Miami often plays host in the wintertime, but at no time more happily than during the global contemporary art fair, Art Basel. Much like its Swiss namesake, the show is logistically impressive. In town from December 6-9, it attracts tens of thousands of attendees (more than 50,000 expected this year) by showcasing over 250 international galleries, and 2,000 contemporary artists. But what makes Art Basel Miami Beach truly remarkable are the diversity of events and spaces bubbling at its periphery, and the role the event has played in helping to redefine Miami.
Official Art Basel Miami Beach events are truly great and the list of galleries alone is impressive. Areas of interest include the relatively new Wynwood and Miami Design District sectors, but most official events focus on Downtown Miami and South Beach. Exhibits include screenings and video displays in theater and performance spaces, as well as both free/public and paid/private events around the city. The bulk of paid exhibits will be held in the Miami Beach Convention Center.
Logistics for the weekend can be overwhelming, so check out the Miami Herald’s interactive locator map and browse these lists of South Beach and Mainland events. A Convention Center map might also be useful if you plan on purchasing a pass for those exhibits.
But the most prestigious art show on our hemisphere has also ignited a variety of parallel events and exhibits. The New World Center will be featuring nightly screenings of films and short videos by international artists on its 7,000 square-foot outdoor projection wall.
Performance art will go hand-in-hand with more traditional exhibits, including a lunar crater recreation on the beach, novel musical performances, and intricate constructions. The Miami Herald gives a great introduction to some of these ideas.
If you’re already overwhelmed, step away and take a deep breath because this is just a small sample of all Art Basel has to offer. Events peripheral and parallel to Art Basel have grown over the 11 years since the art show’s founding, and the options have become too numerous and intriguing to name.
Here’s a taste of a few.
1. The NADA art fair.
NADA explores nontraditional, atypical, and underexposed contemporary art and is highly regarded as an alternative to Art Basel.
2. INK Miami art fair.
INK also occurs at the same time as Art Basel and focuses exclusively on contemporary art works on paper. Sponsored by the International Fine Print Dealers Association, INK is exhibiting 20th Century collectibles and contemporary masterpieces from galleries in New York, California, and Chicago.
3. Verge art fair.
This fair is running concurrent to Art Basel. Verge is free to the public Friday through Sunday.
4. Seven art collective.
This is an innovative group and worth checking out if you have time.
If art sightseeing gives you the urge to be more liberal with your wallet, feel free to explore the intersection of art and fashion. From Harper’s BAZAAR presentations to a Prada store opening, there are plenty of fashion and retail opportunities to explore in between gallery hopping.
Miami is famous for its parties, of which there will be plenty this weekend so I leave you to find your own. The good news, however, is that epicurean delights are as in season as bright lights. For some fantastic dining options, see this fleshed out line up of old and new Miami restaurants or check out the Miami New Times Art Basel eateries list.
Whatever your Art Basel cup of tea, it is undeniable that Miami is transforming itself into much more than just a party city. The art show has gained the appreciation of the international art community, and many more benefits are blossoming around the city in tandem.