MIAMI - My colleagues and I recently helped celebrate the 15th anniversary of the Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami. I remember attending the opening of the Gwathmey Siegel designed building back in 1996, so what a pleasure to be there on this momentous occasion. Executive Director and Chief Curator Bonnie Clearwater has done an extraordinary job with MOCA in many respects, but it is the museum’s education programs that I’ve always admired.
Sotheby’s showed its support by sponsoring Artist-to-Artist, a day-long series of artist conversations, during which contemporary artists talked to one another in small groups. All the participating artists have been integral to MOCA’s history, and many have had their first shows there. Among the speakers were Tracey Emin, Isaac Julien, Malcolm Morley, Enoc Perez, Richard Phillips, Matthew Ritchie, David Salle and Jack Pierson.
Artist-to-Art featured various artists in conversation, including (left) Richard Phillips, David Salle and Malcolm Morley as well as (right) Jack Pierson, Tracey Emin and Isaac Julien.
Ragnar Kjartansson’s performance.
Left: Tracey Emin at the gala. Right: Collector Aaron Fleischman with my colleague Gabriela Palmieri
The centerpiece of the weekend was a gala evening attended by 500 people. We dined on a warm watercress soup with a floating island pastry topped with American caviar and crème fraîche. Next we had a sirloin of beef for the main course, with crispy beggar’s purses filled with spinach on the side (it’s hard to make spinach unhealthy, but this was it). Before dessert, we were treated to a dramatic performance, nestled somewhere between opera and cabaret, by the Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson. (At least it wasn’t the twelve-hour performance he did for Performa 11 in which he repeated two minutes from the final aria in The Marriage of Figaro over and over again.) I was fortunate to have two of the most engaging artists I know at my table, Tracey Emin and Vitaly Komar. Tracey’s cheeky sense of humor, which she exhibits both in her work and in person, makes her one of the most entertaining women in the art world (by the way, her new retail web site gives everyone the chance to own one of her creations). Cartier, one of the sponsors of the event, provided the champagne for cocktails and eau de toilette for the parting party bags. (Thank you, Cartier!)
After an intellectually nourishing two days, Gabriela Palmieri and I arrived at the airport, dying for hamburgers. Well, Fort Lauderdale doesn’t offer much, but we found a Chili’s and had chili (of course) and an avocado- topped burger. It wasn’t the usual gourmet experience I seek out in airports, but was indeed delicious. I was on a french fry craze in Miami, as you saw in my last post, and honestly, these were the best of the bunch – go figure.