Mike Jean Pierre
For part 1 of our series #behindbasel, we sit down with local Mike Jean Pierre. Jean Pierre is a product designer and line builder of 18+ years, he dabbles in real-estate and art investment. While he is passionate about design, he also enjoys extreme physical activity excursions and is the head organizer for a Meetup and Facebook group called “Attract-Athletic”. A group for people who are all about sports, action, adventures, staying active, and meeting new people in the process
“the Miami Art scene is a combination of an artists sacrifice and dedication clashing with the vapid faux-culture/materialism that’s become very prevalent in our city. It’s “cool” to go to art parties more than it’s cool to talk about the art. It’s annoying, but better that than no art and no appreciation for it at all.”
How would you describe your taste in art?
I appreciate nearly all eras and mediums, but I have strong opinions when it comes to abstract expressionism. I know artists who create works to provoke and to troll their audience and ones who are sincere but their work is on the “self-indulgent” side, meaning it’s a vision that only exists for them and cannot be shared. I don’t typically like that kind of art. What really inspires me is when there is an intricate and intense focus demanded of some art. An example would be Hyperrealism art – where an artist creates a work with such exact and extreme detail, you can’t distinguish the art from a photograph. It’s a display of technical skill more than anything and impresses me immensely. When I know an artist shows great technical skill, I give them a license to do anything they want, like Salvador Dali – great technical skill applied to incredible, thought-provoking imagery. In contrast, I’ve seen Andy Warhol’s early work and he couldn’t draw to save his life and only through his marketing and connections achieved the status he did. Though that’s an accomplishment, I don’t like his work in the least.
What do you remember about the first Art Basel season you attended?
I remember the frenetic energy of it. Everyone in the mainstream was talking about art, not just artist and designers who were already immersed in it through trade and profession. As someone who’s been involved in art for nearly 25+ years of my life, I was surprised to see the amount of buzz devoted to it. I was like:
“Finally! People care about art.”
And there was SO MUCH of it. Trying to see it all was an exhausting mission, but I tried to get in every large gallery I could just to see not just the art, but to meet the artists and see how people responded to the work. My favorite galleries in 2017 were Scope and Pulse, followed by Art Miami. Pretty much all the big tent ones had a wide variety of excellent work.
What does Art Basel season mean to you?
I’ve been going to Art Basel every year since it’s inception so I make it a point to see a few select galleries as opposed to as many as I can. I want to be inspired, but also have to acknowledge that my time and energy are still limited. After so many years, I now find that lots of venues want to draw in the “Art Basel” crowd, but not for the sake of the art. Sometimes it’s just a bar that found some random paintings to post on their wall so they can say “Look! We’re part of Art Basel!” I don’t blame them for wanting to get some foot traffic, but it can get out of hand.
What are you most looking forward to for this years season?
This might be odd to say, but I’m always looking forward to seeing something so great, it pisses me off. I want to see something that makes me go “Fuck! I wish I’d have thought of that!” That’s when I know something was worth seeing.
What can we expect from you this Art Basel?
After trying to do a couple Art Basel’s with large groups, I find that it’s not all that practical or enjoyable trying to herd a mob. Now I prefer maybe a small group of 4 but no more than 6 people to run the galleries with.
Which fairs and shows can we “NOT MISS” during Basel?
Certain galleries have shown each year to present very high-level work. I try to always make Pulse, Scope, Art Miami, and the main exhibit at the convention center.
What are your top 3 tips to survive the week?
Tip 1: Pace yourself. Trying to hit every gallery in a single day is crazy.
Tip 2: Plot out your plan of attack before you leave the home. Figure out which galleries to go on which days and batch the ones closest together for those days. I like to do the two galleries on South Beach early. Then the next day, I’ll do the midtown Miami galleries early on another day.
Tip 3: Hopefully not too many people follow this tip because it’ll ruin my own experience, but GO EARLY if you want to avoid the nightmarish parking and traffic hellscape that the streets become during the midday/early evening hours.