Sunday, March 27, 2011

Miami fires up Arteaméricas´ Latin art sales in $5k - $25k bracket--Cuba, Mexico & Argentina blazing away

Arteamericas at the Miami Beach Convention Center

Arteaméricas´ vice-president, Cuban-born Emilio Calleja, was seeing allot of red Friday late morning and liked it.

“Lots of red dots scattered among the galleries, so quickly after opening, always a good sign,” Calleja told ArtTraveler in a phone interview Saturday (26 March).

He reported brisk sales in the $5,000 - $25,000 price bracket, with one notable exception.
A work by Wilfredo Lam (not one sold)

Miami´s Latin Art Core gallery owners a couple hours before our interview told him they sold a Wilfredo Lam work for $75,000.

We checked LAC´s website; of five Lam´s shown, two are noted “sold,” yet under “inventory,” there´s only one available as of early Sunday morning:  “L´ action,”  Carboncillo-aciete en papel, 24 in. x 21 in. (1946).

We were unable to confirm which Lam actually sold by posting deadline.

Sales volume and quality of art high

Overall, said Calleja, sales volume at mid-fair soared above last year´s sales.  “Gallerists are smiling.”

Just when the fair winds down and closes at 5 p.m. EST Monday, is when there´s a surge in sales, said Calleja. “That´s when people come back to negotiate.”

Understandably, Cuba, the home team, led sales followed by Mexico, this year´s focus country, and Argentina.

Cubans carved out their own island of exhibits at the Miami Beach Convention Center.

“Cuban art sells very well, the contemporary works, even an installation sold for $15,000,” Calleja said.

A Valéria Yamamoto sculpture

The Valéria Yamamoto and José Fernandez installations and sculptures continue to impact fair goers, he added.

The two series of Mexican totems, as tall as 25 feet that frame the fair entrance this year, provide the “WOW” effect.

And Calleja, an executive of a Miami PR firm, loves the “WOW” effect, especially when it´s bristling with Latino colors and corazon--heart and spirit.

Mexican totems

A new multi-focal art fair

Also, Artéamericas for the first time targeted one country as its centerpiece—Mexico—but also peeled back another layer of Latin American art, which the fair calls, “West Encounters East.”

Argentinean artists of Japanese lineage lead the way in this visual exploration, since there´s no one who can really adequately define “Latin American Art,” other than by its etiology.

Calleja and other fair organizers prefer an inclusive, not exclusive approach.

Of the 54 exhibiting galleries, 21 emerge from Miami; 14 from Mexico; 11 from Argentina.

Colombia fielded two galleries with one each from Venezuela, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Bolivia and El Salvador.

Three galleries from Cordoba, Spain produce a robust Andalusia presence.

It´s the best fair of the nine, Calleja said. “The volume of purchases shows the economy has picked up.”

What´s different this year from last?

While hosting only 54 galleries in three locations, mainly at the Miami Beach Convention Center, Arteamericas boasts the “highest quality” of any other Latin American art fair.

Fair organizers would, of course.

What about the new Latin American art hotspot, Houston, with its inaugural fair in September? I ask. And New York and…..

“We´re Miami,” said Calleja emphatically. “What more is there to say?”

Never argue with a Cuban about such things, including Castro.

Arteamericas ´ executive director, Mariá Nápoles, in a phone interview Saturday, confirmed that sales and quality of works are much higher than last year.

She served as last year’s director (her first).  Her handprints on the fair are soon apparent.


“Centroamerica: Civism and Violence”

While Calleja cares more for the gallerists´pocket books, as he should (“It´s a commercial fair.”), Nápoles sees another picture.

She infuses a Latino socio-political arts pathos and ethos, especially in the special Central American exhibit—“Centroamerica: Civism and Violence”—on gang violence and the plight of innocent civilians caught in the cross-fire.

“These gangs are absolutely violent, destroy society and have no respect for the civil life,” she said.

Nápoles pointed to the special show and its stark installation of rocks and flowers on the large floor mat made of rice, corn and beans, Central American´s basic diet, an expansive cemetery, she explained.
Symbols of Central American gang violence

Fourteen artists collaborated in producing the exhibit, primarily photographs, graphic ones, although there is one large-format painting symbolizing poor people´s plight in crossing borders, in being victimized and exploited by multi-nationals and plantation owners.

Nápoles also fleshed out the symposia this year with a cadre of heavy weights, engaging public and arts professionals: “Much more intellectual and more in depth, even broader than last year.”

Emerging artists are the winners

Worth allot more than just mentioning: Video Art 2011.

Artéamericas issued an open call for videos and then juried them, selecting 22 from 1 to 5 minutes long, part of a traveling show hitting more than 25 museums.

But what Napoles appears most enthusiastic about is the focus Artéamericas gives this year and last to emerging Latino artists—its NewArt section.

Another first: four juried art students, each from a different Florida university or arts institute, show their work as part of the extended fair in Fort Lauderdale.
“The emerging artists are the ones who get the most out of our fair,” Nápoles said.

“We´re trying to bring new galleries and projects, a strong message of who we are and what is interesting to our social and economic life, always impacted by the United States.”

Rock on and practice peace and love.

Stefan, the ArtTraveler™

Take a walking holiday or experience a week-long sculpture or mosaics workshop in our mountains of Andalusia. See: and

 Jaime Adan on mountain walk in Andalusia, photograph by S. van Drake

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