Everything You Must See and Do at Art Basel Miami 2017
Originally founded in Basel, Switzerland, in the 1970s, the elite weekend landed in the sunshine city in 2002, attracting 30,000 attendees and taking on a fresh persona. Art enthusiasts and newcomers alike could admire the works of struggling and iconic creatives from around the globe, surrounded by tropical beaches, diverse culture and a style-conscious crowd.
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Today, Basel incorporates the entire city, beyond the convention center and galleries. Smaller satellite fairs show boundary-pushing exhibitions, top fashion labels, brands and musicians offer interactive experiences and performances, and local businesses and landmarks welcome visitors with unique events.
We’ve gathered our must-do list for the 2017 season, which includes some local color and adventure — we think they’re as inspiring as the art on display.
Tour Wynwood Street Art by Scooter
In between gallery hopping and convention center visits, you will want to get outside. This is Miami, after all. Luckily, you’re in the presence of the country’s most renowned neighborhood for street murals. The Wynwood Art District, once an industrial area, was converted by creatives in the early 2000s to increase foot traffic. Its enormous walls are now covered with works by legendary street artists — and the area is booming with trendy eateries, bars and shops. Wynwood Scooter Rentals (inside Lux Moto) offers rentals and tours of the murals with insight on the artists.
Explore a Gallery in a Hotel Room
There are many satellite art fairs to choose from outside of the main event at the Miami Beach Convention Center, and our favorite is Aqua Art Miami, which transforms a boutique hotel into a gallery. Rooms at the Aqua Hotel are filled with everything from photography to sculpture and after exploring every nook, attendees can meet for a drink in the core, retro-designed courtyard. The setting is more casual and intimate than traditional galleries, so expect to stay for a while and make new friends.
View Art While Working on Your Tan
Phillip K. Smith III, a Palm Springs native, considers himself a light-based artist, and Miami Beach is quite the muse. His 120 Degree Arc East-Southeast , a mirrored installation planted in the middle of Faena Beach is a must-see. This is a piece you can easily return to many times and your perspective will change depending on the time of day, weather and status of beachgoers. The beams capture reflections of sand, ocean and sky along with anything else in its path. Perception also changes depending on where you stand when viewing the structure, so apply that sunscreen, then take your time exploring.
Party at the Versace Mansion
Now known as The Villa Casa Casuarina, the former Versace Mansion is back in the spotlight as we pay homage to fashion legend, Gianni Versace, who was murdered outside of his home 20 years ago. His life and death are being immortalized again in the media and TV and film. In its heyday, the mansion was known as Mediterranean opulence where celebs and supermodels could be spotted on the famed Ocean Drive in South Beach. Today, it’s a boutique hotel, restaurant and venue that will be hosting private parties during Basel. If you can’t get on the guest list, you can still book a table for dinner.
Amp Up at the Prada Club
Have a true throwback neon experience at The Prada Double Club. Presented by Fadazione Prada (a contemporary art institution co-chaired by Miuccia Prada) and created by Carsten Holler, the pop-up venue links art, design, lifestyle and music together for an interactive experience. Be prepared to immerse yourself into a black and white film and bright tropical garden.
Judge a Street Artist Battle
For something unconventional, where you can see artists in action (and loudly voice your opinion) head to Secret Walls street artist battle on Friday December 8th in Wynwood. The group, which was founded in London as an alternative to highbrow art gallery exhibitions, now hosts events in 80 cities and 40 countries. You’ll get to witness famed and amateur talents compete while spraying and painting monochromatic masterpieces for an eclectic audience.
Preview a Designer Airbnb
“A Wild Thing,” commissioned by Airbnb, allows visitors to snoop around an exact replica of a designer’s home in Belgium. Fien Muller and Hannes Van Severen open their “house” to art and design enthusiasts, while offering narratives, sounds and views from their windows for an immersive experience. The hosts create furniture and other art, which is found throughout their living space. The event is part of Design Miami and is open through December 10.
Let Vizcaya Be Your Muse
Creatives, design-lovers and history fans will love taking in the views at Villa Vizcaya in Miami’s lush neighborhood of Coconut Grove. Built in the early 1900s by wealthy business tycoon, James Deering, Vizcaya resembles an Italian palace with Spanish details. It has served as inspiration for many artists, like John Singer Sargent, and has been the backdrop of art-lovers films. It’s a city staple and peaceful escape from the trendsetter scene. We recommend the backyard view of Biscayne Bay and sea creature-adorned barge.
Refuel with Cuban Culture
Your schedule may be too packed to hop the 45-minute flight to Cuba, but you can still experience authentic Cuban culture in Miami’s Little Havana. Grab a car to Calle Ocho, where you can sip Cuban café at walk-up windows (just as you would in Havana), hear live music, visit local art galleries and sample authentic Cuban food at one of the many historic eateries. We recommend El Exquisito and Versailles.
Mingle at the Surf Lodge
Our favorite Montauk escape is creating a pop-up at the W Hotel South Beach. There will be a variety of private parties (including a tribute to Andy Warhol). Expect the fashion and hospitality crowds (and everyone from New York City) to be there. If you can’t get on the guest list, we suggest hitting the still newish Faena Hotel for a drink. For those Miami newbies, a day or evening at the Delano’s pool bar and patio is a must.