One could be forgiven, especially after a mojito or two, for mistaking Miami Beach’s Collins Drive for Portland’s Northwest Everett Street during the annual mega-art fair known as Art Basel Miami Beach. A greater-than-normal concentration of Portland art scenesters descended on the fair and its satellite expositions this year, owing either to the improved economy or the allure of escaping a particularly bitter-cold week for South Beach’s montage of gauzy sundresses, tanned bodies and umbrella drinks. Oh, and art. Plenty of art.

Portlanders were everywhere, and they were doing well. PDX Contemporary Gallery's director, Jane Beebe, reported excellent sales at the gallery's booth at Miami Project, one of dozens of smaller fairs complementing Art Basel. Beebe and assistant Caitlin Moore were showing wares by beloved Northwest sculptor Marie Watt, as well as fantastical-landscape painter Adam Sorensen, who also had work at the Pulse art fair, courtesy of Seattle's James Harris Gallery. Portland Institute of Contemporary Art executive director Victoria Frey visited with Elizabeth Leach at Leach's gallery booth at Pulse, while PICA's Jane Kate Wood, formerly director of Victory Gallery, helped coordinate the institute's party at the Standard Hotel and Spa, complete with film, dance and sound performances. Painter Eugenia Pardue was spotted en route to the Context art fair; Damien Gilley wound his way through the cavernous main fair at the Miami Beach Convention Hall.

Two artists familiar to Portland gallerygoers had work in Toomey-Tourell Gallery's room at Aqua Art Miami: Matthew Picton, who for years showed at Mark Woolley Gallery and Pulliam Gallery, and Monica Lundy, whose drawings and sculptural installations were a fixture at the (now sadly closed) Ogle Gallery.

It's good for Northwest artists to expose their cloud-clouded eyes to the ruthless glare of the international art scene. Yes, the contemporary art market is a racket, and yes, fairs like Art Basel Miami Beach are more about flash and cash than ideas. But with the possible exception of Henry Darger, living in a hole never did any artist any favors. Circulation, aeration and agitation are what fuel artistic growth.

SEE: For more information about Art Basel Miami Beach, visit