That’s correct. Art Basel in Miami is all about events, receptions, parties and free drinks and the one who gets the most invites wins.
But first about some valuable lessons that I learned, because even though it was my 5th Miami Basel I still made some mistakes to be avoided next time. 1. Do not rent a car. The traffic is horrendous and when you add the time to look for parking it takes too long to get from one event to another. Take Uber, Lyft or the shuttle. 2. Comfortable shoes. I read somewhere that it is unacceptable to wear comfortable shoes since Miami Basel is also about fashion. Right now, my bleeding blistered band-aid covered feet are ready to stomp all over that guy (obviously it was a man who wrote that). Moreover, most people did wear sneakers, keds and other kinds of flats. 3. Stay as close to the fairs as your budget allows otherwise there is no time to change for the evening or carry a change of cloth with you.
What I did learn from previous years is to plan ahead, to have a schedule of events and to get my own invites. Moreover, all the receptions and special previews start Sunday or Monday the week of Art Basel, way before the general public arrives on Thursday. I am not an artist, nor am I affiliated with any museums or art galleries. So about a month prior I wrote to each and every art fair (about 20 of them) and asked to be on their VIP list. Most of them have a questioner which I filled out truthfully and described my art collection. I didn’t want to embellish my credentials since I was afraid they will ask for proof and I will embarrass myself if caught in a lie. I don’t have any Van Goghs or Picassos, but I do have several contemporary artists with solid resumes, who also happen to be my friends. I also attended some international fairs and openings so I guess I didn’t look too bad on paper.
This exercise got me VIP passes for Untitled, Pulse, NADA, FRiDgE, Satellite, FORM and Red Dot/Spectrum with reciprocity to Context, Art Miami and Aqua. After getting confirmed to the above, I got on their websites and made a list of all their special events, previews and receptions. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get there before Monday night and had to leave Friday morning, so we only had 3 full days, and full indeed they were…
For Monday I had planned eight events, ten for Wednesday and six for Thursday. BTW, I only planned on going to events with passes or invites with free entrance, preferably with drinks served… which meant we are going to miss the Art Basel itself, but as I said this is not about the art.
This is what we managed to do in three days:
Breakfast at private studio with lovely owners, thru Untitled, who kept pouring us champagne accompanied by lively conversation. Wandered wobbling drunkenly thru preview at Untitled. Crushed a pool at a nearby hotel (we had our bathing suits in the car) and slept there for an hour in the shade. Changed for the evening (the only day we managed to get to our rented apartment on 84th and Harding and to change for the evening) and drove to Miami side for Context and Art Miami. The traffic was terrible and so was the parking. The line for Art Miami was a mile long, even for the VIPs, so we went to Context first, but turned out that there was a passage between those two and we sneaked back into Art Miami. Walked briefly thru both; the art looked more interesting than at Untitled but the amount of people was overwhelming and it was difficult to move thru the crowds. So we went to an outside patio where we had some more free drinks with friends whom we met there. Btw, the official sponsor this year was Vodka Tito which they served everywhere with every conceivable mix.
Quiet buzzed we Ubered to Locust Project for the opening reception. The art was not exciting and after trying some of their wine we walked to the opening reception at the Contemporary Art Museum. Unfortunately, the schedule was wrong and the reception ended at 10 instead of 11 and we only caught the tail end of it, but still managed to get couple of more Tito inspired drinks.
Completely drunk and hungry we continued next to a VIP party at IT lounge stopping to finally eat something on the way. At the IT Lounge the party was at full swing and we had some more…free drinks. Well, actually just me because luckily Roman remembered that he has to drive later on. We had another final party to go to for the night at Miami Beach Edition and we Ubered to our car. However, by the time we arrived to the party I was deep in my sleep in the car and there was no way I could get out or put my heels back on.
First we went to the Margulies Collection on the Miami side. There was a bagel breakfast served with some very needed coffee and finally the first time since we arrived I felt that I am truly looking at art. The collection is great and I wholeheartedly recommend going there. After Margulies we went to the Rubell family collection which is very modern and would be enjoyed by someone who loves London Tate. The only piece I enjoyed was an interactive female doll with a nutcracker in her vagina and a mount of walnuts next to her where you could crack and eat them.
We had sometime to kill before Aqua so we went to the Blue Moon Hotel for Fridge Art. The hotel is very cute with an outdoor space and a nice little bar but the exhibit was not to my taste. We relaxed a bit and moved up the street to Aqua. I always loved Aqua and it didn’t disappoint. When I woke up this morning I thought that I will never drink again. This idea lasted till about 3pm when we walked into Aqua where we spent a couple of hours meticulously walking thru every room and constantly refilling our glasses (yes, with Vodka Tito mix). By the time we walked out we missed Ink, which I really wanted to see and walked briefly thru FORM.
After that we couldn’t miss eating on Espanola way, which is a must at every visit. After few margaritas somehow we managed to get to Red Dot/Spectrum but missed Art Beat Miami which I really wanted to see as well and continued to the Wynwood Yard where there was supposed to be some jazz. After sitting there for about half hour with nothing happening we decided to check out the new Four Seasons Hotel on the north beach side. There was nothing happening there as well and we almost went home but got a call from friends that there is an amazing event at Faena hotel with free champagne and a drone show. It was almost midnight and the traffic was terrible. Obviously by the time we got there it was almost the end and I was very disappointed that I didn’t know about this sooner. However, we stayed with friends till very late and ended up having a good time nevertheless.
Our last full day in Miami. It was clear that many more people have been arriving and the traffic was getting heavier and heavier.
By the time we arrived at Pulse, which was supposedly a private VIP breakfast the parking was already full. Can’t imagine how many VIPs they have, meaning we are definitely not that special. The promise of a breakfast evaporated immediately as we saw the very long line for a very small breakfast buffet. It was definitely not thought thru very well. So instead we opted for drinks: Black Label Johnny Walker with ginger soda for breakfast? I am beginning to feel like an alcoholic. It was a good time to go thru the exhibits since everybody was pretty much standing at the food line. My favorite exhibit was my friend’s at the Black & White Art gallery from Brooklyn.
At some point we succumb to hunger and ended up having the carb laden breakfast with some friends from New York. After couple of hours at Pulse we decided that we must enjoy the weather at least a little bit and went to see friends who live on 100 and Collins. We spent the rest of the afternoon at their pool drinking lots of wine and relaxing. We had a great time but it also meant that we missed NADA, Satellite previews and cocktail reception back at Pulse. The fact that the fairs are in two different areas, Miami Beach and Miami makes it very difficult to navigate thru them and to see everything. Something always gotta give..
We did make it on time back to Faena for the 8pm drone show, which was amazing and took an Uber to PAMM where they had a preview party staring at 9 pm. Frankly, I was wait listed to the party but never confirmed. Nevertheless, I talked my way in. The museum is beautiful and after going thru it we stayed awhile for the outdoor concert. We didn’t stay too late since the way back to our hotel was long and we had an early flight to catch the next day.
Overall, this was awesome three days and I definitely want to do it again….BUT in comfortable shoes.