Barbidoesmiami

and escapes the rising water…


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Gone Dutch

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My twin daughters Kiki and Leila are reintroducing me to my birthplace. To them, the country I couldn’t leave fast enough at their exact age is everything they want; the Dutch scale feels manageable, people use bikes instead of cars, the weather isn’t extreme (no hurricanes or bomb cyclones), the architecture is either historic or cool, college is affordable, the older generations seem relatively levelheaded and the boys are cute.

I left the Netherlands because life felt too small, too oppressive and too incestuous. My stepfather had just left my mom for one of her best friends –a woman whose kids I’d been babysitting and whose ex-husband suggested that I  leave Amsterdam to study fashion design in London.

Every adult I knew had been married to someone I knew and was screwing someone else I knew and it felt like most of my peers were somehow related to me. I wanted to  move beyond the sex appeal of a teacher, a neighbor or the lover of my best friend’s mom. I had to see what the rest of the world was doing. I first moved to Paris, then Australia and then London, where I did study fashion and became a fashion designer. After ten years in London I moved to New York and I’ve spent the last nine years in Miami.

Last December, between Christmas and New Year, my mother turned ninety, so we went to Amsterdam for her big birthday bash. There, in the modernist bungalow of my mother’s friend Petra, where I’d spent many hours dreaming about a future beyond the Netherlands while reading her husband’s Playboy magazines, gathered my entire family as well as all my mother’s friends –the free-lovers of the seventies many of whom I hadn’t seen in decades. Iona, Kiki and Leila couldn’t believe that I had real cousins and they had second cousins who were their age — an entire family they didn’t know existed.

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In the days that followed, Kiki, Leila and I visited the fashion academies in Antwerp and Arnhem and the design academy in Eindhoven. When we returned to Miami in January, they applied (and were accepted) to Cooper Union, Pratt, Parsons and RISD, but Holland stayed on their mind. In March we returned and Kiki took the Eindhoven Design Academy’s entrance exam and Leila did the Arnhem, ARTEZ Fashion, interview and practical test.

When my daughters were very young we moved full time to our weekend home in Milford (Pennsylvania) because of the nearby Homestead School, an amazing Montessori school run from a family farm on eighty acres that’s powered by solar panels. They took classes in a teepee, a Quonset hut and a geodesic dome, performed plays on a stage in the woods, grew vegetables and made art  in a converted barn. In 2009 we moved to Miami and stayed, mainly because of DASH, the Design and Architecture Senior High School, that has rightly gained a reputation for being the best design school in America.

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Early April, Leila heard that she had been accepted by Artez Fashion, the alma mater of Iris van Herpen and Viktor and Rolf. Two weeks later Kiki got news from Eindhoven, the best and hardest to get into design school in Europe, that they would love to have her. What started as an unlikely dream was fast becoming reality, and in the months that followed they got Dutch passports and looked for places to live.  I recently signed leases on two cute student rooms in Arnhem and Eindhoven. It felt like I was tentatively reattaching an umbilical cord of my own.

But isn’t it poetic that Kiki and Leila will continue their design education in the Netherlands? They don’t know the ghosts and ambitions that made me run away. They have their own individual paths and it seems only natural that their instincts complete a circle that is helping me to accept and even love my past, my choices and the place where I was born.

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ART, what is it good for…?

Beg Borrow and Steal Show at the Rubell Family Collection

Its over.

One week of feeding frenzy art exposure that had as little to do with the act of the individual expression of divine inspiration as a car show. Art Basel Miami, exhibited at the convention center and other locations around town, was all about the commodification of art. Like the stock market. Thousands of people milling around halls and halls, and booths and booths stuffed with art ready to take the gamble like they were looking for  a lucrative stock portfolio.

An art overdose. An art oxymoron. OK. I know. You gettit. But let me tell you, among all that art and trend, there was hardly any Green.  I’d been pitching the story of “what’s new in green art” to websites like Planet Green, Inhabitat and Treehugger, but phew I’m glad I got no bites because there was nothing to report.  No thing. Nada. NADA was incidently the name of the edgier art show at the Deauville Hotel in North Beach, walking distance from my home, where the Beatles had played in the sixties and it hasn’t been renovated since. The  stale baroque carpet and duck taped doors were supposedly cool and funky, and so all the cool and funky peole stayed there. But my favorite show was Pulse, at the old Ice factory, where that whacky halloween party took place a month ago, the best art, the best setting, the most together mix of people.  Pulse’s old warehouse environment  did not diminsh the art as much as the convention center (still reeking from last month’s wine show) did. Like Pulse had Maria Jose Arjona, the Pain Resistant performance artist who stood on blocks of ice spiked with large nails, which became exposed as the ice slowly melted. As a fakir she stood all day,  blocking out pain, cold and the sight of drones of people ew-ing and ah-ing, watching, pointing and laughing. One woman in the audience said, “OH NO, her hair keeps falling across her eyes.” “Please,” I said, “thats the least of her problems. Like hypothermia and tetanus come to mind…?”

Is art shown at a trade-show still art? Or is it f-art? I mean there are trade shows for everything commercial. Cars, wine, porn,furniture and fashion all use trade shows as a means to connect to their markets. But isn’t art  more? And best understood within the context of the artist’s life, mind, raw loft, rickety farmstead? Call me a romantic, but I want the entire art experience. I used to do trade shows myself. Every season, sometimes four times a year, in London when I had a collection called Giraf and then  again in New York at the Javitz when I did a kids clothing line, called Baby Gordon. And I can tell you, with authority, that trade shows are like being cast  into outer philistine space. They suck unless you’re really really hot. But boredom and not inspired creativity was modus operandus at Basel Miami where the art representatives escaped on their MACs, traveling to virtual worlds (Googling old boyfriends?) beyond their tiny cubicle and the bourgeois crowds.

Of course there were some really cool things with which I shall now debunk myself and I took lots of pictures  for Alastair’s WSJ blog, best Basel Miami blog on the market, and when I picked the projects I liked to photograph I also picked my favorites, all of which are posted on Miami Street Style, and some here:

orgy lamp at Moss, Design Miami

light up books at Pulse

Okay Mountain Store at Pulse

planes at Pulse

red hammocks to relax at Pulse