The world's surreal art stage

    Ashland artists sell their work at famous Miami Art Week
  • Members of the world's most elite club — billionaire art collectors and blue-chip museum directors — jetted to sun-bleached Miami last week to shop.
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  • Members of the world's most elite club — billionaire art collectors and blue-chip museum directors — jetted to sun-bleached Miami last week to shop.
    The business of buying and selling contemporary works was conducted at dozens of art fairs, including the prestigious Art Basel Miami Beach, a phenomenon that stars in Tom Wolfe's latest novel, dominates art news and gridlocks the Miami Beach Convention Center every December.
    Paintings, sculptures and photographs were also displayed throughout the city in galleries, hotels and tents propped underneath a blue sky punctuated by gleaming glass skyscrapers, sleek Gulfstreams and artists' banners pulled by airplanes. "We're rich! We can do what we want," was the cloud-level statement devised by artist Jack Pierson.
    Landing into this surreal, days-long whirl of Picassos, Kahlos and other multimillion-dollar masterpieces up for grabs, were serious art collectors, fashion supernovas and the curious. P Diddy and Owen Wilson elbowed through the aisles amid casino magnates, a Libyan princess and a talkative Diane von Furstenberg.
    Quietly in the Miami Art Week mix were Ashland artists Matthew Picton and Claire Burbridge. The two are respected for their painstaking, intelligent approach to art.
    Without fanfare or a breathless media brigade, Picton sold his evocative paper sculpture and Burbridge sold an enchanting drawing at the smaller Aqua Fair, a few blocks from the hyperactive convention center.
    After hours of explaining the intricacies of their work to collectors with varying budgets, the talented couple then took a stroll on Miami Beach's fabled shore.
    Picton, who exhibits at Davis and Cline Gallery in Ashland and will have a show in San Francisco in June, presented his most recent work in which he uses text on upright ribbons of paper to create three-dimensional city maps.
    In one piece, he printed words onto heavy, hand-cut paper, then burnt sections of it to represent bombings during World War II.
    A Houston collector who saw it in the temporary space San Francisco-based Toomey Tourell Fine Art set up at the Aqua Fair bought the 34-inch-by-27-inch original for $5,000.
    Burbridge, who is also represented by Toomey Tourell, sold her latest work, "Static Flow," a pen-and-ink drawing of jellyfish on a narrow, 5 1/2-foot long canvas for $11,000. Four collectors purchased prints for $1,200.
    John Davis, owner of Davis and Cline Gallery, which sells a range of contemporary artwork by innovative artists, says shows that draw a highly concentrated, art-buying client base are the perfect venue for Picton and Burbridge, who were both educated in England and possess unique world views.
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