At times it seems that Art Basel Miami Beach is about the performance art of parties, with VIPs real and tenuous in a mad crush to be at the next hot party. The mad crush is kind of fun, too, and this year’s sort-of-VIP lineup is promising, with soirees ranging from a Princess Alia Al Senussi reception at W South Beach Hotel to a cocktail party put on by the Christie’s art auction house at the SLS Hotel on South Beach.
Even if you don’t make the invite list for those affairs, Miami Art Week offers plenty of opportunities for anyone who wants to join in the fun. To get access to some, you may need to buy a membership to a specific museum — but then you can enjoy it all year long.
Here’s a guide to the best parties, where art, fun and charity intersect.
CONTEXT Art Miami preview
Even if you’re not in the 2 percent, you can hang out with the VIPs and get an early start on Art Week at Tuesday night’s CONTEXT Art Miami preview, where a $25 contribution to the Miami Art Museum will get you in the door beginning at 5:30. Most of Miami’s top collectors drop in at some point during the evening, so there’s as much air kissing as art watching. The fair opens to the public Wednesday.
Details: 5:30 to 10 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 4, The Art Miami Pavilion, 3101 NE First Ave., Midtown; www.art-miami.com.
MOCA & Vanity Fair International Party
Every year, the MOCA & Vanity Fair International Party is a highlight of Art Basel. Past attendees included Ricky Martin, Naomi Campbell, Donna Karan, Calvin Klein and Princess Michael of Kent. This year, an estimated 3,000 guests will take in the Bill Viola: Liber Insularum show, an exhibition drawn from the work of the famed video artist. The guests will, of course, also take in one another and can expect to see celebrities on the order of actor Christian Slater, a staple of MOCA events.
Details: 7 to 9 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 4. Museum of Contemporary Art membership, which costs $50 per year and up, enables supporters to attend the MOCA & Vanity Fair party. 770 NE 125th St.; North Miami, 305-893-6211; www.mocanomi.org.
Red Dot Miami
The opening reception for Red Dot Miami benefits the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force. Tickets are $25 and include entry throughout the fair period.
Details: 6-10 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 4; 3011 NE First Ave., Miami; 917-273-8621.
Children’s Bereavement Center
Cocktail fundraiser hosted by Anima Domus and UR New York. The evening includes a raffle of one-of-a-kind painted Nemo Armchair by Fabio Novembre.
Details: 6 p.m. - 9 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 4; Anima Domus, 25 NE 39th St., Miami Design District. 305-576-9088; $150 for two people; www.childbereavement.org.
The Bass Museum of Art opening
After the VIP preview of Art Basel at the nearby Miami Beach Convention Center, much of that crowd (and plenty of others who didn’t go) move a few blocks away. This year, the Bass features The Endless Renaissance – Six Solo Artist Projects; on the lawn out front is Art Basel’s Art Public sculpture exhibition. Generally, the Basel crowd dips in for a cameo appearance — the Bass’ opening is really crowded — and then heads out to dinner, or just a bit of fresh air at the beach.
Details: 9 p.m. to midnight, Wednesday, Dec. 5; open to membership levels at $50 and above. 2100 Collins Ave. , 305-673-7530; www.bassmuseum.org
Pop-Up Pianos Miami
Pop-Up Pianos Miami opening concert with Yuma and auction benefits New World Symphony and Kimbangus Symphony Orchestra in the Congo. Tickets, $100.
Details: 8:30 – 11:30 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 5; Perry Hotel, 2377 Collins Ave.; 404-272-5600; www.PopUpPianoMia.com.
Miami Art Museum Party on the Plaza
This year, this popular outdoor fete features music by the Spam Allstars — always worth a trip out of the house; a cast of thousands, and New Work Miami 2013, a group show drawn from a dozen or so Miami artists. Expect to see a lot of young faces among the usual white wine chatter crowd.
Details: 7 to 11 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 6; open to MAM Contemporaries or Contributing ($250 and above) members. 101 W. Flagler St., Miami, 305-375-3000, email@example.com.
Postcards from the Weiner Werkstatte at The Wolfsonian-FIU
The Wolfsonian-FIU, in the heart of South Beach on Washington Avenue, has always had openings with a certain frisson, the swells of Basel mingling with the nocturnal dwellers of South Beach. This year, the museum features Postcards from the Weiner Werkstatte: Selections from the Leonard A. Lauder Collection, with Lauder no doubt drawing the fashion crowd. Also on display: a temporary installation by prominent Miami artist Bhakti Baxter, Untitled ([construction of good]) in the museum’s Bridge Tender House, on the sidewalk outside. Baxter will bring the young art hipsters, and Lauder will bring in the wealthy: Sounds like a party.
Details: 7 to 10 p.m., Friday, Dec. 7. Open to Wolfsonian Diplomat-level members; $250 per year and up. 1001 Washington Ave., South Beach, 305-531-1001, www.wolfsonian.org
Wynwood / Design District art walks
From the celebrated to the unheralded, Saturday is the day to cram in as much fun — and art — as possible. Wynwood, with such institutions as Dorsch Gallery (151 NW 24th St., 305-576-1278; www.dorschgallery.com) is even more slammed than it is on regular monthly Art Walk nights (www.wynwoodartwalk.com).
From there, it’s always fun to tour the Miami Design District. This year, a highlight of Design Miami/2012 (www.designmiami.com) is Architecture for Dogs presented by Kenya Hara in the Buena Vista Building (180 NE 39th St., Suite 115) The show features 12 architects, each doing a structure for a particular dog breed.
Details: 7 to 11 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 8.
Art Miami After Party
At the Bakehouse Art Complex, for a $10 donation, guests can tour galleries, talk to the Art Miami crowd and wind down from the whirl of Art Basel. And the Bakehouse is one of our own, well worth supporting throughout the year.
Details: 7 to 10 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 8, 561 NW 32nd St., www.bacfl.org.
MAM’s Crash the Ball
MAM’s Crash the Ball post-ball party at the Miami Art Museum
Details: 10 p.m. -2 a.m., Saturday, Dec. 8; 101 W. Flagler St., downtown. Tickets $100 in advance. 305-375-1704; www.miamiartmuseum.org.