Art Basel is an extravaganza that brings together art, pop culture, music and entertainment for the curators, artists, collectors and the public. It started out as an art fair in 1970 and is still going strong in connecting the art community through so many mediums. It’s an international event taking place once a year in Miami, Florida; Basel, Switzerland and Hong Kong. In Miami people love every excuse to celebrate and since Art Basel comes between Thanksgiving and Christmas, it is in its own right a special occasion lasting four days. It provides a huge platform for art galleries to showcase their works, as well as artists to show off live paintings, mural arts, fashion shows and pop up shops. The host city generates the direction of the events and uses the opportunities to proudly display its landmarks, businesses and talent while entertaining its residents and visitors from all over the world. In Miami, it really embraces the culture of the diverse neighborhoods and incorporates local businesses including coffee shops, restaurants, bars, boutiques and pop up shops, as well as galleries and furniture showrooms. I’m blessed to call Miami home and this will be my second year attending Art Basel. One of my favorite parts is slipping on some stylish sandals, this year they were nude suede with fringe and studs, and simply taking an evening stroll with my dog down the streets of Wynwood. I’m able to get an up close look at the street art painted in graffiti style murals throughout the area. It’s amazing to be able to watch the talented artists in action: painting murals, canvasses and doing live demonstrations of their techniques. Ladders, scaffolding, statues and paintbrushes adorn the sidewalks and it makes you feel as if you are a part of the project.
Parking is hard to find, so I take Lyft (similar to Uber) and the businesses stay open late, as is Miami style. After wandering around, I stop by a pop up bar, grab a drink and relax in one of the many gardens lit up with twinkling lights, an array of wooden furniture, hammocks and portable bars. Moscow mules and Mojitos are easy to come by and make a nice, smooth, refreshing choice. Next it’s time to check out The Wynwood Walls art museum where you can see artwork by artists such as Ron English, who is known for painting bright pop images while incorporating the natural light and shadows in the environment he is painting in. He encourages building owners and street artists to come together over the fact that people are less likely to vandalize a building if they respect the art that is emblazoned on it. Another artist worth checking out is Lady Pink who was born in Ecuador but raised in NYC and already had her art featured in world renowned shows while she was in high school. Her vividly detailed paintings are reminiscent of her past painting subway trains and are now prized by collectors. After all this excitement, it’s time to grab a bite to eat at Wynwood Kitchen & Bar. Eat, drink and be merry at this contemporary, urban oasis of modern artwork and scrumptious tapas. The lemon pepper calamari is deliciously tangy and goes well with a tropical salad.
The Design District, next door to Wynwood, has seen so much change over the past few years with new construction condominium buildings popping up, as well as stand-alone luxury retail stores like Dior, Christian Louboutin and Valentino. It obviously makes for great shopping but the architecture is worth checking out as well. Art Basel also has events at The Miami Beach Convention Center and many venues throughout Miami Beach so you can check out different neighborhoods on your art tour. Enjoy the frenzy, the laid back nights, the black tie events and the celebrity nightclub appearances and then take a nap when it’s all over, after you post all your photos to social media, of course !