Feature image by Shepard Fairey
Greetings from Miami! We are here at Art Basel 2012, the premiere showcase of the world’s finest 250 galleries and over 2,000 artists, not to mention the endless walls and murals executed all over the streets of Miami. We pulled up to an overwhelming crowd of collectors, gallerists, artists, and interested parties outside the convention center, and that’s actually where I wish we’d stayed to some extent. That’s where the purest and truest art lives: outside the convention center and in the streets and programs of the surrounding neighborhoods. Not to take anything away from the main Art Basel venue, because there are some great things going on inside the massive convention center, as evidenced by some of the teaser photos we shared with you on Instagram throughout the day. But in my humble opinion, the art is more alive on the streets of any major city stretching the globe, Miami this time of year in particular. The seemingly exclusive selling of art takes away from the work itself and a little piece of the purity dies with each pricetag and transportation to every temporary destination.
Some highlights from Day 1 inside the convention center:
*Allora and Calzadilla’s massive Santa Claus accompanying a giant missile
*British visual artists David Shrigley’s Various Titles collection (which Shepard Fairey and I both enjoyed…we’ll get to that in a bit), including one of the most clever, “Punk Is Dormant”
*Friedrich Kunath’s We Are Not As Far West As We Suppose We Are, which evoked sentiments of Dali’s Hallucinogenic Toreador
*Hema Upadhyay’s rendition of Wave
*Takashi Murakami’s newest installment of acrylics, including KAWS
*Hank Willis Thomas’s collection of thought-provoking phrases, including “Give Us Our Own Future”
*Cory Arcangel’s Clinton Diptych, whose subject matter during these times struck a chord of nostalgic ’90s Bill Clinton-era America.
*Posthumous originals from the likes of Diego Rivera, Andy Warhol, and Frida Kahlo
After taking in the first half of the action inside the convention center, we ventured across the street for a splash of Design Miami, and who do you suppose would walk in just ahead of us? None other than Chicago’s own Kanye West. If you’ve seen the video of Jay-Z riding the subway to his show and consequently chatting it up with an unsuspecting, older music fan, Kanye taking in Design Miami is, on a different plane, quite similar. He had no noticeable entourage. He wore normal clothes. He drank champagne like the rest of the show goers (okay, that may not be as relatable as the rest, but you get the point). The highlight of Design Miami was the temporary printer that took stills of onlookers utilizing some cutting-edge technology.
The rest of the show featured hella high-end interior design, some of which to be purchased by yours truly for me and mi familia after I sell my second book. That’s right folks. Your fearless A&E Editor plans to sell multiple books…
Some of the prices were flat out ridiculous, even to some serious collectors, as evidenced by some overheard conversations among them. Our appreciation is priceless, even through all the overwhelmingly large quantities of art throughout Miami. Even after looking at art all day, walking around looking for more art, finding new places displaying art, we still can (and did) look at and talk about MORE ART.
In a similar way that marriage is not for everyone, Art Basel is not for everyone. You have to be prepared to really commit, really dig in and get to know the art. You have to love the shit out of it. You have to want to take it in with all of your being, and then you have to take it to the next level and elaborate on it with more than just a full wallet and eager spending sprees. Or do you?
The Art Talk series featuring a sit down with Josh Baer and Marc Glimcher brought to our attention many topics, including The Age of The Empire, referring to gallery sizes taking over and the question of why people are interested in art.
So it begs the question: why are people interested in art? Philosophically speaking, the artist speaks to the part of us that we are, for whatever reason, unable or unwilling to communicate on our own. We may feel a certain emotion, believe in a set of values or whatever, stand for a set of circumstances, and the artist visually brings these things to the immediate forefront of our attention. We all have our own pallet, our own aesthetic, and when the artist or the gallery or the movement hits on these opinions and feelings, it truly is a remarkable and fascinating phenomenon. And this ain’t no new thang. The difference now is the fact that we’re living in the age of access to endless information. Endless information! And endless opportunity! The art never ends, and it never will.
So, what about art are people interested in beyond the opportunity to connect with their own primordial instincts? And what about these instincts make up our being as lovers of art? The beautiful thing is that it all remains open for interpretation. Everything.
Later in the day, we took in a little Wynwood teaser, which we’ll share pictures with you when the time comes. Some highlights from our initial visit to this street art Mecca:
The brand spanking new Shepard Fairey mural, including a tribute to Wynwood Walls founder and visionary Tony Goldman front and center.
An exciting new Anthony Lister piece (1of 2 during our visit)
Retna’s giant facade filled piece, ROA, and he entire Walls of Wynwood setup, pictures of which we’ll share with you in our full slideshow.
From there, we proceeded to Miami’s Design District for a pop-up by a San Antonio design firm called Mestizo City and their Breakfast Burritos at Tiffany’s installment. The show stopping Jarritos fortress was a force to be reckoned with, and the passers by were treated to free drinks, a taco truck just outside, collages of important cultural happenings, a photo booth, and more.
What drew us there led to more “only in Miami” moments, including carpeted streets and sidewalks showcasing Bentleys and Beamers, Architecture for Dogs (which none other than, you guessed it, Kimbo Slice entered behind us), an Invader sighting (who’s been in town for a bit putting up mosaics all over town), another one of Chicago’s finest, Theaster Gates performing with his clay in his veins, and pop ups everywhere from actual galleries to furniture stores to storefronts and walls to high end jewelry shops. Who knew? Only in Miami, folks. Only in Miami…
The extreme competitor in me was a bit angry that we don’t have this sort of scene anywhere in Chicago. Then, the art lover in me emerged, rationalized, and came to the conclusion that this exclusivity is what makes Art Basel, and America in some senses, so great. Just enjoy, y’all. Just enjoy…
Day Two recap coming up next.
Invader count: 1