Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Art Basel: Miami Heat, Invader, Banksy, Graffiti

I just read that Art Basel Miami is the largest Art Fair in our hemisphere. I read that hotel occupancies for the week are through the roof with the average room rate in its highest, high season mode. Rooms are harder to get during Basel than any other event of the year, especially the upper end. In other words, good luck finding a bargain. The predicted local windfall: over 500 million. Naturally everyone is getting in the act. Aside from all the major events which trickle down from the main one, expect that many places will  feature a DJ, sponsor a party, and produce a show this coming week. Everybody, everywhere!

Even the Heat are involved. There is a mural on NE 29th Street painted last year and retouched last weekend by Serge Toussaint featuring the Miami Heat NBA champs from 2012. Also last year, local artist NFN Kalyan created a glass sculpture of Lebron featuring what amounted to King James being frozen and illuminated. Kalyan's work appeared at Red Dot in 2011. ESPN’s Jared Zwerling has been talking up the Art of Basketball: Heat Wave, in which street artists capture various images of the Heat’s run to the title last year. The NBA, of course, has given its stamp of approval.

Miami takes on outer space courtesy of Paris’ Space Invader. Perhaps you’ve caught a glimpse of 20 or so tile installations lurking mysteriously throughout the city recently? Invader’s contribution to Art Basel will be the exhibition of his latest takeover: Miami. Art4 Space will present the documentation of the spacecraft he launched here last summer. This will take place in a booth with the Jonathon Levine Gallery at Pulse in Midtown. Invader will distribute a map during the fair if you want to go see everything subsequently.

In 2001, Exit Through the Gift Shop was nominated for Best Documentary at the Academy Awards. Though it did not win the Oscar, the film wove a tale in which a filmaker tried to follow British stencil artist Banksy but to no avail. Banksy Out of Context at Art Miami will reveal 5 massively heavy, representative pieces rescued and now privately owned. Never will salvage be so valuable. There will be those who argue about whether this should have been saved or not. Street art, like Buddhist sand paintings, may be made to be destroyed.

Though the highly hyped UR1 festival fell through -- sorry Kanye, sorry Lenny Kravitz -- big time musicians will also play here, like popular, Amer-Chilean Nicolas Jaar who will appear in Wynwood at Bardot. Listen to Mi Mujer for the vibe. On December 6th at the Gusman, Former Sonic Youth guitarist (born in coral Gables) Thurston Moore will be here to reminisce about Kurt Kobain at KURT, a multimedia art, dance, and film fest. Flying Lotus will appear at Grand Central. Canadian band Metric will play the Scoop kickoff party. Food will also play a role, with a comeback by pop-up Vietnamese Phuc Yea! and Phuc Mei! -- no kidding -- holding court at Scope. Expect to see our ubiquitous food trucks clogging local arteries in a new way; traffic should be dreadful.

Last shout goes out to the muralists. Last week, San Francisco’s Chor Boogie, South Africa’s Faith 47, her Chinese Beloved Dal, and Puerto Rico/Miami based La Pandilla were among those out and about painting walls in the city. The big remaining question is what will painted in the empty space where Shepard Fairey’s iconic Aang San Suu Kyi once sat.

So now that we are up to our necks in articles, in paint, in murals, in music, and in food -- all in -- it’s time to take the plunge before Art Basel becomes too big too enjoy forevermore.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A Definitive Beginner’s Guide to Art Basel 2012

Once again, Miami’s ultimate event is upon us. Sorry Super Bowl lovers and other deniers. Had Sinead O’Connor been sunbathing instead of Irish, she would have sung Nothing Compares 2 Basel.

The primary, official venue for this event is the Miami Beach Convention Center. Public show days are Thursday December 6 to Saturday December 8, noon to 8pm and Sunday December 9 from noon to 6pm. I am among a number of folks who are hopelessly addicted to this event and have been for years, but full disclosure -- I have never actually attended it. Instead, I am one of the satellite participants. For me every winter, two roads diverge in the MIA, and I -- I take the one less traveled by, and this makes all the difference. Here are some basic basics about the things going on in the city proper.

During Art Basel week, jumbo white tents rise throughout the city, mostly in the Midtown area. These tents move a bit like Three Card Monte – one year they are here, another they are there, but if you keep your eyes open and don’t gamble, you will be powerfully entertained and find what you are looking for, and what you don’t.

Let’s cut through the hype! Scope in Midtown, Art Asia in Midtown and Pulse at the Ice Palace remain the best of the numerous events that have sprung up over the years. Opinions are not facts, but no matter what you hear, these four are the fairs to cover, the fairs to hang out in, and ultimately, the fairs to gush over – the big dogs. The percentage of pieces that shock, stun, mortify, inspire, turn heads, drop jaws, and create laughs at Scope, Art Asia, and Pulse is likely to register most highly in the polling -- you can trust these polls. Add Art Miami, the most traditional, and no criticism implied, most easily comprehended by those who ever say, “That’s not art!” These four fairs absorb what’s best in art -- never the lowest common denominator. If “Awesome,” and “Omigod,” ever come out of your mouth, skip these fairs and let others battle over the elusive parking spots -- this is over your head plus it’s already far too crowded. Other locales -- Red Dot, and NADA (on the Beach) also register on our wow-of-the-month-club. However, no one needs to go to the Beach to get an easel on.

There are always new things popping up during this week. One seems to be another edition of Tribal Art Miami in the Red Dot tent. New to the scene is Miami Project, which will showcase a number of emerging talents from American galleries; this will be located next to Art Miami. Also new is Context which will feature 65 contemporary galleries plus seven from Berlin with names like Franziska, Christine, and Eva. Overture in Midtown will show some Warhol. Just Mad Miami is a Madrid-based crew promising to link Anglo and Latino concepts -- sounds right at home. Artexpo Miami and the Miami River Art Fair are other potential must sees. Rumor has it the Heat are also getting involved in something.

If you decide to go, it can be a challenge to navigate it all. There are shuttles from the Beach for our beloved tourists, but for those of us dug in locally, you gotta somehow get there right? If you are a Wynwood goer, you can stop reading for a spell. Otherwise, pay attention.

There is going to be a lot of traffic. As a local, perhaps you’ve got the maneuverability skillz you need to navigate. If so, there is reasonably abundant free parking on side streets nearby which is far less dodgy than it may feel to one whose amygdala is an intracoastal of fear. However, you may have to search for this parking. Plan B, the easiest route, means getting on 95 North, going to I-195 East, then exiting on Miami Avenue going south. If you don’t know the territory, this is the easiest route. If driving is not your thing, there are new trolleys which may go straight on from the Omni MetroMover. None of these will get you to the Ice Palace though. For Pulse, you are on your own, but it is deeply worth the trouble.

Finally, it is way above my language ability to describe what you might find during this week -- several steps beyond. Have no fear, be patient, wear your grooviest walking shoes, your blackest black jeans, a pair of Belgian architect’s specs, and you will be rewarded.