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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Who’s Going Where in Miami

posted by on July 17 at 11:12 AM

A few months ago, Aqua Art Miami announced it will be doubling its franchise. Now we know the details.

The original Aqua Art Miami, invented two years ago by Seattle gallerists and artists Jaq Chartier and Dirk Park, is still happening at its usual location—the charming Aqua Hotel in South Beach, where the courtyard hot tub gets packed with artists at night.

But in addition to Aqua Art Miami, across the water from it, will be Aqua Wynwood. Aqua has taken a five-year lease on a 28,000-square-foot warehouse just south of the Rubell Collection at 42 N.E. 25th St. In addition to the 44 galleries that will show art at the hotel, the warehouse has booths for about 45 galleries, and the booths range in size from 200 square feet to 850 square feet.

Park says the largest booths, designed to give galleries more room to show their art, are larger than any other spaces in Miami during the December art-fair crush, except for the booths at the mother of them all, Art Basel Miami Beach held at the city’s convention center.

Aqua Wynwood provides an upscale option (the price, at 40 dollars per square foot, is much higher than at the hotel) for galleries that don’t want to show in the cramped and hot hotel rooms.

Because Aqua has the lease on the warehouse year-round and not just in December, it can control the layout of the booths and their design. The walls will be sheetrock, not temporary. Most galleries will have four walls instead of only three. Dark video spaces are possible. The booths of Aqua Wynwood will be “comparable to a programmable gallery space anywhere,” Park says.

A 5,000-square-foot parking lot will be transformed into a courtyard with a bar and cafe. The chief design concept for the whole project? Comfort, Park says.

Aqua Wynwood, which is invitation-only, is half-booked, Park said. “We’re not trying to press the sales on this thing,” he says. “We want people to look at their options and make a decision.”

Originally, he was concerned that the hotel fair would lose its better galleries to Aqua Wynwood, but “the hotel has its advocates,” he says. It’s also more affordable. “Galleries that we honestly expected to move on over to the booth fair have said, ‘Nope, I want one more year at the hotel.’”

Seattle galleries remaining at the hotel are Howard House, Platform Gallery, Roq La Rue, and G. Gibson Gallery.

Moving to Aqua Wynwood are Greg Kucera Gallery, James Harris Gallery, and Lawrimore Project.

Expect announcements in the weeks to come if Aqua Wynwood can score any major galleries, or steal any away from the more established secondary fairs NADA and Pulse.

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