Saturday, December 09, 2006

Art... and Money

It's easy to be cynical about this whole thing, Bush. I mean, where else can you see people dolled up in their designer best lining up to crash the doors to get at million-dollar merchandise like those less wealthy folks at Macy's for the post-holiday sales? It's a pretty disgusting spectacle, when you think about it. And yet... as a friend astutely pointed out at dinner last night, there's something satisfying about the complete nakedness of this greed parade.

Ah, yes. Money. The ka-ching of the cash register is loud and clear here at Art Basel-Miami Beach. The prices are so outrageous, you wonder where people can possibly get the money to afford these high-priced trophies. You see an artist you could have acquired a few short years ago for a mere couple of thousand dollars selling works for fity, sixty, a hundred thousand dollars... and more! You kick yourself for not having bought them when you could have done: my God, you could sell them now and make a more than handsome profit! Or you kick yourself for having sold a piece five years too soon.

So the talk here, Bush, is all about money, and very little about art. It's a fair, for God's sake. What else to expect? We art jungle denizens love to exchange self-righteous exclamations of horror at the beastliness of it all, but here we are--a good number of us with checkbooks in hand, in some cases buying stuff which no self-respecting artist would have allowed out of the studio unless some hungry dealer had happened by and snatched it from his hands. Big name stuff sells. Go around the booths, you'll see the red dots everywhere there's a De Kooning or a Johns, a Gerhard Richter or Gilbert & George. Believe me, Bush, thanks to you and your policies, the money is out there amongst the wealthy, and they're happily exchanging it amongst themselves. As to just how much of it trickles down, well... no bets there.

So there you have it. Our day was simple: we started out with a few-block walk up to Aqua, another of the satellite fairs, intending to stop by and make a quick tour of the two floors of this deco hotel taken over by lesser-known galleries from throughout the country, and ended spending four hours at this one location. We enjoyed the less formal, less expensive atmosphere, and found the dealers eager to talk about their artists and the work. We even managed to find an artist or two in the melee, and handed out not a few Bush Diaries cards. And were ourselves parted with a bit of money.

Up the street to Pool, another, still smaller satellite fair, where we ran into a couple of old friends amongst the dealers and stopped for a bite of lunch, and pushed on under a gentle rain shower to the main fair again. It was getting toward late afternoon at this point, and we managed only a couple of hours--maybe another eighth of the total, leaving about a half uncovered for our last day, today. We found a small Cuban restaurant on our way back home, and were happy to stumble upon good people from Los Angeles. Good to have the opportunity to sit and chat and get to know each other better.

That's all that time allows this morning, Bush. I trust you're looking forward to a relaxed weekend to come up with a solution to your problems in Iraq. I'll probably get to read a newspaper again tomorrow, to catch up with your doings. Until then, well... don't worry too much about the rich. They're doing okay.

1 comment:

Carly said...

P: Sounds lovely, in the land of sun and fun. I myself was a teenager in Fort Lauderdale and Miami. Had a rock band. We played every Miami venue. Played on the Lauderdale beach for the crowd the year of Where the Boys Are. You were still a punk in England. Those were the days. Simple and pleasant. I also learned a lot about life, just a few miles inland, where people exist in the real way as everywhere.

Back then in the ghetto they used to call "colored town", a young white boy could go to a hall or a black night club and hear James Brown, or Bobby Bland and even sit in on a jazz jam after hours. It was real. That's why I'm a rhythm and blues jazzman.

Hope you've walked the beach at dawn. It's worth getting up for.