Cultural Concierge at the Biltmore Hotel

Photo by Matt Stock.
Photo by Matt Stock.

The Biltmore Hotel, synonymous with South Florida glamour for more than nine decades, is partnering with Dragonfly Expeditions to reshape the landscape of luxury Art Basel excursions. The Biltmore Curators Program provides patrons with unparalleled, personalized access to all the week's biggest events. Judy Holm, an insider with more than 20 years of experience producing installation and events, acts as the program's art concierge. Cultured sat down with Philippe Parodi, vice president of marketing and sales and curator Judy Holm to discuss their upcoming collaborations, “Abandoned Vehicles of the Everglades” and the exciting week ahead.

What can patrons expect from the Biltmore Curators Program, the partnership between The Biltmore Hotel and Dragonfly Expeditions during Art Basel?

Philippe Parodi: What one gets from the Biltmore Curators Program is an itinerary crafted to the tastes and interests of the patron. This assumes that we know everything that is being offered in the vast assemblage of Art Basel/Art Week events—and we do. Once that itinerary is crafted, Ms. Holm sets about arranging for our patrons to have access to the Vernissages that are relevant, no matter how high the barriers of entry to those Vernissages may be. Then the long but rewarding days of being escorted around via luxury motorcraft begin. We would say that our program comes down to three essential elements: knowledge, navigation and access.

What makes Dragonfly Expeditions stand out from its competitors?

Dragonfly Expeditions has the pedigree of 26 years of by-appointment-only tours in Southern Florida and the Caribbean. The company is guided by a solid reputation for research, excellence in story-telling and intense knowledge of sense-of-place. Dragonfly Expeditions has hosted some of the world’s most prominent people, families and corporations during its long and storied history. Every day, a new adventure begins.

How did the collaboration with renowned photographer Matt Stock come to fruition?

The collaboration with artist Matt Stock came about as a continuation of the relationship between Charles J. Kropke, CEO of Dragonfly Expeditions and the Biltmore Hotel. Mr. Kropke envisioned the idea of telling the story of man’s conquering of the Florida Everglades through the many abandoned vehicles of every age and type that were left behind in this vast wilderness. Mr. Kropke started an artistic partnership with renowned photographer Matt Stock after learning of Mr. Stock’s cutting edge photographic night work, known as ‘light painting’. The resulting collaboration has been an endeavor that has caught the art world’s as well as the public’s imagination. Meanwhile, Kropke, Stock and their crew have been slogging, hiking, airboating and off-road driving into the depths of the Florida Everglades for the past year. Their Vernissage opens at 6:00 pm on Tuesday, December 5th, at the Cortile Loggia in the Biltmore Hotel. The show will then continue throughout Art Week (December 6-10th from 10am to 6pm) in the Majorca Ballroom of the hotel. Eventually, 60 to 80 vehicles will be chronicled in an art book entitled, “Abandoned Vehicles of the Everglades.”

The Biltmore Hotel

What does The Biltmore Hotel do to remain ahead of the many luxury upstarts that have come to South Florida in the last decade?

The Biltmore Hotel starts with the idea of meticulously maintaining the architectural heritage that commenced with its grand opening in 1926. Then, the hotel has leaped ahead of interior design trends to lavishly re-imagine its public spaces with a beautiful, rich palette that blends with the Biltmore’s historic character. Next, the Biltmore has launched a series of proprietary experiential offerings that explore the rich cultural, historic and environmental treasures of South Florida and couple that with award-winning restaurants.

Tell us about your unique relationship with art world.

Judy Holm: I have produced more than 60 art installations and 600 cultural events over the past 20 years throughout the U.S. and Europe, as well as official collateral events of the Venice Biennale since 2011. I am the President and CEO of the Global Fine Art Awards, an annual program which recognizes the best curated exhibitions annually based on excellence and innovation in exhibition design, historical context, educational value and public appeal.

From your perspective, what makes Art Basel a premier global event?

Art Basel in Switzerland, the second longest running art fair in the world after Art Cologne, made a critical decision to add a second fair in Miami Beach in 2001. This is the first fair company to connect with the art community on international basis. Now operating these two fairs as well as a third in Hong Kong, Art Basel is the leader in the art community for creating not only the trade aspects of fairs, but also the incredibly invaluably educational components in each of their fairs. Their panel discussions are available to all ticket holders. They also showcase budding talent with sections of the fair dedicated to rising stars.

Art Basel, TEFAF from the Netherlands and Frieze London are the three major players in the art fair circuit and share the market for the top several hundred galleries and most sophisticated collectors. These fairs allow galleries the important opportunity to display and exhibit their artists’ works in additional venues and in a “pop-up” environment which draws collectors from all over the world to vie for the most exciting new works.

Arguably, Art Basel has historically shown the most leadership in attracting the most satellite fairs to spawn what is commonly referred to as “art week.” This is important on many levels, primarily allowing more people to attend these fairs and learn more about art at every level and price. During these art weeks, the local population benefits from the opportunity to view the art—and the tourism business and ancillary economic trade are boosted tremendously as well.

A work by Matt Stock that will be featured in “Abandoned Vehicles of the Everglades”

How will patrons benefit from seeing Art Basel with you as a guide and curator?

As President of the Global Fine Art Awards program (GFAA), I have a unique global positioning with both coveted art industry leaders and the equally important population of the next generation of artists and patrons. GFAA is a non-profit, non-commercial, research-based annual program recognizing excellence in the best curated exhibitions, and serves as the legacy and repository of the history of the most significant exhibitions each year, thus helping preserve culture and providing stewardship of the world’s artistic developments.

GFAA is effectively the single, largest portal to every museum, museum trustee, collector and visual artist in the world, based on a universal focus of artistic and excellence—internationally and cross-culturally. With this background, my Art Concierge patrons have the very private experience of acquiring a deep understanding of what is really happening in the art world. By educating each client in a personalized manner, I provide an approachable way to view or buy art – whether purchasing art for the first time, or connecting with elusive dealers and their most elite artists.

The rapid growth of the contemporary art market has led to a proliferation of galleries, collections, installations and events. Even for the most sophisticated and savvy art consumer, it is difficult to discern what is important and where to see and purchase art. Art Concierge helps clients refine their taste in art, discover where to find art and enjoy highly customized art experiences.

To book The Biltmore’s Curators Program or to reserve your hotel stay for Art Basel, you can reserve at Room rates start at $389 per night.