Going to the Fair….
By F. Lennox Campello
Going to the Fair….
Year after year I beat the drums about how key and critical it is for galleries, art organizations, art leagues (I’m looking at you Art League), art venues, etc. to participate in art fairs. Your typical art show in the DMV will attract, and thus expose the art to visitors in the hundreds.
A decent art fair in New York or Miami during Art Basel week will attract and expose the artwork (and thus the artist) to tens of thousands.
And if the goal is the commodification of art, then this exponential leap in potential buyers has a k’chiiiing effect on sales. If the goal is simple exposure of the art, then… case closed: thousands always beats hundreds.
The planet’s leading art fair week returns this December to the Greater Miami area, also known as the heart of the Cuban Diaspora (but I digress), led by the Art Basel fair in Miami Beach and surrounded by over twenty other satellite art fairs all over the Greater Miami area.
In 2020 the fairs were all cancelled as a result of the venom unleashed upon the planet by the Covidian monster, and thus 2021 returns with a bit of held-breath (no pun intended) to see if the denizens of the art world will return to the warmth of Miami and stroll through miles of art and release millions of dollars in exchange for visual pleasures.
Over the decades, many DMV area art galleries have made their presence a constant in these fairs, and a quick glance to the fair rosters now details just a handful venturing out to Miami this year.
I only found Baltimore’s C. Grimaldis and the District’s CONNERSMITH are back at Art Miami, the oldest continuously running art fair in the United States.
The District’s WGS Contemporary also brings works by DC area superstars (and Fulbright scholars) Michael Janis and Tim Tate, DC artist Tony Porto, Mexican uberphotographer Dulce Pinzon, British realism master Simon Monk, and yours truly to the SCOPE Art Fair in Miami Beach.
The WGS booth has been curated by Janis to focus upon artwork along the themes of superheroes, but do not expect to find comic book enlargements of the Man of Steel or the Dark Knight – instead these artists interpret the Superhero vein along different and varied themes.
For example, Pinzon’s famous photographic series revisits the theme of immigrant workers as the superheroes of their family back in their nations of origin. She writes:
After September 11, the notion of the “hero” began to rear its head in the public consciousness more and more frequently. The notion served a necessity in a time of national and global crisis to acknowledge those who showed extraordinary courage or determination in the face of danger, sometimes even sacrificing their lives in an attempt to save others. However, in the whirlwind of journalism surrounding these deservedly front-page disasters and emergencies, it is easy to take for granted the heroes who sacrifice immeasurable life and labor in their day to day lives for the good of others, but do so in a somewhat less spectacular setting.
The Mexican immigrant worker in New York is a perfect example of the hero who has gone unnoticed. It is common for a Mexican worker in New York to work extraordinary hours in extreme conditions for very low wages which are saved at great cost and sacrifice and sent to families and communities in Mexico who rely on them to survive.
The Mexican economy has quietly become dependent on the money sent from workers in the US. Conversely, the US economy has quietly become dependent on the labor of Mexican immigrants. Along with the depth of their sacrifice, it is the quietness of this dependence which makes Mexican immigrant workers a subject of interest.
The principal objective of this series is to pay homage to these brave and determined men and women that somehow manage, without the help of any supernatural power, to withstand extreme conditions of labor in order to help their families and communities survive and prosper. This project consists of 20 color photographs of Mexican and Latino immigrants dressed in the costumes of popular American and Mexican superheroes. Each photo pictures the worker/superhero in their work environment, and is accompanied by a short text including the worker’s name, their hometown, the number of years they have been working in New York, and the amount of money they send to their families each week.
The fairs, almost 30 of them, run in multiple venues throughout the first week of December.