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Let’s get a little Fancy Nasty

There’s a solid gold house that sits along Biscayne Bay. It’s pretty fancy from the outside… Then it gets real nasty, real quick. A disco ball made of shattered glass hangs in one room, while crumbled drywall fills another. Etchings along the mirrors and windows hint towards an impending doom. The doors are unlocked. Nobody lives inside.

This is Fancy Nasty, the brainchild of Miami-based artist Stuart Sheldon and art collector Kathryn Mikesell. For the past year-and-a-half, the house, which belongs to Sheldon’s brother, has served as Sheldon’s art studio. But, in just a few weeks, it will be demolished and eventually rebuilt.

Before it is completely destroyed, Sheldon and Mikesell decided to turn the decrepit house into a literal work of art. Sheldon and Mikesell gathered more than 20 local and international artists and gave them free reign inside the home, in partnership with Build Crew, a nonprofit dedicated to supporting public art installations, and through a collaboration with Primary Projects, a group of artists; Your Fountainhead, an artist studio space; and Spoke, a design company. “I just asked them to respond to the space — pick a room, a tree, a wall, and before we knew it we just had this masterpiece of really organic, site-specific work,” Sheldon said. The exhibit opened during Art Basel, and the doors will remain open through the end of this month.

Walk past the pristine gold exterior, and the first thing you’ll see is Andrea Nhuch’s jarring blue bubble wrap sculpture weaved through, almost suffocating, a massive tree trunk.  “I knew I didn’t just want to wrap the tree — I wanted to have a conversation between the tree and the material,” Nhuch said.

Initially, she was going to paint the sculpture pink, but then she realized that she “wanted to do something that didn’t look like a plant … and blue doesn’t usually grow in nature,” she added. Nhuch named the sculpture Blue Moon, paying respect both to its color and also the rare opportunity to partake in an exhibit like Fancy Nasty.

Her piece is in good company, surrounded by walls tagged by renowned local and international graffiti artists, featuring work from Spoke, NOVE, t_w_o_o_n_e, Mina Hamada, Zosen, and Gustavo Amaral. “We got killer, A-list artists both from the street discipline and from the fine arts discipline,” Sheldon said.

Keep walking into the home and you’ll find old vinyl billboards lining the walls of the living room, a piece by Michael Loveland. Straight ahead, artist Jessie Laino assembled a series of LED lights shaped in a diamond along the floor facing a mirror. A bicycle-powered generator illuminates the lights. On a mirror straight ahead, visual artist Kyle Chapman etched symbols and illustrations on the glass. Chapman also etched a line into every mirror and window of the house, marking off the projected sea level in the year 2075.

To the direct left is Sheldon’s own work — a room painted entirely in gold, with $100 bills glued on the walls, spiraling in every direction. A mannequin and a gold surfboard hang overhead. Sheldon’s old, shredded paychecks fill a row of vials along the back wall, ending in a vial of his own blood. “This is my indictment of ostentation — you get too fancy and things go south eventually,” Sheldon said.

On the right side of the house, Miami-based TYPOE took a sledgehammer to the walls, completely destroying an entire bedroom. An neon sign reading, “Here you leave today and enter the world of yesterday, and fantasy,” illuminates the grey room. “It’s so ethereal and so magical and so spot-on FANCY NASTY that I can’t stand it,” Sheldon said with a grin.

A nightmare slumber party, designed by Miami-based Autumn Casey of Primary Projects, fills the back room. A deconstructed stuffed animal Bambi sits on a table, while a shattered glass disco ball hangs overhead. A chopped up doll house rests just off center. The piece is entitled Strawberrita Dreams, and was executed by Casey along with a handful of artists from Primary Projects. The farthest room features work from Guadalupe-based Benji Cospolite. It’s completely filled with old airline motors and fuselage. A perfectly white, symmetrical ladder designed by local artist Randy Burman leads up to the roof sits in a hidden closet. “It’s really the only peaceful place in the whole chaotic show,” Sheldon said.

And that’s just the beginning. The entire back exterior is filled with murals, gardens, and paintings that will soon be destroyed by a bulldozer or burned in Sheldon’s own backyard bonfire pit. And he’s inviting all of you to come roast s’mores over a delightfully artistic fire, because, well, “it’s all ephemeral anyway.”

Want to see the Fancy Nasty house yourself? RSVP to The New Tropic’s Fancy Nasty house party and bonfire on Jan. 16, where you’ll be able to meet Sheldon, Mikesell, and other local artists who helped put together this incredible, fleeting, work of art. It might be your last chance to experience all of the fancy and all of the nasty before it’s gone forever.