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:
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!)
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.
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.
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.