Art Basel Miami Beach opened to a smart-dressed crowd of VIPs, collectors, and the press on Tuesday afternoon. Bigger than ever, we kept getting lost as we tried to navigate the labyrinth-like arrangement of gallery booths. Eventually we stopped trying to plot a direction and just followed our eye, wandering from one aisle to the next while spotting noteworthy work here and there. Things that didn’t really look like art stood out, such as Michael Beutler’s gigantic rag rug at Galleria Franco Soffiantino. After believing we had seen everything, which wasn’t really the case, we dropped into the VIP lounge for champagne and nibbles, courtesy of Cartier.
Happy for a moment, we headed over to the Bass Museum for Dzine’s solo exhibition blinged-out bikes, lights, and turntables and glittering super-graphic murals. Hanging out for a while, we chatted with Russian artist Andre Bartenev and also checked the selection of contemporary art from Jumex Collection, on view in the upstairs galleries. Ready for more food and drink, we moved on to the Swarovski party in the penthouse of the new W Hotel South Beach, where we met the Dutch fashion duo Viktor and Rolf, discussed Miami architecture with architects Chad Oppenheim and Alexander Gorlin, and reviewed Design Miami with tech-designer Moritz Waldemeyer, industrial designer Tom Dixon, and OK Go lead singer Damian Kulash.
From the balcony of the penthouse suite we could see Creative Time’s Oceanfront installation and the beach stage for Art Loves Music, which was featuring the British rocker Ebony Bones, and went down to take in the sounds and visuals. We got center stage in the sand just as Ebony Bones broke into a raucous cover of Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick In The Wall” and stayed for a couple more numbers before walking down the beach to the Raleigh, where Santigold was performing at the Deitch Projects party. We hung there for 40 minutes, talking with Kehinde Wiley about his massive portrait of Michael Jackson at Deitch Projects’ ABMB booth and to curator Shamin Momin about her new LA public sculpture organization LAND.
On the way home, we ran into one of those things that only happens in context to art or madness. A guy in a tuxedo was pushing a shopping cart, full of his belongings and two video monitors screening his art, through the throngs of people clogging the sidewalk on Collins Avenue. Considering that it was hot as Hades and equally humid, he seemed more like a well-heeled homeless person than an artist; but of course, being that it was ABMB week, he was turned out to be the artist Steven Gagnon performing while promoting his show at a local gallery.
After a night of rest and a day of writing, we started our Thursday rounds at the Pulse Art Fair at the Ice Palace near downtown Miami. We cruised through the booths, admiring some digital sculptures by Airen Kang that looked like books at Bruce Wolkowitz Gallery, Massimo Vitali’s big color photos of bathers on beaches at the booths of Brancolini Grimaldi Arte Contmporanea and Galeria Senda; Terry Rodgers’ painting of half-naked party revelers and Wouter Deruytter’s black-and-white photos of New York billboards; and David Abir’s sound and light installation, which was produced as a special project by Michael Sellinger. Outside the main building, we enjoyed a light supper of local specialties and a few drinks while taking in the live — very entertaining — sounds of the Vivian Girls.
Having to stay somewhat on schedule, we jumped in the car and headed over to Miami Midtown for Graffiti Gone Global, which was held on two undeveloped floors of a commercial and residential building. We met a few of the graf artists in the show, including Shiro, a young Japanese woman who makes cute, pop paintings and spoke with the curators, James and Karla Murray about the international street art scene. It was so hot inside the space that we bounced to the next event, the STAGES exhibition in downtown Miami.
The STAGES show, which benefits the Lance Armstrong Foundation, was also held in a previously empty space, but this one was nicely chilled with portable air conditioner, courtesy of the show’s sponsor, Nike. We had seen the show in its first stage at Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin in Paris in July, but some artists had been added since then. KAWS, Rosson Crow, and Jules de Balincourt were present for the opening, as was Erik Parker, who had just been added to the Miami leg of the exhibition. Shepard Fairey was about to take his turn at spinning music when we bailed to get to our final destination of the night on time.
Going back to the W South Beach Hotel, where we had partied the previous night, we were ushered into Solea, the hotel’s posh indoor/outdoor restaurant, for a dinner hosted by mega-art-collectors Aby Rosen, Alberto Mugrabi, and Peter Brant. The guest list was a who’s who of art world players and celebs, including Larry Gagosian, Tony Shafrazi, Eil Broad, Don and Mera Rubell, Diana Picasso, Val Kilmer, Naomi Campbell, and on and on. A feast was served buffet style and guests roamed from table to table, talking up a storm. It was so much fun that it was nearly impossible to leave. However, leaving was made easier by the fact that the next stop was just next door at the dinner’s after-party, hosted by Vito Schnabel, at the W’s super-stylish bar/lounge, Wall. One more glass of champagne and we called it a night.