A Day in the Life: Michael Rush
A Day in the Life: Michael Rush
To get at the real insider experience of being at Art Basel Miami Beach, ARTINFO asked several art world figures—a dealer, an artist (actually two), a collector, a consultant, a PR representative, and, in this case, a museum directorto tell us about the wheeling, dealing, wining, dining, schmoozing, courting, negotiation, resting, and—oh yeah—looking at art that they do in a day at the fair.
As director of the Rose Art Museum of Brandeis University, home to one of New England’s best contemporary collections, Michael Rush is much in demand at Art Basel Miami Beach, and he does much demanding. A specialist in video art and a former director of the Palm Beach Institute of Contemporary Art, Rush took a moment out of the madness to wearily reel off his schedule for Wednesday, December 5, his second day at the fair.
7 a.m. Gets up at the Continental Hotel, goes for a swim in an unheated pool. “Then it’s off to the races.”
8:15 a.m. Eats a microwaved egg-and-cheese sandwich at a pastry shop with two curators who are working with him on “Broken Home,” an upcoming Rose exhibition that will re-create a 1997 Greene Naftali Gallery show in New York that featured work by Vito Acconci, Robert Gober, and others.
10:30 a.m. Back to the hotel to check email and talk to his staff in Boston. “I have a museum to run, and two light bulbs went out in one gallery.”
12:00 p.m. Arrives at the fair. “As soon as you walk in the door, it’s people you know. I used to work in Palm Beach, so that adds another layer.” Before he can see any art, Rush overhears the perfect harried Basel conversation: “A 70-year-old man turns to his wife and says, ‘I don’t think we’re moving fast enough. I can feel it.’”
12:30 p.m. Bumps into Matthew Kozol, one of the Rose’s board members. “He was telling me about all his Mike Kelleys and Martin Kippenbergers, and I’ve never even been in his home! In Miami, people open up more. The first thing I’m doing back in Boston is paying him a visit.”
1 p.m. Takes a cell-phone call from a donor who has just donated a $1.5 million collection to the Rose but is staying anonymous. They work out the details of shipping the works to Brandeis.
1:30 p.m. Meets with a prospective board member for the Rose, a Boston-based collector the museum has been courting. “I hope we get him.”
3 p.m. Meets with Fergus McCaffrey, a New York dealer, about a conceptual photographer whose work he wants to buy.
4 p.m. Further networking, this time at the booth of Gasser & Grunert, a New York gallery, about a work by Tim Roda that he has put on hold. About the shopping element at Basel: “It’s fun.”
6 p.m. Drinks which may turn into dinner” with four curators from around the country at Talula at Collins and 23rd.
7:30 p.m. Attends the Whitney Museum/David Yurman party at the Sagamore Hotel.
11 p.m. Drinks at the Loews Miami Beach Hotel. “A couple of my board members are staying there. I suspect I’ll run into Jonathan Lee and his wife Barbara.”
2 a.m., Thursday, December 6 Bedtime at the Continental. Even though he only has one more day in Miami, Rush says, “It’s crazy—I’ve barely started looking at any art.”
Ted Loos is executive editor of Art+Auction. His wine column "In the Cellar" appears on ARTINFO every other Wednesday.