Home Travel It’s Worth Going To Art Basel, Even If You ‘Ain’t Go No Money For No Million Dollar Painting’

It’s Worth Going To Art Basel, Even If You ‘Ain’t Go No Money For No Million Dollar Painting’

by Dewan Gibson
Racing team artwork as seen at Art Basel Miami

Art Basel Miami first came to my attention when Diddy went down there to hit on barely legals and purchase a painting for $20 million. Coincidentally, this was around the same time I began visiting museums during road trips as an enjoyable, low-cost alternative to bar hopping. But as far as going to Basel, I wasn’t sure if it was worth it for me, a regular ol’ guy whose art collection is made up of whatever my kids tape to the walls. However, my best friend, a budding collector of African American art, asked me to come down to Miami for Art Basel 2018. My first thought was, “I ain’t got no money for no million dollar painting.” (I think in Ebonics, speak Standard American English from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and switch back to my native Ebonics at 5:01 p.m.) Anyway, I was curious and agreed to go. What followed was a weekend of art mania. 

In The Belly Of The Beast:Miami Beach Convention Center

Art Basel 2018 was held at the Miami Beach Convention Center, which was huge but also just a small part of the overall Miami Art Week. There were over 1,200 galleries, thousands of artists (or at least people who dress in a way that makes me think they’re artists), and hundreds of parties and events–for both peasants and royalty. Here are some of my favorite “works,” as the cool kids say, from the main stage at the convention center: 

A painting of Kim Jong Un getting a haircut by a black man as seen at Art Basel Miami 2018.
A blue painting in a diamond shape as seen at Art Basel 2018.
Painting of well-dressed black men, Art Basel 2018 Miami.
sculpture of woman with purple hair sitting atop an animal with pants

You Can’t Make A Grand Entrance If No One’s There

After a few hours at the convention center, we drove over to the old RC Cola plant for the Basel House Mural Festival, and then across the street to HIVE, a free “cocktail and culinary village.” Because we’re old we showed up shortly after the events started. The murals were just being painted but we did have free drinks and got the chance to watch a skateboarder do tricks while wearing thigh highs. (Speaking of old…we were supposed to go DJ Jazzy Jeff’s party later that night, but ended up taking a nap that lasted just about the whole night and early morning. Sad!) 

Mural at Basel House in Miami of three women with turquoise hair and faces covered.
Woman wearing thigh highs skateboarding at Basel House in Miami.

In Search Of Black Art

Our next day began at PRIZM Art Fair, which highlighted artists from the African diaspora. It was my favorite exhibition of the weekend, and I’m not just saying that because I’m a brotha in a swirl marriage who has had his blackness questioned by fake deep people on the internet. Just look at the art, man. 

Paintings from the Africana disapora as seen at Prizm Art Fair in Miami.
Beaded purple artwork by Felandus Thames, seen at PRIZM Art Fair in Miami.
Royal black girl painting by Alicia Brown
Colorful artwork of woman holding stained glass by Paula Wilson at Prizm Art Fair in Miami.

Collectors Get All The Love

Before heading to a private party (tip/warning: art agents swarm you at parties if you say you’re a collector), we took a stroll through the neighborhood of Wynwood, a gentrifying area with street art on almost every building, except for the projects. The theme of the murals seemed to be love, and at times lust. I guess it feels the same at first anyway. 

Street art mural of voluptuous woman.
"Unite In Love" mural of two black and white women holding in each other.
End gun violence mural showing eyes looking through a peace sign.
Wynwood Miami sculpture of large cat resting on jet

I’ll Be Back For More Than Two Days

Even if you’re not art collector or rich guy, Art Basel is still worth a visit. It’s size can feel overwhelming, but if all else fails, at least you’re in Miami during the winter. I plan to return in 2019, provided I spend the next year in the gym so I have enough energy to stay awake for DJ Jazzy Jeff’s party, among many, many other parties. Oh yeah, Basel is not pronounced like the plant. Oops. 

-Dewan Gibson 

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