin’s Aquarium are now in important art foundation collections. This level of success is only possible in Miami and at a fair like Aqua.”
The Miami-based Mindy Solomon Gallery had to rehang their booth at least four times, beginning with the VIP Preview on Wednesday night. Hang Art, a gallery based in San Francisco, sold out of artist Erin Mitchell’s work, many sold to New York collectors, including two mixed media on mirrored Mylar works to Museum of Modern Art New York board member Lawrence B. Benenson for an undisclosed price. The Good Luck Gallery sold five Elias Telles paintings to Kenny Schwartz, a well-known folk art collector from New York. The Shulamit Gallery from Venice Beach, California also moved a large quantity of inventory, including a painting by artist Gary Baseman titled Release of Gertrude VI for $4,000 and a Plexiglas and radiant film sculpture by Miri Chais which sold for $9,000. Many gallerists and leading museum curators remarked that the fair attracted a high quality crowd of attendees and that they are looking forward to witnessing the fair’s growth each year.
Other notable sales included: Robert Henry Contemporary, a perennial participant of Aqua from Brooklyn and member of this year’s new Advisory Committee, found success at the fair selling works including Parking Lot Space Color Scheme by Richard Garrison, and Asvirus by Derek Lerner both with prices ranging from $8,000 to $10,000. Owner Robert Walden reported, “We experienced strong sales, great quality collectors and a laid back unpretentious atmosphere at Aqua Art Miami.” Collector Steve Wilson of the 21C Hotel Museums purchased works of art from Muriel Guepin Gallery, William Baczek Fine Arts, and a drawing by Benjamin Sack from the Ghostprint Gallery. Industry Gallery featured a design showcase which transformed the hotel’s penthouse, and also showcased a pop-up shop by designer Jenny Wu of LACE in the historic hotel courtyard. The intricately detailed and avant-garde jewelry pieces, which utilize the latest in 3D printing technology and material sold very well, moving inventory across all categories.
Aqua’s solo installations and performance art program also garnered substantial attention. The celebratedKaren Finley hosted “Artists Anonymous” sessions, loosely based on a 12-step program utitlized creative exercises to help visitors come to terms with their relationship with art. Surprise guest artist speakers, including notable curators and collectors joined and offered testimonials of transformation, making these sessions a crowd favorite. Finley also provided incredible one-on-one performance sessions in which the renowned artist painted Psychic Portraits of Aqua attendees. These 15-minute sessions were incredibly popular, with every time slot booked for both Friday and Saturday.
In “Unraveled (in Aqua)” by Amy Kaps, which took place during the VIP Preview, the artist literally unraveled more than 1,700 feet of flagging tape that begins as a "dress" and results in a trail marking her journey through the day. Tied to a fixed starting point, the route intersected paths dictated by the architecture, people and objects within the space. As Kaps circulated through the Aqua Hotel grounds, she created a thrilling conversation piece and interesting detours for fairgoers.
Elizabeth Leach Gallery of Portland, Ore. presented M.K. Guth’s “Advice Station”, a hybrid psychiatry office and information booth where masses of visitors solicited tips, pointers and opinions about Miami Art Week from the artist. In exchange, the visitors offered their personal advice which was added to a collective advice receptacle from which other visitors could gain wisdom. Guests stated that they found this creative conversation very helpful to navigate through Art Week. Guth plans to publish a catalog encompassing the advice collected from Aqua attendees which can be pre-ordered through Elizabeth Leach Gallery.
About Art Miami LLC
Art Miami LLC is a partnership consisting of art and media industry veterans Nick Korniloff, Mike Tansey and Brian Tyler. In addition to the three fairs during Miami Art Week, the company annually produces Art Wynwood during Presidents Day weekend in February, CONTEXT New York in March, Art Miami New York in May, Art Southampton in July and Art Silicon Valley/San Francisco in October.