MIAMI BEACH — On the Monday before the Art Basel Miami Beach fair, as collectors and curators descended on the city, the Miami gallery owner Fredric Snitzer found himself at Hyde Resort & Residences on Hollywood Beach to begin his week of deceptively casual interactions that compose this genteel bazaar.
Mr. Snitzer, 66, had a lot riding on this fair. He was the only local dealer selected for every Art Basel Miami Beach since its 2002 debut and one of only two Miami gallerists in this year’s edition, which concluded on Sunday evening. Despite that rarefied position, and the resultant sniping from his hometown rivals, he still felt uncertain about his role in the larger art world pecking order — and hopeful about using exposure at Basel to leap to the next economic rung.
“Gagosian has hundreds of thousands of square feet in galleries all over the world,” he noted with exasperation about the powerhouse dealer Larry Gagosian, “and people in Miami think I’m the one in control?”
Unlike blue-chip name brands such as Jean-Michel Basquiat or Andy Warhol, whose paintings sell themselves, Mr. Snitzer’s represented artists include emerging talents like the 26-year-old sculptor Rafael Domenech, whose work was being showcased at the Hyde by its developer, Jorge M. Pérez, the billionaire named on the facade of the Pérez Art Museum Miami. To help distinguish the Hyde, a new high-rise just north of Miami, Mr. Pérez had commissioned a nearly $400,000 artwork from Mr. Domenech, a sprawling installation that featured Saturn-like rings above the building’s entryway and its scrambling automobile valets. Mr. Snitzer was keen to show off the installation — and Mr. Pérez’s imprimatur.