24th Art Miami Launches Tonight

As tens of thousands of art lovers from around the world descend on Miami-Dade for a week of art consumption and social gatherings, Art Miami will mark its 24th edition.

Art collectors of Art Kabinett social media network will be attending tonight's opening vernissage event.

Despite an increasingly crowded and competitive art marketplace, the fair — which started more than 20 years ago as a regional show and has catapulted to the No. 2 spot on this week's art calendar — is taking risks, making investments and growing its footprint and reputation.

In addition to the main Art Miami fair that coincides with Art Basel Miami Beach in the first week of December, the company last year launched Art Wynwood in February, Art Southampton in July and CONTEXT Art Miami, a December companion to Art Miami on the same Midtown Miami campus.

The production company will reintroduce the 47-gallery Aqua fair this year as Aqua Art Miami after acquiring the smaller event last year.

Still to come: Art Silicon Valley/Art San Francisco, which launches next fall in San Mateo County.

About 130,000 people attended the company’s four fairs last year; at Art Miami and CONTEXT, dealers reported $80 million in sales.

The ownership group has sought to grow its audience and improve the quality of its shows by offering both primary and secondary work that will appeal to serious collectors, cultivating new art buyers, bringing in attention-grabbing exhibitions and maintaining a comfortable, accessible style.

"We have the resources to do it at a very high level and we won’t let anything denigrate what we do,” said founder Nick Korniloff.

“We believe that we have a lot to offer our galleries and our collectors. That’s why we invest so much and that’s why we continue to do it., said Korniloff.

Stephan Keszler, who has galleries in New York City and Southampton, said that with the glut of art fairs and galleries, it’s difficult to establish the right mix of art so shows feel like high-end marketplaces and not museums.

“This is very difficult because there are more and more; I don’t know how many fairs there are in Miami. NADA, MADA, Red Dot, Green Dog,” he said, naming some existing satellite fairs and making up a couple of new ones. “So the competition is much higher, but I think with all the moves [Korniloff] does, he’s established his position very strong.”

While Swiss import Art Basel Miami Beach has been the headliner act in South Florida since it started in 2002, Art Miami’s history goes much deeper.

The fair debuted in January of 1991 in Miami Beach, catering to South Floridians and snowbirds with international dealers. A one-week booth rental fee ranges anywhere from $16,000-$54,000 depending upon size and strategic location within the art tent.

“It made sense to establish an art fair in Miami as a winter destination and as a gateway, as they promoted it, to Latin America,” said Bonnie Clearwater, director and chief curator of Nova Southeastern University’s Museum of Art in Fort Lauderdale. Clearwater wrote about Art Miami in its early years and then helped coordinate press coverage of the show.