Art Basel Miami + 2012 FINDS

If an artwork lingers in your mind two weeks after you discovered it, chances are high you have found something special.  The frenetic pace of scouting new art at 22  fairs,  negotiating sales, rhythmic socializing and lots and lots of walking (in heels!) doesn’t afford a great opportunity to get intimate with art.   Part of my curatorial gift is my visual sensitivity.   Sensory overload is very real for me so, I have learned to tune out sights that don’t appeal to me.  

This ability works very well at art fairs where there are thousands of artworks to see and evaluate.   I typically first walk a fair alone, get into a flow, zoom in on what catches my eye and ignore the rest.  After scouting new talent, I do some quick research, speak with the gallerist and then bring in my client.   I highly recommend emerging collectors visit as many art fairs as they can to sharpen their taste.   It may feel overwhelming, but searching for treasure is never easy.  Oh, and definitely wear comfortable shoes!

Here are my favorite artist discoveries from Art Week Miami 2012, all of which were found at various satellite art fairs, located in Miami’s arts district Wynwood, which showcase emerging and mid-career talent.  I have also provided gallery prices to give you a sense of the market.


I was absolutely mesmerized by this captivating photograph on my first night in Miami at a party for Just Mad Mia, an art fair highlighting talent from Latin America and Spain.    Adriana’s works are really theatric performances, mixing elements of fantasy, realism, and advertising with a dark psychological twist.   Her compositions are heavily influenced by classic portraiture and painting which she uses as a stage to broadcast social critiques.   The use of high Western culture to illuminate social dysfunction in her own country, Colombia, presents layers that I cannot immediately comprehend, yet I like the confrontation of fantasy and reality.    Her carefully staged photographs sometimes feel claustrophobic, sometimes ironic, often wicked.   Despite the veneer of sweetness depicted by fairy tale like subjects, sinister actions lurk outside the frame of the photos and the viewer is left wanting to know more.  This photograph from her Icons series is titled Maria, is produced as a series of 7 and priced at $12,000.   I would love an opportunity to share a bottle of red wine with Adriana and probe her mind.   Adriana is represented by Bogota based, Galeria El Museo. Learn more here.


I am a big fan of both irony and play so I lit up when Amanda’s unstretched canvases greeted me after too many booths of dark and conceptual art.   Her childlike works make you feel momentarily cozy and then at second glance you notice the subtext and sophisticated palettes.  Amanda’s work looks deceptively simple and I can imagine she has a ball making art in her playhouse.   Her work proudly reflects femininity and domesticity, which feels refreshing and easy to be around.  Not that Amanda is a Goody two-shoes; she winks at the viewer with her slightly sinister titles that leave you wondering what the work is really about (the title of the work to the right is "Face to Face with your True Nature").  Par for the course, Amanda lives happily with her family in a Colorado farmhouse while being represented by a hip gallery in Amsterdam.   Sounds like a storybook life to me.   Maybe not exactly nursery material, these fun works selling for around $3,500 are sure to find “happy” homes.  See more of Amanda’s works here.


If you have ever had the yearning to say “I own an artwork by a bona fide genius” at a cocktail party, here is your chance.   Judy is best known for her complex and lyrical installations, including set designs for theatrical performances, and has been widely recognized for her pioneering talent including receiving the coveted, MacArthur Foundation's “Genius” award in 2004.   What I stumbled upon at Scope Miami were her intimate collages, which like her large-scale installations, reflect a perfect balance between deliberate planning and whimsy.   I love this small work on paper brimming with vibrant energy titled Jaipur and think having the pleasure of owning it for $5,000 is a bargain.  Her gallerists at Accola Griefen are also a delight. This short Art21 video about Judy's complex installations is a thrill.


The works of this Moscow born, NYC based artist have been compared to the likes of Goya, Brueghel, Egon Schiele, Henry Darger and Japanese woodblocks.   If you are thinking, “that is quite a bit to take in”, it is.   Dasha’s works are bizarre and that is why I like them.   She also has the wit and wickedness of an absurdist novelist.  Her somewhat unsettling fantasy scenes are clearly a product of the artist’s lucid imagination and it would be pointless to try to deconstruct every detail, however the big picture draws you in with a WOW and then the titles makes you giggle.  Would you expect a drawing called “That Only What is Real is Permanent” to look  like the one to the left?  I should mention that all her Mylar drawings, priced at $14,000, SOLD OUT at the NADA Fair where her gallerist Zach Feuer showed.    Check out an interview with the curious Dasha here. 


I would imagine New York based artist, Michael Mapes to be a very detailed and patient man that couldn’t decide between becoming an artist and a forensic investigator so, merged the two.   My best description of his work would be --photographic based portraits on a scientific canvas-- if that makes any sense to you.   Michael creates elaborate specimen boxes containing portraits created by cutting up hundreds of photos of the subject, throwing in their hair, nails and other DNA specimens into glass vials, gelatin capsules, magnifiers, or baggies.  Got it?  Best you just take a look at this point.    I vote for Michael as the best forensic artist at Art Basel Miami 2012 and kudos to his gallerists at PARLOR for their bold eye.  Michael is available for commisions and for a mere $2,000, you can have yourself immortalized.

While I found her at Art Platform L.A. not Miami, I wanted to share my favorite artist discovery of 2012, since we are days away from 2013. 


Cairo born, Los Angeles dwelling, Sherin’s works navigate the duality of her existence in form and spirit.  Arabic ornamentation is juxtaposed with Western minimalist aesthetics.   The traditional reimagined within a contemporary frame.   Part organic, part precise.  Half flat, half three-dimensional, her works feel both ancient and modern.   Her mixed media paintings feature hand-cut ornamentation with psychedelic Kool-Aid colors that pulsate with energy.  Sherin’s works are ultimately a lush blend of beauty and meaning.   Her works have been shown around the world and she was awarded a California Community Foundation Visual Art Fellowship in 2012.   The work I have my eye on is priced at $7,000 and Santa knows which one.  Curiously, Sherin is not represented in her hometown, but in San Francisco by the fine minds at  Wendi Norris.

Every art collection reflects the unique personality of the collector and my picks reveal quite a bit about me.  That’s what it is all about my friends.    Buy what you love and you will never regret an art purchase. 

Wishing you and yours a wonderful holiday season.  




At some point, both artists and collectors are faced with the tidal wave of trend. FASHION is alluring but fickle.  STYLE innate and enduring.  Decisions need to be made. Experimentation brings clarity.  Clarity brings commitment and commitment, MASTERY.  The strongest collections (or oeuvres) communicate a SINGULARITY of vision.  

Collecting contemporary art in particular poses a bit of a CONUNDRUM.  Many high profile artists have rejected traditional notions of BEAUTY in favor of ORIGINALITY.  Ambitious young artists have followed.  The thing is that after 40,000 years of homo sapiens expressing their creativity, true originality is rare.  Instead we art lovers are faced with a barrage of “ugly” works that are incredibly self referential and hard to access.  Damien Hirst's "The physical impossibility of death in the mind of someone living"Dangling electrical cords meant to evoke emotional suffering, unmade beds to remind us of random sexual escapades, various animals floating in formaldehyde, add clever idea here.

Thanks to Marcel Duchamp, who famously submitted a urinal entitled, FOUNTAIN, to an art fair in 1917, the notion that anything can be art has been in vogue. Can a raw IDEA be ART?   Would it surprise you that after kicking off conceptual art, Duchamp retired from the art world in favor of playing chess.  Humm, a player indeed….

Art doesn't need to be EASY, or pleasurable or even comfortable.  However, if we desire art to be transformative, it has to resonate emotionally.  We need access to the artist's intention. (Think of how your favorite movie or lyrics make you feel.)  I enthusiastically champion clever but not ugly or self absorbed.  I believe in BEAUTY + MEANING.   Fashionable?  Maybe not. Enduring.  ABSOLUTELY.   Aphrodite will outlive Damien Hirst’s stuffed shark I guarantee it. 

BEAUTY has endured in every single culture from the beginning of time because humans LONG for it.  Nothing jolts us out of our daily worries like beauty. An encounter with beauty is a magical experience, like falling in LOVE.   Sandro Botticelli's "Birth of Venus" We can’t transcend human suffering without beauty, which REDEEMS us over and over again.  Ideas can be beautiful, take world peace or the end of cancer, but they are not ART without transcending the banal. Ugly adds nothing to a world full of it. The sacred AURA of beauty is wider and deeper than intellectual contests.

I boldly PREDICT the coolness of conceptual art will fade away along with hyper-consumerism.  MEANING is the new currency and everyone is looking for it.

In the words of another fine TRICKSTER, Oscar Wilde; “All art is absolutely useless. Put usefulness first and you lose. Put beauty first and what you do will be useful forever."

If you enjoy learning about the philosophical, spiritual and historic aspects of BEAUTY,  don't miss this provocative BBC documentary, BEAUTY MATTERS, hosted by academic Roger Scruton. 

 Your Venus ruled art advisor,



The ART of Collecting (and Living...)

I am often asked how I can tell if someone is a “real” art collector.    I imagine there are many answers to such a question.  Allow me to share mine. 

Who is a real art collector?  -- Someone who intentionally acquires that which inspires them.  

Becoming an art collector starts with developing a keen awareness of what delights you.   It is further cultivated by devoting time and resources to obtain it.  Collections reflect desire.   Collecting is about addition and subtraction.  It is also an opportunity to be a life-longer learner. 

Curious to see if art collecting is for you?  Try my guaranteed method.  

First, start paying attention to what grabs your EYE or stirs your SOUL.  Look around hotel lobbies, boutiques, offices, city streets and homes you visit.  What strikes you immediately?  What feels like it belongs to you?  Want to learn about visual harmony, elegant design and impeccable color composition?     Observe nature.  Walk through a park, looking up and around.  Take the scenic route home.   Do this for a few weeks and your taste will sharpen.  The more you train your eye to see BEAUTY, the more refined your choices become.  Preferences for patterns, shapes and color palettes will emerge organically.  Trust yourself.   Get closer to that which draws you, feel it with all your senses.   Stay in the right side of your brain.

Now explore the world of art.  Visit a museum.  Visually take in the exhibition in one QUICK glance.  Note what calls you.   Walk up closer and absorb the work, read the label.   Continue through the entire exhibition.  Go back to your starting place and see if the same works strike your fancy.   Narrow the works down to three.   Take your time.  Is there one artwork that stands out?   Mark the artist in your mind.  Absorb all information provided.    Let the image linger.

While a museum visit offers a contemplative experience, gallery openings provide much of the juice of art collecting, socializing.   Enter the left-brain.  Discussing art is part of the process.  Get COMFORTABLE with talking about your choices.  You have now developed a POV, test it out in public.  Share your insights, speak naturally about what moves you.   Learn from others.   Refine your orientation.  Balance your increasing knowledge with your visceral leanings.  Make it EASY.

My first art purchase! Lady by Anatoliy Kryvolap.Now gift yourself a work of art.   Find a local art fair, meander through online galleries, or check out an art school’s student exhibition.  Any budget will do.   Invite a friend or loved one and spend a Sunday afternoon searching for the one piece you simply can’t live without.   Take a RISK.  Buy it with great pleasure.  Think of the daily joy an original work of art will provide.  Consider the affirmation and economic boast you have just given the artist.  You have created a win-win.  The world is a BETTER place.

Once the art collecting bug bites, your appetite will likely expand in unpredictable ways.  Your life will never be the same.   You will want to discover more art, learn about history and culture.   Study methods and materials. A new worldview will emerge.  You will feel more ALIVE.  The habit of trusting your instinct strengthens.  Better decisions follow.   Life is expansive and happy.  This is my wish for you. 

Do you need an Art Advisor to start collecting art?  No!  Develop your taste.  Experiment.  Live with art daily. Stay true to your DESIRES.   When you reach the point when you need an Advisor to evaluate choices, make suggestions or refine your collection, you will know it.   THEN, you can invite me to see your collecting history and we will have a grand time taking the next step…  

See how easy art collecting is?  Now, GO and keep me posted!


The WORLD as treasure hunt...

I found this lush photograph of a shop in Istanbul's Grand Bazaar, taken circa 1870, while researching ancient markets at the Library of Congress.  This image enchants me every time I look at it.  I imagine myself walking through the shop, smelling incense, and hearing foreign languages as I search for new treasure.

The word that best captures my ethos of collecting art and cultural artifacts is DISCOVERY.   I simply cannot resist an opportunity to meander through galleries, museums, bazaars, artisan workshops or even the busy streets of cosmopolitan cities in search of beauty.   I am inspired by the search itself and delight in each discovery.   How do I know I found something magnificent?   Perhaps Anatole France said it best::

"In ART as in LOVE, instinct is enough". 

With wonder,


@ 2019 Maryna Hrushetska | All rights reserved 


Background Image: AMANDA CURRER