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Art Fairs: SMA, Miami, Mexico City

by Paul Duval

Imagine the Fabrica Aurora Art Walk on a heavy dose of steroids. That's what it was like in South Florida last month at the extraordinary Art Basel Miami 2018 edition. Three cavernous venues highlighting 230 galleries from over 35 countries entertained, figuratively speaking, half the population of San Miguel de Allende as an estimated 85,000 art aficionados participated in this mammoth art crawl.

Artists, dealers, curators, collectors and just admirers, like my ceramicist wife Lindsay and I, indulged our senses in what arguably could be the largest collection of contemporary and modern art in the world. Painting, sculptures, prints, photography and a myriad of other mixed media were on imaginative display for four days.

Living in SMA has been for us an excellent segue into the world of international art fairs such as the Frieze in London, Art Paris, The Armory in New York and SP Arte in São Paulo. Traffic and crowds are the norm, but in return you are up close and personal to superstars such as Sam Francis, Fernando Botero, Jean Basquiat, Rothko, Stella, Rauschenberg and the Mexican conceptual artist Abraham Cruzvillegas.

The price of the art was stratospheric; it’s better not to ask. Buy your art here in SMA and support our own talented artistic community. SMA has a number of amazing galleries showing affordable avant-guarde work created by an array of foreign and local artists. If you’re searching for the next Picasso or Khalo you may very well sooner find them here than elsewhere. The word on the street is that nearly 30 San Miguelenses attended Miami Basel. No surprise.

Exploring Art Basel was time consuming and we did not see it all. Trying to decipher or interpret some of the more elaborate pieces was good fun and amusing. We were with Brazilian friends and usually, as we do here in SMA, let humor provide the answer. Basel Miami was authentically American, colossal in size and scope. The art landscape in SMA, by contrast, is genuinely Mexican, expansive yet intimate.

Art has no borders, just locations. If you’re interested in this type of lively excursion try the Zona Maco art expo in Mexico City which will take place February 6-10. Attend and revel in the exciting, three day experience of an international art show with a decidedly Mexican flair. Look for us there.


Paul Duval is an expat New Yorker now retired in SMA for nearly three years. Before that, along with a partner, over 37 years, he developed numerous regional shopping malls in Brazil.

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