Ten (out of 10,000) things to do during Art Basel Miami Beach

By | November 22nd, 2011 | 15 Comments

Update (11/30/12): Looking for an Art Basel 2012 Guide? Look no further. And make sure to gander our ABMB 2012 Music Guide. Finally, check out our ABMB Instagram contest to learn how you can win one of several awesome prizes (including a $499 Republic Bike) just for sharing your Art Basel photos. Update over.

Planning your event attack during the onslaught of Art Basel Miami Beach requires military-style logistical planning. There are events upon events upon events, some higher-than-highbrow and others with only the most tenuous connection to art. Heading into the thick of things on South Beach can be exhausting, and though a trip through the actual fair in the Convention Center is required, it’s also a way to feel poor and unwashed pretty quickly. Luckily, there are always a few standout events during the week that are free, low cost, “edgy,” “alternative,” or whatever else that makes the aching feet worth it. Here, in no particular order, are 10 offbeat suggestions for your Basel circuit. Some veer towards the party side of things, but all include art (as opposed to music, which we covered in the Art Basel Music Guide).

Max’s Kansas City at Art Basel Miami Beach

by Frank Stella

Max’s Kansas City is one of those legendary New York venues where pretty much every cool person of the period hung out. It was a favorite haunt of Andy Warhol, Lou Reed, Betsey Johnson, and other impossibly hip and legendary people through the late ’60s and early ’70s.

If you make it into the convention center for the “real” Art Basel Miami Beach, check out stand F104, where the New York-based Loretta Howard Gallery will devote its entire booth to a show paying artistic tribute to the club where pop, minimalist, and conceptual artist went to hobnob and hang loose. Works presented include those by Robert Mapplethorpe, Vito Acconci, Frank Stella, and even Willem de Kooning. The stand itself is designed by Victoria Ruskin, daughter of Micky Ruskin, the club’s owner.

Stand F104 at Art Basel Miami Beach, Miami Beach Convention Center, 1901 Convention Center Dr., Miami Beach. ABMB Tickets cost $23-$85 (weekend pass). Admission is free for children under 16 when accompanied by an adult. To learn more, visit artbaselmiamibeach.com

The Satellite Fairs

Far more galleries get rejected by the uber-exclusive Art Basel Miami Beach selection committee than accepted by it. But the score of satellite fairs that have sprung up over the past decade aim to include the galleries that didn’t make the ABMB cut — or didn’t try to make it.

Design Miami has now become an “official” satellite fair, focusing on what its name suggests, from graphic design to furniture and other objects. Scope, NADA, and Pulse are among the most respected satellites, with top-notch contemporary galleries from around the world. Aqua and Verge are somewhere in the mid-range, while Fountain (featured under its own subhead below) and Seven, a collaborative fair organized by seven New York and London galleries, are unabashedly scrappy and d.i.y. Also in the satellite cosmos are Red Dot and Art Asia, and, of course, Art Miami, the annual fair that predates Art Basel and features a lot of Latin modern and contemporary works. Finally, there’s Ink Miami Art Fair at the Suites of Dorchester, which specializes in works on paper and offers a rich, intimate experience with a different gallery exhibiting in each suite of the small South Beach hotel (see our photos from Ink during ABMB 2010).

It Ain’t Fair at O.H.W.O.W.

Mimosa by Anna Betbeze
Anna Betbeze, Mimosa, 2011, Acid dyes and watercolor on wool, 120 x 75 inches.

These days, the gallery/art book publisher/retail curator group OHWOW seems to have largely shifted its operations to L.A., despite the fact the “WOW” in its name stems from its original location west of Wynwood. Still, the company has maintained a retail store locally in the Standard Hotel, as well as a location in the Design District for special one-off exhibitions. It’s here that OHWOW returns to Basel this year for the fourth installation of its annual “It Ain’t Fair” group show.

This year’s installation is titled Materialism, and the focus is on the physical — texture, shape, and so on — rather than the conceptual and intellectual. Artists showing include former Miami natives like Daniel Arsham, Luis Gispert, and Bert Rodriguez, as well as other white-hot names like Scott Campbell and Dan Colen. No matter who’s in the actual show, though, openings at OHWOW always draw an array of boldfacers from the art, fashion, and music worlds.

December 1-4 at OHWOW’s Miami Design District space: 81 NE 40th St. The opening reception is Thursday, December 1, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., and open to the public. The gallery is open Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call 305-571-9494, or visit oh-wow.com.

American Exuberance and Incubation at the Rubell Family Collection

from American Exhuberance

The Rubell Family Collection is technically an “alternative” space in that it’s funded and run by a private family, but it puts most of the city’s “official” art venues to shame. In truth, the Rubells are art world royalty and their collection functions as a world-class contemporary art museum: Often today’s hot sellers at Art Basel Miami Beach are tomorrow’s — or also today’s — prized works at the house of Rubell.

This year’s blockbuster Basel-time show is American Exuberance, a massive undertaking that will occupy all 45,000 square feet of the Rubell’s Wynwood home, a re-purposed DEA facility turned private-public art collection. The exhibit of 190 works — approximately 40 created especially for the show — is said to paint “a portrait of the American condition.” It also paints a portrait of the reigning titans of contemporary art. Megawatt artists in the show include Matthew Barney, Mike Kelley, Jeff Koons, Raymond Pettibon, Barbara Kruger, and many, many, many more.

If you are looking for a less overwhelming experience, or are simply hungry, you can bypass American Exhuberance in favor of the daily breakfasts the Rubells serve their guests during the extended weekend of Basel. Last year, they had an elaborate oatmeal set-up with stacks of bowls, piles of spoons and sugar, rows of pots, and neat lines of milk cartons, each serving an alimentary and aesthetic function. Called Incubation, this year’s breakfast installation will take guests through the process of making yogurt and then, thankfully, allow them to eat it.

American Exuberance opens Wednesday, November 30 and remains on display through July 27, 2012. Regular museum admission is $10, or $5 for students and those 19 and under. Rubell Family Collection and Contemporary Arts Foundation, 95 NW 29th St., Miami. Call 305-573-6090, or visit rfc.museum.

Miami’s Independent Thinkers at Awarehouse

With the influx of glitterati from all over the world, what often gets overlooked during the Basel crush is the art scene happening in Miami itself. The annual Basel-time show put on by Miami’s Independent Thinkers aims to remedy that, with a juried process open to pretty much anybody. This year’s edition takes over the Awarehouse and features paintings, installations, short films, animations, and performance pieces.

Miami’s Independent Thinkers, from Dec. 1 – Dec. 4, at the Awarehouse (550 NW 29th St.). Admission is free. To learn more, visit miamithinkers.com

Fountain Art Fair

Fountain Art Fair Destruction

While I counted Fountain earlier among the satellite fairs, it’s really worth a separate entry for the party-hearty and budget-conscious. The fair basically defines “scrappy,” with its galleries returning to an otherwise unmarked warehouse complex on North Miami Avenue, and its festivities spilling into the vacant lot outside.

Many works for sale fall under the $500 mark, and a weekend pass is just $15. That gets you in to the late-ish (until midnight) musical performances and DJ sets. Last year the lineup included No Age, which took the stage after a bizarre performance by roving crusties who lit random debris on fire. Unfortunately, this year’s headliners are still TBA. Stay tuned for updates as the even draws closer. In the meantime, to get a better feel for what to expect from Fountain, check out our recap from last year’s fair. As you can tell from the photo, it was insane.

Fountain Art Fair, 2505 N. Miami Ave.. December 1 – 4. General public hours are 12 p.m. – 7 p.m. every day, with performances running until midnight on Friday and Saturday. Admission is $10 for one night, or $15 for the weekend. To learn more, visit fountainartfair.com.

Basel Castle

Last year’s Basel Castle — thrown at the actual N.W. 20th Street castle that the Overthrow calls home — was one of the best late-night parties of the week. This year’s return promises similar debauchery, with drink specials, costumed weirdos, and musical performances by white-hot names like Yelawolf and DJ sets by the Rapture, Penguin Prison, Tamara Sky, and more. While music certainly trumps art at the Castle, there will be an exhibition, curated by Tott Global and ABV Gallery, featuring Ron English, Claw Money, and the like. Best of all, entry before 9 p.m. is free through the RSVP link at baselcastle.com.

Basel Castle: 41 NW 20th St. Doors open at 5 p.m. Saturday, December 3, and the party goes until 4 a.m. Ages: 21+. Admission is free before 9 p.m. with RSVP, or $10 in advance for guaranteed entry all night, via baselcastle.com.

The Co11ective at the Kohn Compound

'Zion Sound System' by Trek Six
“Zion Sound System” by Trek Six

This four-day group show is another one that purposefully blends the boundaries between fine art, street art, and music subcultures. Many of the artists showing here — Trek Six, SK545, and others — come from the graffiti world, while others are better known for their musical works, namely soulful house god Osunlade. While the days are devoted to the art, the night hours are planned to turn into a party, with different DJs and musicians appearing each night. The biggest night is Thursday’s kickoff party, which offers traditional Puerto Rican bomba alongside roots reggae, and other nights feature popular local spinners like Tom Laroc, DJ Le Spam, and Keen One.

Location: The Kohn Compound at 215 NW 24th St. Admission is free. To learn more, visit The Co11ective Facebook page.

Neckface’s Born Under a Bad Sign premiere with Salem

New York street artist Neckface is acclaimed, reviled, feared, and a whole lot of other conflicting adjectives. One thing he’s not, though, is boring, especially in recent years when his artistic endeavors have moved off the streets and into new dimensions. (Remember the haunted house he designed for OHWOW a couple Halloweens ago?) This Art Basel marks the local premiere of his new film, Born Under a Bad Sign, billed as a horror movie.

Appropriately, the evening’s music comes from the equally divisive Michigan-born trio Salem, a co-ed group infamous across the internet for being the most visible faces of the so-called “witch-house” pseudo-genre. Love or hate Salem’s recorded music, the group’s live performance track record isn’t so hot (see this heinous video), so this could be amazing or terrible. Either way, it’s all at the lovely Gusman Theater, whose rococo, faux-Starry-Night interiors should lend an extra level of surrealness to the proceedings.

Neckface movie premiere with Salem performance. December 1. Gusman Center for the Performing Arts, 174 E. Flagler St., Miami. Doors open at 10:30 p.m. and admission is free with RSVP via rsvp@onfwd.com. To learn more, visit onfwd.com.

Mr. Brainwash Takes over Boulan South Beach

"Muhammed Ali (blue)" by Mr. Brainwash
“Muhammed Ali (blue)” by Mr. Brainwash

What or who is Mr. Brainwash? Depending on the theory you subscribe to, he’s either 1) an exciting “propaganda”/”pop” type artist in the lineage of Banksy et al. 2) the worst kind of generic rip-off of those better artists, or 3) all of the above, in a move that is something like the Andy Kaufman of the art world, and possibly a prank pulled by Banksy himself. Personally, I like the third theory, which gains credence after a few viewings of the Banksy documentary Exit Through the Gift Shop. If it’s true, then we can all laugh and share a wink over Mr. Brainwash’s site-specific “takeover” of the Boulan South Beach building, yet another luxury condo strip that he’ll festoon with spray-painted, re-purposed pop images he readily admits are photoshopped by assistants.

Boulan South Beach at 2000 Collins Ave, Miami Beach. On display Nov. 30 – Dec. 4. Admission is free. Works will be visible from the street.


That’s it! If you want to add anything to the list, feel free to do so in a comment. The Art Basel Miami Beach spaceship won’t open its hatch for another week. Until then, I suggest you stock up on sleep.

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15 Comments on “Ten (out of 10,000) things to do during Art Basel Miami Beach”

  1. 1 Pashmina said at 10:37 am on November 22nd, 2011:

    I’d add Jansheski’s STAR and PULSE. And also watch out for popup Dior shop.

  2. 2 Arielle Castillo said at 10:40 am on November 22nd, 2011:

    Thank you! Please feel free to share more picks in the comments. Obviously this list of 10 does not even begin to cover every worthwhile event going on next week; it’s just a starting point.

  3. 3 nathaniel sandler said at 1:00 pm on November 22nd, 2011:

    I’d like to be the first one to point out that the best technique (after years of vanquishing ye Basel gods) is to go everywhere with not much of a plan and slightly more than a light buzz. And make sure you fucking eat something so you don’t end up puking free Campari soda all over your vintage polka plaid wave scarf.

  4. 4 Jordan Melnick said at 1:32 pm on November 22nd, 2011:

    Hear! Hear!

  5. 5 Flipz5_RokTheSpot said at 1:39 pm on November 22nd, 2011:

    Bat Papi is baaaaaaaack!!!

  6. 6 NCC-1138 said at 2:35 pm on November 22nd, 2011:

    Moksha Art Fair is gonna be sick…

  7. 7 W said at 6:07 pm on November 22nd, 2011:

    Formalist Sidewalk Poetry Club on the beach is having a Blake Rayne show Thursday night that should be tiiiight, they did that burberry show last year

  8. 8 JennyLee said at 9:08 pm on November 22nd, 2011:

    Shout out to all my delirious friends burning the midnight oil prepping for Art Basel!

    Definitely would include Multiversal (http://multiversalmiami.com/) and Moksha (https://www.facebook.com/events/196864853711530/) as well as swinging by Eleazar Delgado Studio (www.eleazardelgadostudio.com) but good lawdy-lawd there’s a lot worth mentioning! I’m with Nathaniel… your Basel experience shouldn’t include puking, not cute.

    Get your Basel on!

  9. 9 Cat Kuma said at 10:43 am on November 23rd, 2011:

    I’ve been to FOUNTAIN the past two years and it’s always sooooo much fun! I got to take a bat to a car last year and sit naked in an outdoor sauna on stilts the year before. Never mind the fact that the art is super strong urban art including the best contemporary street artists of today and some pieces are super affordable!

  10. 10 TheYibbies said at 12:43 pm on November 28th, 2011:

    Wasn’t the Mr.B thing at Boulan last year and this year he is showing in Wynwood?

  11. 11 Monica McGivern said at 1:57 pm on November 28th, 2011:

    Yes, thanks Beached Miami for this compilation!! For anyone who enjoyed my photos of the TV on the Radio concert featured here a couple of weeks ago, I thought I’d mention I’m showing some personal work at this Basel show: https://www.facebook.com/events/177507482338526/

    Hope to see you around!

  12. 12 Black Key Group said at 4:34 pm on November 28th, 2011:

    Don’t forget Pop Up Piano Miami with performances all around the city the entire weekend! More info at http://popuppianomia.com/

  13. 13 Pashmina said at 7:30 pm on November 28th, 2011:

    hey jordan, you did a decent post write up on Perrotin party last year. Are you planning on going this year too? Sounds like that place might be the perfect ending after the midtown VIP affairs…

  14. 14 Jordan Melnick said at 9:14 pm on November 28th, 2011:

    Are you sure Perrotin is having a party this year? I haven’t turned up anything about it.

  15. 15 Pashmina said at 10:00 pm on November 28th, 2011:

    Yea it’s at the same place, though now known as M Gallery. Some posters about it floating around. Think if you’ll turn up something with some advanced Googling.

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