Art Basel: Go Inside with Janis Cecil

Janis Cecil
Janis Cecil

Art Basel Miami Beach is heading into its 17th year as America’s biggest art fair, and gallerist Janis Cecil will be there to take in the festivities, as she has every year. In her long arts career, which includes tenures as Sales and Publications Director of Marlborough Gallery and now Founding Director of Blain | Southern Gallery (with outposts in London, Berlin and New York), Cecil has exhibited at all three Art Basel iterations – Miami, Hong Kong and the original in Basel, Switzerland.

Elliman Insider sat with Janis to find out what she is looking forward to at this year’s Art Basel Miami Beach fair, and her favorite memory from fairs past. 2019 marks the seventh year Douglas Elliman returns to Art Basel as a premier sponsor.

Elliman InsiderDo you have a favorite Art Basel memory?

Janis CecilA favorite memory during Art Basel Miami Beach was the premiere gala in 2013 for the new campus of the Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) by the Pritzker Prize-winning architects Herzog & de Meuron. As an exhibitor at the fair that year, I rushed from our stand at the Miami Beach Convention Center to make a quick change for the evening’s festivities. Sited on Biscayne Bay, the museum’s grand terraces and expansive views offered stunning vistas, and it seemed a perfect moment for a new vision of what art in Miami could be. Since Franklin Sirmans joined PAMM as Director in 2015, the exhibitions and events have become even more ambitious and dynamic, fulfilling the promise of that starry evening six years ago.


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EI: What’s something new this year at Art Basel that you’re looking forward to?

JC: “Unlimited” is one of my favorite sections of the original Art Basel, held every June in Switzerland, and this year is the first time Art Basel Miami will host an equivalent exhibition platform, titled “Meridians”. Sited at the Miami Beach Convention Center’s new Grand Ballroom, Art Basel VIPs will have a special opportunity to preview the monumental works and performances on Tuesday afternoon. As in Basel, I look forward to seeing challenging works by a range of international artists that would never fit in an average gallery stand.


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EI: Aside from Art Basel, what other fairs are you planning to attend?

JC: As an exhibitor at Art Basel Miami Beach for thirteen years, it was amazing to see passion for art expand throughout cosmopolitan Miami, encompassing new neighborhoods every year. This year I will attend the opening events for Unlimited, Art on Ocean Drive next to Lummus Park in South Beach, and the NADA Miami Fair at Ice Palace Studios in downtown Miami on Thursday morning. Independent Curators International (ICI) will host their Leadership Council Luncheon near NADA, where one can also support their groundbreaking curatorial initiatives through the purchase of a special series of limited editions – the most practical for those of us in the North is the vibrantly colored scarf by Maurizio Cattelan.


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EI: What’s one thing everyone should do while at Art Basel?

JC: The Wynwood Arts District is an absolute must-visit while in Miami. This year is the 20th anniversary of The Margulies Collection at the Warehouse, a nonprofit institution that presents seasonal exhibitions drawn from the collection of Martin Z. Margulies, while serving the greater Miami community through educational programming and outreach. The Rubell Family Collection and El Espacio 23, founded by Jorge M. Perez, open extraordinary new exhibition spaces in the Allapattah neighborhood in Miami this year.  Located west of Wynwood, these two collections make for a remarkable visit. Even the most jaded gallery goer should be prepared to be moved – inside and out.


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EI: What’s a restaurant everyone has to try?

JC: Miami has a surfeit of delicious restaurants with every type of cuisine, but a favorite is the intimate garden and dining rooms of Casa Tua on James Avenue in South Beach. For dinner while downtown or after a visit to PAMM, I would never miss Boulud Sud, Daniel Boulud’s pan-Mediterranean restaurant that is as gorgeous as it is delicious.


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EI: Where do you escape from the craziness for a bit? 

JC: Early morning visits to the beach provide a sure way for a brisk wake-up. My best attempts at a yoga class or a run on the treadmill don’t always prove successful, but daily practice of Transcendental Meditation (TM) is the one thing that I cannot do without.


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