Superfine! The Fair has reached international prominence in three short years through their simple approach: being both artist-friendly and collector-focused. Superfine! The Fair has opened the door to new and exciting creative visions by displaying the artwork in a fun and accessible environment allowing artists to have one-on-one time with collectors. Here, Superfine! The Fair Director Alex Mitow discusses lessons learned as a fair founder, artists to watch and upcoming surprises. Superfine! The Fair opens in Miami on December 6.
What makes Superfine! The Fair unique for artists and collectors?
Superfine! is unique in a number of ways. We operate on a set of ethos that’s tangential to typical, insular art world/art market values while creating a market that’s actually sustainable for all of our exhibitors. We believe that transparent, approachable pricing combined with a curatorial eye for the exciting and fresh versus the tired and boring is what really makes Superfine! a collectors’ paradise. You know what you’re getting, and you know you’re seeing the most thrilling new work around. There’s a lot of joy in that experience as a collector.
While there are a lot of new projects popping up that give artists freedom of expression, there are not many that also provide them with economic sustainability. That’s where Superfine! comes in. We’re providing artists and artist-forward gallery programs with a way to directly reach current collectors and would-be collectors who have the means to get involved in art but have been put off by typical art world stuffiness. We create a more relaxed and fun environment while simultaneously upping the ante in terms of quality.
How has your understanding of how the art world developed since starting the fair three years ago?
From the start, we always wanted to create a new way to connect with—and collect!—contemporary art. In the past three years since we started planning the first Superfine! the fair has grown by leaps and bounds, but we’ve stayed anchored to the philosophy of art for all: everyone with a passion should have the opportunity to collect art. We don’t feel that art collecting is for a select few, and whether or not that’s the trend in the art world as a whole that’s the direction we’re unabashedly following. If anything, we’ve seen our predictions come true over the past few years. A lot of the stick-in-the-mud art establishments are suffering while more progressive ideas like ours are flourishing. At the end of the day, we don’t want to rub our success in anyone’s face but we do want to see the art world modernize and catch up with the times. That doesn’t just mean social media, it also means adapting the in-person experience to reflect what people want: an open, honest, and friendly art marketplace that serves both artists and collectors.
How does Superfine! remain tied to its Miami roots and ethos while exhibiting throughout the country?
Miami and New York are our dual home bases, but as we expand into different markets (we’ll see fairs in both LA and DC in the next 18 months), we’ve created a bit of a snowball effect. With each fair we pick up new artists and galleries that stay committed to our model and come with us to new markets. So you’ll see New York exhibitors in Miami and vice versa, and exhibitors from both those markets in the other two fairs. We really believe in the maxim of “Think global, act local” and each fair is a really lovely example of that. We like bringing what Miami and South Florida have to offer into our other fairs while maintaining a global perspective.
What artists on the fair’s roster would you like to highlight and see receive more recognition?
It’s so hard to pick! The quality of work gets stronger with each fair, and I think Miami is our best fair yet. Some real standouts include Project SubTerra, a collaborative photo series between New York artists Julia Comita and TwistedLamb. Another terrific New York import is Apostrophe NYC, an artist-driven program that challenges the typical gallery model. From their roster, I’m especially keen on Ryan Bock as well as Max Hodgson, who’ll be creating a larger than life mural spotlighting our partner SORAA on the back garden wall of the fair. We’ve always got a great LBGTQ+ presence within each fair, and we’re so lucky to have Toronto-based Pansy Ass Ceramics on board with us in Miami. They have these limited edition ceramic works that are amazingly snarky, shamelessly sexual and yet so cute and charming. The works are really accessibly priced and were such a big hit at our New York fair—a bunch of reps from another art fair came in and every one of them walked out with their own ceramic piece. I’m also madly in love with the work of Ivan Alifan, a young painter who’ll be showing with D’Arte Mart, an NYC-based gallery.
Who are some of the artists you have been inspired by?
I honestly have to say our own team! Everyone who works at Superfine! is an artist, and they’ll have a collective booth at Miami’s fair showing their work. They work so hard year round to make four incredible fairs happen and to curate and create an exhibitor list that’s the envy of any fair, anywhere in the world, and it’s incredible to see their work shine alongside all of our talented exhibitors. First and foremost (I have to say that!) you’ll find the work of my partner, both in business and in life, James Miille, who is a fantastic and well recognized conceptual photo artist. Deming King Harriman, our Miami-based Director of Exhibitor Relations, will be showing her incredible multidimensional collage work alongside the photo work of NYC exhibitor rep Ashley G. Garner, which is elegant and provocative while still maintaining an air of whimsy.
What surprises does Superfine! have in store for this year’s Art Basel?
It may not be a surprise, but I am so incredibly excited for our Midnight Vernissage on Wednesday 12/6. Presented by SORAA, a really chic new lighting house that’s providing intelligent, museum-quality lighting that adapts to your own home, it will be Miami’s first-ever Midnight Vernissage. We’ll welcome collectors and Miami’s most excited art lovers for a private first look at the fair before it opens. Expect a night of whimsy with a “sneaking-into-the-museum” feeling and a lot of surprise. The Biltmore’s harp player will serenade attendees as performance artist Veronika Rabinovich interacts with everyone in her signature quirky animal costumes. In the back garden, SORAA will have a painted lady photo booth showcasing the company’s dynamic range. When guests enter, they’ll be greeted by a bartender from The Vagabond Hotel’s pool bar, who’ll provide them with a champagne cocktail topped with cotton candy. We want to bring the fun and joy of discovery back into the art fair. Stale is our enemy and fresh is our friend, but the focus is on the art. With the caliber of what we’ve got on tap, I think the Midnight Vernissage will be very exciting not just for collectors but for exhibitors as high-impact works will no doubt sell quickly.