Art Basel Miami Beach
Global artists, 100,000 to visit, a scene and be seen at this trendy fair
VIP previews and parties happen in the days leading up to the Dec. 7-10 run.
Choosing things to do over the holidays is more about categories, there’s that much happening in Southwest Florida. Increasingly, more of us are penciling in Art Basel Miami Beach at the top of the list, jumping in the car (helicopter/private jet) and heading east over Alligator Alley.
The four-day event that begins Dec. 7 in Miami Beach is about Modernism and contemporary artforms, films, panel discussions and sensory overload spread over a large area, which is helpful, considering that some 100,000 of us will spend time visiting galleries, public exhibits, performance art, pop-up festivals and enjoying the general circus of fun and serious work by emerging and established artists.
The city is also celebrating the refurbishing of its convention center ($615 million), where Art Basel Miami Beach is staged. There are also magazine event, gallery and designer parties to visit, many by invitation, though. And celebrities, collectors and music are part of the kaleidoscope. The event has special activities for kids (for touring parents) and school groups, as well.
Satellite events and places feed from Art Basel, including the Aqua Art Miami fair at the Aqua Hotel in South Beach. This trendy event features about 50 exhibitors showcasing their artists and messages, one of 500 such fairs and gallery showings in and around Miami Beach. CONTEXT Miami and Art Miami also run concurrently, part of the Art Miami group of fairs. Design Miami is another popular venue.
VIP previews and parties happen in the days leading up to the Dec. 7-10 run. Visitors and collectors may expect tens of thousands of things to purchase, or to simply observe and appreciate. Check for ticketing, however, because an event pass runs more than $100. The Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau has estimated that hotel stays and meals alone will bring the Miami-Dade region more than $15 million, according to reports. Many, many millions more in art purchases will pass between buyers and sellers, making the event nearly as big as sporting events such as the Super Bowl that Miami again hosts in 2020.
Better strap in, though, says Maureen Watson, owner of the Watson MacRae Gallery on Sanibel, because there is so much to absorb over the course of Art Basel Miami Beach, she says. “You really have to map a course where you want to spend your time,” says Watson, who will visit Art Basel Miami Beach this season, plans to exhibit several of her artists there in 2018. “It’s a great art experience … but you’ve got to ready yourself for it. There’s more art and more variety than you imagine.”
Art Basel began in the 1970s in Switzerland as an art fair, morphed to shows in Miami Beach and Hong Kong. Buenos Aires was scheduled to host an Art Basel this year, as well. Europe’s Art Basel in June brought 95,000 visitors.
Art Basel (pronounced Baah-zel) Miami Beach, which arrived in 2002, also sprinkles lots of public dialogues with avant-garde exhibitors and artists, which has included the modernist Julio Le Parc, with publishers and others associated with high-end and pioneering art forms.
Music, food, parties and rubbernecking all this crazy stuff under the warm Miami Beach sky is at the heart of such events, however.
“It’s a great art experience … but you’ve got to ready yourself for it.” —Maureen Watson, Watson MacRae Gallery, Sanibel