Upgrading in Miami: Aqua to add warehouse space
Aqua Art Miami, the coziest of Miami's fairs, is close to finalizing a major upgrade: Aqua is in the final stages of negotiating a three-to-five-year lease for a warehouse space in Wynwood, not far from the Rubell and Margulies collections, fair owner Jaq Chartier told me. Chartier wouldn't tell me exactly where the building will be because she and her husband, fair co-organizer Dirk Park, are still finalizing the contract.
As a result of the warehouse addition, Aqua plans to offer two spaces this December: The 'traditional' space for 42-43 galleries at the Aqua Hotel, and what Chartier calls a "slightly upscale" warehouse for another 40ish galleries. "Sometimes hotels are given short shrift by collectors who see them as lower on the totem pole," Chartier said.
Not only is Aqua going warehouse, but it plans to reconceptualize how galleries and visitors experience the Miami fairs. Gallery spaces at the Aqua warehouse will be as large as 500 square feet, 60 percent larger than the gallery spaces at NADA. And Aqua wants to do away with the aisles-and-booths layout of most fairs. "What we want is a sense of contained rooms," Chartier said. "We want people to have a sense of being in a gallery space. It will be more of a museum-type space, where you flow into rooms instead of down aisles."
Another change from the fair norm: Because Aqua will be leasing the entire warehouse year-round, Aqua plans to build permanent walls for its gallery-booths. Expect prices for dealers to run around $40 per square foot. (Last year NADA charged about $30 per square foot, a figure which is expected to increase for 2007. I've heard several reports from Miami that fair organizers are seeing a dramatic increase in their rental costs, with space rentals as much as tripling.)
I asked Chartier if Aqua conceived the expansion to target NADA and the collectors who consider it No. 2 after Art Basel Miami Beach. "Definitely," she said.
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