Art Basel Miami Beach 2011… what a decade!

Judy and Champagne, "Diva" necklace from Antico MuranoIt’s Monday morning after “Art Basel week” and for art lovers around the globe it feels like the day after Christmas or Hanukah.  All the bright, shiny presents were opened, ripped open, to discover the joys inside.  The new toys have been discovered, played with and now put away in the closet.  The new sweaters tried on and now folded neatly in their new drawers.  The memories of rich meals still heavy in our bellies. The new gym routine can wait a few more days.

It’s time to relish the gifts of the past week.  Art Basel Miami Beach 2011, or ABMB, concluded the tenth consecutive year.  The year-long preparation culminated in an intense myriad of art, performing art, design, jewelry, cars, fashion, music, dancing, food and wine. 

While the figures of the sale of art are still being compiled, the ripple effect of the frenzied week of art fairs and exhibitions with their competing vernissages is indelible in our minds…

I visited Miami Beach last November, specifically to attend ABMB 2010.  The trip was comparative research for my pending projects in the forthcoming Venice Biennale.  Nothing prepared me for the experience, and how incredibly consuming the week of art has become here.  Returning back to San Francisco, I announced to my friends and colleagues that I was relocating to Miami Beach. Yes, relocating.

Flash forward to ABMB 2011, and here I am, a proud newcomer to “the beach.”  I share with my friends around the world every day (thank you fb) how ecstatic I am to be living in this amazing city.  And now, the day after ABMB 2011, I am even more delighted than before.

The pulse of Miami Beach, already vibrant, races furiously for this week of art and culture.  During the past year of preparation, art aficionados train like triathletes.  Who’s going to be hot this year?  What will surprise us?  Who will disappoint?  Who’s buying?  Who’s gone up, and who’s gone down?  How much can we consume of the simultaneous fairs and programs that now compete for our attention… How can we measure the success- from the actual sale of art to publicity, buzz, press, social media tweets and face book postings?

ABMB has spawned fourteen collateral fairs, spread across Miami Beach and over to Miami.  Here on Miami Beach, the centerpiece is the official show in the convention center, with 260 international galleries representing the most prestigious art on the market today, and more than 2,000 artists.  Most serious art collectors and their agents make their deals prior to arriving, and show up privately for a few hours to complete the transactions.  Millions of dollars exchange hands quietly, before the frenzy.

Rippling out from the epicenter, are not only the fourteen parallel fairs, but countless other exhibitions, galleries, restaurants and hotels- all showcasing some form of art. 

Art, art, art is everywhere.

After my personal experience from 2010, when, as a benefactor to MOCA Miami and the Guggenheims, I had “invitations” to some of the most elite openings and associated parties; I still wanted an even better experience this year.

And I got it.  Through “Special VIP” status, art collectors, press, and other connected and hip art “people” gain access to the inner sanctum of the VIP Lounge, hosted by the top fair sponsors, from UBS, Cartier and Net Jets to Bally and Ruinart Champagne.

Perched on my lovely central spot in the lounge, courtesy of Ruinart, I greeted friends from London, Paris, Berlin, Venice, Milan, New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco.  I met new friends.  “Wow, amazing” I thought… we’re all here at the same time- gathered for art, art, and more art.

From this preview spot, we were all able to compare notes.  Notes about the art world and its people.  Notes about summers in St. Tropez and Ibiza.  Notes about which parties were supposed to be the most fun.  And back to art.  And so on.

The proliferation of art and culture centered in Miami Beach is truly impressive.  This beautiful jewel of a city shines with its dynamic and strong pulse, friendly and hospitable inhabitants, fascinating and complex international influence and forward-focus on the importance and practice of art and culture.  Thank you ABMB.  Thank you Miami Beach for this warm welcome.

TOP PICKS

Best Show: ABMB

Best Concept and Program: Arts for a Better World

Best Lecture: Art Basel Conversations- Karl Holmqvist poetry reading

Strong Showing: Art Miami, NADA, Design

Most Exciting: Bass Museum/Art Public (Collins Park)

Always Amazing: New World Center

Best Party: Shelborne Hotel/Art of Night

Best Kept Secret: Miami Beach Botanical Garden

Special Thanks: Bob Goodman, Aaron Resnick, Dorothy Bakker Lee and Julie Christensen (Ruinart Champagne), Roderick Kukurudz (Arts for a Better World), Sebastien Laboureau (Moonstar Fine Art Advisors), Dream Hotel, The Standard Hotel and Spa