Basel week is upon us once again!
Art Basel Miami Beach is an annual celebration of all things art-related in Miami. Typically the first weekend in December, the festivities draw crowds from every corner of the world, including celebrities (of both the art world and pop culture).
The title fair boasts an exhibition roster of 250 galleries from 31 countries and is held in the Miami Beach Convention center. Dozens of satellite fairs orbit this hub and in the last few years have spread out from Miami Beach to the city proper, Wynwood and Little Haiti.
Kay and I headed over for our second year in a row (touting VIP passes, courtesy of my employer).
Here’s a highlight reel from our weekend and a guide to making the most of Basel week:
The original fair, founded in Switzerland in 1970 has been showing in Miami since 2001. It hosts the largest collection of work and draws the biggest crowds.
Hands down the highlight of the fair (and arguably our weekend in Miami was this exhibit of Margaret Kilgallen’s work. A favorite of both mine and Kay’s since college, we didn’t think we’d ever get the chance to see her work in person. Kilgallen died tragically in 2001 at the all-too-young age of 33. She was a prolific artist with a voice unlike any other.
Big thanks to Ratio 3 Gallery in San Francisco for the opportunity to see such an inspiring collection of her paintings and prints.
Another favorite booth was Stephen Friedman Gallery’s display of drawings (and neon) from David Shrigley. We stumbled across an exhibit of his in Chelsea last spring, and I’ve admired his loose linework and comedic perspective ever since. This series of work was particularly entertaining.
If you know me at all, you know I’m a 30 year old man with a penchant for all things dinosaur-related. This is especially true if it is an oversized painting from California-based Jonas Wood (who’s work I fell in love with at last year’s Basel).
Arguably one of my favorite fairs (in both their Miami and New York showings), Pulse typically showcases a selection of “younger,” “emerging,” and “more approachable” (read: fun and youthful) galleries.
This was a great interactive piece, encouraging visitors to share “race moments” they’ve experienced.
Art Miami and Context
These sister shows in the Design District host a wide range of galleries - showcasing everything from token mid century classics to fresh-out-the-gate emerging artists. Their cafe also boasts a delicious gnocchi and proscuitto lunch special.
Aqua Art Fair
The Art Deco Aqua Hotel hands all of its rooms over to galleries, making for a really unique environment to view artwork. This fair has a really fun concept, but the work on display always leaves me underwhelmed. Very much in the vein of Juxtapoz magazine.
Untitled Art Fair
Although we ran out of time and didn’t get to Untitled this year, I highly recommend it. The fair is right on the beach and (much like Pulse) showcases a range of exciting and emerging artists.
While you’re in Miami…
Be sure to spend some time exploring the Wynwood neighborhood. Known for it’s world class graffiti murals - Basel week brings a host of new artists painting new murals on just about every corner, with Wynwood Walls being the epicenter of it all.
Don’t forget to grab a coffee from Panther Coffee (i highly suggest the Nitro Cold Brew), or a bite to eat from Miam.
If you don’t mind a wait - queue up for a decadent treat from The Salty Donut.
Next door to The Salty Donut was a special pop-up from Luke’s Lobster, touting delicious New England style Lobster rolls, but to be honest, this one left us pretty dissatisfied.
Looking for a place to stay?
Although they raise their rates for Basel week and book up fast, Kay and I are huge fans of the Freehand on Miami Beach. Part hostel, part hotel, with a great patio and swimming pool, they are also home to the world famous Broken Shaker bar. Named one of the best bars in the country, their drinks are amazing and so is their bar food (with a menu that rotates monthly).
Another of our favorite Miami haunts is Florida outpost of Shake Shack. This year, in honor of Basel Week, The Miami Beach branch teamed up with Harry’s Pizzeria to make a limited edition “Harry’s Shorty Burger.” Classic Shake Shack patty, topped with slow-roasted beef short rib, caramelized onions, arugula and gruyere cheese. I’m salivating again just typing this.
I hope they continue to do specialty items for future Basels!
Speaking of yummy grub - we stumbled across Taquiza, a tiny counter-service taqueria in south beach with some of the most delicious tacos we’ve ever had. Super affordable and with a cozy courtyard to boot, I know we’ll be returning here!
For the record - their Lengua (beef tongue) taco is outstanding.
There are more parties and special events going on than any one person can detail, but be sure read up and find out what’s happening where. Wynwood usually boasts some great events from Wynwood Yard, The Electric Pickle and others. The Basement on Miami Beach is a bit swankier but fun (they have both a bowling alley and an ice rink in the club).
If you can manage, I highly recommend a Miami sunrise. Sunday morning (when the rest of the city is struggling to roll out of bed and combat world-class hangovers) Kay and I walked down to the beach and had it all to ourselves. A great way to start a day.
Speaking of combatting hangovers, and should you be paying for last night’s sins - might I suggest breakfast (or brunch) at Sunny’s on Miami Beach. Their Stone Crab Benedict is life changing.
Till next time Miami...