I find it impossible to chart any degree of consistency of quality in the fairs from year to year. It seems that one year Aqua is good but Scope is bad; the next year Scope is great and Pulse is bad. I'm hard pressed to think of a Miami fair that was consistently exciting over 3 straight years. Lat year I thought that Aqua was really running into problems. They had expanded into two fairs -- the original one in the hotel on South beach and new one in Wynnwood. Pulse, too, last year was a major loser for me. (I know these ratings are highly subjective. Many friends disagreed with me about Pulse last year). But I found both fairs did a major turnaround in 2008. Pulse had consistently fine work from many good galleries, and Aqua seemed to have made a case for why they needed two venues.
Last year I thought that there were just too many satellites. If only a few of the fairs could contract, it would make for fewer but better fairs. Aqua was high on my list for being in need of this edit. But lo and behold, this year it was again a very strong fair. I'm always impressed with what Gallery Joe brings from Philadelphia, and my friend Gail Gibson had a strong booth from Seattle. Tom Robertello's gallery from Chicago is also a sleeper hit with fine contributions every year. At the South beach site, Paul Kopeikin was displaying his solid program while Eleanor Harwood from San Francisco had the intriguing and obsessive work of Jill Sylvia. All worth a look.
The best new "find" for me was Baer Ridgway Exhibitions from San Francisco. They have a new portfolio based on the theme of a bridge curated by Jens Hoffmann that is just flat out first-rate. It's a steal if you figure the price per photo, and the work included is fabulous. I was particularly taken with the work of Simryn Gill, Luisa Lambri, and Tim Lee. Look here to see photos of all 1o images in the portfolio. If you've got the scratch in these hard times, I think it would be tough to find a better deal than this one. Also, the non-photographic editions by Margie Livingston and Jeffrey Simmons are pretty great, too. An auspicious start for a new gallery.
That's it for Miami from me. I'll be curious to see how the scene is manifested next year after a tough financial year.