ARTnewsletter Archive

Art Miami: Mixed Sales Amid Dip in Attendance

Dealers reported solid, if not stellar, sales and strong local attendance at the third annual Art Miami, held Jan. 6-10 at the Miami Beach Convention Center. Fair organizers said overall attendance fell to 22,000-24,000, compared with 25,000 last year.

NEW YORK—Dealers reported solid, if not stellar, sales and strong local attendance at the third annual Art Miami, held Jan. 6-10 at the Miami Beach Convention Center. Fair organizers said overall attendance fell to 22,000-24,000, compared with 25,000 last year.

“All things considered, we did well,” observes Jerald Melberg, a Charlotte, N.C., gallery owner. “We sold 12-to-14 pieces, including works by Brian Rutenberg, Wolf Kahn and Robert Motherwell,” says Melberg, though he declines to discuss prices. His gallery also mounted a solo show by Argentinian painter Raul Diaz, an artist “who always gets a great deal of attention,” Melberg notes. (Sales of works by Diaz accounted for about half of the gallery’s sales at the show.)

Overall, comments Melberg, summing up sales and visitor activity, “the opening night was phenomenal. Friday and Saturday were slow, and Sunday was an excellent day.”

Says Sam Chatterton-Dickson, director of Flowers East gallery in London: “We did rather well; it was quite a good show.” He notes that the gallery sold about 11 pieces, with prices ranging from $8,000/90,000. The most expensive painting to sell was Hopperation, by Patrick Hughes, which carried a retail price of $90,000. Other sales included an abstract painting by Bernard Cohen that fetched about $20,000.

“We saw a lot of our existing Miami collectors, and the quality of the audience was quite good,” says Chatterton-Dickson. “I think almost everyone who bought either had a home nearby or a place in New York; they weren’t necessarily year-round Miami residents.”

Forum Gallery directors Cheryl and Bob Fishko stated, “We really appreciated the opportunity to introduce Charles Matton’s art to the South Florida audience.”

Marissa Gianno, assistant director of Jenkins Johnson Gallery in San Francisco, says that attendance at Art Miami was not as high as what the gallery has come to expect from other art fairs and that sales were about half the usual fair volume.

Still, the gallery “did make some good contacts,” Gianno says, and is currently negotiating the sale of a six-figure work by Scott Fraser. In addition, she adds, the gallery “did really well with works by artist ZZ Wei and Oregon artist Sherrie Wolf.” Prices at the booth ranged from $1,400/150,000.

Miami dealer Marina Kessler says her gallery “did well, but it was not like a sold-out show.” Kessler notes the attendance of many local collectors as well as active buyers from Canada, New York and Chicago. She reports that she sold about eight pieces ranging in price from $250/$5,500, including a gumball-machine sculpture by Sylvia Riquezes and a series of pictures by Icelandic artist Magnus Sigurdarson.

Though pleased with the fair, Chatterton-Dickson of Flowers East feels there is room for improvement in terms of organization: “At the low end the quality [of galleries] is very poor. If the organizers were able to pull in a few more of the big-hitting galleries, it could be a great show overall. It has good potential.”

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