Art Basel Mi­ami Beach

Global artists, 100,000 to visit, a scene and be seen at this trendy fair

Gulf & Main - - Contents -

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

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