I once again headed to Miami for Art Basel this year. I mean, how can you resist escaping a Chicago winter to see a bunch of art on the beach? If you’re not familiar with Art Basel, I consider it the SXSW of art. The actual Art Basel fair is a massive affair at the Miami Beach Expo Center, featuring hundreds of galleries from all over the world. However, equally enticing are the hundreds of side fairs and events that take over the entire city. It’s an awesome combination of art, music, sun and culture.
Each year, I end up in Miami under different circumstances. Sometimes I go alone, sometimes I go with a friend, sometimes I take my mom. This year I was ready to head out to Miami alone, but last minute convinced my “womb-mate” (aka Alex, my family friend that I’ve known all our lives) to buy a ticket and meet me there. Plus, my artist friend Adrian had just moved out there.
I always leave Miami having discovered new artists, having been captivated by specific artworks, and having been refreshed from a few days of sun and sand. This year was no different – here are my highlights from Art Basel 2016.
Navigating the actual expo can be quite overwhelming, but it’s an amazing way to see art from all over the world, and see firsthand the artists and artworks that everyone is talking about.
One of the most-talked about and immersive experiences at Art Basel this year was a Toilet Paper installation at the Fondation Beyeler booth. It featured I don’t know how many pounds of fresh pasta (replaced daily I believe) overflowing from sinks, alligator jaws and more. I loved it because it shows how art can be really fun and experiential.
Just next door to the expo center, Art Basel hosts a Design fair. The area outside the entrance always has a cool installation, and this year it featured seas of sand on which golden swans floated. A perfect spot to sit and rest between fairs!
This trendy neighborhood is a required stop when in Miami, and during Art Basel it is so ridiculously packed with people. The main attraction is blocks and blocks of murals and street art.
However, this year there was an added bonus of being able to catch a Hebru Brantley pop-up show! I was ecstatic to be able to snag a shot with the Chicago-based artist himself.
Pulse Art Fair
It’s quite difficult to choose which art fairs to check out and which to miss. This year, I stopped by the Pulse Art Fair for the first time. You can never go wrong with a fair that sits on the beach. Plus, I discovered some really cool new artists, including Bradley Wood, whose paintings I’m completely obsessed with. The fair also had some really fun pieces, including a 3D artwork comprised entirely of colorful stickers (including many Sanrio characters like Keroppi and Hello Kitty!).
Scope Art Fair
There are some fairs I never miss – Scope is one of my faves. It too sits on the beach, except it’s right off Ocean Avenue in South Beach. The lively atmosphere is a perfect compliment to the art inside the tent – it’s always young and fun and buzzworthy.
You can’t go wrong when a fair is within walking distance of where you’re staying and you have a free pass. I headed over to the small but interesting Miami Project fair, which featured a vending machine with bibles and handguns outside the entrance. The art inside wasn’t quite as edgy but I did discover new artists and see some favorites I’d gotten to know in previous years at Art Basel.
I love the Perez Art Museum – it sits right on the bay in downtown Miami and the patio is one of the most relaxing places in the city. That alone made a stop at the museum worthwhile, but I actually entered the venue for the first time to see the exhibits inside. It’s not a huge museum and some of the work was a bit modern for my taste, but we got lucky getting to see a highly entertaining Julio Le Parc exhibit. It was interactive and interesting and just really cool.