On Sundays I reflect.
I have been drinking alcohol this week in Miami. It would have been better if I hadn’t been, and fortunately it didn’t get out of control. I think I got it out of my system for a while. It’s an ongoing struggle, not only for me but for many of my close friends. I was able to make a few commitments to myself that I followed through on. The most important was to not drink at my show.
I have been attending Art Basel and Miami Art Week for nearly a decade, and every trip has been wildly different than the last. This year we finally produced our first Miami Cup Collectors Club and it was probably the most fun night of my life.
I have so much I want to share about the rest of our week, but I’m exhausted.
Grace and I landed Saturday night a week ago around 11pm in Miami and went straight to Club Space with our boy Slack for Claude Von Stroke. It’s Grace’s first time to Miami and I knew we needed to get the party out of the way before setting up the show. The tone for the week had been set, before the arrival of the rest of our crew.
Sunday we began to meet our partners at Ocisly Ceramics in Wynwood and prepare lists we needed to complete before the show. Grace began photographing all of the work for the show while we began preparing the space for a full conversion into a gallery inside the house and a garden party out back.
I got to spend a few hours with my brother and his wife. I was able to turn off work for a brief window to be present and despite the distractions I felt like I did a decent job. J made time to sit by his pool and talk with me to catch up on life and then we got dinner with Pri and a couple of their friends. It’s important for me to prioritize my family these days, and something I didn’t do very well in the past.
Monday and Tuesday are a blur of setup from mowing the lawn to installing the gallery of work including rotating ceramics wheels featuring some of the cups and hand built pedestals from Kev at Ocisly. We also showcased sculptures and paintings which perfectly tied the gallery together into cohesive flow. I think the layout inside is one of the things I’m most proud of, especially considering just a day before it housed a functioning pottery studio. Liz and LP from Ocisly did a wonderful job adorning the room with plants to bring the backyard jungle vibes into the show.
Charlie from Soul Clap provided beats through the night and was accompanied by Coleen Dieker on the violin for some intermittent accompaniment. Taffy, Holdin Golden and Strawberry provided live glass demos while Oldgreed painted his Mona Lisa and Adam and the Ocisly crew threw pots on the wheel. It was captivating to see it all happening together in a backyard full of people from all walks of life.
My parents made the trip out from Chicago last minute and I am truly glad they did. I think they even had fun. It seemed like everyone in attendance had a great time, which feels like the greatest success of all.
The artists all impressed me and left me wishing I could add their submissions to my personal collection. Honestly.
Thank you to Adam Doak, Allison Bloom, Andrew Medina, Avant Garde, Babedrienne, Chadd Lacy, Female Alchemy, GeoffMade, Holdin Golden, Jack Blew, Oldgreed, SALT, Snic, and Taffy and special last minute guest Nerea Masnu for creating such astonishing work for this show. If you see a name you don’t recognize on that list definitely look them up or reach out to us for their social media links. There is some up and coming work available in addition to some of our regular heavy hitters you don’t want to miss out on.
Thank you to our sponsors Yerba Star, Liquid Death, Luna Rossa Cucina, Cafe Mezzanotte, Ocisly Ceramics, and the Glass Bubble. We couldn’t have done this without your support.
Thank you to the collectors who bought art and the people who came out to see what we all built together. My team and some of our extended team traveled from Colorado and Texas and around the country to team up with Adam and Cristina at Ocisly Ceramics and their incredible staff to build something beautiful.
One thing I never thought I would be saying is that we owe it all to Slack, but here we are. Steven Slack went above and beyond to make this event a reality after years of me telling him about my vision. He showed us hospitality of the highest level, and even bartended our event. Special thanks to his amazing wife Chelsea who just had their first baby four months ago and allowed her husband to spend countless hours helping prep for the show.
In addition to Eric and Grace helping me with every little detail we had a few secret weapons this time around. Oldgreed and Tucker Tough showed up on a red eye and got to work immediately upon arrival, after cuddling in my bed with me for two hours before the sun came up. These guys were absolute crushers with setup and during the show. Geoff and Ian came from Austin to get their hands dirty with setup cleaning furniture and setting up the demo station.
My guy Xander from Soiku Bano and his family came through and I have to take a moment to congratulate him on his engagement to Stephanie before I thank him for bringing extra folding chairs and tables and all kinds of other support.
Wow we are blessed with this community and I’m sure I’m missing some.
My sister in law Pri needs a special shoutout. She spent days making a custom Drinking Vessels Cake with my patterns and logo. Wow. I was so touched by her above and beyond gesture, and it meant so much to me that she was able to get away from her busiest time at work to be at our show.
Another very special part of this show for me was being able to have the woman I’ve been seeing with me. It was her first time meeting my family and many of my friends, and it was also her first time being at one of my shows. At one point during the night after I finished the last of my responsibilities but before the show was over we snuck upstairs together for 3 minutes. We lay down and closed our eyes and just listened to the party. We didn’t say much. It was nice to just share that moment with her, before returning to my duties as host.
The night was magical on so many levels. I wanted it to last forever, and I’m so relieved it’s over all at once. We did it.
It was DIY and it felt authentic while still presenting a professional gallery vibe. I even bought a brand new outfit for the event and believe it or not I had to perform an outfit change later in the evening when the unexpected cold front caused me to need a sweater. Thankfully Max and Angela took me shopping in Chicago and helped me look the best I’ve felt in probably my entire life.
A lot of big changes have been happening in my life and I’m focused on making myself more flexible. I think my natural tendency is rigidity, which I’m trying to improve. This week has been a good practice in going with the flow. As always with Basel, I go in with expectations and plans and my week ends up looking different than I had anticipated.
Miami has long been a muse of mine. This annual trip has become a source of inspiration for Ben the Artist year after year. This time around is no exception. I’ve got some new concepts and projects in mind. I’ve got some plans to move forward with the painting series I began this year. I’m exhausted, but I’m also feeling refreshed.
I’m finishing this blog around 5 am in Miami, before I catch my flight home. There may be some delay in publication, so I figured I should provide that context.
I’m completely overflowing with gratitude. Thank you so much for being a part of my journey, and enjoy your Sunday.
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