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Doing It Right: Art Basel Miami Beach
by Joel Kuennen

Art Basel Miami Beach (ABMB) is the mother of American art fairs (you know this by now). Celebrating a decade this year, ABMB has, from the beginning, been a city-wide event. Every year, a new satellite fair/festival/happening/event is added to the already art-packed weekend and yet it seems Miami has an art tolerance on par with your average Baseler’s liver. ABMB became the destination par excellence in the art world, not only as a way to escape the cold and reach a massive collector base in Miami, but because of the amazingly interconnected nature of the fair weekend that celebrates everything from classical to contemporary, street to gallery. What follows is a must-see itinerary for any Baseler out there, ready to glut themselves on a smorgasbord of Art, Charles Shaw, Becks and free hors d'oeuvres.


Wednesday, Dec. 5th

Wake up with bright eager eyes. Brush teeth, pull up your linen slacks, button up that guayabera you bought the night before and throw on some Ray Bans. Shit’s about to get smooth. While you’re still on your hotel’s WiFi, download the ABMB iPhone app, it’s worth it. Walk out of your hotel in Miami Beach (because where else would you stay?) and walk down the sand towards what looks like a beached white whale. Untitled takes the form of a pavilion on the beach designed by architecture firm K/R and is the brainchild of curator Omar Lopez-Chahoud. Be sure to check out the Coco Fusco piece, The Empty Plaza, a video installation comprised of a long shot of Plaza de la Revolución in Havana, narrated by the famous e-journalist, Yoani Sanchez. Expect Untitled to be young, hip, challenging and exciting: a good way to start the day. Stop for mimosas over brunch (food optional).

Head over to Midtown to check out the satellite openings. SCOPE Miami is a mainstay on the scene, representing a mid-level gallery field with plenty of emerging artists and orgs participating. Be sure to check out their amazing programming that includes works by Zeger Reyers, Simon Bilodeau, Jaume Plensa (though you already know what it’s going to be) and Kevin Cooley’s cathode ray tubes. Down the road, Miami Project is artMRKT’s Miami, well, project. Plenty of West Coast galleries populate this fair, with even a few from Portland such as PDX Contemporary. Be sure to check out Catharine Clark Gallery (San Francisco), Conduit Gallery (Dallas), and DNA (Provincetown), just to name a few. Mosey down the street, check out CONTEXT/Art Miami, mainly for the pretty impressive and ambitious projects that include Banksy Out of Context (5 walls with Banksy stencils have been transported to Miami for this) and Sugar & Gomorrah (a carnival ride based on the biblical tale with a “contemporary twist”).

Take a break. Art means nothing to you anymore. Head back to the hotel, regroup, take a nap or go for a swim. At 8:30, head to Collins Park for Art Public Opening Night. Local food trucks will provide the nosh as you take in performances by Jason and Alicia Hall Moran, My Barbarian and Alex Israel. Then head to the New World Center for Music, Magic & Melancholia and listen to artists’ responses to Sigur Rós and Antony and the Johnsons. Bring a blanket and smuggle a bottle of wine for a relaxing picnic.

By now, you’ll have made some sketchy friends on the green who assure you of an awesome after party that you totally gotta go to bro. Be adventurous. Go with, if it’s a bust, ohh well, you still have four more nights of insanity ahead of you. Or just go to the SoHo Beach House for Chanel and’s Beachside BBQ that starts at 10:30 PM.

Josef Albers, Homage to the Square, 1970; © VG Bild-Kunst / Courtesy Galerie Thomas.

Thursday, Dec. 6th

Art Basel Miami Beach baby! It’s the big day; ABMB opens its doors to the public so plan on being shanghaied on the island with everyone else. Shake off the hangover from the night before with some hair of the dog and walk down the beach to Joe’s Take Away for a fresh crabby brunch (they have their own fisheries). Then walk up through Lummus Park. Keep your eye on the sky as you might catch a work by Ed Ruscha, Richard Prince, Jenny Holzer, or Martin Creed flowing behind an airplane. Get back to the convention center to see Richard Tuttle’s artist talk at 10 AM. Check out the galleries for a while (it’s why you came, right?). I’d highly recommend Lia Ruma to see Marina Abramovic’s crystal head sculptures, and Esther Schipper has some cool prints from AA Bronson. Galerie Urs Meile has some new work from Ai Wei Wei. Get your color theory on and see Josef Albers at Waddington Custot. See the origin of the universe at Tomio Koyama Gallery then break it down with Jacob Hashimoto at Mary Boone. Metro Pictures is worth checking out for Louise Lawler and Olaf Breuning. Go stare at Tomás Saraceno’s aluminum clouds at Tonya Bonakdar Gallery. If you have an early 20th Century fetish like I do, check out Galerie 1900-2000 to see some Man Ray, Duchamp and Picabia. Get giddy for being close to deceased greatness. Helley Nahmad Gallery brought Picasso and a cool Calder sculpture. From Berlin, Galerie Michael Haas is bringing some beautiful Neue Sachlichkeit work from Otto Dix and George Grosz – if that’s not your thing, they’ve also got Delvaux, Magritte, Matta, more Picabia and Cornell. Gagosian is bringing Cy Twombly’s last paintings. Sigh.

Now, for a break, check out the Brazilian contingent for a healthy dose of chaotic color: Casa Triângulo, Silvia Cintra + Box4, Galeria Fortes Vilaça and Vermelho. Then head to Sean Kelly Gallery and see Laurent Grasso’s Studies Into the Past. Stare. Go do penance at L & M Gallery.

You’ve made it half-way through. Take a break, grab a cheap and delicious sandwich from La Sandwicherie or if you didn’t spend all your money on art already, go to OLA at the Sanctuary Hotel. Then head back to the Auditorium, Hall D, and check out the discussion Black Dada: How does it feel to be a problem?. Artist Adam Pendleton speaks with PS1 associate curator, Jenny Schlenzka. Then come party with us at the Aqua Hotel for Aqua Art Miami. Set in one of the coolest little deco hotels in Miami Beach, Aqua is full of emerging galleries and (shameless plug) you’ll get to see the ArtSlant Prize winners at our booth (and probably me too). By the by, sign up at our booth and get 20% off any art purchase on our website (excluding the Prize winners’ work). At 9 PM, Lauri Stallings’ GloATL performance troupe will migrate from their installed performance at Aqua to the Beach; watch as even the art-inclined are freaked out by people in nude bodysuits dancing down the sidewalk.

Go with the flow but don’t forget to soak your shirt in the bathroom sink (cold water) before you go to bed — it’s got red wine all over it.

Robin Rhode, Open Court, 2012; Courtesy Lehmann Maupin, NY.

Friday, Dec 7th

ABMB, part II. Today might be a little rough. You might have a metallic taste in your mouth (for some reason), you might feel a little lethargic but you better get pepped up. Read your horoscope, it’ll be positive. For brunch today, hit up Otentic, a little creperie and French bistro that’ll set you right.

Now walk up Collins and check out all the little galleries and spaces you vaguely remember from the night before. Some might look better, some might look worse, it’s to be expected. Once you get back to the convention center, start strong and check out Yvon Lambert gallery from Paris. You’ll see some cool rubber statues from Nick van Woert, some Jenny Holzer and Andres Serrano. Make your disjointed way over to Landau Fine Art, check out a Picasso and Christoph Kiefhaber’s work, relate with the pictured subjects and feel better about how put-together you are. Go to Lehmann Maupin, buy the Angel Otero and stare at Robin Rhode’s whimsical animations. Fuck it, buy one of those too.

Head over to Marlborough Gallery, tell them the programming at their Chelsea gallery has been outstanding this year and then inquire about the Francis Bacon piece they are supposedly bringing. Try to keep a straight face when they tell you how many millions it will cost you. After they scowl and shoo you out, head over to Robert Miller Gallery and check out their unbelievable collection that includes: Jean-Michel Basquiat, Louise Bourgeois, Lee Krasner, Yayoi Kusama, and Robert Mapplethorpe. Sploosh. Keep the fever going and go gawk at the Ruscha and Nauman pieces at Franklin Parrasch Gallery. Now, don’t freak out, walk calmly over to Michael Rosenfeld Gallery and evacuate yourself as you stare at Marcel Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase. If you have a couple million laying around, buy it (duh). You’ve fallen in love with geometric abstraction again and who can blame you? So go to SCAI The Bathhouse (an awesome little gallery from Tokyo) and stare into a colorful void courtesy of Yusuke Komuta, Tatsuo Miyajima, Natsuyuki Nakanishi, and Noriko Ambe.

After you’ve had your fill of ABMB, walk across the street to check out Design Miami, if only to see the gorgeous, other-worldly entrance designed by Snarkitecture. While you’re there, get dazzled by Asif Kahn’s collaboration with Swarovski that mimics parhelia, the rare winter halos around the sun. Purty.

Ok, enough art for the day (jk); get your art/drink on at Absolut Art Bureau’s pop-up bar on South Beach built by Cuban collective Los Carpinteros. Make friends, try to stay in Miami Beach and don’t stay out past sunrise, you’re going to the mainland tomorrow. If you haven’t made any savvy friends yet, don’t worry. Check out The Delano for the pop up version of David Lynch's sensational Parisian nightclub, Silencio.

Ryan McGinness, 33 Women, 2010; Courtesy Wynwood Walls.

Saturday, Dec. 8th

You’re a mess. Be sure to shower today. Go to Tropical Beach Café for a kick-in-the-genitals café con leche and Cuban croquette sandwich. Fat = good. The key is to get over to Midtown/Wynwood by 11 AM for Joanne Mattera’s tour of CONTEXT. Now that you’ve seen that, it’s time for a journey through Wynwood. First things first, go to Wynwood Walls and just stroll around for a bit. You won’t be sorry. Grab something to sate that rumbly tummy at one of the lurking food trucks. After that, head back to the cubes and walk down to Red Dot Art Fair for some cool emerging art. Finally, head over to Fountain Art Fair for the edgiest contemporary art fair to make its way to Miami. Check out Hec One Love’s Miami Street Art exhibition for straight-from-the-source perspective on all that you just saw at the Walls. Mr Somebody & Mr Nobody is a collaboration between South African born Heidi Chisholm and Sharon Lombard that explores identity and culture through gold-plated chicken carcasses. Go to McCaig + Welles for some down-home Williamsburg hipster art. That’s not negative, by the way, they do make good art, sometimes. Then check out Correa, Hagberg, Jimenez, Menard and Stewart for some great screenprinting. Basically, just keep looking around until 7 PM until the Miami New Times-sponsored Tiki Disco party. Drink Tito’s, little to no hangover. Then head back to the beach for Crash the Ball, the official Miami Art Museum after party, food by Waterfront Bistro.

Sunday, Dec. 9th

Beach day. Hit up the Absolut Art Bureau again and just take it easy. You made it! You’re alive! Anything you loved, go see it again but otherwise, you’ll need this day to unwind and make any last purchases. Fair warning, most fairs will close a bit earlier today so try to make your rounds before 5 PM.

Monday, Dec. 10th

DETOX: take the ridiculous number of wristbands you’ve accumulated off your arm and try like hell not to miss your flight home.

Joel Kuennen

(Image on top: Makoto Saito, Prayer (Yellow), 2011-2012; Paul Kasmin Gallery.)

Posted by Joel Kuennen on 12/4/12

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