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MIAMI BEACH, Fla.-- Among the sea of pressed shirts and tie clips in the Miami Convention Center for Art Basel Miami Beach this past weekend, there was one brave man, clad in a white tee and Mardi Gras beads.
He stood out among the 46,000 art gallerists, collectors, and enthusiasts from around the world who flocked to Florida in search of favorable weather conditions and the opportunity to view the largest U.S. showing of international artwork. But, as a representative of New Orleans, he wasn't alone.
Between participating in shows and chatterings about New Orleans' own major art exhibition, the ninth edition of the art-stravaganza saw solid representation from the Crescent City's burgeoning art scene.
The exhibition was first conducted in 2002 as a sister event to Art Basel Switzerland and has grown each year in art-world importance as well as number of attendees, which totaled over 46,000 this past weekend.
At Pulse, a fair of contemporary art that runs in conjunction with Basel, Julia Street’s Jonathan Ferrara gallery brought three of its artists to the art-world masses. Dan Tague’s prints of strategically crumpled dollar bills, David Buckingham’s salvaged metal sculptures, and Skylar Fein’s mixed-media text works sat comfortably among booths displaying art from Tokyo to Dusseldorf.
In the venue’s Jaguar Lounge, patrons returned from test driving new model sports cars to a 5-foot wood-and-light installation of the word “Harsh”, a piece by Fein that pays tribute to the New Orleans street artist and was displayed at NOMA last September.
New Orleans’ reach extended beyond the makeshift walls of Pulse. Dan Cameron, the founder of Prospect New Orleans, also served to bring local representation to South Beach by moderating a talk Art Salon Basel.
New Orleans' showing is also likely to have concrete results. A gallerist from Bitforms, located in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York City, expressed enthusiasm about the potential participation of at least one Basel artist in Prospect 2, which takes place next fall.
In 2009, Prospect 1 brought 81 international artists and 89,000 visitors to New Orleans, and contributed $23.5 million to the local economy. The biennial undoubtedly generated a greater interest in contemporary art in the city, both from within – by fostering artistic exchange among local and international artists, and from outside – as indicated by the exposure gained in Miami this year. As New Orleans secures it’s position in the international art arena, both Basel and Prospect speculators are presented with the question: what will become of contemporary art in New Orleans?
Enter Prospect 2, which is seeking to further integrate local and international artists into a city of ever expanding cultural identity. Set to run from October 22, 2011-January 29, 2012, this citywide biennial art free for all will again indulge gallery goers in gooey orgasmic visual bliss.
Just as Prospect 1 looked outside of normal venues to showcase art, Prospect 2 plans to continue using exhibits as vehicles for discovering the character of the city. Sites will attempt to engage with the locality of cultural landscapes in the city. These include coffee shops and restaurants scattered throughout the French Quarter, the Lower 9th Ward, Central City, Treme, Faubourg Marigny/Bywater, The Ogden Museum of Southern Art, the Warehouse Arts District and the Ashe Cultural Arts Center.
That guy in a T-shirt might not be so out of place among the cosmo art crowd, after all.
*Updated 12/22/10: previously stating Prospect 2's opening date as Nov 13, this article has been changed to include Prospect 2's dates to run from October 22, 2011 – January 29, 2012.
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