Above photo: Rick Ross signing a photograph of himself by Jonathan Mannion at AE Gallery
Saturday, December 2 on South Beach saw the Phillips du Pury charity auction at The Webster benefiting the Playgrounds Around The World charity. Artworks by Ryan McGinley, Dan Colen and the late Dash Snow hung on the walls, the first time the three downtown legends had ever shown together. The three pieces raised just over $200,000 ($150,000 for the Colen alone, the other two about $25,000 each) for the charity.
Mihoko’s 21 Grams, a high-end Franco-Japanese restaurant opening in Manhattan next year, provided guests dinner prior to the auction, replete with caviar and pink chevre mousse bombs. As bidding concluded, an impromptu dance party began, the star of which was 9 year-old Sunny Melet, who began to jump rope with a giant scarf worn by one of the guests, urging everyone to take turns.
After the room played jump rope, Ryan McGinley spoke about how happy he was to be involved in the auction. “I chose this piece because I knew it would sell, since this is a charity auction you always want to pick a piece that will sell. It’s an important cause. And I’m happy to do anything to promote Dash Snow’s work.”
He commented that this year at Basel was his most enjoyable to date. “My favorite experience at Basel this year was having my work shown with a few artists whom I really love and respect, who I have never shown with before. It was also great to see my work displayed on a 7000 square foot screen at The Bass Museum event. I’ve never had my work displayed on such a large scale, and it was amazing for me. It was like a drive-in theater, with a few hundred people watching on bean bags. On the other hand, my least favorite experience this year in Miami was getting a moving violation for rolling through a stop sign. I haven’t been pulled over in years… It was bad. Terrible.” (laughs). New York artist Brent Birnbaum jokingly added, “My favorite thing at Basel this year has been seeing composed civilized people wasted on the street.”
Above photo: Bodybuilders in front of Mint & Serf graffiti at the Norwood/Patrick Duffy party
Patrick Duffy’s Norwood party at the Shore Club with downtown graffiti artists Mint & Serf filled the last night of Basel with bulging muscles, spray paint and hip hop. Mint&Serf, AKA Mirf, lead the Peter Pan Posse, a downtown collective that runs the streets of today like the Irak and ALIFE crews did a decade ago.
At the pool behind the Shore Club, shiny bodybuilders flexed, smiled and posed in front of a spread of fake candy treats and a backdrop of a 1950’s era suburban living room. Guests reclined in cabanas, smoking weed from apples. People danced around the bar and DJ booth as Gucci Mane and Dipset bounced through the tall sheer white curtains that billowed in the breeze.
Around 8pm, the body builders left their posts, and Mint & Serf’s graffiti crew quickly moved in and began spray-painting all over the backdrop. Mint dropped “REAL NY” in the upper right-hand corner. Guests crowded around, mesmerized as the artists fluidly took turns, spraying layer over layer of graffiti for over twenty minutes.
Then the body builders resumed their perches, and the artists headed to the DJ booth to pose for pictures and generally jump around like lovable juvenile clowns. “We’re the PPP!” laughed Mint, forever young indeed.
“The most important thing we’ve learned this Basel is keeping it cute, and keeping a lot of swag,” chimed in Jacuzzi Chris, AKA Same. Mint added, “This is by far our favorite event of Basel this year, because it’s so weird. Writing graffiti while smelling bronzer… After going to crazy parties, you get the idea. Everyone has crazy swag. There was the Louis Vuitton party with the bottles and the models, but it’s contained.” It was refreshing to be at a non-corporate event filled with a true Basel mix, where the PPP graf boys and the DSquared duo, Dan and Dean Caten, in matching white jeans, could mingle with trannies and Miami fake boobs. “Wow, this is great,” Dean or Dan Caten said (we weren’t sure who was who).
Few crews so dominated the Basel scene as PPP, with members showing art, throwing parties, doing public graffitti walls, DJing, performing and just generally winning Miami’s annual competition for best downtown crew. And this party – wild, weird, fun – was a great example of their unique New York swag.
Above photo: Rick Ross in conversation with photographer Jonathan Mannion at AE Gallery
In Miami’s design district, AE Gallery hosted Classic, an exhibition of key works of iconic urban music photographer Jonathan Mannion. Mannion has become the go-to photographer for legendary hip hop artists, and is renowned for developing strong, ongoing relationships with celebrated musicians who trust his ability to capture their artistry. His photographs of hip hop icons such as Jay-Z, Notorious BIG and Lil Wayne at once inspire a flooring sense of awe for their subject, whilst engendering a profound emotional connectedness. They capture not only the glamour and gravity, but their unguarded humanity.
Rick Ross made an appearance and sat down with Mannion to discuss photographs he has taken throughout Ross’s career. Each photograph was projected onto a screen and the pair reclined in white leather armchairs, reminiscing over each shared memory. At a photograph of Ross subdued in a canary yellow fur, Mannion exclaimed, “Bumble bee yellow fur?!” Ross, incredibly articulate and unstoppably smooth throughout the discussion, replied simply, “Yeaah!” “What was on your mind at this time?” “Excess.”
When I asked about his favorite moment of his career thus far, Ross replied, “It’s hard to pinpoint any one moment. There were so many minor struggles that meant so much to me. Looking at those pictures, I just remember that this was a dream. A dream that I worked hard for- I set a goal and I went after it. Any artist, you can create your own destiny. That’s something that I’m a living testament to.”
Below photo: Nine-year-old Sunny Melet jumping rope at The Webster charity art auction
Thursday night at the Gussman Theater for Performing Arts gave us the premiere of a short film by the graffiti artist Neck Face, followed by a performance by SALEM. Neck Face’s film, Born Under A Bad Sign, was mediocre if passable, but did end with a Kung-Fu street battle between a sworded man in a massive and delicately exquisite carved headpiece, and a tiny Asian woman who ended up having her neck slit, true to Neck Face’s frightening style.
SALEM subsequently took over the stage, filling it with soft, dense smoke, each member appearing witchy and swaying under alternating spotlights. Their gothic hip-hop chants (“If you can’t beat your bitch/Then you don’t need your bitch”) were delightfully contrasted with the decor of the restored Gussman, which is an odd mix of baroque/Mediterranean/gothic, but nonetheless lavishly beautiful.
Later in the night, The Black Lips gave an out-of-control performance at the Toyota Antics party at Grand Central. Guitarist Cole Alexander jumped and somersaulted into the crowd, who loved every moment of the rowdy spectacle. Backstage, Alexander was just as hyperactive, bopping and constantly moving around, clothed all in bright green. “Basel is kinda pretentious,” he said. “but I like art, so whatever.” Lead singer Jared Swilley commented “We are probably the greatest artists at Basel. Also, period. When I look in the mirror it’s considered art.”