Art Basel Miami Beach has been on my art dealer bucket list for a while. The stars had never quite aligned, but they did this year. And since 2014 marks our first year with a retail gallery (in our 42nd year of business), it seemed like a perfect time to check things out in sunny Florida. So plans were made to drive down with some dealer friends, stopping in shops all along the way to search for “roadshow treasures”, and spend 6 nights immersed in the spectacle. The center of the art world – GLOBALLY – is Miami and Miami Beach during this week. And by center one can feel free to picture a black hole. And so my journey began…
One of the potential misconceptions about ABMB is that it is just one show. It is actually a huge collective of art, design, fashion, music, and museum shows, parties and events which run practically round the clock. It might be best to provide a visual of just the exhibition and museum events map. Feeling overwhelmed yet? I was. I’m not sure anyone attending ABMB doesn’t feel that way. If you’d like a nice summary of the shows and museum events, click here.
If I had to choose one main focus for my week, it was the secondary market offerings at Art Basel proper. Two of my days were spent in the flagship art fair, which had a boggle the mind feel to it. I will admit to being lost TWICE on my first day. Literally lost. As in if someone said “Can you point me to the exit?” I would have said “I have no idea”. None. Oddly, instead of being unsettling it was sort of freeing. Here are just a few of the sights which resonated with me at Art Basel itself:
At night, the party circuit comes alive. Here’s outside the Bass Museum opening party. Shiny happy people amongst palm trees and some interesting outdoor sculpture.
In the midst of all the hubbub one can forget the beauty of Southeast Florida. I don’t really miss Florida until I visit, when I remind myself “Florida is really nice”. Our small apartment complex was in SoFi (South of Fifth) which was quiet, perfectly situated, and a few minutes from parks and the beautiful beach.
Every day began the same way, as physical endurance became more and more important as the week wore on. One helpful thing…a good cup of coffee.
One very interesting phenomenon was the fact 99% of visitors were basically taking selfies and instagramming their way through the aisles and booths. Visiting with one dealer in his booth who I’ve known for years I nearly had an emergency case of Agoraphobia. There were about 45 people crowded in amongst the Picasso’s and Chagall’s, and I thought the local fire marshall would need to come to just his booth. As we spoke, he deftly stepped away at one point to wave off a couple taking a two person selfie in front of a $7,000,000.00 Picasso, the backs of their heads just inches away from the canvas. Needless to say he and I both marveled at the changes in our business. It was, to utilize an art world term…Surreal…
My fair checklist ended up being Art Basel Miami Beach, NADA, SCOPE, Untitled, and Pulse. As this was my first Art Basel, and since my last day Sunday was also my birthday, I decided to bring home a souvenir. The day started with a happy birthday cake from my friends, complete with trick candles. And as Scope was my last fair, I stumbled upon a gallery in LA called “thinkspace”, who’s booth showcased emerging artists. They had a wall of 12″ x 12″ panels by about 25 different artists, and one caught my eye. It is by Pittsburgh based artist Mike Egan, and is titled “The Devil’s Rejects”.
Exhausted, we began our ride back North, choosing a direct approach with no stops other than for gas and coffee, as a major storm system was brewing. We made it back just in the nick of time, thanks in part to this beverage refueling truck:
All in all my first Art Basel Miami Beach was enlightening, grueling, exciting, challenging, and fun. Can’t wait for my next one!