The Art World Occupies Miami for Art Basel and Other Local Fairs
In its 10th edition, the weeklong event that flies under the banner of its biggest draw — Art Basel, Miami Beach is taken over by the art world with spaces throughout the city showcasing both new and established artists in every possible medium. Art Basel and the many satellite fairs that have popped up around it have grown from a niche festival for art world insiders into an event that now attracts a massive international crowd of art tourists, celebrities and curious locals. While there is plenty of art and design to devour throughout the city by day, the party doesn’t stop when the fairs close their doors at night. Local venues and opportunistic brands take advantage by throwing parties for the hip and well-funded crowds that go well into the wee hours. With a heavy concentration of stunning talent alongside the formidable buying power that converges on the city, Art Basel has stamped a big red X on the collective art world’s calendar for the first week of December.
Thanks to the success of Art Basel and the many fairs that run the same week, Miami is now a major destination on the art world map. The city has seen an explosion of gallery openings that has brought with it press and buyer attention, not to mention the enticing climate and opportunities to show work for artists willing to relocate. The Miami Art Museum is currently under construction on an ambitious new building designed by architects Herzog & de Meuron that will only raise Miami’s profile as one of the world’s premier art cities.
NADA Art Fair at the Deuville Resort in North Miami Beach was home to some of the more adventurous work of the week, with the majority of artists and galleries residing just off the beaten path. This lack of notoriety however, was in no way reflected in the quality of the work - which was often unique and impressive.
Not all the art was confined to galleries either. Notorious prankster and star of last year’s conversation piece Exit Through The Gift Shop, Mr. Brainwash took over the Boulan condo building on Collins Ave. with his signature appropriation pieces involving Mr. Potato Head, Storm Troopers and even Pablo Picasso. In a like-minded vein, a tongue-in-cheek campaign offering Ca$h for your Warhol were found at the PULSE art fair and various locations around town, including a well-placed billboard on North Miami Avenue.
Art Basel remained the week’s anchor with top-shelf talent presented by many of the world’s premier art galleries. There was so much to take in that it wasn’t uncommon to see wide-eyed spectators strolling right by original work by the likes of Jean-Michel Basquiat or Robert Rauschenberg. This year’s massive exhibition space was well-curated with a user-friendly layout (complete with refreshment bars and astro-lawn oases), but unless you had the luxury of multiple days to thoughtfully navigate all the booths, it was hard not to be overwhelmed by the sheer size of it. For those who reached their mental capacity for art intake, people watching — including frequent celebrity sightings — proved to be an equally entertaining alternative.
The PULSE art fair in downtown Miami took advantage of the city’s idyllic weather by mixing indoor and outdoor spaces to create a refuge for visitors looking for a break from the fluorescent lighting and stiffer environments found at some of the other exhibitions. Also boasting an impressive lineup of international talent, PULSE laid claim to some of the week’s most inventive and enjoyable pieces. They also hosted several lounges where visitors could enjoy a bit of shade and a drink, not to mention some amazing pizza prepared direct from the fires of their mobile oven.
A multi-store shopping center may not seem like the ideal destination for an art exhibition, but readily available parking and a convenient location in Miami’s suddenly booming Midtown area made Art Miami the most consistently crowded event of the week.
The Wynwood Art District began to establish itself eight years ago with a mere four galleries. The area now counts more than 40. In the Wynwood District, graffiti mixed freely with so-called high art and, especially at night, took on a circus-like atmosphere with food trucks, boom boxes and street performers all vying for attention. At the Wynwood Kitchen and the associated Walls and Doors project there was a mix of permanent pieces by artists like Shepard Fairey, Retina and Futura, as well as space dedicated to a rotating cast of up and coming artists.
Not far away, the distinctly more upscale Design District had its own mix of galleries, high-end furniture and clothing stores (a Christian Dior pop-up shop for example) and restaurants owned by world famous chefs like Michelle Bernstein (Sra Martinez).
With such an eclectic mix of art and culture from top dollar to bargain basement, it’s no wonder the tropical climates and stylish streets of Miami have become the hottest place to be each first week of December. We’ve already got our swimsuits on standby and calendars marked for next year.
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