To be honest, I fully intended to host this Art Basel video like Anthony Bourdain or try my best to emulate the travel show hosts I see on tv. But then I had a second thought, why don’t I just be myself and tell my story. That is a lot easier for me. I’m not very good at being other people.
My trip to Art Basel started in the Lower East Side. First thing I did was catch a super early flight to Fort Lauderdale because the tickets were a better deal than flying into Miami.
I skipped the rental car this time because it’s made more sense to just cab it everywhere and to be honest, parking in South Beach can be a bit of a hassle.
I booked a room at a hotel on Collins not too far from Wet Willies. It was walking distance from Art Basel, as well the food, drink and the other art shows.
Art Basel takes place at the Miami Beach Convention Center and the show itself is huge. I learned pretty quickly that comfy shoes are a must because there is a fair amount of walking. My kicks are pretty comfy but I will say, at the end of each day my feet were KILLING me.
The amount of art that I saw was staggering. Art Basel is this beautiful maze of over 200 international modern and contemporary art galleries. Those galleries are displaying artworks by about 4,000 artists, easily. That’s everything from paintings to sculptures to installations, photography, film, digital art…you name it.
Before entering the building, I did a little bit of research. Nothing too heavy, but I had an idea of the artists and galleries I wanted to checkout. That way I didn’t miss the work that truly moved me while exploring the show. Art Basel has an app that’s pretty thorough, but you should also have Artsy on your phone, especially if you’re going to be exploring art in other destinations.
Which brings me to my next point, Art Basel is way more than what takes place in the Convention Center. There are literally dozens of other satellite fairs to checkout. They each have their own vibe and flavor, depending on the time of day you go.
I checked out SCOPE International Contemporary Art Show because I knew I’d see a slew of my favorite artists, as well as a bunch of fresh work from emerging artists.
One night, I stumbled upon a show called Aqua Art Miami. It was on Collins. I was walking back to my hotel, I saw a line, it peaked my curiosity so I went in. It was cool because they gutted this hotel of its furnishings and turned each room into gallery.
OK, let’s talk about food for a second.
Right by my hotel was a spot called Naked Taco, I ate there like 5 times for lunch and dinner. I kid you not. Don’t judge me. I’m always down to discover and try new food spots but when I find something that just works, you’ll see me again… and again, and again if need be. They also make great Pineapple Mojitos with Coconut sugar.
Ok so, from South Beach I hopped in a cab and headed to Wynwood. It took about 30 minutes but that was mostly due to traffic.
Wynwood is kind of like Bushwick out in Brooklyn. It used to be a rough area and while I was there a local was telling me about a riot that took place but now Wynwood is drenched in art and culture.
A good place to start is 2nd Ave. Start at Wynwood walls and you’ll see work from artists from literally all across the globe.
Inside, there are murals of course but there are also 2 or three traditional galleries with a bunch of great work, a spot to get some food, and if you’re on you’re on a health kick there is a juice spot called JugoFresh.
Ok, here’s a tip most videos or blogs won’t tell you.
There aren’t that many bathrooms in Wynwood, so I highly recommend to use the restroom at JugoFresh before you leave the property to explore, because once you get out there on your on your own.
If you really want to catch the flavor of Wynwood, you have to explore. If I were you I’d just zigzag through the back blocks.
Trust me, you will find all kinds of hidden gems.
While I was walking around I saw super dope graffiti, murals galore, some of which took up entire buildings. I also had the opportunity to catch various artists bringing their ideas to life too. Most of them are approachable, but if they had headphones on or if it looks like they’re in the zone, I wouldn’t bother them.
Just a heads up, if you’re taking pictures of artists working in their element, be mindful of their desire for anonymity. Some folks don’t want their faces shown and others don’t mind, you can easily get the answer by looking at pictures they post on their IG or an easier option would be to ask them. They might even get a kick out of it.
As I got deeper and deeper into Wynwood, I kept finding more and more cool stuff. I found this ice cream shop called Serendipity Creamery and they had the killer strawberry cones. I found the old RC Cola Plant which was just gorgeously bombed top-to-bottom in tags, throwies, burners and blockbusters.
Wynwood at night is pretty dope too. They had a festival called Hive. It was like a big party that housed a skate park, good music, food trucks and more art. They even had Pete from the Airbrush Factory doing old school Shirt Kings type airbrushing on tees for free, so you know I got one for New York Said.
Before I made it back to New York, I stopped by the Faena to check out the Gold Mammoth Bones by Damien Hirst and Science Ltd, visited the Public Sector which is a sculpture garden curated by the Public Art Fund, ate more tacos, then took dip in the pool so I would be nice and exhausted for my flight back home.
And that’s how I did Art Basel.