art basel: inside manita and randy's apartment

Guest post by Rose Zgodzinski
Photos by Michael Vaughan

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Randy and Manita

Randy and Manita

The best part of Art Basel for my husband Michael and I is the visit to Manita & Randy's Bayside condo. Manita Brug-Chmielenska is the reason why we go to Art Basel. She is an old friend from Toronto who relocated to Florida originally to investigate southern vegetation (when she was practicing landscape architecture). She found Randy Burman in a neighbouring studio, stayed, married him and became a principal in his graphic design firm, IKON Communications and Marketing Design.

For years Manita has been saying "You've gotta come down and see this! It is the Olympics of the art world! We've taken her advice and this year's annual trek to Art Basel marks our fourth visit. I would be lost without Manita's daily telephone debriefing sessions during Art Basel week—she is the indispensable insider's guide with advice on what to see, what to avoid, restaurant and even traffic and parking suggestions.

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We always manage to get in a visit in to their apartment. This year Manita, has organized a morning brunch, in order for all their visiting friends (collectors, out-of-towners, artists) to get together.

Their amazing apartment, which has been organized around a burgeoning art collection (or "Living with our Obsession" as Manita calls it), has been amassing for the past 17 years and reflects their eclectic sensibilities.

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Manita describes their collection as "Guided by intuition, personal preferences and sensibilities that lean towards Dada and Art Brut, we have surrounded ourselves with a collection of contemporary, thought-provoking, and often, witty art." The collection of 200-plus pieces consists mainly of found-object assemblages, but there are also works on paper, paintings, woodcuts, ceramics, books, collages, glass, sculpture, advertising icons, and photography.

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Visiting the apartment is also an opportunity to catch up with Randy's own artwork; also found-object assemblages and an extensive portrait project of Republicans ("Somebody's got to do it!") for a conceptual arcade-like installation.

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