Art Fair Insiders

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The Hypocrisy of Coconut Grove Arts Festival

Romero Britto was recently announced as the 2013 Poster Artist for this festival.  For those living under rocks or new to the business, CGAF is rated as one of the top shows in the country, consistently, year after year.

While the festival seems to be turning into more of a circus than an art festival, the quality of the art has always been top notch.  While you may not like all the art, you can recognize the talent behind it.  It is a joy to go early in the  morning before all the commercial vendors get revved up and just wander among the booths.

CGAF used to have a poster contest each year.  The winner received prize money and the unveiling of the poster is televised on the news and it is considered a big deal.  Two years ago they picked Guy Harvey who is known for his game fish.  I decried the use of someone who I had only seen on posters, drink cozies and t-shirts.  I thought it was too commercial.  Last year  I admitted that I was hard to please because last year's poster was a beautiful painting, not poster type art.  

So what is my "problem" this year?  I enjoy Britto's whimsical art.  He is all over Miami, on the sides of  building, in front of buildings, on vending machines and in more stores than I can count.  He does a lot for Miami also.  He has a store as you are walking to the main entrance of the art festival.  

Aside from the idea that the show's poster should be done by an artist actually juried into the show, this artist (as does Guy Harvey) has his worked manufactured by others.  That is the antithesis of the CGAF.  This is a show that won't allow prints.  Believe me, I tried to get prints allowed years ago when I volunteered there.  If this show has such high standards for its artists, why is it allowing commercial artists represent them with their posters?  

Verizon vendors play loud music and yell into microphones, beer vendors hawk beer as if they were at a ball game and the poster is designed by an artist who sells manufactured product all over the world.

This is the 50th year of CGAF.  The founders of the show wouldn't even recognize it.

Views: 1799

Comment by Connie Mettler on January 18, 2013 at 5:43pm

Ahh, Geri. My memories of CG are not terribly old -- but do remember the excitement every time we participated in the show. Loved being up on Main Highway, on McFarlane and near the end of our visits there on Bayshore. Looking out of the booth in the morning and seeing the Bay, the parade of trolleys as they came through the show with the patrons. Sigh. What else I do remember well is show directors coming from around the country to see what CG was doing and stealing their ideas to implement back home.

I also remember receiving a phone call from Marla Bercuson, several directors back, that she was resigning from her job as Executive Director because she did not like the commercialism that they Board wanted to incorporate in the event. That was a shame! She truly believed in the art and the artists.

I know I posted here two years ago when the Guy Harvey poster showed up. What is that? Why is The Grove choosing a commercial artist as their poster artist? Then last year they did go back to a participating artist. Now Britto? Too bad. I haven't looked at this year's roster of artists, but usually there are some stellar painters with a tropical theme. Surely that would have been a good choice. Their images would make great souvenirs for the collectors who wanted the feeling of Miami in the work and would have sold well. Plus, those collectors could have something that was scarce and not replicated "on the sides of  building, in front of buildings, on vending machines..."

Comment by Ginny Herzog on January 18, 2013 at 9:27pm

A HUGE disappointment. Besides, Britto already had the honor and opportunity in 2007!!! I remember how unfair that he had this double booth and was selling reproductions like crazy, while none of the other exhibitors could sell repros. NOT FAIR!! If I was exhibiting in the festival I would surely let the Board know that I was furious with their decision. They TRULY do NOT have the art fair artists as their priority. It appears they will have zip lines and jumping cages for the kids, too. Aaaarugh!! 

Comment by Connie Mettler on January 19, 2013 at 8:05am

Geri, I just went to their website and it says the poster artist is Marilyn Liedman. What am I missing here?

I remember the year painter Maria Reyes was the poster artist. We were next to her. It was probably the most amazing art fair she ever had and was a great boost to her financial well being.

Comment by Bea Lilly Hatala on January 19, 2013 at 9:01am

It seems to me they will have two poster artists....Marilyn from amongst this year's participating artists and Britto as the 50th Aniversary Poster Artist...

If you haven't heard the news yet, Romero Britto is designing this year's official 50th Anniversary Poster. Here's his poster back in 2007. One of our favorites! We can't wait to see what he unveils later this month! #TBT #iHeartBritto @Romero Britto Fan Page
If you haven't heard the news yet, @[91290960243:274:Romero Britto] is designing this year's official 50th Anniversary Poster. Here's his poster back in 2007. One of our favorites! We can't wait to see what he unveils later this month! #TBT #iHeartBritto @@[216903746147:274:Romero Britto Fan Page]
Comment by Bea Lilly Hatala on January 19, 2013 at 9:03am

I received this announcement from the Grove on FB...so I cut and pasted

Comment by Barry Bernstein on January 19, 2013 at 9:08am

Connie, when you say your memories are not terribly old, it really upsets me. Those memories pre-date Neanderthals, in terms of art fairs. It may even predate dinosaurs. Marla? Trollies?!?! Those days are long gone. Only a few of us real old people remember that and just barely. I think you should let Norm heat up his own microwave "healthy choice" dinners and fly down and see for yourself how it has changed. You could have my room at Geri's, which was your room originally, unless she has filled it already. Geri's popular, after all. Make sure you bring enough money for parking, entrance fee, and lemonade. You'll need good walking shoes and earplugs are essential. Make sure you go to the bathroom before you leave for the show. The artist lounge is long gone, too. Say high to Lilia, the last remaining person from the good old days.

Speaking of Lilia, I must have upset her in some way because I was weeded out this year. Maybe she didn't like my review of this show, on this web site, last year. If you read it carefully you will see it for what it is, which is: a plea to return the show back to the artists.

As long as you are coming down, you could swing over to the gulf side and come to Sanibel and visit a few of us AFIers. I've never done it but I hear it's a good show. Bring Geri with you. She needs to get out of the city.

Comment by geri a. wegner on January 19, 2013 at 9:25am

Marilyn was last year's poster artist (the pretty picture). That is a pic of her signing posters at last year's palette breakfast.
Beds are all taken but there are still lots of couches available. Come on down and we can do the Grove on Sat and Sanibel on Sunday!!

Comment by Barry Bernstein on January 19, 2013 at 10:10am

There you have it Connie. You have a couch to sleep on. You get to save the $150 a night for a room at a roach motel and then come with Geri to Sanabel on Sunday. You can't have more fun than that.

Comment by Connie Mettler on January 21, 2013 at 9:22am

You hurt my feelings -- those memories are terribly old... truth be told, but I also remember the last time we participated in this show WE chose not to apply again, like many of our Northern friends. Serious temptation here, Barry and Geri, checking out the flights for around that time, yikes! plus car rental... what I really have been tempted to do is come this weekend for Islamorada (love to be in the Keys and see this small show) and then over to Ft. Myers for that one ...but again, probably not happening. I have to live vicariously through the show reports.

Comment by Paul Flack on January 21, 2013 at 9:35am

Truth is CG is fighting for its very life. The circus is all that is left. Miami Art Fair has a event the same weekend and with buses running back and forth from the boat show, has siphoned off the top end customers for CG. Ergo, the "draw" for the show is now the circus not the art. Not, with the high-end gallery curated show and especially not with Art Miam/Miami Basel being held less than three months earlier. With their escalating pricing structure, it might be time for us to find a new watering hole. 

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