Founded in 2015 as a satellite to Art Basel Miami Beach, Superfine! has editions in New York, Washington, D.C., and now Los Angeles. Promising works by 250 artists across solo and gallery presentations, as well as curated sections, Superfine!’s buzzwords are inclusivity and accessibility, with 90 percent of the works priced between $100 and $5,000. “My favorite client,” Superfine! director and co-founder Alex Mitow tells the L.A. Weekly, “is a new collector.”
To achieve the goal of expanding ideas of what and who an art collector can be, Superfine! takes great care to balance the commercial with the curatorial. “We want exhibitors to make sales, of course,” Mitow says. But they are also committed to an overall experience for everyone that is vibrant, eclectic, organic. More than that — and this makes Superfine! a bit extra special — the show is uniquely reflective of Mitow and his partner, James Miille — as collectors and personalities. For example, during his interview with the Weekly, Mitow had to jump off the call for a quick moment — to organize an Uber from the airport for their favorite saxophone player, who flies in to perform at every edition. In L.A. he'll be blowing alongside DJ Jason Eldredge (KCRW).
This comes through not only in the selection of exhibitors but also in the organizing of public programs and art works, in particular a group show within the fair that Mitow and Miille curated together. It’s called “This Is America” and yes, it’s based on the song. “Like the song, it’s about hope, diversity, and also pushing back against the forces of oppression,” Mitow explains. Besides an on-point exhibition, it’s a good way to get to know more about what makes Superfine! — and Miille and Mitow as art collectors themselves — tick.
But it’s not alone in boldness. Other curated and special projects include Plastic Jesus’ controversial, visceral and darkly wry sculpture For Your Consideration, a life-size nude of Harvey Weinstein reclining, odalisque-like, with a carefully placed Oscar statue. It appears courtesy of fair exhibitor Wallspace. “When we realized it was available,” Mitow says, “we knew we had to have it!”
This choice is so much more than cheeky, however, as they are dedicated to keeping diversity and politics front-of-mind throughout. “The difference with Superfine!,” Mitow says, “is that we focus on making the whole art fair experience accessible and transparent. This includes spotlighting more work from underrepresented artists — LGBTQ, artists of color and female artists." In fact, he notes that the exhibiting artists at the L.A. edition are at least 50 percent women.
Mitow doesn’t want to pick favorites, but he’s especially enthusiastic about a pair of installations curated with Art Attack SF, one by Harumo Sato and, on opening night, a hybrid of muralizing and live body-painting by Skin Wars champion The Tracy Piper. Philadelphia’s Paradigm Gallery has organized a series of large-scale paintings by Baltimore painter Jasjyot Singh Hans, monumental depictions of women who majestically defy conventional beauty standards.
The fair’s other motto is “your local global art fair,” and this is manifested in the ways in which each city’s edition reflects not only an international mix of galleries and artists but also strong outreach within the cities themselves. "We feel strongly about building a Superfine! community in L.A.," Mitow says, and along with that a sense of reciprocity between and among the exhibitors and audiences. “Come out to support your friends,” Mitow says, “and be prepared to make new discoveries.”
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Magic Box L.A. at The Reef, 1933 S. Broadway, downtown; Fri., Feb. 15-Sun., Feb. 17, noon-10 p.m.; $10. Opening party: Thu., Feb. 14, 7-11 p.m.; $75. Superfine.world.