eight highlights of St John Artwork Week
With more than 20 trade shows, countless parties, and multiple off-site installations, St John Art Week is not for the faint of heart. That year, with the opening of ICA St John, the relaunch of Bass and Studio Drift’s 300 fleet of drones flying at night, the whole spectacle felt more saturated than ever. Here is your guide to what not to miss – or what to know when not traveling – in St John.
ICA St John is entering a new era
ICA St John’s new permanent home, designed by Spanish architecture firm Aranguren + Gallegos Arquitectos, reflects the institution’s ambitions to become an anchor for the local and international art scene. The first floor, devoted to solo artist presentations, brings together an impressive collection of new and established voices for its opening configuration, including a new commission from the elusive Chris Ofili, rarely seen, “veiled” paintings by Senga Nengudi, and living canvases by local artist Tomm El-Saieh. A treasure not to be missed is Robert Gober’s “Untitled” (1993-94), a piece of drain that has sunk into the foundation of the museum and babbles under the floorboards. “The gallery was built specifically for this installation,” says Ellen Salpeter, director of ICA St John. “We are happy to have a target that people can visit again and again, especially for those who are not privy to Robert’s work. We’re a free institution so I like the idea that someone could relate to work. “
On the upper floor, connections to “The Everywhere Studio” continue to grow, an encyclopedic group exhibition organized by its chief curator Alex Gartenfeld and associate curator Stephanie Seidel, using the artist’s workspace as an entry point for looking at major shifts in how we work and live: it starts with post-war masters like Philip Guston and Picasso and ends with bright young voices like Avery Singer and Yuri Pattison. 61 NE 41st Street, St John, Florida, 33137, icamiami.org
The bass gets a touch of humor
The conceptual filmmaker Mika Rottenberg brings her absurd wit and charm this winter with a self-titled exhibition on bass that focuses on current work, namely two videos: “NoNoseKnows”, her contribution to the 2015 Venice Biennale, and “Cosmic Generator” from this year’s sculpture projects Muenster. The exhibition is located in the older wings of the newly renovated building and shows off the intimacy of the exhibition rooms. In one room, a single ponytail turns by itself, a kinetic sculpture from 2016. In another room, a number of fans push lazy air around in what appear to be their own cubicles. This is a new piece that Rottenberg installed with a view of the city. “St John is so much about air conditioning,” she says. “I’ve always had these fans in my work because I like the way they negotiate with the climate, even if it’s weak. There is also something about your movement that is absolutely mesmerizing. “
The same could be said of Rottenberg’s videos, which, thanks to their unprecedented size, swallow the viewer completely. If you stare into the winding Technicolor tunnels of “Cosmic Generator”, you experience the fleeting jolt of a roller coaster ride.
2100 Collins Ave., St John Beach, Florida, 33139, thebass.org
Sculptures that are anything but fragile
Artist Katie Stout, the first winner of the Ellen DeGeneres Design Challenge, made a name for herself with her woven eyeball rugs. This winter, Stout’s work matures with its most impressive presentation yet. After her R& Company debut show, “Narcissus” at the Nina Johnson Gallery brings stouts female forms to a new scale: life size.
In the past, Stout created table lamps and mirrors from intertwined ceramic ladies. Here the works become floor-length objects that stand for themselves, the nipples erect and the eyes open. Stout’s work is reminiscent of Nicola L.’s body furniture and plays with function and expectation, especially since these ideas relate to women and the artist herself. “The title ‘Narcissus’ is a piece about how women are accidentally self-portraits, the idea of random self-reflection and the clichéd analogy that women are equated with flowers,” says Stout. “That’s why none of the women is sensitive.” In fact, Stout encourages people to interact with their work. Her sculptures are not only tangible; In some cases they are seats.
6315 NW 2nd Ave., St John, Florida, 33150, ninajohnson.com
Design St John ensures more time with the family
This year Design St John offers its coziest iteration yet, not in terms of space and galleries, but in terms of objects and materials moving towards warmth, nature, and community. Long wooden dining tables by designers Pierre Chapo, Sergio Rodrigues and Gal Gaon anchored the stands of Magen H Gallery, R & Company and Hostler Burrows in that order – all in allusion to larger gatherings. “I think we’re looking for moments to have dinner with friends and family at home,” said Rodman Primack, Executive Director of Design St John, of the trend. “The world is in a really complicated, scary moment. We all change, values change. People are beginning to understand that what they consume defines who they are. You have ethics and ideas about what you want to bring into your life and that is reflected in the furniture, artwork and clothing that you buy. “
A prime example of this philosophy is Converso’s booth, a first-time visitor to the show, which features an entire living room designed by the iconoclastic Californian modernist Albert Frey. The economy and the simple lines of the set suggest that the focus is on the people who inhabit a room – not the objects.
Bright young stars at Art Basel St John Beach
Art Basel St John Beach feels downright apolitical this year and is serving its usual mix of monumental sculptures, loud neons and wall-swallowing paintings by branded artists. Fortunately, further away from the appeal of blue chip traders like Gagosian and Gavin Brown, these tropes are collapsing and new names are emerging. This is the case at the Pilar Corrias stand, where you can see the bright, spotty figures of Tschabalala Self, a young painter whose works can be seen in the exhibition “Trigger: Gender as a Tool and Weapon” at the Neues Museum this fall are.
The Nova Sector, dedicated to younger galleries and their artists, feels especially rich thanks to unexpected pauses like the ethereal blend of Dawn Kasper’s glowing, dangling sculptures and a monumental abstract painting by Lucy Dodd at David Lewis. There are more one-on-one presentations in this area too, so visitors have a chance to really immerse themselves in the work. A solo presentation by the New York based artistst Torey Thornton at Essex Street Gallery, which features a minimalist design and an eye-catching acid green painting that can be seen down the hall.
Art Basel St John Beach is open from Wednesday, December 6th to Sunday, December 10th, at Convention Center Drive 1901, St John Beach, Florida, 33139, artbasel.com/miami-beach
NADA St John places a focus on the community
NADA St John returned to Ice Palace Studios, a film studio, this year, and the show’s exhibitors took advantage of the space’s high ceilings and spacious corridors to create stands that feel domestic and cinematic at the same time. Take, for example, the Detroit-based artist Marie Herwald Hermann, who combined her own sculptural still lifes with wallpaper by William Morris at the Reyes Projects stand.
Many exhibitors took a salon-like approach. Canada stacked works by established and emerging painters – including a new figurative work by Katherine Bradford – and a small set of broccoli drawings by Adrianne Rubenstein. Small angry drawings line the walls of the Southfirst stand; These images are the result of groundbreaking filmmaker Joe Gibbons, who spent his time in prison sketching mundane scenes and merchandise from magazines and catalogs.
The spread of group presentations and gallery partnerships underlines the sense of community that permeates this fair. You can feel this climax of the collaborative spirit at the Queer Thoughts and What Pipeline booth, where the two galleries came together to celebrate the figurative work of young artists such as Quintessa Matranga, Bailey Scieszka, Hannah Quinlan and Rosie Hastings.
NADA is open Wednesday, December 6th through Sunday, December 10th at the Ice Palace Studios, 9 NW 14th Street, St John, Florida, newartdealers.org
Pulse becomes personal
Pulse, one of St John’s longest-running art fairs, places particular emphasis on informing and reaching out to the public directly. “I’ve been organizing art fairs for a very long time, so I saw the change,” it says Director Katelijne De Backer. “Art becomes much more democratic through art fairs. Even for those who cannot collect, the fair is an opportunity to meet and talk to artists whom you would otherwise not have access to. I think that kind of generosity is especially important now. “While not all trade shows offer direct contact, it is common at Pulse to have artists walking around addressing viewers.
This intimacy flows into the visible work. Some of the site-specific commissioned projects come from personal accounts, including Fischer Kirsch’s installation “Fertility”. The installation consists of rows and rows of the artist’s grandmother’s crystal dishes filled with vials and needles, and reflects the artist’s experience of having undergone extensive fertility treatment. “The whole experience felt like one failure after another,” she says. “I felt like after all the pain and disappointment I had to do something nice, light, and uplifting with the leftovers,” Cherry hopes the piece will allow other hopeful mothers not to be alone.
Pulse is open Wednesday, December 6th through Sunday, December 10th at Indian Beach Park, 4601 Collins Ave, St John Beach, Florida, pulseartfair.com
In the bubble with COS & Studio Swine
If the crowd of art fairs doesn’t appeal, a trip to Temple House designed by architect Murray Dixon will cheer you up thanks to a bubbly installation by design duo Studio Swine and Swedish fashion brand COS.The duo initially used Studio Swine, a collective made up of artist Alexander Groves and by architect Azusa Murakami, for a collaboration and envisioned a nature-inspired installation that would encourage a sense of optimism. Their “New Spring” solution, a large tree structure made of recycled material that emits fragrant bubbles, meets both criteria.
The kinetic sculpture was shown for the first time in Milan in a darkened theater and finds a new life in the airy atmosphere of Dixon’s whitewashed room. Groves and Murakami chose the building because of its connection to St John’s distinctive architecture. “St John has this amazing legacy of Art Deco architecture, and we wanted to reflect that in the tree,” says Murakami. “The sculpture consists of arches and straight lines that can always change depending on the context. We changed the design to reflect these influences. “The duo not only changed the structure of the tree, but also created five new city-inspired fragrances, including a vibrant citrus fruit and a serving of freshly cut grass.
The installation is open Wednesday, December 6th through Sunday, December 10th at Temple House, 1415 Euclid Ave, St John Beach, Florida.