It's that time of year again: Art Basel Miami Beach and its jillions of satellite fairs—some featuring Seattle artists, some run by Seattle dealers—are open for business in Florida tomorrow. Millions of dollars will change hands, glamorous types will be photographed milling about next to pools they don't swim in, and maybe one or two unexpected things will happen.
One of the more unusual exhibitions this year is two Banksy murals removed from Bethlehem in 2007 under a cloud of controversy. Where should they go? Where will they end up? You can read about it in The Art Newspaper.
And one of the unexpected things that will happen was reported in the Miami Herald last night: The Miami adventures of Seattleites Dirk Park and Jaq Chartier—founders of the successful and well-loved satellite fair Aqua at the charming South Beach hotel (it began in 2005, and I first wrote about it in 2006)—appear to be coming to an end. They've sold the fair to the conglomerate Art Miami.
I've tried twice to contact Park since last night, but he hasn't responded. From the Herald:
Jaq Chartier, a Washington artist who started Aqua with her gallery-owner husband, Dirk Park, said they had taken Aqua as far as they could. While the Aqua Hotel sells out each year — save for a brief experiment with moving the fair to the Miami mainland — galleries tend to move on to larger fairs once sales hit a certain level, Chartier said.
“We keep losing people as they move up the ladder,’’ she said. “We kind of felt like we reached the ceiling of what we could do. We’re not a big art-fair corporation.”
Chartier said Art Miami’s standing with the country’s top galleries and collectors will help boost sales at Aqua, which rents space to about 50 galleries each year. Art Miami rents out 125 spaces, and Context another 65. Korniloff, an owner of Art Miami, said he plans to keep Aqua at its current location at Collins Avenue’s Aqua Hotel.
“We feel very strongly about having a presence on the Beach,” he said.
Terms weren’t disclosed. Chartier said: “It’s not a big amount, but it’s enough to give us a little breathing room” as she returns to painting full time and he devotes all his time to his Seattle gallery.