Washington’s City Paper tracks local galleries that went to ArtBasel Miami Beach
Jackie Ionita, of Hamiltonian Gallery, attended Art Basel for the second time this year. Because of that, all she really knows is the down days. “We opened right as the economic crisis hit,” she said. “So we don’t really know about the glory days of collectors coming into booths and buying everything off the walls.” Despite that, she’s not really sure that the economy has hurt her gallery. “It’s opened up a lot of doors for us. There is more competition to come to an art fair when the economy is great.”
Ninety percent of the work that Ionita brought to the fair came from D.C. artists. Among other galleries, she’s noticed an increase in painting. particularly figurative painting. In a year with such an uncertain economy, Ionita thinks that galleries have no choice but to be impressive. “They have brought their heavy hitters,” she said.
Lauren Gentile, of Irvine Contemporary, has traveled to Miami for her third Art Basel with the 14th Street gallery. “In the years prior to the crash we were having black AmExes thrown at us,” she said. “This year, it’s a little more about educating people, and less about partying.” Gentile said that more than 100 collectors from the D.C. area came to the fair to see new works from the national and international artists the gallery represents, and to discover new favorites. She agreed with Ionita about the caliber of work she’s seen this year. “Because of the downturn in the market, galleries have tried to bring stunners – their most outstanding work,” she said.
Irvine has brought work from two local artists, Melissa Ichiuji and Akemi Maegawa, to Basel. Gentile’s trendspotting revealed a return to painting, and an uptick in the amount of street art that collectors sought – a recession-friendly purchase, as it is very price-accessible. “It’s very fashionable to collect video, especially for older collectors,” she added. “It’s kind of a young progressive thing to do, and they show it at parties in their homes.”
Art Basel: It’s the Economy, Stupid (Washington City Paper)