NADA Miami Beach 2013 Opens to Huge Crowds, Sales

Early this afternoon an artist and I sat in the lobby of the Deauville Beach Resort in Miami Beach and marveled as one dealer after another hustled past, carrying paintings in and out of the neighboring banquet rooms, where the New Art Dealers Alliance had been in full swing since 10 a.m. All of the sudden, a Chelsea dealer popped up over over my shoulder.

“Can I ask you to do something crazy?” he said to the artist. He needed help moving a painting that was too big for him to carry alone, and his coworker couldn’t help him. “We’re getting slammed out there,” he said. And so off they went to refresh the works in the booth. Such is the camaraderie that prevails here.

Traffic from South Beach, where the well-heeled are staying, was reportedly hell this morning, as it is every year, and so dealers like Jesse Greenberg of Brooklyn’s 247365 gallery talked to concerned collectors on the phone who were calling from their cars. Could they hold a piece until they arrived?

Traffic jams aside, the aisles were pretty much jam-packed by noon.

Dealer James Cope announced that he had sold out his 12 hard-edged geometric hydrocal sculptures by Ben Sansbury in 40 minutes, and was planning to leave a card in his booth saying he hit the beach. He has a new gallery in the works in an old house in Dallas that’s he’s planning to build out into a space, “Berlin-style with a Texas twist.”

So, sales were happening at a solid pace: good news for young dealers and their artists. What’s the news on the art front? Messy, exuberant abstract paintings continue to dominate booths, one artist friend pointed out to me. Some of them are interesting, many of them are not, but they’re everywhere. So, to a lesser extent, is large-scale work, which is something of a surprise at a fair that has tended to focus more on intimately scaled works.

But big doesn’t necessarily mean bad. Canada installed a gargantuan and frankly awesome Joanna Malinowska papier-mâché bear (see the slide show) at the center of its booth that towered over its drywalls (if you liked her recent show at their gallery, you’ll love this one), China Art Objects had a brilliantly bright Pae White tapestry that stretched the full length of its booth, Rachel Uffner showed some vibrant new dyed fabric pieces by Anya Kielar.

Other highlights: some of those classic, deadpan Vern Blossum paintings at Essex Street with wall-hung Chadwick Rantanens made of a tangled measuring tape, a blowout show of wild, warping Borna Sammak videos at JTT, Michelle Grabner paintings popping up here and there, Chris Wiley photographs at Nicelle Beauchene that have the studiously controlled artist suddenly embracing wonderfully extroverted frames (one adorned with seashells) and scrappy Ben Morgan-Cleveland paintings at Eli Ping that he made by leaving fabric on a cobblestone street through the night, so that the stones were imprinted by passing trucks.

Lots of great stuff, in other words, and more in the photos above.

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