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Art Basel: Escape to the past at CasaLin

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Miami artists (from left) Beatriz Mendoza, Sebastian Portuondo, Christina Pettersson, and Emanuel Rivas recreate a 1914 artist picnic.

A bucolic old-fashioned picnic with croquet and champagne, earnest young artists toiling over delicate decorated leaves and tiny dollhouses, lush greenery for sheltering from a passing sun shower. Visitors to the New World School of the Arts’ annual breakfast and event at The Yard @Casalin in Wynwood on Thursday morning were treated to an idyllic escape from Art Week frenzy.

Bill Bilowit of the art film and event collective Wet Heat, who conceived the event, said it was meant to recreate the relaxed atmosphere of artist colonies a century ago, when artists would spend several months at a country retreat provided by patrons.

“Nowhere else do you have this relaxed setting, this refuge from the market,” at Miami Art Week, Bilowit said.

Miami artist and New World alum Christina Pettersson had assembled a cast of fellow artists for a 1914 style picnic. Wearing straw hats and flowing white dresses, sitting on picnic blankets, they sipped champagne and tea, sang My Darling Clementine as Zak Singer strummed a tiny banjolele (even smaller than a ukulele.) Jeffrey Noble painted an old-fashioned style portrait of Lauren Shapiro, got up in Grecian-style curls and gown. Carrie Sieh made charcoal sketches and cuddled baby daughter Claire Nikels on her lap. Antonia Wright and Ruben Millares played croquet. It was enough to make you want to go back in time. (Not to mention that the champagne was real and the pate tempting.)

Owner Lin Lougheed, who’s been hosting these events since the first Art Basel, loves enabling these creative fantasies. (One early artist made a replica of the Dade County Courthouse and filled it with live chickens who laid blue eggs.)

“I do it to give these young artists more exposure,” Lougheed said. “In the early days my artists got museum shows and commissions. Now everyone is too distracted.”

Elsewhere in the garden, seven New World college seniors labored over their graduation projects in small wooden booths. Several evoked the delicate sensibility of an earlier era. Denise Garrio photographed doll sized rooms with miniature furniture, where upended or out of place pieces evoked a vaguely ominous atmosphere. Alden Solis painstakingly cut out an intricate flower pattern stencil, which she would use to paint over a large leaf – photos of bushes whose leaves she’d covered with intricate patterns, like giant fantasy bouquets, hung behind her. “I’m changing the physical environment, but when I do I stop the process of growing,” she said. “We get inspired by the beauty of nature, but sometimes we end up killing it. It’s bittersweet.” 


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​Jeffrey Noble paints Lauren Shapiro at Christina Pettersson's recreation of a 1914 artist picnic.

​Carrie Sieh sketches while daughter Claire Nikels, 17 months, looks on.



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​Antonia Wright and Ruben Millares play croquet.



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New World School of the arts senior Alden Solis works on a stencil at CasaLin.

— Jordan Levin ([email protected])