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art miami - it's worth a shot

Post #274 • May 11, 2004, 7:41 AM • 9 Comments

From a press release from the Art Miami people:

March 29, 2004... Art Miami was recently acquired by Pfingsten Publishing L.L.C., a business-to-business trade magazine publisher and conference/tradeshow producer. Under the new owners, Art Miami - the annual South Florida exposition of modern and contemporary art - will be celebrating its 15th edition from Thursday, January 6 - Monday, January 10, 2005 at the Miami Beach Convention Center.

I'm unclear about whom Art Miami was acquired from. Anybody know?

Anyway, Vardy stays:

Eric Smith, vice president of Pfingsten Publishing's Art and Framing Group, has expressed strong support of Art Miami and is working side by side with Ilana Vardy, show director, and her team, to strengthen the popular January destination.

The destination is in dire need of strengthening. Art Basel Miami Beach has been cleaning its clock every year, one month earlier, showing a better array of art and exhausting everyone in the process. Reviews of Art Miami peaked last year at okay on this blog.

A very positive and exciting change under the new ownership will be the relocation of the show director, Vardy, and fair headquarters to Miami Beach this summer, allowing for greater participation and integration with the local art community. With the support of Pfingsten Publishing, Art Miami will continue to build upon its success, improving marketing, streamlining operations and offering a more beneficial booth price structure for exhibitors.

This sounds like a good move, depending on what form "greater participation and integration with the local art community" takes. If they make it cheaper to get a booth and learn who the important locals are, we might see a better Miami presence. But they will have to overcome their reputation for putting half-decent art next to untrammeled shlock to gain anyone's trust.

"I am pleased to have the opportunity to continue developing Art Miami as an integral part of the exciting South Florida art market. We look forward to providing even greater service and quality to our exhibitors and loyal visitors. Exciting projects, stimulating panel discussions, collector programs and a broad spectrum of modern and contemporary art will entice both novice and established buyers to Miami next January," said Vardy.

Projects! Panel discussions! Programs! Everyones' feet will still be aching from Basel, people - these had better be some mightily distinguished events.

The 2005 Art Miami Selection Committee is already working on the development of new strategies for the next edition of the show, which will include a greater number of international galleries, a group of participants devoted exclusively to dealers of vintage and contemporary photography, and other special project areas. Robert Klein of the Robert Klein Gallery and Wendy & Tom Halsted of The Halsted Gallery will head up the selection of the photography galleries. Members of the selection committee are: Peter Osborne, Berkeley Square Gallery, London; Donald Taglialatella, World House Gallery, South Orange; Juan Ruiz, Juan Ruiz Galeria, Maracaibo; Joan Guaita, Joan Guaita Art, Palma de Mallorca; Marina Kessler, Marina Kessler Gallery, Miami; Ramon Cernuda, Cernuda Arte, Miami.

Photography is getting its own section, which ought to modernize things a bit. Otherwise, the selection committee looks like it's going to favor Latin art, recalling, perhaps unfairly, the disaster of Art Miami 2002, in which an army of motel-grade Picasso, Botero, Lam, and Tamayo imitators was mobilized to fill the cubicle walls with dreck.

One thing is sure: Art Miami isn't dead. Yet.




May 11, 2004, 3:03 PM

Sounds ominous. I don't know who was running Art Miami before, but I suspect it was someone who was doing it as a labor of love. Loosing enthusiasm after being eclipsed by Basel, they unloaded it. In comes Pfinsteng (a "Limited Liability Company"), which apparently is going to run it the way they run their other trade shows - with an eye toward maximizing profits. Have you seen their other work? Deco Expo?

Ominous, I tell you. I predict that we'll wish Art Miami had just gone away...


Tyler Green

May 11, 2004, 4:36 PM

Wellllll..... That's what companies do, they maximize profits! Why is that a bad thing? And why is TWO art fairs (really five counting ABMB side fairs) a good or a needed thing?



May 11, 2004, 5:16 PM

Nothing wrong with maximizing profits, of course. The Boston MFA does it all the time... ;o)

Whether two art fairs are good or needed is undecided. Two good art fairs are good. One good one and one lame one is not so good. And even though Art Miami was there first, it has become redundant in the presence of ABMB. We're waiting to see if they can make themselves necessary again.



May 11, 2004, 7:34 PM

I talked with Robert Klein during the fair several different times. I think he's a good person to have on their selection committee. I was taking photos of some art as an example of schlock art and I saw him squinting in disapproval. I told him why I was taking the picture and that was the beginning of our chats over two days of the fair. I spoke to the Halstead Gallery as well.

I think having a photo section would be a good think as last year I heard a number of people saying good things about the images. If they can get the rest of the fair up to a higher standard it seems they could do a lot to enhance their clout.



May 11, 2004, 9:14 PM

Art Miami, despite the ridiculously positive press it got this last time, is in serious trouble--at least as far as people like me are concerned, though I realize I'm probably not AM's target audience.Time will tell, but this new development does not bode well, in my opinion. Unless the new people in charge make major changes in terms of orientation, focus and, most of all, QUALITY, I'm no longer interested. Even art junkies have limits.



May 11, 2004, 9:44 PM

Art Miami was previously owned by Advanstar Communications, a whose corporate revenues are around $325m/yr. It originally acquired the fair in 1999 from International Fine Art Expositions (IFAE), a small company limited now to two shows in Palm Beach.

Pfingsten Publishing doesn't publish its own revenue numbers, but by itself, it's probably smaller than Advanstar. It's owned by Pfingsten Partners, a private investment company whose combined revenues are $800m/yr, but generated across ten different companies.



May 11, 2004, 11:04 PM

(bows in general direction of Hovig)



May 12, 2004, 3:21 AM

I'm actually going to bow in the general direction of Hovig and Franklin both; this thread is an example of artblog at its best (with apologies to the recent Balthus post).

OK so I was naive - Art Miami was always a big stupid for-profit venture. I've been to Basel both years, and to Art Miami never; it always struck me as little more then an indoor art-fair. But two art fairs is not, in itself, a bad thing. An Art Miami playing second fiddle to Basel may be better then Art Miami ever was before.



May 14, 2004, 1:13 AM

You beat me to the press on this one Franklin. Since MAEX was listed on all their official fair publications they sent me an email and a hardcopy letter making the announcement several weeks ago. I also knew about its ownership history although, I didn't know any dollar figures, because the Lester's (International Fine Art Expositions) I've known just about from Art Miami's inception. The live up in Stuart, FL., right down the road from where I used to live (Ft. Pierce).

In terms of Art Miami's future I would think they would need some creative planners working for them. Big money investors tend to be conservative and Art Miami needs to take some risks.



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