As a South Floridian, my two favorite times of the year come down to early December and mid February. During these times, a middle class gal gets to have the best in art and food come to her….and I absolutely LOVE IT. This week, Art Basel returns to Miami and I’m elated to have established plans to visit this year. The ambiance is refreshingly eclectic, especially for residents. The setting yields a blend of art aficionados and rural hippies that make for an awkwardly fantastic blend. Basel offers the rare opportunity to view some of the world’s greatest pieces for a small admission of free to $45 (depending on the galleries you’re visiting). There are tons of events spanning the 6 day experience but only 4 days of the main events are open to the public. In the last few days, my meager experience with the esteemed art fair has been tapped, and so I’m offering a brief local’s guide for the first time Art Basel visitor. What to Do
The Convention Center
Basel is the convention center. Many young persons will opt solely for the Wynwood experience but as awesome as that is, it truly defeats the purpose of attending Basel in the first place. Wynwood is the heart of Miami’s art district. As such, most of the galleries there are a staple and can be thoroughly enjoyed any second Saturday of each month. If you are going to Basel for the art you have to visit the convention center. For a special treat call Mari Sol Romero ( 786 406 3177) to reserve a guided tour or enjoy one of their early day walk-ins (1030, 1130, 1230). For tickets to this years Art Basel, Miami click here.
Design Miami offers some of the fairs best eye candy. Strolling through the maze of these galleries will definitely prove to be a breath-taking experience. You’ll frequently find yourself thinking, “who would have thought to do that.” Last year we saw our fair share of beautiful pieces, including Guilherme Torres’ Mangue Groove- an installation consisting of more Swarovski crystals than one could count. Contemporary furniture can often be hit or miss, however the combination of design and functionality will surely appeal to any lay man’s interest. If you haven’t visited Design Miami, GO. It’s an invaluable part of the Basel experience. Be forewarned, upon entering the exhibition, you’ll be offered a compilation including the year’s current catalog. It’s a waste of money for buyers and especially for those present solely for viewing. For more highlights on Design Miami 2013, click here. For information on this years events click here.
Wynwood is the street art, true grime, art meets social experience of Basel. It’s just deliciously grandiose. There is so much going but it manages to feel beautifully orchestrated, like gently being carried away in a moving mob. You are going to make friends tonight. This will not be up to you, and you will enjoy it. There are tons of parties going on and most are free and/or easily accessible. All the galleries are open relatively late (10/11) and you actually may be able to afford a few pieces there. Many of the pieces are the result of the Basel descension but many others will be available long after the fair has ended. There are street dancers, demonstrators and the best of Miami’s food trucks. If your budget is a mere free.99 then this is definitely where you want to be. If supporting local artists interests you then be sure to make your way through the district as well.
For some reason, Scope seems to be a very under-the-radar part of the fair- to locals that is. This huge Pop-up Pavillion welcomed just over 40, 000 visitors last year, and for good reason. It’s an odd way to describe it but Scope presents art that appeals to the creative parts of all us. There are little to no pieces that are beyond the non-contemporary’s scope. In other words, pieces that “don’t seem like art” to a layman won’t be seen here. The time, work, and creativity is easily visible in each piece and will be appreciated. I would go as far as to say that if you’ve never been to Basel, Scope would offer the best introduction. It’s located on Miami’s infamous Ocean Drive, which makes it an easy plan for a day out. In fact, in the past 3 years, I have consciously visited Scope on a Sunday. It’s sure to be a beautiful day, with tons of tourists who have already come down from their vacation high (so the area though busy is pretty chill). Restaurants and bars are literally across the street, so you get to enjoy the best of both worlds. Enjoy art, brunch and some awesome people watching with a Sunday Funday at Scope. Tickets are $30 ($20 with student ID) and can be purchased here. Don’t sweat it though, you could easily get your tickets on site.
Where To Eat
One of the best things about Art Basel is the impact the influx of visitors has on the restaurant industry. Do you know how frantic your family can get to bring their best foot forward when a bunch of family is coming to stay with you? Well the same concept applies. Restaurant owners have anticipated this influx and will be bringing their A-game. As a result, you can’t really go wrong with any restaurant in your vicinity with a 3.5 star Yelp rating or better. For convenience- in terms of location and moderate wait times- one of your best bets is any restaurant along Lincoln mall. A yearly favorite of mine was Van Dykes, but they’ve sadly closed their doors. Have a stroll along the mall, review the menus which are street side and make your pick.
Another hub for Basel eats is Wynwood Kitchen and Bar. This the quintessential art meets food restaurant. It will be ridiculous packed but don’t be discouraged, like finding a good parking spot, chances are as your arriving someone would have just been leaving. It’s in the heart of Wynwood and so people are more interested in meandering through the district than they are at parking at a table. It also helps that there’s a gallery directly behind the restaurant and the districts famous Wynwood Walls are an additional extension of the Wynwood experience. For more on Wynwood kitchen, click here.
Just a few steps from Wynwood kitchen is a large lot with just about 20-24 AMAZING food trucks. Enjoy the live band, too-good-to-be-in-a-food-truck-lot DJ spinnng or the many pop-up shops with hand made crafts and jewelry.
Wynwood Kitchen and Bar
All images © 2014 Donnatilda Tabana.