If you have spent the last 15 years under a rock at Coral Castle, in traffic in Kendall, at a cocktail party in Pinecrest, waiting for the U or Fins to win again, for our foreign engagements to end, or for a repairman to show up, perhaps you are unaware of the basics of Art Basel, the Super Bowl of the Arts, aka the Greatest Show on the Beach. Let me help.
History: In the end of the 20th Century, Art Basel sought an American site to market art. Miami seemed to be at the geographical center of the Americas. Originally scheduled for December 12-16, 2001, it was cancelled, the actual debut occurring in 2002. Since early December then exposed numerous hotel vacancies in Miami, lots of wealthy New Yorkers and internationals were happy to vacation in the sun and sand. Satellite fairs brought more action to the city.
Overview: Art Basel began virtuously devoted to art. Of course, money crept in. Entertainment merged. Parties erupted. To see and be seen became de rigueur. Celebrities arrived. Soon Basel couldn’t be missed. Flacks and liquor companies hawked crass business opportunities. Hustlers subsided somewhat (wrong commercial venue). Never having attended Art Basel became a conversational embarrassment. Now, in 2015, Art Basel is a democratizing event we are deeply proud of – with caveats and fingers ever-crossed.
Plot: People need a plan. People need a plot. People need a lot. You need a spot. Since Miami traffic has reached epidemic proportion, and public transportation is generally criminal, options are limited. Go early, park, ride a bike, rent a bike, walk, and go home late.
Setting for the Major Players: On the Beach: Art Basel, Miami Beach Convention Center; Scope, 1000 Ocean Drive; Design Miami/, Meridian Ave. and 19th; UNTITLED, Ocean Drive and 12th; PULSE, 4601 Collins. Avenue; NADA, The Fontainebleau 4441 Collins; MIAMI PROJECT The Deauville 6701 Collins
In the city: Art Miami and CONTEXT, 3101 NE 1st Avenue; Pinta Miami, Mana Wynwood 318 NW 23rd Street; Miami River Art Fair, Miami Convention Center @James L. Knight Center, 400 SE Second Avenue.
Characters: 4,000 plus artists from 267 galleries at the primary venue alone, hipsters, celebrities, collectors, students, tourists, Palm Beach seniors, fashionistas, performers, valets, waiters, hotel staff, police, Uber drivers, security, the clueless.
Twists: Everyone in the world feels compelled to visit Miami during Art Basel. Navigating is a problem. Eating well can be difficult. Patience will be challenged. Tow trucks in Miami are our most efficient businesses and not hospitable. Van Gogh’s are costly.
Conclusion: Take the chance.