Hidden Treasure: Robin Rile Fine Art at the CGCC

Hidden Treasure: Robin Rile Fine Art at the Coral Gables Country Club

Article by Glenn Harris for ARTGUIDEMIAMI.COM

Art Week in Miami is said to be the worlds largest art event. This year alone there were more than two million visitors in Miami for the week. Not only were the streets crowded and nearly impossible to navigate, so was one’s calendar of events and shows to attend. Like finding the perfect piece of art for a collection, finding the right show can take one off the beaten path in search of a hidden treasure.

One of those treasures was The Robin Rile Fine Art exhibit curated by Reed V. Horth and his lovely fiance Kat Barrow. The exhibition was a story within a story as it was also the rebirth of the Coral Gables Country Club. The club which was originally built by George Merrick in 1923, had been closed since 2005. Nick Di Donato, the president of Toronto-based Liberty Entertainment Group, took over the management of the country club in 2008 and spent $3 million to renovate it. The freshly opulent country club reopened during Art Week and welcomed over 1000 guests.
Reed V. Horth, Art Dealer and Curator for ROBIN RILE FINE ART (Miami) with one of 174 works he curated for his Art Basel exhibition at the Coral Gables Country Club, Dec 2-5, 2010.

The reopening of the old and derelict venue to a modern and luxurious club became Horth’s theme for his collection in which he showcased the old with the new. He presented pieces from the art world icon, Salvador Dali along side developing artists from the University of Miami. The event benefited the University of Miami’s Lowe Art Museum.
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As I entered the open expanse of the reception area with its crystal chandeliers hanging from 30 foot ceilings above sparkling granite floors, I found myself surrounded by intimidating sculptured statues on high marble pedestals. I was somewhat taken-aback by enormity of incredible works of art and didn’t know where to start first. In total there were 174 pieces with many pieces valued at over $250,000. At that moment, the poetic movements frozen in time in Richard McDonald piece, Joie de Vivre, Nude, called me to start with it. The bronze piece of three flute playing maidens is of amazing detail and life. From that instance, I knew that I was participating in something very special.

Richard MacDonald's most important works adorn the center row of the CGCC. These works include (L to R) Joie de Vivre, Nude, Red Dress, Angelic Crystal and Romeo & Juliet

The Venus Di Milo with Drawers by Salvador Dali was one of the prized offerings at the show. It was perfectly placed behind a velvet rope in the country club’s wine vault. The piece is one of only 12 in the world and was brought in by a collector from Puerto Rico for the event. Horth’s passion for the art and the artist is evident as he wove his tale about meeting Robert Descharnes, Dali’s protege, a few years back and learning more about Dali as the artist and man.

Salvador Dali (1904-1989) Venus de Milo with Drawers (1964) Bronze edition of 12

Next to the Venus di Milo with Drawers stood the Faberge Egg offering. The pieces were by Theo Faberge, great-grandson of Carl Faberge the Russian Imperial Court Jeweler. Horth had come to know Theo prior to his death in 2007. From this relationship, Horth is now working with the family and able to represent several fine pieces from the collection.

Horth will quickly share that his first passion in art is sculpture. Be that as it may, there was an equal representation of fine paintings as well. One such artist is another fellow Canadian, Daniel Bilodeau. As one walked into the central drawing room, the larger than life pieces demanded an audience. The original oil on canvas piece, Universal Individual, was over 6 foot high and 5 foot wide. Massive and striking. The subject of the painting was a black man with dripped white paint but there’s also a fantastical graphic element in the background. Bilodeau contrasts not only the subject but the style of traditional realism with the digital surrealism. It is an expression seen throughout his works. Another striking piece was Light Touch of the same black figure with white paint in a nude embrace with a white woman with brown paint. One visitor to the exhibit referred to it as Adam and Eve and the new name has stuck.

Several of the artists that Horth works with are based locally and participated in the event. Mike Rivamonte is a sculptor who incorporates nostalgic parts of fifties era bikes, fans, and other antiques and creates new whimsical figures. Rivamonte was at the gallery and shared his inspirations as being his love of science which is expressed in his quirky robots, spacemen, and cars. His imagination along with his finds from flea markets to eBay are his chosen medium.

As one talks to Horth, one can see that he is in love with art. He loves the art pieces but also all that goes with it in terms of the artists themselves, the history, and the industry filled with collectors, agents, and brokers. He is not a gallery or a collector but a Fine Art Concierge. As with any concierge, the mission is to understand what his client wants and to get it for him at a fair price. He considers himself to be a combination of concierge and private investigator as he discovers pieces that his clients don’t have the skill, time, or ability to uncover. Horth shares his stories from his 14 year career in the art industry of working for client X (privacy of the clients is extremely important in this field) and finding them the perfect piece for a home or office.

Horth also shared why he chose to do a stand alone show versus participate in one of the larger events around town. He chose this venue as it offered him the valued ability to spend quality time with each potential client. Time used to build a rapport and to really understand what they wanted in a piece. This one-on-one approach has allowed Robin Rile Fine Art to differentiate his services from others in the industry. He shared that he or one of his team members would spend on average 45 minutes with visitors walking them through the exhibition and getting to know them. It is for that reason, many of the shows 174 pieces will be going home with a different owner.

This show was not for everyone. That’s just fine with Horth whose enlightened strategy was to provide an experience for the select client versus the masses. Much like the contrasting story of the country club being the tale of the old and its rebirth, he put together an eclectic show of opposites; well-known vs. up-and-comers, serious vs whimsical pieces, sculptures vs. paintings. Horth and his show was a treasure, delightfully not easily found and off the beaten Art Basel path.

Reed V. Horth with Daniel Bilodeau's "At Long Last" which sold during Art Basel. Photo courtesy of Carl Kruse.

For more about Robin Rile fine art and Reed Horth, visit www.RobinRile.com

What are people saying about RRFA?

In these times and any other I would be happy to recommend you.  You have shown the utmost integrity and caring guidance that [my late husband] and I could hope for.  I know that your relationship started with us as a couple and I was always impressed with your effort to achieve the best for us but I have been doubly impressed at the way you took me under your wing since his death.  I try not to be too dependent on you but you have supported my need to liquidate the collection and have gone beyond the call of duty not just as a dealer, but as what I feel and hope you do too, as a friend. I have never doubted your honesty and continue to trust that you are doing everything in your power to take care of me.  I have mentioned your name to others and will always be grateful for your expertise and professionalism.  If you should have need of a reference letter or a client would like to speak with me I would be glad to relay my very satisfactory experience in our relationship.  You have absolutely achieved your goal of making me feel like family. I have hope that these times will get better for both of us. Wishing you the best…always.” L.H. Miami, FL

I would be very happy to be a reference for you and your company. Not only did you find the piece of art I had been searching for but you delivered it to me in time for my husband’s special birthday.  Your quick response to my questions was very helpful.  I would definitely use your company again and would not hesitate to recommend you to my friends.  Thank you again” N.J. Ohio

“[We] have known Reed for many years, since he was associated with a gallery in Tampa, Florida. Over the years we have purchased and sold many beautiful pieces of art. In all of these transactions, we could not asked for a more knowledgeable and helpful person. Reed is the ultimate business man and his integrity speaks volumes. We feel blessed to be able to call Reed Horth a friend and value his amazing knowledge of the art world. Please feel free to call us … if you have any questions regarding Robin Rile [Fine Art].” B&J.H. FLORIDA

The etching is fantastic, and your service and care was top notch.  Please do not hesitate to ask for a reference” P.H., Illinois

Reed, you are fantastic!   I really appreciate your GREAT customer service.” J.W., California

I was extremely satisfied with your service and my transaction, all aspects exceeded expectation and I would be more than happy to be a reference to you and talk to any of your clients.” R.B. KOWLOON, HK

“It would be a pleasure to provide references or any support you need in order to establish yourself with your new clients.” M.F. FLORIDA

Delighted to serve as a reference”- M.A. NEW YORK

Yes, if you want a reference, I’d be happy to provide one.” D.O. IRELAND

Yes, I would assist if needed on occasion to speak to someone if you needed a reference” B.P. IDAHO

Coral Gables Country Club Opens with a Bubbly Bang


Gables club opens with a bubbly bang

The superlatives from people’s lips flowed as freely as the bubbly champagne they drank.

“Magnificent! Spectacular! Excellent!” people said as they roamed around the newly renovated Coral Gables Country Club.

The once-private club, built by Coral Gables founder George Merrick in 1923, reopened in grand style Tuesday night, an event that attracted local politicians and at least 1,000 people.

“Welcome back to our country club,” Mayor Don Slesnick told the crowd before he cut a large red ribbon at the club’s front entrance. “This is a great night. Nick. We want to let you know how happy we are with the restoration.”

Nick is Nick Di Donato, the president of Toronto-based Liberty Entertainment Group, which took over the management of the country club in 2008 and spent $3 million to renovate it.

The country club had closed in April 2008 after the Coral Gables City Commission learned that Granada LLC, the club’s former operator, had stopped paying its monthly $22,500 loan payment for more than a year.

In March, the commission paid nearly $1.5 million to Granada to settle a lawsuit the company filed against the city in July 2007.

Under Di Donato, the country club has a new look and feel.

“We made it into an event space,” he said.

Changes were made to the reception area, the front entrance, the configuration of rooms and the floors. There are now granite and wood floors where there was once carpeting.

The outside entrance has new water features and landscaping as well.

VIDEO from Coral Gables TV:


“It’s a public space where people can book events,” Di Donato said.

Richard MacDonald's "Joie de Vivre" (Nude) and "Red Dress". Half-life scale bronzes.

The club’s various rooms can accommodate from 40 to 1,000 people.

As they milled around the country club, guests snapped photos of crystal chandeliers or listened to Junior’s Band play in the reddish glow of the grand ballroom. Still others sampled a seemingly endless array of finger foods, from lamb chops to tacos and sushi.

More than anything, there is a new ethos to the place, a desire to welcome the community and make it an “epicenter,” as Di Donato put it, where people come to meet friends and celebrate milestones.

To that end, Liberty Entertainment Group enlisted Reed Horth, of Robin Rile Fine Art, to curate an art exhibit to coincide with Art Basel Miami Beach. The free event, which is open to the public, runs through Sunday night.

Horth has showcased the sculpture, photography, drawings and prints of emerging artists and so-called “masters,” including Salvador Dali, Richard MacDonald, Frederick Hart and Marton Varo. There are 174 pieces in the exhibit.

Carerra marble sculptures from Marton Varo as exhibited at CGCC by Robin Rile Fine Art

Horth said he was inspired by the fact the club was built in 1923 and it was recently updated.

“The concept of the show is a modern play on classical work,” he said.

He showed a bronze sculpture of Venus de Milo by Dali to prove his point.

“Dali updated the Venus de Milo. It has drawers. This was done in 1964,” Horth said.

John Forte, of Coral Gables, admired “Joie de Vivre,” a sculpture by MacDonald that Horth said was one of the artist’s best works.

“This is a happening,” Forte said as he looked around the packed gallery. “I think we’ve been waiting for a long time for the country club to reopen.”

He approved of the makeover.

“It’s magnificent. It fits the times,” Forte said.

Salvador Dali (1904-1989) Venus de Milo with Drawers (1964) Bronze edition of 12

More Photos from exhibit below courtesy of Daniel Bock Photography for the Miami Herald.(www.Bockimagery.com)

Curator Reed V. Horth, from Robin Rile Fine Art explaining Richard MacDonald's "Joie de Vivre" to guest.

Guest admiring Theo Fabergé's seminal "Dragon's Passion". One of only three worldwide.

Fabergé representative Kathy Kerr explaining Theo Fabergé's "Victory Egg" (L) and "New World Egg"(R) to guests.

Fabergé representative Kathy Kerr explaining Theo Fabergé's "Victory Egg" (L) and "New World Egg" (R) to guests.

Curator for CGCC Exhibit Reed V. Horth of Robin Rile Fine Art explaining Richard MacDonald's seminal "Joie de Vivre" to special guest.

Guests enjoying the carrera marble sculptures of Márton Váró.

Sculpture and Ballet: A Symphony of Movement

By Reed V. Horth, for ROBIN RILE FINE ART

On the surface, the sculpture of American Richard MacDonald and those of French Master Edgar Degas (1834-1917) could not be more different. Degas’ works were stream of consciousness appeals to his failing eyesight which allowed him a measure of creativity in his later years. MacDonald’s are precise and detail-oriented feats of balance and grace. One common thread which bound the two was an undying devotion to dance, and in particular, ballet.

(L) EDGAR DEGAS La Petite Danseuse de Quatorze ans (c.1881), Hebrard Bronze, one of approximately 29 bronzes cast between 1922-1937. Height: 98 cm (Lousine Havemeyer Collection, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Washington DC) (R ) RICHARD MACDONALD First Position: Attitude (1994), bronze on a marble base, edition of 90. 29” x 11” x 10” (Robin Rile Fine Art)

Degas’ dancers were primarily completed in his waning years, having dabbled with wax modeling early on, only to stick with painting as a primary vocation. He only exhibited one completed work during his career, “La Petite Danseuse de Quatorze Ans” (Little Dancer, aged Fourteen) in 1881. Despite its prominent place in the lexicon of major sculpture since its release, the vitriolic reception it had upon its initial showing cooled Degas on exposing his sculptural works to the public, preferring instead to keep them private.

One observer commented “The terrible realism of this statuette makes the public distinctly uneasy, all its ideas about sculpture, about cold lifeless whiteness, about those memorable formulas copied again and again for centuries are demolished.” [Czestochowski, pg. 11]

He was not thought of as merely bucking a trend in academic sculpture, but of destroying the very fabric of sculpture altogether. His flat-footed figures playfully lumber with heavy legs and feet bound thickly to the ground as if saddled by tar. Many display a deliberate and clumsy balance which, in his chosen media of modeling wax, required elaborate inner skeletons and external buttressing to keep upright. However, their doughy innocence belied a classical sentiment which struck young, impressionable sculptors causing a fresh viewing of their roots in Greek and Roman origins (often resembling Pompeiian lava victims). In the intervening years, we have come to see how Degas’ simplicity and deconstruction of human form led to advances by arguably the 19th century’s greatest sculptor Auguste Rodin, whose further strides led to the minimalists of the 20th Century, Archipenko, Arp, Brancusi and others. In other words, Degas shook the tree just enough for a few apples to fall out and fundamentally alter the course of sculptural history itself.

(L) EDGAR DEGAS Fourth Position Front, on the Left Leg (c.1885/1890), yellow brown wax and plastilene, height without base: 56.83 cm (Mellon Collection, National Gallery of Art, Washington DC) (R ) RICHARD MACDONALD Dance the Dream (2007), bronze on a marble base, edition of 75. 46.5” x 32” x 28” (Robin Rile Fine Art)

By contrast, Richard MacDonald is a contemporary sculptor whose works have not had the opportunity to be viewed critically through the eyeglass of history. What is known is that his major innovations in texture, style and patina have given voice to some of the major talent in the renaissance of modern figural sculpture, including Americans Paige Bradley, Martin Eichinger and Vietnamese sculptor Tuan. One will obviously note that Degas’ figures have relatively primitive facial features. This was due in part to his poor eyesight, but also painted works. Degas completed only approximately 150 wax sculptures which remained in his studio at his death. Only about 72 became bronzes. MacDonald, by contrast is a prodigious sculptor with over 250 editioned works, many on variable scales. This proliferation of compositions has allowed MacDonald to experiment and refine minute details which might escape the routine viewer but would drive a perfectionist to madness. Further, MacDonald’s career as an illustrator prepared him to imbue his figures with emotive features not only in facial expression but also in posture, movement and narrative. One of the many aspects which separate MacDonald from his contemporaries is precision modeling and sinewy exactitude in muscular composition. Where Degas’ textures were milky and soft, MacDonald’s evince an intense understanding of skeletal and muscular anatomy beneath the surface of the skin. Compositionally, his controlled spirals lift and twist the torso into positions which make figures seem to float lighter than air on toes which barely connect with their stage.

(L) EDGAR DEGAS Dancer Looking at the Sole of her Right Foot (c.1882/1895), yellow brown wax and plastilene, height without base: 46.3 cm (Mellon Collection, National Gallery of Art, Washington DC) (R ) RICHARD MACDONALD Study for the Rose (2005), bronze on a marble base, edition of 75. 32.25” x 21.5” x 15” (Robin Rile Fine Art)

While it is unclear how MacDonald’s commercial success will translate in the lexicon of history, Degas’ sculptures have continued to enchant audiences and debate since they were first unveiled in the years following his death in 1917. MacDonald seems poised to be on a similar plateau due to recent displays of his massive “Nureyev” at the Royal Ballet in London and the growing popularity of his “Cirque du Soleil” series, which utilizes dancers, acrobats and athletes from the many Cirque shows around the globe as models.

What is known is that MacDonald’s avid following and broad-based appeal is based upon the same attributes as those which draw viewers to the ballet in the first place…. A striving for perfection in all things beautiful. Where Degas found his voice in innovating and releasing his creative spirit late in life, MacDonald’s contemporary voice is only now revealing itself. The crescendo is building and, knowing him… It will be a precise and graceful symphony unto itself.

Richard MacDonald "Nureyev" (Third-Life, 30.5" x 16" x 11") Edition of 90 (Robin Rile Fine Art)

One must have a high opinion of a work of art – not the work one is creating at the moment, but of that which one desires to achieve one day. Without this it is not worthwhile working.” – Edgar Degas