30 Miami galleries unite to form art dealers association
By Marilyn Bowden
Miami Art Dealers Association, or MADA, established at the beginning of this year, is to celebrate its official launch this month.
The new arts coalition, comprised of about 30 galleries, most of them in Wynwood, "is intended to put Miami on an equal footing with serious art markets in cities like New York, Los Angeles and Chicago," said Director Isaac Javier Perelman, principal of DOT Fiftyone Gallery.
After a series of meetings beginning last November, "we incorporated legally on Feb. 23," said Andreina "Nina" Fuentes, treasurer of the temporary incorporation board and principal of Hardcore Gallery.
"We will have elections at the end of year. The official launch of the organization will be a private event for fundraisers on Sept. 23 in La Mansion, Santa Maria."
While the Miami and Wynwood art scene has grown and evolved tremendously over the past several years, Mr. Perelman said, "once in a while the actual art dealers and galleries have felt a little left out.
"We felt the necessity to create a new association dedicated to the promotion and development of the fine-art business. We joined together to form a non-profit to promote professional standards and develop awareness of the visual arts in the local, national and international communities."
Among the association's specific aims, he said, are the development of cooperative gallery marketing programs; creation of a strong lobbying body to local, state and national agencies; negotiation of cost savings for expenses such as advertising, fair participation, insurance and shipping; creation of a website and other electronic marketing platforms, and the establishment of cooperative collector development programs.
Practically, Mr. Perelman said, the group's first achievement was to reclaim the Wynwood Arts District Second Saturday Night Walks, which had become overrun by revelers and street vendors, chasing away the serious art lovers and collectors they were intended to attract.
"MADA members voted to expand their Second Saturday hours from 2 to 9 p.m. beginning last March," he said, "in the hopes of creating an environment where art connoisseurs can better enjoy exhibits."
Ms. Fuentes said MADA is sponsoring a contest among students at the Miami International University of Art & Design to design its corporate logo.
"There will be an exhibition open to the public," she said, "and a jury will decide which will be the winner."
Other events this fall include Curator Day on Sept. 24, she said, when curators will be invited to review works from three artists' portfolios from 2-7 p.m. at any MADA gallery.
"Many of the museums here buy outside of Miami, but we have a lot of galleries here," Ms. Fuentes said. Curator Day is planned to be repeated on the last Friday of every month.
Also launching in September, she said, is MADA's documentation center, which will archive educational materials such as books and videos.
"We would like to have it all in one location," Ms. Fuentes said, "but right now each gallery will keep materials."
On October's Second Saturday, she said, MADA will introduce its first month-long New Media Festival, featuring performance videos and "any kind of new media," in all the galleries at the same time.
Ms. Fuentes is a sponsor of the new organization, along with Lee Ann and David Lester, founders of Art Miami, and Stella Holmes, founder of Brickell Gallery Night and The Brickellian.
"Since we founded Art Miami in 1991 we have witnessed a dramatic growth in passionate art collectors, dealers, artists and critics drawn to South Florida's unique lifestyle," Ms. Lester said.
"We urged the dealers to develop a professional organization amongst the leading galleries in the Miami region. Developing a strong bond between the dealers will help develop the branding required to market this unique art community to Miami, the South Florida region and the world.
We are delighted to be a sponsor of this organization and look forward to a very exciting future." Ms. Holmes stressed the important of supporting the arts, "especially in a multicultural city like Miami, where we have so many great artists from different backgrounds and traditions. To me, art is a wonderful bridge of communication.
"Over the past several years, Miami's stature as a city where the arts are respected has grown tremendously, to the point where we are now recognized as a major destination for collectors and art lovers.
"For a city like this, it's so important that art galleries be supported in an organized way. MADA is long overdue, and I'm happy to help in any way I can."
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