Miami Beach purchases works of art by two emerging artists at Art Basel fair

Susan Askew
Susan Askew

Miami Beach purchases works of art by two emerging artists at Art Basel fair:

Public votes for acquisitions through Inaugural Legacy Purchase Program

In the end, it was too hard to choose just one work of art for the City’s inaugural Legacy Purchase Program at this year’s Art Basel Miami Beach. After an online community poll to choose a work by an emerging artist exhibiting at the fair to be purchased by the City concluded with only three votes separating the top two options, the City decided to purchase both.
The top vote getter was a piece by Jamaican visual artist Ebony G. Patterson. Her artwork (below) is entitled “…as the garden secretes a swarm of monarchs feast…a john crow awaits a carcass’ fall while scavengers gather to feast below, as we did between the cuts…below the leaves…beneath the soil.”


In second place, just three votes shy, was Cobalt Blue Earring by Amoako Boafo (below).


“It was clear by the vote that our residents loved both pieces, so we decided to purchase Mr. Boafo’s Cobalt Blue Earring as well since it fell within the parameters of this program and had so much positive press behind it going into this year’s fair,” City Manager Jimmy Morales said in an announcement of the purchase. “We look forward to having these remarkable works become a permanent fixture of our collection and be displayed within a dedicated, publicly accessible area of the Miami Beach Convention Center.”
City Spokeswoman Melissa Berthier said a total of 353 votes were cast. Patterson’s work was purchased for $65,000 and Boafo’s for $44,000, she said, within the parameters of the $100,000 authorization.
The City’s announcement notes the two galleries that represent the artists – Monique Meloche Gallery which represents Patterson and Mariane Ibrahim Gallery which represents Boafo – sit next to one another in Chicago and often partner on events. They are quoted jointly indicating, “both artists were very interested in keeping these specific works in the public realm, where they could be enjoyed by various audiences over a long period of time.”
Miami Beach announced its Legacy Purchase Program last month as an effort that “deepens its commitment to contemporary art and its relationship with Art Basel” by purchasing a work of art exhibited at the fair. A unique aspect of the program is the involvement of residents in the acquisition. Following submissions from galleries of works to be considered, the Art in Public Places Committee selected six works of art to view in person before the fair opened to the general public. The list was then narrowed to three and put to an online vote during a 24-hour period. The results were announced today and the works acquired. 
The Legacy Purchase Program is funded by the City’s Art in Public Places program and has a limit of up to $100,000 which includes the purchase, commission and all other associated fees.
At this year’s Art Basel Miami Beach kickoff, Noah Horowitz, Director Americas for Art Basel, said the purchase program “is a real achievement. It’s a real sign of the commitment, I think, that the City of Miami Beach has with Art Basel, the faith they have in the quality of artists that come to this show.”


About the artists: 

Ebony G. Patterson is represented by the Monique Meloche Gallery in Chicago and holds a Master of Fine Arts from Sam Fox College of Design and Visual Arts. Her work has been shown in numerous solo and group exhibitions in Jamaica, the United States and abroad, including the New Orleans Museum of Art, the Baltimore Museum of Art, Nuit Blanche Toronto and the Hales Gallery in New York City to name a few.
Known for her drawings, tapestries, videos, sculptures and installations that involve surfaces layered with flowers, glitter, lace and beads, Patterson’s works investigate forms of embellishment as they relate to youth culture within disenfranchised communities. Her neo-baroque works address violence, masculinity, “bling,” visibility and invisibility within the post-colonial context of her native Jamaica and within black youth culture globally. The references to Carnival in Patterson’s use of beads, plastic ornaments and reflective materials reflect her interest in mining international aesthetics in a practice that is a race against time, as Patterson captures, mourns and glorifies the passing of too many lives.
Amoako Boafo is a painter, born in Accra, Ghana, based in Vienna, Austria. Boafo’s portrait paintings are enticing in their lucidity, accentuating the figures in each work, who are regularly isolated on single color backgrounds, their gaze the focal point of each work. The brushstrokes are thick and gestural, the contours of the body’s almost soften into abstraction. The most well-known of his series, the Black Diaspora portraits serve as a means of celebration of his identity and blackness.
Boafo emphasizes, “The primary idea of my practice is representation, documenting, celebrating and showing new ways to approach blackness.” Much of his work is inspired by his upbringing, commenting on how males are raised to be aggressive and masculine, which he challenges in his works. Although the artists underlying messages are quite intense, there is a certain softness to the works, the poses are serene and the skin luminous.
Boafo studies at the Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna. In 2017 was awarded with the jury prize, Walter Koschatzky Art Prize. Widely collected by private and public collectors and institutions, most recently by CCS Bard College Hessel Museum of Art and The Albertina Museum Vienna, and has been named as the first artists in residence at the Rubell Museum.

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