Art Basel Miami Beach Survival Guide
Miami is changing. No more does the city exclusively bring to mind images of bikini thong clad muscle builders on roller skates and sociologically fascinating South Beach clubbing experiences, Miami is a now considered a mecca of art and design in the United States with a ever growing creative scene.
And the biggest art happening of the year is undoubtedly Art Basel Miami Beach held at the Miami Beach Convention Center, the beating heart of a week long celebration of all areas and manifestations of art and creativity, drawing in creatives (4,000) and art enthusiasts (75,000+ of them to be precise) from around the world for day and night creative revelry with a dash of debauchery, for it is still Miami after all. The fair, which takes place three times a year between Basel, Hong Kong and Miami, is considered a meeting place for the art world. But what makes Miami so special is that for the entire week surrounding the festival, the entire city becomes alive with endless creative energies revolving around all things art and design and everything in between.
Art Basel–and it’s satellite events, exhibits, openings, and fairs such as Art Miami in the Wynwood District, Design Miami, Scope, Nada, Select and countless others–is one the largest art fairs on earth; so how does one survive this colossus of exhibits, parties, after parties, panel discussions, lectures and more? Go in with a game plan, know what you’re getting into, and get ready to crash after a week of being high off this art industry bender they call Art Basel Miami Beach.
THE ORIGIN STORY
“Art Basel’s trend of fostering young and rising artists is an ethos that has been strongly upheld since its founding”
Out of 100,000 plus people involved in Art Basel, you will likely find that only a few of them actually know how Art Basel began. The history of the fair is most grounded in Miami’s cultural past as one of the country’s most celebrated havens for art and design, most notably art deco design. The event itself was founded in 1970 by Basel gallerists Arnst Beyeler, Balz Hilt and Trudi Bruckner with 90 galleries from 10 countries and over 16,000 visitors as their original statistics. Four years later they introduce a “New Trends” section to promote young artists. Basel’s trend of fostering young and rising artists is a long standing tradition and ethos that has been strongly upheld since its founding. While Art Basel Miami Beach features some of the most renowned and established Creatives from around the world, the majority of artists and designers are still rising creatives, some of them, showcasing their work for the first time. And just six years after its founding, Art Basel had reached a size of around 300 exhibitors, 21 countries, and 37,000 visitors with more fields of art from photography to film being added each year. Fast forward forty years and the numbers have multiplied exponentially. In short, Basel’s a big deal, and has been an influential presence in the art and design industries since the beginning, and it just keeps getting bigger.
WHAT TO SEE AND HOW TO SEE IT
You have four days to traverse a 500,000 square foot convention center featuring 250 galleries from over 30 countries with an estimated 4,000+ participating artists and tens of thousands of fellow attendees to deal with in the process. And this doesn’t even begin to cover the hundreds of events, parties, and dozens of satellite fairs happening outside of Art Basel throughout the week. Art Basel (unlike certain parts of the art world) operates under an open to all policy, so after tickets have been acquired and accommodations arranged, you must come to terms with the cold hard reality of any creative festival or fair: you will not see everything. You will miss things. You will likely experience moments of disappointment, envy at friends stories of some insane performance, lecture or celebrity-artist encounter that you just missed or didn’t happen know about. This can lead to melancholy, regret, and at the extreme, art rage and painfully high bar tabs. So to avoid such disastrous degrees of hyperbolical reactions, let us suggest to you a few tips for planning and organization before taking on the great Basel.
Download the Apps: Orient yourself with the floor plan, and if you want to feel particularly on top of your game, you can download Art Basel’s floor plan app to make sure you don’t waste a moment of energy per square footage. The interactive 3D map of the Miami Beach Convention Center uses GPS coordinates and allows for the names of exhibitors, artists and collectors pop up as your finger glides across the isles and booths shown on your screen. You can mark galleries as favorites and get the contact information of the participating galleries. The app also shows you tweets from Art Basel’s official twitter feed to show latest news and events happening throughout the week.
There is also a separate app for the satellite fairs for download here so you can browse through exhibitions and tag your favorites before you arrive.
Know Your Sectors: Art Basel is a wonderfully self-conscious entity. Aware of its breadth and (potentially unrealistic) scale in terms of trying to see everything, it has divided itself into sectors to help make your art encounter all the more organized and efficient:
Galleries: This is the beating heart of Art Basel with over 230 of the world’s leading modern and contemporary art galleries with works from about 4,000 internationally renowned and rising artists exercising their creativity in everything from painting and sculpting to installation, prints, photography and video and digital art.
Nova: In this division of Art Basel, galleries present new works by two or three of their featured artists. This section is singular in that it often shows never before seen projects directly from the artist’s studios.
Positions: This is where art world professionals from curators and critics to collectors come to discover new talents with the individual artists each presenting one major project.
Edition: This is the collaborative effort between established publishers of works, prints and multiples with renowned artists.
Kabinett: These participants have been chosen from the “Galleries” sector to curate exhibitions from themed group projects to solo shows in a delineated space within their booths.
Public: This sector is the collaborative brain child between the Bass Museum of Art and will showcase performances, outdoor sculptures and interventions in an open and public exhibition format at Collins Park.
Survey: This is where you will find art historical projects by solo artists, juxtapositions and thematic projects by artists from a range of fields and backgrounds.
Magazine: This sector will feature magazines from art world publishers from all over the world. Editors and publishers will be present at the show and many of the magazines contribute to the Basel’s “Salon” series of lectures, presentations and discussion by a selection speakers.
ART BASEL INSIDER TIPS FROM THE CREATIVE MAPPING TEAM
“Interact with people. Speak with artists, curators, galleries whenever you have the chance, it will open up your Basel experience exponentially.”
“Bring enough business cards!”
“Know what artists, galleries, and projects you hope to see and set out a game plan ahead of time and make sure to check online every night for new events happening that you might have missed.”
“Wear flats and keep hydrated.”
“Make sure to check out the up and coming artists in particular. They’re the heart of Art Basel.”
“If you can’t find parking, there are valet services in many of the hotels in Miami Beach. If you grab a lunch or coffee, some hotels will even stamp your ticket for a reduced price, and you can leave your care there and come back at the end of the day for a set price. This works at the Delano Hotel for sure.”
“Don’t forgot to check out the outdoor film series at the New World Symphony. Get a blanket and have a night time movie picnic with a bottle of wine, it’s a magical experience.”
“Every time you meet someone fantastic, collect their business card and at the end of the week, put some time aside to reach out to everyone at once. Networking so often slips through the cracks after events like these.”
“Bring a notebook or jab notes inside your phone. All sorts of inspiration will hit while you’re there, whether you’re an artist or not.”
“Go to Wynwood Walls to see their mind blowing open air museum of street art and then stop for coffee at Panther Coffee, they treat espresso brewing like a science.”
“Check out Miami Marine Stadium near Key Biscayne for a look at graffiti in the wild. You’ll have to enter through a hole in the fence to get there. Photographers especially will like this.”
“Hungry or in need of refuelling, go to Lincoln Road right behind the convention center. You’ll find every kind of restaurant, coffee shop and bar there.”
“Go to Key Biscayne for a break from the art world frenzy (and stop for a Cuban coffee on the side of the main road on the way to the beach!). Rent bicycles and go swimming, it’s much more authentic and ‘real Miami’ than South Beach.”
SATELLITE FAIRS DURING ART BASEL MIAMI BEACH
SCOPE: For its 14th edition, Scope Miami Art Fair will welcome 40,000 attendees, 100 exhibitors, and will feature numerous carefully selected groundbreaking works chosen by emerging artists incubator, Breeder Program.
SELECT: SELECT contemporary art fair is entering it’s 3rd installation and it’s biggest expansion yet. They will be setting up in a 40,000 square foot tent holding over 50 galleries on the beach in North Miami. Solange Knowles will be curating several of the performances, including one featuring herself and everything is open to the public with free admission.
NADA: Just a few blocks away from Select you’ll find NADA (New Art Dealers Alliance) at the Deauville Beach Resort. Free admission starting December 5-7 and for this year’s Basel, NADA will be doing special “artist editions” of clothing using images created by Jose Lerma, Amy Yao and Sarah Braman.
DESIGN MIAMI: This year marks the 10th anniversary of this Miami Design month staple which runs from December 3-7. This year’s installment was curated by designer Jonathan Muecke and will honor Peter Marino with Design Miami’s first “Design Visionary Award”
FRIDGE ART FAIR: With the overwhelming scope of massive art fairs and exhibitions, Fridge, which started in New York City’s Lower East Side, aims to bring back a bit of reality, fun and low prices back into ABMB. Taking place in downtown Miami from December 4-9, Fridge will be featuring a “Mega Mango Miami: The Great Opening” on Dec 4, with an infamous afterparty at the “Den of Inquity” in Little Havana.
CONCEPT ART FAIR: ABMB’s newest art fair, Concept, will be held on the Seafair mega-yacht in Bayfront Park in Downtown Miami from December 3-7 and will feature over 35 international galleries.
ART MIAMI: one the the nation’s leading international contemporary and modern art fairs will take place in the Wynwood Arts District. The fair will attract 72,000+ collectors, curators, art world professionals and enthusiasts. Its 25th installment will include CONTEXT Art Miami, which is dedicated to emerging and mid-career artists.
Miami Street Photography: The title explains it all. A street fair devoted to photography that takes place in Wynwood Art District December 4-7 featuring photographers such as Alex Webb, Susan Meiselas and Constantine Manos; poet/photographer Rebecca Norris Webb and National Geographic’s Maggie Stebber.
PULSE: Miami’s contemporary art fair is moving to the beach, Indian Beach Park that is. Part of this year’s Pulse projects will include the “Tangle Wood” by artist Shayne Dark and an audio installation by Jenna Spevack entitled “Birds of Brooklyn.” Pulse also started a new media and video art section called “PULSE Play” curated by Lindsay Howard in collaboration with Tumblr.
Miami Project: This art fair taking place in Midtown Miami has a specific goal in mind: connecting collectors with dealers in “the most optimal settings and context.” In other words, this art fair is all about networking and collaborating and has the Creative Mapping seal of approaval. The third installation of this satellite fair will takeplace from December 2-7.
UNTITLED 2014: While this art fair’s opening is invite only and will benefit AIDS research, the fair, hosted by New York artist Ryan McGinley, will be open to the public from December 3-7. McGinley has donated three large-format photo prints to the cause and the ACRIA AIDS research organization will be offering other objects and prints for sale at the fair.
MUSEUMS EVENTS DURING ART BASEL
Miami Museum of Contemporary Art: MOCA will be having an opening reception for Nigerian artist George Edozie called “Shifting the Paradigm” on December 2nd at 7 P.M.
Institute of Contemporary Art: There was a split in the board of MOCA and one faction started its own Museum called the Institute of Contemporary Art in the Design District. For this year’s Art Basel, the museum spin off is having an performance installation by Mexican artist Pedro Reyes entitled “Sanatorium.” They will also be having a “clinic” with receptionists and therapists that are there to “help visitors with their individual needs” with everything from hypnotizing to psychodrama.
Perez Art Museum Miami: Miami’s newest art museum wunderkind is celebrated it’s first anniversary of their Herzog & de Meuron designed museum with exhibitions by artists including Geoffrey Farmer, Beatriz Milhazes, Mario Garcia Torres, and Gary Simmons. In honor of ABMC, they will be hosting a massive party featuring electronic group Future Brown, Kelela, Total Freedom, Ian Isiah, and Maluca. Cool note: they will be performing against the backdrop of an extreme water sports show in Biscayne Bay just behind the museum.
Bass Museum of Art: During this year’s Art Basel, the Bass Museum is featuring an exhibition curated by renowned architect and designer Jerome Sans entitled “One Way: Peter Marino” showcasing work from his private collection, not to mention numerous specially curated installations and a highly anticipated opera collaboration. The exhibition will be open to the public starting December 4th.
Wolsonian-FIU Museum: This South Beach museum will be holding its exhibition “Myth and Machine,” showcasing how artists, designers, photographers and filmmakers respond to WWI.
Frost: The FROST museum will be showcasing Chinese artist Wang Wingson’s massive photo mural series “Adinfinitum.” There will also be “A Global Exchange: Geometric Abstraction Since 1950,” with 30 works showcasing geometric art.
MIAMI ART, CULTURE AND CREATIVITY DURING ART BASEL
Wynwood Walls: This mecca of graffiti art features the work of internationally renowned artists who have traveled to Miami’s design district to paint its streets with the most fantastical wall art. This Art Basel, Wynwood will be featuring new mural collaborations between Shepard Fairey and Cleon Peterson, Pose and Revok, Haas and Hahn, Faith 47 with Alexis Diaz, and with new solo works by Swoon, Case, and Kenny Scharf will be updating his existing mural. Also happening in the area, Gary Nader is a Miami Art Collector and owned of his self-professed “biggest gallery in the world” located in the Wynwood Art District and has just announced his plans to build a $50 million museum on Biscayne Boulevard in Miami to be designed by the Mexican architect Fernando Romero. He will be presenting a model of the future museum, as well as selections from his private collection at his Wynwood space this AB/MB.
Design District Art Walk: Not long ago, the Design District in Miami was considered one of the sketchiest areas of the city and certainly uncharted by the art and design industry’s “high order.” Now it has not only followed in the suite of Brooklyn and Williamsburg by transforming into a haven for hipster art creatives and design stores, but recently, it has also jumped on the luxury band wagon by opening a “high end fashion” strip with some of the most expensive brands in the fashion industry like Louis Vuitton, Hermes, Louboutin, Cartier, Dior and all the rest.
International Luxury Conference: In keeping with the theme of Miami luxury, the New York Times is hosting an “International Luxury Conference” from December 1-3 with guest speakers such as Diane von Furstenberg and Francois-Henri Pinault. Tickets send the message of the conference lound and clear with prices at $4,250 a pop.
New World Symphony: Specially for ABMB, legendary composer John Adams wil return to the New World Center for a “special evening of artistry” which will include his own saxophone Concerto. He will be collaborating with Aaron Copland, the founder of American Sound to depict a dance piece serranaded by Mexican folk tunes. December 6 at 7:30: Buy tickets here.
Miami Marine Stadium: To raise money for a restoration endeavor, the Miami Marine Stadium (designed by Hilario Candela) will be hosting a big street art exhibition during ABMB along with Art History Mural Project. The exhibition will feature artists such as Doze Green, Crash, Ron English, Risk, Tristan Eaton, The London Police and many many more. December 2-7.
YoungArts: The National Young Arts Foundation is set out to support the next generation of artists from all creative sectors and this year’s ABMB, British singer FKA Twigs will be performing on December 4th, and Mercury Prize winning artist James Blake will be performing the following day.
Locust Projects: this Miami gallery will be hosting Daniel Arsham’s latest major exhibition entitled “Welcome to the Future.” Arsham main’s stream success might be associated with James Franco, who destroys a bunch of old artifacts in one of the artist’s short films, watch it here. Arsham’s Locust Project exhibition will feature thousands of “Calcified 20th Century media devices.” This Meta head fuck exhibition opens December 4th at 7PM.
Life and Death: The record label is teaming up with promoters PLO, Poplife and Aquabooty for a massive showcase/party featuring Dixon, Bob Moses, Recondite, Mind Against, Thugfucker, DJ Tennis, and Vaal.
Tim Burton Big Eyes: Tim Burton’s newest film Big Eyes starring Amy Adams will screen (for free) at the ABMB film sector on December 5th at the Colony Theatre on Lincoln Road.
Warhol Foundation Christies Collaboration: Christie’s will be hosting a pop-up gallery of original works by Andy Warhol from the Andy Warhol Foundation. December 3-4.
Shen Wei: Chinese artist Shen Wei and the lead choreographer of the opening ceremony at the Beijing Olympics will be debuting his much anticipated painting and dance show during this year’s Art Basel Miami Beach where he will be taking over the entire ground floor of the Miami Freedom Tower with his performance art entitled “In Black, White and Gray.” The performances will take place December 5, 6 and 7. Admission is free if you reserve here.
Dates: Open to public: Dec 4th 3PM-8PM, Dec 5th 12PM-8PM, Dec 6th 12PM-8PM, Dec 7th 12PM-6PM
Locations: Miami Beach Convention Center, 1901 Convention Center Drive, Miami Beach Fl 33139
Tickets: Tickets can be purchased at venue or in advance.
Photography Copyright: Art Basel