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Art Basel's loss is Art Miami's gain: More galleries signing up
By Gail Meadows
The Miami Herald -- 11/20/2001

Art Basel isn't coming to South Florida this winter as planned, which is proving fortuitous for organizers of Art Miami.

Galleries that had intended to participate in the Swiss fair's U.S. debut, including the Bernice Steinbaum Gallery from Miami's Design District and Mary-Anne Martin Fine Art of New York, will be at Art Miami, which will convene for the 12th time Jan. 4-8 in the Miami Beach Convention Center. Those galleries will join a growing list of about 100 galleries from 24 countries.

``People have geared themselves up psychologically and emotionally for an art fair in Miami,'' said Ilana Vardy, who took over as director of Art Miami two years ago. And because of that anticipation, she's hoping more Basel participants may defect.
``I'm not closing things out until the end of November,'' she said. ``I'm totally open to whatever [gallery proprietors] want to do.''

Earlier this month Art Basel announced it was delaying its U.S. debut until December 2002, citing a lack of enthusiasm from dealers and collectors, plus difficulties in getting insurance for some of the art. But Martin, speaking from Manhattan, said she couldn't afford not to be in Miami this winter.

``I'd been in Art Miami nine or 10 years and have a definite relationship with collectors in Miami,'' she said. ``I was interested in the concept of Basel, but I need to continue my relationship with Miami; people expect me to be there.''

The show will be among the first art fairs in the nation to go on as planned since Sept. 11. San Francisco's show, scheduled for September, was postponed to January, and New York's annual February shows - the Art Dealers' fair and the International Contemporary Art Fair known as the ``Armory Fair'' - have had to look for new locations because the military has taken over the armories and the piers where they were held.

Art Miami, which claimed $35 million in sales to its 38,000 visitors last January, shouldn't have any trouble getting insurance, according to Phil Hobson, president of Phoenix International Business Logistics of Elizabeth, N.J. He has handled 100 art and trade shows this year and has been involved with Art Miami participants since 1991.

``If someone can't get insurance, we can provide it,'' Hobson said.

To expedite matters, Hobson has offered to store artworks free if dealers will ship their inventory early.

``I want to see things get back to normal in this country,'' he said.

Vardy, the former director of the prestigious Art Chicago fair, feels the same way. So she's organizing an event that will, in many ways, be similar to last year's.

Currents, a show within the show that presents younger galleries and artists that create provocative, challenging work, will return in January, as will Project Rooms, featuring solo exhibits by artists working in a variety of media. In addition, Galerie Les Modernes from Montreal will have a one-man show of a painter who constructs ``large-scale boxes with objects inside them,'' Vardy said.

There'll also be a special-opening night presentation, as before, with the Galerie Anne Lettree of Paris staging a multimedia performance piece with synaesthetic, erotic collages by artist Béa Aaronson.

Among the prominent galleries expected at the fair are Adriana Schmidt of Stuttgart; Buschlen Mowatt of Vancouver; Espacio Minimo of Madrid; Galerie Marion Meyer of Paris; Jacob Karpio Gallery of San Jose, Costa Rica; and Waddington & Tribby of London, Palm Beach and Boca Raton. Beyond that, galleries that have never participated, such as Cernuda Arte in Coral Gables, Luz Osorio of Medellin, B & D Studio in Milan and Art System-Art Product in Toronto, will take part.

``We have a lot of new people, a lot of new art,'' Vardy said. ``It has really energized me.''