Recap: Satellite’s Artist-Run Space at Miami Art Week 2015

Nearly 40 groups and galleries took over the derelict oceanfront hotel and tossed inhibition out the windows

If you’re measuring in internet time, Miami Art Week 2015 is long over, but there was one show we can’t get out of our minds—the inaugural Satellite Art Show. A brainchild of Brian Whiteley (founder of the now-defunct SELECT Art Fair), the brand new fair situated itself far from the on-edge crowds in South Beach. Closer to its partners Miami Project and Art on Paper, Satellite eschewed white-walled booths for existing vacant venues like the old SurfMed Pharmacy and North Beach Bandshell. Tiger Strike Asteroid’s takeover of the derelict Ocean Terrace Hotel for “Artist-Run” was sizzling with a creative energy that couldn’t be found anywhere else. As the name indicates, it was an artist intervention of sorts, where inhibition was tossed out the window along with the rotting carpet—planting seeds of experimentation, curiosity and actual interaction with no price tags or dealers in sight.

Almost 40 different artists, collectives and galleries were given free rein of a room to transform as they wished—many took advantage of the bathrooms, installing art in the bathtubs, sinks and toilets—making for a diverse art walk. The small size of the rooms further enhanced the uniquely intimate atmosphere.

Brooklyn’s Art F City’s “F.A.G. Bar” (short for Fine Art Gallery) transformed a room into a pop-up bar: Macon Reed’s neon sign “DYKE BAR” (2015) welcomed the curious, Wickerham & Lomax’s hour-long video installation “Take Karaoke: A Proposition for Performance Art” (2015) provided the background noise, anti-gentrification artist John Criscitello’s provocative T-shirts and posters hung in the bathroom, and a kind staffer offered cans of cold beer or soda from an ice bucket. Across the hallway was, funnily enough, some competition: Open Space’s “Stupid Bar” was another place for viewers to get more alcohol, if they dared.

Philadelphia’s Fjord recreated a swimming pool for their show “Pool Rules,” though visitors stayed completely dry as they walked in. In Room 202, Savannah-based drag performance group House of Gunt hosted performance-like workshops that taught reductive “churro-scuro” (painting with churro, chocolate sauce and white sugar), collaborative face collaging, “Barbara Ross” holistic painting—encouraging all to loosen up some. “Gravity Assist” by Richmond-based SEDIMENT featured audio works inspired by a recent event: NASA spacecraft New Horizon’s July 2015 flyby of Pluto, a journey that took nine years. And we were so enamored with Providence artist Jennifer Avery’s Beast Boutique that we did a separate interview on her creative process.

It was undeniably a sweaty ordeal from room to room as there was no functioning air-conditioning in the rundown hotel, but the tropical humidity was a surprisingly nice change from the artificial convention center environment of the fairs further south—a reminder that you’re in Miami. Not many gallery spaces around the country can say that they offer a view of palm trees and the Atlantic Ocean from the windows, and that’s what you got at the Ocean Terrace Hotel. Regardless of why you made the long haul to 75th Street in the traffic jam that is Art Week, you left with the determination to go and make something yourself with your bare hands.

Images by Nara Shin