The programming for Faena Arts District kicked off early with a VIP party to launch Faena Bazaar, one of the many new features of Argentine developer Alan Faena's (pictured below, left) multidisciplinary Faena Arts District, which includes the new Faena Forum cultural events space.
Faena Bazaar offers a curated collection of high-concept, experiential brands plus installations, designers and a concept shop.
Thursday night the Global Gift Foundation teamed up with The Ricky Martin Foundation and the Eva Longoria Foundation for a gala hosted by Ricky and Eva where six incredible experiences were auctioned off to a crowd of 300 that included plenty of A-listers, athletes and deep pockets.
Eva Longoria with artist Augustina Casas Sere-Leguizamon. The event, which took place at the sales center of Jorge Perez's development Auberge, across the street from the Adrienne Arsht Center, had hired a London auctioneer who got caught in the Basel traffic (like everyone else) and couldn't make the event on time, leaving Ricky and Eva to wrangle the bids from the crowds.
Up for grabs, if you had the bucks, was the Eva Longoria Experience, a chance to go backstage with the actress on the set of her new show "Telenovela." Ricky Martin also offered some backstage action on his latest tour to a lucky bidder.
Ricky Martin, Robb LaKritz, Augustina Casas Sere-Leguizamon and Eva Longoria.
Another memorable experience up for auction was a commission by Uruguayan digital artist Augustina Casas Sere-Leguizamon. The 31-year-old artist is renowned for her digital portraits, like a series she created of Venezuelan designer Pilar Tarrau as Frida Kahlo. The artist has had work exhibited in the Louvre and all throughout Europe. She took the stage with her husband, real estate and finance mogul Robb LaKritz, plus Ricky and Eva to show one of her other acclaimed works, a portrait of Queen Maxima, the first Latina royal queen in Europe, who married into the royal family of the Netherlands. The experience includes a photo session, Augustina's digital wizardry and a framed portrait. "The tools of modern technology are my paintbrushes, and with that I create my art and digital portraits," says the artist.
"From the stage we couldn't see who was making the bids," says Robb LaKritz, "but when the bidding was done, it was Eva's boyfriend, Jose Antonio Baston who made the winning bid." Turns out Eva was a fan of the artist and her hubby wanted to give her the portrait as a gift.
The artist plans to meet with Eva in two weeks to get started on the portrait.
Miami Art Week brings thousands of artists, artworks, and their alternate visions to Miami. But none like the one in a small room in a shared work space on Lincoln Road, where for several days this week you could visit an alternate universe, where you can float in a starry ether and summon a giggling, zooming creature with a magic wand.
Called Light Spirit, it’s a new virtual reality program using groundbreaking new technology that’s set to explode the genre in the next year. Created by L.A. virtual reality company New Tropics and former Miami creative duo Friends With You, known for their surreal, bright, amorphous figures, designs, and installations, Light Spirit got its first experimental outing during Miami Art Week. Instead of dueling with soldiers or surveying a landscape, Light Spirit, using a new headset and laser technology called HTC Vive, allows you to physically interact with an animated environment and creature. It’s like being part of a psychedelic cartoon.
Huge media and entertainment companies have been working for several years to move into this new virtual space; last year Facebook bought Occulus VR, another immersive reality company, for $2 billion, and Sony is developing a new virtual reality headset, Project Morpheus, for Playstation. But New Tropics has a more creative goal – to expand your mind. The three technical creators of Light Spirit say they’re the first to work with artists in using this cutting edge new technology. This week, some 100 artists, gallerists, curators, and other creative types tried it out.
"This is how to immerse people in their brain,” says New Tropics’ Josh Randall, formerly director of the studio which created the hit video game series Guitar Hero and Rock Band. “We’re interested in creating our own new worlds that you’d never get to experience in real life.”
On Friday (which between the rain, the traffic, and the depressing news, was a very good day to escape from reality), I stepped into a small 12 by 12 foot room, strapped on a sense-muffling headset, put on a pair of enormous headphones, and took a black joystick-like object in my hands – and was sucked into empty deep blue space filled with floating white sparkles. The joystick became a kind of sceptre tipped with a rainbow-colored globe; as I waved it, more sparks exploded, and a fluid, bulbous little smiling creature, like an animated, oblong balloon, appeared. It giggled and squirmed as I waved the wand – I could stroke it, lead it in waves and circles, and as I expanded my movements, faster and larger, the creature bloomed to almost my size, then soared overhead, streaking across the virtual sky like a bright tubular comet, squealing with delight while music boomed and echoed – I could even send it whirling under my feet. As I settled down, it edged closer, and as I touched its undulating surface, the wand disappeared inside it and the space around me bloomed into psychedelic color, blobs and shapes swelling and swirling, as if I’d disappeared inside a lava lamp.
Afterwards I felt dizzy, disoriented, and slightly queasy at being back in the solid, sharply defined world of right angles and hard, unmoving objects. Randall and co-creator Adam Robezzoli say the creature responds to the person, adapting to what you do – playful and engaging if you engage it, shrieking and disappearing if you poke or hit it. (Marketing managers were the only ones who’d gotten aggressive, they said.) The music also changes with the player’s movements. There's no skill required, no competition, no fear - just play and surreal sensation.
Part of the challenge in creating Light Spirit, Randall said, was figuring out how to get the program to respond to each person individually. “We taught the system to respond to my way of moving, and then when it had other people it didn’t know what to do,” he said. The creature had to be completely unreal, and yet have a personality – it’s like a cross between a baby, a fish, a bubble, and a friendly ghost, with a little purring kitten thrown in. “We really wanted to make an otherworldly creature that’s fun to touch,” Randall says.
Randall and his New Tropics collaborators hope the next step for this new virtual universe will be for people to play together in virtual reality space. (With lots of Light Spirits, perhaps?) "It's so compelling," he says. "But it would be way more fun to do it with friends."
After all these years at Art Basel we know art comes in many shapes and sizes (and price tags). So it was no surprise that the soft opening of Miami Supercar Rooms, the nation’s first Auto Art Gallery and Gourmet Dining Experience, located in Wynwood, should happen during Basel week. We attended the invitation-only private dinner where former male model and British-born automotive visionary behind the London Motor Museum, Elo welcomed 20 guests to an intimate gathering in the brightly-lit white-on-white showroom where a long communal table was flanked on either side by vintage and custom-designed automobiles.
Guests dined on Peruvian-inspired dishes of tuna tiradito topped with salmon roe and ceviche with purple potatoes while Elo and wife Mai mingled with guests which included actor Jimmy Jean-Louis from NBC’s “Heroes Reborn” TV show. The cars inside the showroom varied from frisky classics to theatrically tricked-out speedsters. There was a glossy black Batmobile-esque ‘Rolls Royce Bootch,’ a blue and white ‘450 S Maserati’ racing car, a ‘Delahaye Pacific,’ a ‘Delahaye Bugnaughty,’ and a lipstick red ‘196 SP Ferrari’ racing car.
When Miami Supercar Rooms officially launches in February it will feature a spacious open-air patio featuring six aluminum “Pods.” Each Pod will house a Supercar that accompanies a comfortable private dining banquet for groups who will dine in the presence of these collectible vehicles.
We previously reported on Leonardo DiCaprio's #ArtBasel takeover, but now that he's gone, more details are surfacing about his wild nights and big balls.
DiCaprio, who was stayingat The Miami Beach EDITION, closed down Basement Bowl each night, Monday through Wednesday, starting at 3:30 each morning, to host a private party for his celeb friends and slew of what our spy witnesses can only describe as "leggy models."
On Tuesday night, Leo partied in Basement to celebrate the club's 1-year anniversary, then came back late night to take over the Bowl lanes with his crew of 40, which included:Jamie Foxx, Ellie Goulding, Miguel, Alexandra Richards, Lukas Haas and Jamie XX. A certain hotel heiress was there, too.
The following night, he returned to shut down the bowling alley again with aforementioned alluded to heiress, Miguel, Megan Fox, Meagan Good, Mario,Foxx, billionaire Brian Sheth, and the cast of Power.
As for whether or not anyone was caught making out or picking their nose, it's anybody's guess. No pictures were allowed and no one is talking. The only thing we got was, "the girls that were invited in were Amazons. I mean, you had to fit a certain requirement to get invited to the party."
Jorge Perez, David Martin, Russell Simmons, Pedro Martin, Danny Simmons and Carlos Rosso at the Rush Foundation auction.
Inner-city youth were the real winners Thursday, when hip-hop magnate Russell Simmons and Miami developers Jorge Perez and David Martin co-hosted an auction benefiting the Rush Foundation. On the block were works by many top U.S. black artists, including Wangechi Mutu, Renee Cox, Theaster Gates and Kehinde Wiley, and street artists Shepherd Fairey and Mr. Brainwash. The biggest bid of the evening: $75,000 for the Wangechi Mutu, won by Martin.
The auction, at the sales center for the Grove Park condo project, raised funds to support arts education in schools. Said Simmons, "we need to get governments to understand that without creativity, numbers don't matter. We need to get the focus on teaching kids to think creatively. "
Think Ray Bradbury with a twist of sardonic humor and you’ll have an inkling of what the latest installment of Daniel Arsham’s sci-fi film “Future Relic” is about.
Arsham, the artist affectionately embraced as Miami’s native son, unveiled “Future Relic 04” at the Edition hotel on Miami Beach Thursday night. Prior to viewing the film, guests had their pick of select drinks by Absolut Elyx, such as the Edition Pineapple, which featured salted caramel syrup and pineapple puree, along with a sprig of rosemary that bartender Johan Vasquez set aflame with a mini-blowtorch. And after the 12-minute clip, the audience repaired to the hotel's basement bowling alley and ice rink. Arsham, who co-wrote the script with screenwriter Timothy Stanley, says the film will have nine segments, which will eventually be released as a feature-length film next year.
The installments are shot out of sequence, Arsham says, “primarily due to access to the talent” – such as Academy Award nominees James Franco (Best Actor for “127 Hours,” in which he portrayed Aron Ralston, who in real life cut off part of his arm after it was pinned under a boulder during a hiking accident) and Juliette Lewis (for her role as an innocent teen in “Cape Fear”).
The fourth installment features Arturo Castro, who plays a cynical NASA rocket scientist at mission control, overseeing two hapless pilots played by Matthew Maher and Ethan Suplee of “My Name Is Earl” fame.
Watching the segment is a bit like trying to define an elephant when you can only see its tail. But the film hints of a pending cataclysm that causes Suplee to periodically swig amber liquid from a flask and eventually leave his pilot’s seat to dance to Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Great Balls of Fire.” This occurs after he and his co-pilot witness massive calving of icebergs everywhere they look.
If you are mystified by the meaning of that sequence, you are not alone. Even the emcee for the evening’s private viewing was at a loss. When the lights came up, Jefferson Hack – media mogul and former mate to supermodel Kate Moss – told the audience, “Like most of you, I have no idea what happened. We’ve just been given a tease.” Hack has been teasing the Internet audience by presenting the installments on the web through his company, Nowness, and plans the do the same for this latest installment.
This method of early distribution affords Arsham the ability to build a fan base and continues to keep everyone guessing as to the plot of the film, which showcases his artwork made to resemble everyday items such as cameras and cell phones.
“I’m releasing [the film segments] as I make them,” Arsham says, adding that although the latest segment is the fourth so far, it actually will appear at the beginning of the film once all the pieces are spliced together.
When that happens, look for additional actors of note, such as Mahershala Ali, who plays lobbyist Remy Danton in the American version of “House of Cards” and Belgian actor Ronald Guttman, who brilliantly plays characters both sinister and suave, that appear in a variety of works, ranging from “The Hunt for Red October” to “Mad Men.”
Art writer and gallerist Sandra Schulman, and writer and artist Walter Robinson may have been sitting in a show of South Florida artists, the 100 Degrees in the Shade gallery in the Design District, on Thursday morning. But the book they were there to sign (and promote) told of a very different place and time. Still, Spiritual America, a slender little volume about a short-lived gallery on New York's Lower East Side, offers some striking parallels for Miami's art scene - in the story of a pivotal moment in the history of art, of some very famous artists, and of how place and culture and gentrification mix.
Schulman had just graduated from college in the spring of 1983 when she joined her friend Kim Fine in running Spiritual America, a tiny gallery in the front of Fine's apartment on Rivington Street, one of the funkiest, druggiest parts of the Lower East Side. Fine had started the gallery after artist Richard Prince, whom she was dating, was dumped by his Soho gallery, Metro Pictures, for proposing a show consisting of a single photograph he'd taken of another notorious photograph - Gary Gross' shot of a naked ten year old Brooke Shields.
"Richard brought [Metro] the Brooke photo and says this is my next show, it will be the biggest thing in the world," Schulman says. Metro didn't buy it - but Prince convinced Fine to paint the front of her apartment black and light up his photo of a photo, called Spiritual America - a comment on commercialization and sexual exploitation. Voila, instant gallery. When Gross served Prince with a copyright lawsuit the next day, the artist lit out to California - leaving the new gallery behind.
Over the next few months Fine and Schulman did a New Year's Eve show of murals by Robinson, and a group show with Jeff Koons (Fine was seeing him too), Cindy Sherman (Schulman owned one of the early film still photos, a gift from her internship at Metro), and Louise Lawler. Their backer (with the enormous sum of $400 a month, plenty for paint, invites and champagne) was Schulman's friend and sometime boyfriend Arturo Vega, who designed the graphics for the Ramones, CBGB's, Blondie and other now legendary punk figures.
"Sandra's book is fascinating because it tells the inside story of an artwork that was a milestone in post-modern photography," says Robinson, who wrote a review of the Prince photo "show" for the East Village Eye. The Prince photo was a pivot point for post-modernism, for the appropriation and re-framing of mass market and media imagery. "It's the mechanics behind the myth, that detailed eyewitness history."
Of course, nobody on that block packed with artists and drug dealers was thinking about milestones. They were getting high, going clubbing, making art, sleeping with each other, inventing fashion from trash and cast-offs. "I didn't know I was making history," says Robinson, who's now concentrating on painting, with three pieces in the giant Larry Gagosian-Jeffrey Deitch Unrealism show in the Design District. "I was just going with the flow, having fun."
So was Mark Kostabi, an East Village artist who went on to become one of the most successful and famous figures from that era - and who stopped by to see his old compatriots. Back then he lived next door to Spiritual America. His landlord was another known local artist, Richard Hambleton. Jean-Michel Basquiat used to visit Kostabi's brother's roommates, in the same building, to exchange paintings for drugs. Outside was a busy open air market for heroin and cocaine. The apartments were freezing in the winter. It was perfect.
"As soon as I moved to the East Village my career took off," says Kostabi. "I was always bumping into dealers, artists, collectors. New York downtown in the 80's was a non-stop party.We had the freedom and encouragement to be different and unique. There was no internet, people weren't sitting at home staring at a screen, but word got around by word of mouth, because everyone was out and about all the time."
Spiritual America lasted just five months, from the end of October 1983 to the end of March 1984. Fine and Schulman didn't sell a single piece. Of course, now Koons, Prince and Sherman are art stars, and appropriating media imagery is establishment. "I knew these people were onto something," Schulman says. "But no one was getting it. All this stuff was starting on the downtown scene and just starting to creep out there. I just thought it would happen sooner."
But she has no regrets. "It was a like a secret club," she says. "Eating ice cream in that freezing apartment, going out to clubs. We'd put on music and dance and talk about art and our adventures the night before. There was electricity in the air."
- Jordan Levin Arts & entertainment writer/music and dance critic Miami Herald [email protected]
The annual Thursday morning brunch at Casalin in Wynwood is always a bucolic respite from Basel bustle. Sponsored and hosted by Lin Lougheed in his garden recreation of a pre-European pine rockland landscape, the [email protected] showcases New World School of the Arts student artists - as well as cafecitos, fresh guarapo juice and pastries. This year was mostly performance pieces. Blonde, demure-faced Bernadetta Majauskaite wandered the grounds in a beaded white wedding dress (bought at Goodwill), her train trailing in the mud, humming a hypnotic melody as she "married" people by tying a strip of lace around their wrist, 100 times for A 100 Weddings. Skyler Nador tap danced on a platform covered in white paint in Colored Emotions.
But other pieces shadowed the sunny garden. Eddy Jean-Joseph,18, sat in a tiny dark shed, smearing white paint on his dark face, an ominous figure. The untitled piece was inspired by the minstrel show practice of blackface - when white performers smeared their faces with black makeup for a caricature of African-Americans - and by a newer version of cultural co-optation. "It was inspired by all these racial incidents that were happening, celebrities taking pieces of African-American culture," said Jean Joseph, who grew up in Little Haiti. Like Miley Cyrus wearing her hair in dreads. "I didn't like that - how some people pick and choose what parts of other people's culture they're going to put on," he said.
The three men in black Tshirts picking up trash about the yard would ordinarily have been invisible, or at least ignored. But this morning they took on symbolic meaning courtesy of the phrases on their black t-shirts reading "I am an immigrant/alien/undocumented cleaning the yard." Alian Martinez, 27, who arrived from Cuba just two years ago, looked to his neighbors, for the literally named Immigrant Cleaning Yard. "I'm very curious about how power is expressed in the relationship of work in this country, between employer and employee," Martinez said. "It doesn't matter how difficult the work can be, to realize it there always has to be money to pay for the effort. He's also fascinated by the politics and anger around immigration. While he thought there should be some controls on immigration, Martinez is puzzled at the hostility towards those who come here.
"Immigrants do the dirty work that no one wants to do," he said. "If America gets rid of all the immigrants, they'll lose that support."
The three men bringing his piece to life were Martinez' neighbors in Northwest Miami, and one really was undocumented, and the other getting his papers. Asked if they were embarrassed to wear labels proclaiming their status, Martinez said no. "They just asked how much they were getting paid," he said, pulling cash out of his pocket - $60 for each man. "It's more than they usually get."
One of them, Israel Menduina, with the "immigrant" t-shirt and a cap reading "native pride," was actually the U.S.-born son of a Cuban exile. "Immigrants come to work, to make an honest living, to take care of their families," he said. "I don't see nothing wrong with that."