The Art of the Deal

Skot Foreman brings big-name art to an unexpected seaside town

In building a legacy, Foreman has one thing going for him: a clean slate. Public records show no lawsuit, no drunk driving charge or other criminal activity, no creditor filing civil suits, no baby's mama screaming for child support. (In fact Foreman, who is single, has never married and claims he has no child that he "knows of.")

That said, legacies in the world of fine arts are hard to build, particularly for gallery owners. South Florida's art venues are often overshadowed by shows in trendy places like Los Angeles' Getty Museum, Washington, D.C.'s Corcoran Gallery, and Chicago's Schneider Gallery. Calvin Klein, Madonna, and Donald Trump come to South Florida to dance salsa and to sunbathe, not to attend art openings.

To distinguish himself from other regional galleries, Foreman opened in a less trendy locale: Dania Beach's antiques district
To distinguish himself from other regional galleries, Foreman opened in a less trendy locale: Dania Beach's antiques district
Only 15 South Florida galleries were selected to exhibit at this year's Art Miami. Foreman's gallery made the cut.
Only 15 South Florida galleries were selected to exhibit at this year's Art Miami. Foreman's gallery made the cut.

But some people say all that's changing. During the past decade, South Florida has improved its reputation. "We are getting more international attention with [expos like] Art Miami and Art Palm Beach," says Ginger Gregg Duggan, a curator for Fort Lauderdale's Museum of Art. "For years artists were developing here, and when they got some attention they would leave and go to the major art centers. Now they know there are galleries and centers here that can foster their careers."

For many area galleries, attracting good talent -- and good clients -- means choosing a location with a prestigious address. Thus Foreman's decision to set up shop in a comparatively remote place like Dania Beach seems odd, foolish even. But at least one art consultant in Miami (who, fearing ridicule from the art establishment, asked not to be identified) thinks Foreman's location allows him to be more independent and creative in his choice of artists. "Around here so much attention is paid to Cuban artists, and it's terribly unfair to think that's all we represent," she says. "No group alone can create an arts movement, either by their consistency or their message, and for Foreman to be away from that scene is good."

Playwright and journalist David Hay recently described the local art scene this way in The New York Times: "A new generation is serving notice that the Miami art world is no longer the exclusive preserve of émigré artists from Cuba or Haiti or even New York."

Foreman's account of why he chose Dania Beach has nothing to do with cultural politics. Instead he says places like Miami and Palm Beach have gotten too "commercialized, trendy, and rather played. Dania Beach might be known for antiques, but it has got a funky edge to it and [with its proximity to Hollywood/Fort Lauderdale International Airport] lots of potential to attract people."

Besides lower rent, Foreman chose Dania Beach because he does not want his place to be perceived as just another local gallery. By distancing himself from the pack, Foreman contends he reaches more of a national and an international audience than he might if he were just a midlevel dealer in a more popular location. He maintains a Website ( and regularly advertises in trade publications in Atlanta, Chicago, New York, and Latin America. Clients in those places, he contends, account for more than a third of his business.

"Skot believes in artists who are not in the mainstream of the Western art world, and he's not into categories," offers Carol Damian, chair of Florida International University's art department. "He is certainly bringing something different to the area, even though it's a struggle to build credentials and gain recognition."

For now, Foreman's trajectory is up. Besides exhibiting at Art Miami and Art Palm Beach (where his gallery has twice been featured), Foreman has gathered 16 artists in what he calls his "stable," some of whom have studios in places as far away as Vermont, France, or Bogotá. Some of them have been trained at institutions like Columbia University, the School of Visual Arts in New York, or the Corcoran College of Art. Also among them is Miami's ghetto prophet Purvis Young, a reclusive self-taught painter whose works, which he once sold for $20 apiece just to survive, now list for up to $10,000.

Indeed Foreman's Rolodex shows more than 200 clients, 50 of whom he claims buy artwork several times a year. (During the reporting for this story, at least several of those regulars and artists checked in with Foreman by phone almost daily, asking the gallery owner about market conditions and new items for sale.)

Foreman, perhaps understandably, declines to disclose his personal income, saying that "if it were only about the money, I wouldn't be in this business." Still, when asked whether a trip around the world, for instance, would be affordable, Foreman grins. "Yes," he says, "but it wouldn't be prudent."

Tim Foreman, a Miami Realtor and elder brother of the art dealer, adds: "His work is such a large part of his life. He believes in sweat equity and is very focused... and that makes him a lucky person, because he truly loves what he's doing."

It took Skot Foreman a while to figure that out.

A week before the Art Miami expo, Foreman, relaxes at home with a glass of zinfandel in front of a fire in his Turkish-style den. He lives alone in a quaint and sublimely decorated place in the Lake Ridge section of Fort Lauderdale. While Foreman's house is valued at a reasonable $100,000, it has the look and feel of an elaborate temple. A large bronze Buddha statue sits atop an antique chest facing the front door. Clusters of thick pillar candles fill tables and ledges. Velvety fabrics and thick pillows cover antique settees. A tabletop waterfall tinkles while vintage Miles Davis plays on the stereo. "Those are my lullabies," he gibes.

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