December 10, 2018
On Sundays I reflect.
This will be a new format that will require some getting used to for all of us. Thanks for tuning in. Welcome to the first of many Sunday Reflections to the blog. I've been writing this column since March of 2018 if not before. Previously it has been released on my personal Facebook page, and then shared to my Instagram account. Thanks to some help from my brother Jon, this new format should allow me to share my reflections here with less constraints like trying to fit the entire piece into a screenshot to share.
It's not Sunday, though I'm in the final hours of my trip to Miami so for me it feels like a Sunday. You could say I'm a bit out of touch with the calendar and time. I'm just here now, ever since reading the book "Be Here Now" by Ram Dass back when I was in college. I should probably introduce myself; my name is Ben Belgrad and I am the creator of Drinking Vessels. I quit drinking alcohol nearly nine months ago by my own decision, and maintained abstinence through this past weekend in Miami. You could say that made for some awkward social situations
For me, travel has become one of my favorite ways to spend my time. In particular, I aim to immerse myself in different cultures by meeting locals and tasting local flavors. Years ago when I lived in New York City I tried to meet five strangers every day. I told someone this at dinner here in Miami and she looked at me like I was crazy, which I am not disputing.
I flew down here on Thursday night, after leaving home in the mountains for Denver around 7 a.m. The day was nonstop, although I caught some naps on the flight down. When I arrived the weekend kicked off immediately, and hasn't left me time to relax since. After a bite to eat we attended a large reception at the Perez Art Museum of Miami before making our way to Soho Beach House where I spent my evening until nearly the crack of dawn. There I met some celebrities and artists, as well as caught up with college friends. My brother left early on to get some sleep, which became a pattern all weekend.
On Friday I started my day with lunch on my brother's break. He returned to the office while I explored Wynwood, linking with Cake @cake.original and Don Mega @don.mega.art a muralist friend who did a large piece in my studio. We caught a live painting from artist/friend Philson @philsonart in the Red Dot show connected to Spectrum, both of which were decently interesting shows. When I attend these kinds of things, I know what I'm looking for and what I don't want to see at all. I'm always open to finding new things which certainly happened on this trip, but I would consider my taste to be very particular. Most of the shows feature very little or no functional art, and there is a lot of overpriced garbage to sift through in order to find the gems.
Friday night was the evening I had most been looking forward to. Soul Clap and Crew Love had a show at The Electric Pickle, a Miami landmark nightclub above a Mezcal bar. I dragged my brother who left after a few hours, and I stayed by myself knowing nobody until just before 6 a.m. for the second night in a row. Soul Clap is the duo I saw on my birthday in Brooklyn at the House of Yes last March, and is my favorite dance party to attend. As someone who took Ballroom and Social Dance in college (and got an A+) I believe I'm qualified to say I'm a Sultan of Swing on the dance floor. This remains undisputed.
Saturday, after a power nap I checked out Context and Art Miami with my brother. We bumped into artist/friend Ethan Meyer working at the Duane Reed Gallery booth and caught up between the shuffle of the shows. These shows were similar to the day before as expected, with some nice surprises along the way. We had a low key night in Wynwood, taking in all the street art and commotion happening in the rapidly developing arts neighborhood of Miami. I would consider it a must see destination for any art lover, just to walk to 5 by 8 block cutout of the city fully adorned with some of the best street art in the world.
Sunday was serious, beginning with a show called Aqua in an old hotel on South Beach. Each room is occupied by a different gallery which creates a much more intimate experience. The art was extremely diverse, which was a nice change of pace in addition to the setting change from the larger conventions. We jumped over to SCOPE after that which was the highlight of my trip. I was very impressed by the Nychos and Okuda art I saw, and I found a lot of other art such as the Kaplan Twins entertaining. Habatat Gallery from Detroit was showing which was a nice dose of glass and a great conversation for me to break from the chaos of the show. The setting of the ocean as a backdrop for the show added another layer of beauty to the experience. We hustled across town for the Casa De Cristal and 1K Show Art Extravaganza for a final dose of glass before grilling a big dinner at the apartment and calling it a night.
These art shows are so fascinating to me both for the art being shown, as well as the people attending. I felt very much like a spectator in a highly entertaining and engaging show. I encountered a Keith Haring 40x40 canvas created shortly before his death and after his diagnosis with HIV/AIDS. Haring is one of my favorite artists, and so much of his work is uplifting and positive. This piece was full of plus signs but they represented being HIV positive and the tone of the piece was very dark. In contrast with much of his bold bright work this piece was very moving to me in such a different way than I expect from his work.
I was particularly drawn to a piece from Jean-Michel Basquiat, titled "Rinso". I'm not very educated on Basquiat, and before "Rinso" I never really paid enough attention to the details in his pieces. I found "Rinso" to be kind of funny and also mocking of advertisement culture. He piece is a sketch for an advertisement for some kind of dish soap.
This feels like rambling, which is usually when I look ahead. My flight is delayed and I hear it's snowing back home, but I'll make it there eventually. When I do, construction continues in the studio where we're finishing a cold working room and starting to build a new work table we will run gas to and then cover with another ventilation good/fan. I'm hoping to get some laps in at Vail this week, and 2018 is coming to an end. It's been the best year yet and I eagerly anticipate what 2019 has in store. I'll spend the next few months upgrading the shop and preparing for the Vail Cup Collectors Club in February, and hopefully find some time to make some cups between everything else.
As always thanks for tuning in, even if I'm a day off. I'm grateful to have been able to spend this weekend at Miami Art Week, and now it's time to get back to work.
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January 13, 2019