If the Super Bowl came to town and you didn’t know it, wouldn’t that put you a bit behind the eight ball?
Celebrating its 10th Anniversary, Miami’s Art Basel is about to kick off once again as one of the world’s top destinations for everything that is everything in the art world; it is the art world’s Super Bowl.
The hype raises the Art-O-Meter higher and higher. There are invitation only galas at guarded enclaves on the beach which only those fortunate enough to share fist bumps with the bourgeois may attend. You’ve got name-dropping and eaves-dropping elevated to extraordinary art. Traffic snarls the streets and good luck getting a restaurant reservation. This is Art Basel for the VIPs.
For those of us on the other side of the causeway tracks, it’s going on as well. Wynwood is the crossroad, focal point, hub, epicenter, nucleus, and heart of all that is thriving in the city. On the GPS, the main drag lies between 20th and 29th Streets on NW 2nd Avenue. It is gritty. There is big time graffiti. You can get a good cup of coffee at Panther. It needs bike racks. Auto body shops flourish. And you can still get robbed. Don’t expect glamour, but Wynwood ain’t what it used to be (no disrespect intended), an urban ashtray.
Disinfected Midtown Miami offers those who prefer their countertops vanilla a respite from the concrete rainforest around the corner. Just south of 195 and east of Miami Avenue, sparkling digs abound. The restaurants are pleasantly named Sugarcane, Sustain, Gigi’s, Morgan’s, and 100 Montaditos. If this is all a bit too urbane, there’s a Target around the block. Many of Art Basel’s finest satellite tents are down the street from here. Art Miami, Art Asia, and Scope are here, all good, all wide-ranging.
Under the highway, the Design District combines the aforementioned districts. Michael’s Genuine, Harry Pizzeria, and Sra. Martinez have fed those who weathered the early, pre-Basel days, and now Y-3, Con 6, Genius Jones, and Christian Louboutin are wedged in among the bath, kitchen, and home design spaces.
This is the landscape that Art Basel helped create. There are other stories – about old galleries, Lombardi, Goldman, Rubell, and dozens of others, but the early tents in Roberto Clemente Park helped make people see all that exists in this part of the city these days.
This weekend, shuttle buses will drop tourists off. Limos may slide through. Yellow Cabs will be everywhere. You might even see a few convertible Chrysler Sebring’s around with some old school tourists wearing their NFL, NCAA garb who read about Art Basel in their local Midwestern newspapers. Suffice it to say that this weekend, Miami will not only party, but do it with more aplomb than during the Super Bowl.