Basel. For nine years, the word has signaled a sudden explosion of art in Miami, an event that encompasses much more than the official exhibition at the Miami Beach Convention Center. With so much to see in so little time, without guidance one could easily be overwhelmed or even disappointed as Art Basel attracts the fantastic and the mediocre. This list will help make sure you have an incredible experience during Art Basel 2010 (Dec. 2 – 5). It includes the essentials, a few often-overlooked gems, and a dark horse or two.
1. NADA Art Fair @ the Deauville Beach Resort
NADA is essential and, better yet, FREE. Last year it moved from the Ice Palace to the Deauville, where it garnered more attention than previous years, even stealing some of the main fair’s sales thunder. NADA has been on a roll and will certainly be worth the trip north up the beach. Stop by Friday after sundown and catch “Manual Transmission Miami”, analog projections around the Deauville’s pool, including contributions from Ben Alper, Matthew Gamber, Rachel Herman, Jeff McLane, and David Smith. Learn more HERE.
2. Art Basel Miami Beach @ the Miami Beach Convention Center
Sure, the official Art Basel exhibition can be pretentious and expensive (see ticket prices HERE). But for every Warhol-lined gallery, you will find a gallery that spent its money on a cutting-edge installation or performance. Try to get into the Vernissage on Wednesday. There are passes up for grabs all over the city. Now would be a good time to call up that friend who works at the Bass or interns at Bernice Steinbaum. Learn more HERE.
3. Aqua @ the Aqua Hotel
After an impressive year in Wynwood, Aqua returns to the hotel that made it the most reputable of the hotel fairs. Last year, it provided quite the eclectic mix of West Coast artwork and managed to compete with NADA and Pulse for consistency. This year, expect more of the same. The reduction in space should only boost the quality of the art on the walls. Learn more HERE.
4. Pulse @ the Ice Palace
Under a new director, Pulse seems to be shaking things up a bit this year with “a new focus on the city and culture of Miami,” including the city’s local eateries. With its top-notch galleries, the IMPULSE section of solo artist booths, a slew of performances and special events, and an impressive sculpture garden, Pulse is always near the top of everyone’s Basel list for a reason. Learn more HERE.
5. Miami’s Independent Thinkers — Art Basel 2010 Satellite Fair @ Casa Wynwood
Art Basel is notorious for neglecting the artists of its host city. For the second year in a row — and with increased vigor — Miami’s Independent Thinkers is taking matters into its own hands. In the heart of Wynwood, the fair will include live music and DJ sets, performance art, fashion, and great food, all by artists and creatives from Miami. Learn more HERE.
6. Seven @ Wynwood
Here’s my wild prediction: Seven, a brand new fair on the scene, will be this year’s standout and newsmaker. With a limited but impressive roster of seven galleries, including Postmasters Gallery and Winkleman, a number of one-artist installations, and collaborative project spaces, Seven is going for quality over quantity. And in a week of aesthetic overload, that might be a winning strategy. Learn more HERE.
7. Art Miami @ Midtown
In its 21st edition, Art Miami returns to Midtown touting itself as “Miami’s premiere anchor fair”. Last year, Art Miami thoroughly dashed my high expectations. But with a proven track record, the fair that boasts our city’s name is still worth a visit. Learn more HERE.
8. Ink @ the Suites of Dorchester
Focusing on contemporary works on paper by international artists, Ink has been a Basel fixture since 2006. I’ve never been, but if Paddy Johnson over at Art Fag City says it’s a “fantastic show,” it must be worth it. Learn more HERE.
9. The Wynwood Walls
Launching at Art Basel 2009, the Wynwood Walls features murals by top street artists, including Shepard Fairey and Swoon. This year, influential contemporary artists (Ryan McGinness, Ben Jones, avaf, Dearraindrop, and others) will complete six new murals. There will also be nightly video-art screenings, a sticker wall by DB Burkeman, and an installation entitled “Wynwood Doors”. Learn more HERE.
10. Street Art and Impromptu Installations/Performances/Happenings
When walking around Miami next week, make sure to keep your eyes peeled and ears perked. Basel attracts a slew of interesting characters and starving artists, all of them trying to steal the art world’s attention, if only for a moment. That means you could witness something amazing at any time, which, in the end, is what makes Art Basel special.