Starting early next week, the annual onslaught of events surrounding Art Basel Miami Beach begins (and with it our #beachedbasel photo contest). Inarguably the high point of the Miami social calendar, we can all admit that at least half the fun comes from observing the human zoo that pours into town from ever corner of the globe. At the center of it all, of course, is the massive ABMB fair itself, housed in the cavernous Miami Beach Convention Center. But even that only represents a slice of the action.
That said, you’ll need to accept that there’s simply way too much going on to do it all, and FOMO is just part of the game. And while there will be innumerable glitzy private dinners, champagne receptions, and VVVIP openings, there’s also plenty to see and do that’s accessible, street-level, and fun as hell. Here are our ten Basel picks, presented in roughly chronological order.
‘Snipers’ by AHOLSNIFFSGLUE @ Gregg Shienbaum Gallery
Beloved Miami artist AHOL changes up his usual street canvas for this pop-up installation inside Shienbaum gallery. Recently, AHOL has taken his work beyond straight painting and started to work with manipulated, psychedelic digital images based on photos he snaps of weirdness around town. For this exhibition, he’s collected a whole new library of these photos — mostly taken without permission, a.k.a. sniped — edited them to even greater heights of strangeness, and then made many of them into pillows. Bring quarters, because you can try to win your own through one of those old-school claw machines.
The exhibition also comes accompanied by recently unearthed instrumental music by the late, great local legend Jose El Rey. The opening is this Thursday, November 29, and the show stays up through Basel.
The exhibition opens at 6 p.m. on Thursday, November 29, at Gregg Shienbaum Fine Art (2239 N.W. Second Avenue). Admission is free. Call 305-456-5478, or visit gsfineart.com for more details.
The Heineken Mural Project
An essential ingredient of Wynwood’s current flavor is, of course, the neighborhood’s wall-to-wall street art by locals and international stars alike. (Thank — or blame — the late developer Tony Goldman and the collective Primary Flight for getting that going.) Now, a new set of murals is coming to the area courtesy of Heineken, which sponsored six new pieces by out-of-towners Chor Boogie, Estria, Prime, and Don Rimx, and locals CP1 and Trek6 (pictured above). After they’re finished, the murals will serve as the backdrop for a series of pop-up parties over the next few weeks. Heineken’s also sponsoring the first Deco Bike stations in Wynwood and Midtown, so the curious can easily get around to the various mural sites.
The official media/VIP opening party is on Thursday, November 29, and festivities continue throughout the week of Basel, with the Heineken Beer Garden and bike station opening on Monday, December 3. Visit remezcla.com/heinekenmuralproject for full details.
‘Sugar and Gomorrah’ by Peter Anton @ Art Miami
Artist Peter Anton creates work from a sugar addict’s dream and a diabetic’s nightmare. In past pieces, he’s used jumbo sprinkled donuts, massive boxes of over-sized chocolate truffles, and more to create sculptures that are technically edible, and both alluring and sickening. For a special Art Miami installation, Anton’s going extra over-the-top by fashioning a fully functioning roller coaster out of candy, titled Sugar and Gomorrah, complete with a temptations-of-the-flesh theme. Insert all the obvious Miami jokes here!
The exhibition opens on Tuesday, December 4, at Art Miami (3101 N.E. First Avenue). Visit art-miami.com for full details.
‘Drift’ by Daniel Arsham @ Design Miami
The latest work by this Miami native is a biggie: the entrance pavilion to this year’s Design Miami fair. Now based in New York, where he runs the firm Snarkitecture, Arsham is calling the piece “Drift” and constructing it out of giant inflatable tubes. Design Miami is always worth the price of admission, but you can get a free glimpse of Arsham’s structure just by walking by the outside.
Design Miami runs from Tuesday, December 4, through Sunday, December 9. It is located nearby the Miami Beach Convention Center, at Meridian Avenue and 19th Street. Visit designmiami.com for full details.
For this project, local go-getters the Black Key Group got eight different artists to transform eight Steinway & Sons pianos, which will be scattered throughout Wynwood, Midtown, Downtown, and the Design District during Art Basel weekend. The musically inclined can play the pianos when they come across them, and each piano will also anchor a series of free shows by various local acts, including Suenalo, Brendan O’Hara, and Raffa and Rainer. In the end, each piano will go to a charity or nonprofit music program.
The pianos will be on display from Wednesday, December 5, through Sunday, December 9. Visit popuppianomia.com for full show details and piano locations.
Miami’s Independent Thinkers Art Basel Satellite Fair
With so many out-of-towners touching down in Miami to hawk their artistic wares during the week of madness, only a small fraction of exhibits bother to feature local talent. Doing its part to address that issue for the fourth year in a row, Miami’s Independent Thinkers are presenting a satellite fair featuring only the works of artists hailing from South Florida, including Art of Shade, Breanna Elise Murphy, Gerry Stecca, Maitejosune Urrechaga, and Rod Deal.
‘KURT’ featuring Thurston Moore @ the Gusman Center
As ’90s nostalgia hits a fever pitch and a younger generation discovers Nirvana, it makes sense to commemorate Kurt Cobain (again). This multidisciplinary show at the beautiful Gusman Center should bring out the obsessives for a night of work in different genres, all centered around, yes, Kurt. The program features a dance work choreographed by Ryan Heffington, a short film by Adarsha Benjamin, and a musical performance by none other than Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore (pictured above in a Wikimedia Commons photo by Seth Tisue). Thurston in Miami? Go ahead and freak out!
The event starts at 8 p.m. on Thursday, December 6, at the Gusman Center for the Performing Arts (174 E. Flagler Street). Tickets cost between $25 and $50. Call 305-372-0925 or visit gusmancenter.org for full details.
Fountain Art Fair
If you’re a fairly Regular Person, or, more optimistically, a Really Sharp Collector of Up-and-Coming Artists, Fountain is your fair. This DIY-feeling, always super-fun, sometimes chaotic (see above photo and lead photo from its 2010 edition) fair features staunchly independent galleries and a good deal of art that’s actually affordable. This year, Fountain will celebrate its biggest Miami fair to date with two separate dance parties. Friday night’s official opening reception features a DJ set by JPatt, half of the Knocks, and Saturday night features a Miami edition of one of Brooklyn’s best dance parties, Tiki Disco. (Sadly, it doesn’t come with the pizza from Roberta’s like the real thing.)
Fountain Art Fair runs from Friday, December 6, through Sunday, December 9, at 2505 North Miami Avenue. Visit fountainartfair.com for full details.
Daniel Johnston performance and exhibition @ Grand Central
Legendary tortured-genius Daniel Johnston is beloved by his rabid following of fans for both his visual art and music. The former got its first big commercial boost when the aforementioned Kurt Cobain sported a T-shirt of one of Johnston’s most famous images, a cartoonish frogish creature from the cover of Johnston’s 1983 album, Hi, How Are You. Johnston’s musical output, meanwhile, spans some 30 years and more than 20 full-length albums ranging from lo-fi sketches to fully realized folk masterpieces. Since Johnston lives with both bipolar and schizophrenia (a challenge documented in the 2006 documentary The Devil and Daniel Johnston), his live performances are rare, making his debut Miami performance at downtown club Grand Central a must-see. Ditto for the exhibition of Johnston’s work that will accompany the show.
The start time for this 21+ show is 9 p.m. on Friday, December 7, at Grand Central (697 North Miami Avenue). Tickets cost $20 in advance. Call 305-377-2277 or visit grandcentralmiami.com for full details.
This Basel weekend capper returns again, continuing its trajectory of steady expansion. Again, the Overthrow crew will open the gates of its headquarters at the Castle, on the very southeastern border of Wynwood for an all-night, music-art-and-booze bash. This time around, though, it’s not just the castle they’re overthrowing, but the surrounding city blocks as well. This year’s fete features live art by Buff Monster, Anthony Lister, L’Amour Supreme, and Greg Mike, as well as a pop-up gallery curated by TOTT Global. Then, of course, there’s the music, spanning two stages and including sets by live acts Jacuzzi Boys, Purity Ring (pictured above in a photo by Landon Speers), Teengirl Fantasy, and Twin Shadow, and DJ sets by Brenmar, Tamara Sky, and others. This event will fill to capacity, so show up early.
This event kicks of 6 p.m. on Saturday, December 8, at the Castle (41 N.W. 20th Street). Admission is free with RSVP from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Priority tickets are currently sold out. 18+ with ID. For full details, visit baselcastle.com.
Did we miss something essential? Feel free to add suggestions in the comments section below. Also, make sure to check out the ABMB 2012 Music Guide and the Beached Basel Photo Contest to learn how you can win one of several awesome prizes — including a $499 Republic Bike courtesy of Grolsch — just by sharing Basel photos through Instagram.