Our Man In Miami: Peter Anton Tickles Art Basel’s Sweet Spot

The only puzzling thing about seeing a vividly tricked-out thrill ride pop up in Midtown Miami for Art Week was: why it hadn’t happened long before now. As everyone knows, that mad dash folks erroneously refer to as Art Basel (which is actually the name of but one of many massive components) is the cultural equivalent of a thrill ride itself—albeit one where 100,000 of the world’s most illustrious creatives all hop on at the same time. It’s also a bit of a carnival; only in this case, the revelers all seem to have doctorates in decadence. And while there was no way in heaven or hell for even one of those top-shelf party people to catch every happening on their wish list, let alone all fit on a single thrill ride within a 5-day stint, a damn good gaggle did make a point of lining up for the attraction—and they all consequently sweetened the time of their wild lives as a result.

Yes, you guessed it: this heaping helping of praise is for Peter Anton’s Sugar & Gomorrah, the thrill ride which served as a sort of artful carny sideshow to the big tent Art Miami and its adjacent three-ring CONTEXT. If the block-long lines are any indication, Anton’s great creation also proved to be one of Miami Art Week’s most crowd-pleasingly popular sights. 

Presented by Palm Beach’s Arcature Fine Art (who’ve long handled Anton’s action) and green-lit into existence by Art Miami/CONTEXT Director Nick Korniloff, Sugar & Gomorrah combined confections and sex, and made of them one singularly sweetest sensation. Actually, it was a series of sensations, and each lasted but the proverbial blink of an eye. No surprise, considering the one-minute duration of the thrill. According to Anton, the rapid-fire frenzy of it all was highly intentional. “I wanted people to be reminded of how fast we live, and how quickly some of the best things in life can pass us by,” said Anton right after my minute-long ride-along. “I’m sure you saw the underdressed beauties and the oversized treats; but how many things didn’t you see? And how much of what you did see were you able to take in? Seems the faster we go, the less we’re able to appreciate. And there are a lot of things out there worth appreciating.”

By adding the notion of Gomorrah to the equation, Anton’s carnal candyland didn’t just suggest we stop and smell the roses, it seemed to recommend we gobble them up—thorns and all. How else to best sate our most sublime desires before the proverbial bell tolls for everyone? And while the sixty-second sexing of our collective sweet spot did in many aspects seem to evoke instant gratification, the creation is the result of one long hot summer. “We repurposed the classic 1960s Mouse Trap ride,” he explained. “Unfortunately there are only three left in existence, and of those only two are fully operational. So we spent all last summer chasing carnivals from town to town just to get a sense of what would and wouldn’t work. I can’t even tell you how much cotton candy such an endeavor entails.”

Speaking of treats, I wanted to ask Anton how many times he’d had to listen to Leslie Gore’s "Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows” and whether that or any other syrupy ditty helped to keep him going while he was creating Sugar & Gomorrah. Sadly, our chat had already exceeded its original one-minute limit. I did thought it prudent to know just how he pulled off placing such a great creation at such a prime location throughout the largest art show on earth. “That was all Nick,” said Anton. ”Arcature and I approached him with the idea and he said go for it. He didn’t ask see a drawing or a blueprint or anything. Nick’s only condition was that we make it absolutely spectacular.”

As anyone lucky enough to thrill through Sugar & Gomorrah will gladly tell you, Anton not only met Korniloff’s condition, he hit Miami Art Week’s sweetest spot, right between the heart and the mind.