The 26 artists who showed at GEISAI Miami 2008
have unanimously described it as an exceptionally positive experience, one that gave them invaluable exposure and experience in the art market. All made new contacts with dealers, curators, critics, and their fellow artists, proving GEISAI Miami’s role as a platform for putting under-recognized and unrepresented artists in the art world spotlight.
While the blue chip market may be cooling, collectors seeking new talent were unafraid to take a chance on the young artists. Brooklyn based painter Asha Canalos exhibited a series of mixed-media works on vellum that explored the history of Northern New Jersey’s Ramapo Mountain People, a Native American tribe from which she is descended. The five works all sold out at once early in the fair to a German couple, prompting her to remark “I think a lot of artists work in isolation, wondering if what they're doing is meaningful or important, and furthermore if their art can support them enough that they'll be able to continue doing this thing that they love. GEISAI, Takashi Murakami, and the four jurors gave me the feeling I wasn't out of my mind for taking that risk by listening to myself and following through. That's a tremendous thing. It was a real honor to be a part of GEISAI, and I was provided many new opportunities through the experience.”
Canalos used a portion of her $10,000 sale to purchase a work from her booth neighbor Deric Carner. Carner himself sold a total of seven works during the week, including one placed with a major Barcelona museum director.
Perhaps the biggest success story of the week was that of GEISAI veteran Keita Sugiura. The winner of the Bronze Prize at GEISAI #11 in September 2008, and winner of the Victor Pinchuk Prize at GEISAI Museum #2 in May 2008, Sugiura’s booth was a veritable swarm of collectors clamoring to purchase his “Dark Forest” series. The photographs of lush Japanese wilderness, produced as inkjet prints in rich, muted greens, were purchased by an illustrious clientele that included collector Jean Pigozzi, SITE Santa Fe Director Laura Steward Heon, while also getting the attention of a New York dealer, a Contemporary Arts Museum Houston Photography Curator and a Phillips de Pury Edition Specialist.
The aforementioned Pigozzi swooped through the fair early in the week, accompanying his Sugiura photographs with a number of works including an acrylic on clear lucite painting for $1,700 from Toshihiko Wakasugi, the Gold Prize Winner at May's GEISAI Museum #2, and a mixed-media drawing for $700 from Kyoko Nakamura, September's GEISAI #11 Gold Prize and Phillipe Ségalot Prize-Winner. Nakamura made additional sales to Miami-based collectors, reporting that there was a “huge amount of energy and a great will to buy.”
Jurors Bonnie Clearwater, Director of MOCA North Miami; Matthew Higgs, Director/Chief Curator of White Columns; Shamim Momin, Curator at the Whitney Museum; and Joao Ribas, Curator at The Drawing Center, awarded the inaugural GEISAI Miami award to Nikki Katsikas, of Sea Cliff, New Jersey. Katsikas creates paintings reminiscent of the work of Elizabeth Peyton, which are based on a massive pool of magazine clippings she has accumulated over the years. Katsikas sold three paintings shortly after the announcement on Thursday, December 4. The award itself is a trophy of the letter "G," designed by Tetsuya Tamanoi and based on those presented in the Japanese flagship GEISAI fairs. Where the trophies in the Japanese fairs come in gold, the GEISAI Miami award is a glossy jet black.
Three of the jurors also chose favorites to received honorable mentions. Bonnie Clearwater selected the aforementioned Asha Canalos. Matthew Higgs chose the Japanese painter Coppi, who creates works describing unusual events that take place in her native Tokyo. Her sales included four works to a Swiss cultural foundation for $3000.
Joao Ribas’ pick, Gregg Evans, exhibited a series of photographs depicting empty rooms in various apartments. While the occupants are absent from the shots, the various items in the rooms make their presence and identity felt.