This week, artsy types from around the globe are focused on Art Basel in Miami Beach — the contemporary art fair that takes over Miami every December. Broward County has always been Miami-Dade's attention-hungry little brother, South Florida's enfant terrible, and during Basel, its art scene demands to be noticed amid the crowds. As you elbow your way from gallery to gallery between fine-art sellers, well-heeled attendees, insufferable hipsters, and funkily dressed weirdos, this BroCo baby will coo until you give it some love. Here's what a selection of Broward-based art players are up to during the big fair this year.
Jane Hart, curator extraordinaire of the Art and Culture Center of Hollywood, has enlisted New York-based artist Ryan Humphrey to install a boutique skate shop at Lombardi Properties (167 NW 25th St., Miami, December 4 to 8, daily from noon to 9 p.m.). The exhibit is called "Playing Heavy."
Humphrey, 42, was a BMX instructor at Woodward before going on to work and study at the Carnegie Museum of Art, the Andy Warhol Foundation, and the Whitney Museum and following that up as a contestant on Bravo's show Top Design. He worked with Hart when his exhibit "Fast Forward" was shown at the Art and Culture Center.
For "Playing Heavy," Humphrey blurs the lines of a gallery and a skate shop. Windows are treated with vinyl graphics to evoke a storefront. The furniture is all handmade and creates a utilitarian effect. Fifty custom skateboards will be mounted on perforated panels on the wall. The idea of the display is to treat the boards as paintings. The boards will sell for $99 to $900, but Humphrey doesn't expect anyone to ride them.
On Friday, December 6, from 8 to 11 p.m., Hart and Humphrey will present an '80s-inspired skating contest on a skate ramp crafted by Humphrey. The contest is open to anyone who shows up. Prizes — including a handmade board — will be awarded to the top skaters.
"I'm interested in context and what those things mean in terms of social class," Humphrey said. "In my work, I look at the intersection of social class and income. Basel is actually this trade show for fine art, and I wanted to engage that phenomenon but on the bottom floor of commerce in a low-pressure kind of way. Give people something that might actually resonate. I'm the kind of guy who wears a suit, T-shirt, and tennis shoes. That's my rule number one: I don't wear shoes that I can't climb a fence in. I'm utility-first."
Fort Lauderdale's all-women art gallery Girls' Club is involved in Pulse Contemporary Art Fair this year (December 5 through 8 at the Ice Palace, 1400 N. Miami Ave., Miami; pulse-art.com/miami; tickets cost $20, $15 for students), presenting Kerry Phillips' solo site-specific project "Sometimes Your Things Are My Things." This installation features a space adorned with trinkets like a metal tin and a dead dragonfly and reminds onlookers that our things are, perhaps, exchangeable.
Girls' Club will also present its ABMB Artist & Curator Brunch on Sunday, December 8, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at its home base, the Girls' Club gallery in Fort Lauderdale (117 NE Second St.; girlsclubcollection.org; 954-828-9151). The TM Sisters (Monica and Tasha Lopez de Victoria) and artists from the Girls' Club exhibition "I Think It's in My Head" will host an informal brunch featuring light bites and mimosas. It's free.
Ground zero of Art Basel is the main show at the mothership — AKA Miami Beach Convention Center, and a well-informed Broward gal can help you get your bearings. Curator and art darling Lisa Rockford is giving guided tours for Art Nexus magazine. Book a tour online at artnexus.com for $20 per person.
Need a ride to all this goodness? Avoid the frustrating search for parking by hopping on the Museum of Art|Fort Lauderdale's Art Trips for members. Participants will get round-trip transportation and admission to the Art Miami Fair in the Wynwood District (Friday, December 6, and Saturday, December 7). The ride departs 10 a.m. from the Museum of Art and leaves Miami at 3 p.m. Call 954-262-0296. Tickets cost $30 and are all-inclusive for members at the museum's $500 level.