Art Basel has been one of the premiere arts and culture events in America since 2002, when the world art community started to descend upon Miami for four days of official exhibitions and countless related events. This year, Basel is open to the public December 3-6, showcasing the works of some of the world’s leading modern and contemporary art galleries.
During this time of year, I usually find myself in Wynwood, the city’s booming hipster stronghold. It’s where I’ve spent my nights aimlessly moving down the streets, drunkenly examining a 30-foot sculpture of a palm tree made fully out of raw ground beef and found cigarette butts built by a guy with two too many neck tattoos.
This year however, I’ve become an adult (about nine years too late if you ask my rabbi) and was invited to one of the most sought-after premiers of the week: The Miami Project and Art on Paper Galleries. I arrived at the Deauville Beach Resort on Collins Avenue Tuesday night after sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic for an hour on I-95 and if you’ve been in that situation before, you know how not surprised I was when I found that it was caused by a mere fender-bender near an off ramp. I attended the invite-only opening with our lovely Director of Content and fellow art-lover Melanie Martinez as I had two passes. Suffice it to say, we were pretty much the youngest people in there and gave some classic head nods to several “This is affordable, only $950” sales pitches. Though we weren’t there as collectors, we appreciated the opportunity to be in the midst of groundbreaking, never-before-seen art and tremendous artists.
We walked slowly through the ballrooms in awe, an unseen force drawing us closer and closer to specific pieces. If I were forced to name three artists whose works most impacted me they would be Christian Rex Van Minnen, Scott Scheidly, and Juan Travieso. Melanie and I had the pleasure of speaking with Mr. Travieso, who spotted us admiring his paintings entitled Change/Cambio. Born in Havana, Cuba, Travieso moved to the United States when he was ten years old. His pieces on display were commentaries on Cuban-American relations as seen through the eyes of a child, though there was nothing childish about his executions. Travieso recalls that as a child, “propaganda was shoved in your face.” He chose to portray this truth through the use of cartoons, emphasizing what he calls the “sublime elements of American culture” as he envisioned them as a young boy.
The Miami Project is undoubtedly a beautifully curated event, with some of the world’s top galleries showing and, although the place is teeming with horn-rim, too-tight-blazer, loafers-with-no-socks-wearing collectors, the work is accessible to neophytes in the art world. As long as you appreciate art in its greatly varied forms, you’ll be pleasantly surprised as you walk through the ballrooms of the Deauville.
The Miami Project opens to the public Wednesday, December 2nd through Sunday, December 6th with hours from 11:00am to 7:00pm (6:00pm on Sunday). In addition, there are also exhibits at 72nd St and Ocean Terrace, 46th St and Collins Avenue, and the Convention Center at 1700 Washington Avenue.