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Experiencing Art Basel with Matador Zapata Himself

With Art Basel, I turned down the noise a little bit. Instead of voraciously trying to consume every exhibit, every installation, I tried to drill down on just a few artists whose styles and personalities  are as distinctive as their installations. I also was privileged to enjoy the after parties and sail along the Miami coastline with some of the most eclectic and kind people and artists I have ever met. Those artists were Domingo Zapata and Alexander Mijares.

Being able to call Domingo a friend is a pleasure, and being able to experience Art Basel with him this year was incredible. To say Domingo is energetic is an understatement! Originally from Mallorca, he has made his home in both coasts and his neo-expressionist oil paintings and sculptures reflect the Hollywood, NYC Design District and The Design District in Miami, that he calls home. His work is frenetic, colorful and hits you with traditional and multi-media graffiti. His event Matador Zapata at Art on Rivington was an exhibit on a whole new level. Being my first of Art Basel and one where I personally arrived with the artist was thrilling. Before we left I had met another artist and friend of his Shalen who designs kimonos, and as we we were leaving we decided to throw one of them on me instead of my shirt. So I just wore the kimono with nothing underneath. That was a first for me but made the look and went with the art and exhibit perfectly. This exhibit was also the first time I had seen Domingo incorporate glitter into his work, and explained why he had been covered in glitter earlier in the day. The art was stunning, the sayings loving and provocative, and the excitement in the atmosphere amongst his guests, collectors, and press was palpable. The after party on the 40th floor of the East Hotel didn’t end until far past 4 am, and the excitement throughout the weekend didn’t either.

Domingo’s wild hair is a precursor to how he lives his life, hanging out with megastars in tiny venues, to massive parties where he seems to know everyone on a first name basis, to being honored alongside David Letterman by The Lab School of Washington for his work with learning disabled! The voracity in the spectacular way that he lives his life and how he connects meaningfully with patrons and strangers alike is a marvel to behold. He out paced us all that night and when I dragged my exhausted self to bed he would be bouncing onto the new and the next venue!

Throughout my adventures with Domingo I was able to meet another artist whose work I had only been able to admire from afar, Miami native and Alexander Mijares. He conveys a rich sensuality in his sculptures and ancient vibrancy in his multi-media paintings, his charitable work Blue Mission centering in the Dominican Republic, engendering hope through art. I think I got to see where his source of his sensuality emanates from his stunning wife Greta J. whose personality exceeds her stunning beauty. Sailing along the coast with these remarkable visions of creativity and beauty made one yearn to work however hard one needed to realize the dream floating in front of me!

I may not have seen all 279 shows from the 31 countries that were available to me, I am thrilled I didn’t, rather, I am overjoyed that I experienced, the art and the artists and the fascinating people they surround themselves with, who welcome you with open arms. I don’t think the ‘yellow-brick road’ takes you to Oz, I think it’s the brilliant artists that shine in a dim world and direct you to what is and what is possible.

The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life our souls. –Pablo Picasso