By Becky RandelAArt Basel: the world’s foremost contemporary art show. Art Basel Miami: most recently, a weeklong fashion/celebrity/auto/food/miscellaneous promotional items fair. That’s not a criticism, amazingly when the masses came in, the art did not go out. Should you plan to attend the Miami Beach rendition of Art Basel (now thru Dec. 8) for the sake of the art or for the parties, the fashion and the celebs, be sure to follow these guidelines:
10. DON’T try to crash a party you weren’t invited to. Unless it was a mass circulated Evite that clearly subscribes to the “more the merrier” philosophy or you’re famous, like starring in a current movie famous, not C list. If you are invited to an event but neglect to RSVP, plan on fighting it out to get in. You have a 50/50 shot depending on the venue.
9. If you really want to see art and avoid the “extras,” DO stick to the actual Art Basel schedule – an inexpensive, truly special experience. Great fairs taking place around Basel include Nada Art Fair, The Miami Project in conjunction with MOCA North Miami (voted best art fair by the Miami New Times last year) or Art Miami. New this year is the Brazil Art Fair, which is getting a lot of buzz. My Art Guide has a nice line-up of some of the smaller fairs.
8. If you want to hit the parties on the other hand, DO check out the Miami New Times rundown. Surprisingly, you can get into some events just by asking. Others you can buy a ticket for. Still others, they’ll laugh at you for trying but hey, what have you got to lose? Lots of ticketed music events to choose from this year (Tegan & Sara, Kendrick Lamar, Nas, Darkside, even Boy Gorge). Avoid trying for the Vanity Fair event or anything at Soho Beach House, they’re usually the most hoity-toity about lists.
7. DO pick a night and hire a driver. The fair and the parties are now spread out all over Miami – from South Beach to Downtown to Wynwood. Parking is hell and driving drunk is bad, FYI. In case you never saw a MADD demonstration at your high school. With a driver, you can hop around from neighborhood to neighborhood, party to party, no worries or hassle, all the rosé you can handle.
6. DO check out the pop-up bars and clubs. You’ll have to pull some strings to get in (and have a high tolerance for annoying people in lines), but these actually seem to get cooler each year. Good for celeb sightings, they’re also a fun way to experience places you may have been to before from a different perspective. Best of all, people have loosened up by this time of night. A few pop-ups include Chez Andres at the Rec Room, Max Fish at Radio Bar, Le Baron day party at the Mondrian, The Hole at The Shore Club and Rose Bar at the Delano.
5. DON’T expect people to dress Miami-esque. This is Miami’s one week out of 52 where you may see more black and white than neon colors and maxi dresses. For those of you who feel unsure and hate looking like you tried too hard, go with black. You can’t lose. On the flip side, only the artists can pull off grubby t-shirts and jeans (or Adrien Grenier, and even he wore a blazer last year). In the words of Ron Burgundy, keep it classy.
4. DO eat before you go. Even events that promise “bites” or “snacks” or whatever cute name they use for one plate of hors d’oeuvres you’ll see every 47 minutes, somehow forget the starving part of starving artists. Maybe it’s because people are event-hopping like crazy, but unless you’re at a sit down dinner, the food is often light. Not so for the drinks.
3. DON’T pretend to know the work of an artist you don’t know (we all do it). Just when you think you’re passing for pseudo-artsy-intellectual, you’ll find yourself talking to the artist’s mother…or a collector…or the artist. Awkward. Just smile and nod throughout art conversations, it’s the safest route. If all else fails, simply say, “I really wish I knew more about contemporary art,” then watch seventeen people fight to teach you, i.e. show off their knowledge.
2. DO spend some time simply walking around the outdoor fairs and art installations. Head to Wynwood Walls and go from there. Or park in the Design District and hoof it. You’ll get the best people watching, some fresh air, electric energy and excellent glimpses into up and coming artists.
1. DON’T, DON’T, DON’T judge. Don’t judge Miami. Don’t judge Art Basel. Don’t judge the people who partake. Don’t judge the events and what they represent. It is what it is and it will be something else next year. Don’t like it? Don’t come back again. At the end of the day, this week shines a big light on thousands of artists, which is never ever a bad thing.