There’s a large portrait by artist Mickalene Thomas, titled “Portrait of Mama Bush I,” that greets visitors when they walk into the “Belief + Doubt” exhibit on the second floor of NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale. It’s an imposing horizontal painting created on a wood panel with acrylic and enamel, embellished with rhinestones. To hear Francie Bishop Good talk about the time in 2010 when she and husband David Horvitz spotted the painting and then decided to buy it, makes it all the more enchanting.
“We all saw it at Art Basel,” she recalls, remembering that it became quite a competition with another collector who wanted the piece. Good and Horvitz finally purchased it, but the other collector persisted and approached them. “He wanted to buy it from us; I finally said OK. Then it ended up that he said he didn’t have the room in his collection for the painting.”
So now “Portrait” is one of the works that Good and Horvitz treasure. Good is a teacher and an artist best known for her photographs, but she’s also a painter and multimedia creator; Horvitz is an attorney entering his sixth year as chairman of the board of governors at NSU Art Museum. Together, they have amassed a collection of about 800 pieces of contemporary art.
Recently, they announced a promised gift of 100 works to the museum, 70 of which are on display there through the end of January as part of “Belief + Doubt: Selections from the Francie Bishop Good and David Horvitz Collection.”
Art is part of the couple’s life. In 2006, they created Girls’ Club, a nonprofit organization that provides exhibition and educational space to support local female artists. There are exhibits, too, in a beautifully rendered industrial space between Andrews and Northeast Third avenues, designed by Fort Lauderdale’s Margi Nothard of Glavovic Studio. Next door is Good’s personal art studio. The Girls’ Club name arose because the couple’s art collection focuses mostly on female artists.
“At one point I looked around and thought, ‘What we have is mostly women, and we should focus on that.’ We didn’t really plan anything; it happened organically,” Good says.
Horvitz adds: “One of the things I’m most proud of is that as much as we are collectors, it’s not our ambition to create our own museum. It’s our ambition to support local entities and places like the NSU Art Museum. It’s a passion and it leaves a legacy.”
Good says she spends as much time as she can “trolling the galleries” in New York. Much time also is spent preparing her own work for exhibit. “Comus,” a collection of 70 works on canvas of media-saturated paintings created from high school senior yearbooks of the artist and her mother from 1942 and 1967, is now showing in Lafayette, Louisiana; it will be on display at the David Castillo Gallery in Miami beginning in February and then at the Coral Springs Museum starting in June. Horvitz recently has started collecting civil rights-era photography and has a collection of photos of actor Paul Newman. “He was a friend,” Horvitz says.
When Art Basel takes over the Miami Beach Convention Center (Dec. 1–4), the couple are ready to be immersed. They say they approach the international art fair differently.
For Horvitz, it’s a chance to see a lot of different works. “I like to see everything in one place,” he says. “I like the buzz, and I like the people. It’s also a place to step back and see what the gallerists think the trends are—what might be popular because it changes from year to year.”
For Good, it’s about being an artist. “I go in 80 percent as an artist and 20 percent as a collector,” she says, adding that she covers all 500,000 square feet of exhibition space and attends the show for all five days (including the VIP preview, set for Nov. 30 this year). “We almost always buy from the galleries that we know and trust and who are showing the artists I’ve been following. But occasionally we’re surprised.”
While they sometimes walk around the show in a group, Horvitz advises against it. “You go with another collector, and they want to look at the stuff that interests them,” she says. “It’s like going on a group tour; you’re only as fast as the slowest person.”
Then there’s the question of the challenge that modern and contemporary art poses to many viewers because of its lean toward abstraction and away from more representational art.
“If I were going to give advice to someone, it would be that they should go slowly through a contemporary art fair or exhibit. If the art is going to have any effect, you have to look at it. A quick run through doesn’t do it,” Horvitz says.
Good, a former Broward County art teacher, says getting an education before heading to Art Basel will help with appreciation. She points to the docent-led tours at the NSU Art Museum and guided tours by ArtNexus at Basel.
“People who have a hard time with contemporary art should go with someone who knows a lot,” she says. “I think things that are not familiar to people make them uncomfortable, but once they become familiar, it opens up a whole new world.”
Satellite fairs during Basel Week are scattered throughout the area, bringing crowds to see one of the world’s largest gatherings of contemporary art. Most of these events have shuttle service to and from the convention center.
IN MIAMI BEACH
- Aqua Art Miami: This is one of the coolest and quirkiest satellite fairs, mostly because of where it’s staged—inside the Aqua Hotel. Last year, more than 10,000 people passed through the hotel during its five days. Its focus is on emerging and mid-career artists.
• Why go? The hotel’s cozy environment has turned this fair into a communal gathering place for collectors, curators and art lovers to see new works and discuss all things Basel.
• Details: VIP preview Nov. 30; public viewing Dec. 1–4; 1530 Collins Ave.; aquaartmiami.com.
- Design Miami: This is a different kind of fair in the sense that it’s about “collectible design.” What does that mean? Everything from architecture to furniture is under one tent in the convention center parking lot.
• Why go? A monumental 3-D-printed installation and public plaza by SHoP Architects will welcome visitors. Titled Flotsam & Jetsam, the installation will be reinstalled in the Miami Design District’s Jungle Plaza to host outdoor cultural events.
• Details: Previews Nov. 29–30; public viewing Nov. 30–Dec. 4; Miami Beach Convention Center parking lot, Meridian and 19th Street; miami2016.designmiami.com.
- Fridge Fair: An offshoot of New York’s Frieze event, show founder and artist Eric Ginsburg had an idea to create an intimate space for art and art lovers. This year, he’s found it at The Betsy South Beach hotel’s Underground Gallery.
• Why go? As in the past, the question posed to artists for the fourth edition is, “Can you fit it into the Fridge?” Find out.
• Details: VIP preview Nov. 27; gala reception Dec. 3; public viewing Nov. 27–Dec. 4; The Betsy South Beach, 1440 Ocean Drive; fridgeartfair.com.
- Miami Project. In its fifth edition, this world-class art fair is on par with some of the world’s biggest. It has 75,000 feet of exhibit space housing 60 galleries.
• Why go? It’s built atop and within an already-expansive structure. Check out the 40-foot cathedral ceilings, which were seamlessly integrated into the existing architecture.
• Details: VIP preview Dec. 1; public viewing Dec. 2–4; 6625 Indian Creek Drive; miami-project.com.
- NADA Miami Beach. After a year at the centrally located Fontainebleau Miami Beach, the New Art Dealers Alliance fair returns to the Deauville on Collins Avenue.
• Why go? If you want to be surprised, this is the place. NADA focuses on new or underexposed art that is not typical.
• Details: VIP preview Dec. 1; public viewing Dec. 1–4; Deauville Beach Resort, 6701 Collins Ave.; newartdealers.org.
- Pulse Miami Beach. For the third consecutive year, the fair will be in a two-tent pavilion at Indian Beach Park. The north tent will have multi-artist booths from established galleries, while the south tent will include single-artist and two-artists presentations.
• Why go? See the entrance created by digital artist Anne Spalter, titled Miami Marbles. Download the Marbles app to see what happens on site.
• Details: VIP preview Dec. 1; public viewing Dec. 1–4; Indian Beach Park, 4601 Collins Ave.; pulse-art.com.
- Scope Miami Beach. Another tent-on-the-beach exhibit, this is one of the granddaddys of the satellite fair family, entering its 16th year.
• Why go? If you like music with your art, Scope typically presents a heavy-hitter musical guest. Organizers are keeping details under wraps for now, but the show will be at Miami’s Nikki Beach hot spot.
• Details: VIP preview Nov. 29; public showing Nov. 30–Dec. 4; Ocean Drive at Eighth Street; scope-art.com.
- “Untitled.” Hosting its fifth edition, this fair draws attention because of its big tent on South Beach. The pink wedge on one end is an icon, dividing the main exhibition space from an area reserved for talks and events.
• Why go? On Nov. 30, the first public day of the fair, a group of artists, along with fine-arts students from New York’s Columbia University, will be creating slogan T-shirts for sale.
• Details: VIP preview Nov. 29; public viewing Nov. 30–Dec. 4; Ocean Drive and 12th Street; art-untitled.com.
- X Contemporary. The second edition of this fair is at Nobu Eden Roc resort. It’s known as the “beautiful fair” because, creators say, it’s dedicated to creating a memorable viewing experience.
• Why go? This year, it presents a “historically key exhibition”—The Women Who Made Art Modern explores 16 female art dealers, all considered great innovators. And, visitors will get to explore the newly renovated resort, a venture backed by actor Robert De Niro.
• Details: VIP preview Nov. 30; public viewing Nov. 30–Dec. 4; Nobu Eden Roc, 4525 Collins Ave.; xcontemporaryart.com.