Tips to Navigate Art Basel Miami Beach like a veteran


From art in your mouth to studio visits with artists, a don’t-miss event list from an Art Basel Miami Beach veteran

Rubell Breakfast
Photo: Tomas Loewy /

By Lydia Martin

Go ahead, put the art in your mouth. Each year, morning visitors to the Rubell Family Collection, 95 NW 29th St., are treated to a light breakfast that’s about much more than sustenance. One year, daughter Jennifer Rubell, whose star as an installation artist continues to rise, presented mounds of bacon and eggs as art. Another year it was donuts as far as the eye could see, hanging neatly along a wall. In 2010 there was a whole Goldilocks and porridge thing. Last year there were jars of yogurt incubated onsite, and honey you had to catch as it dripped down from the ceiling. Go for the opening day breakfast, or “interactive food installation,” from 9 to noon Dec. 6. Free to the public. Stay for the acclaimed private museum’s new show, Alone Together. Visit for more info.

Chickens, coconuts and art. Before galleries, private collection spaces and hip eateries started popping up in Wynwood, the neighborhood quietly kept to its working-class roots. Only minutes from urban glitz, longtime residents — from Cuba, Puerto Rico, Haiti, the Dominican Republic — continue to keep things real. Get the flavor of the ‘hood at CasaLin, owned by Miami art collector Lin Lougheed and home to an old-time Wynwood family happy each Basel to let the lush yard of their rented home, at 55 NW 30th St., be transformed into an outdoor exhibition space. This year’s show, Out of Site, curated by Miami art dealer Fred Snitzer and featuring site-specific works by graduates and faculty of Miami’s New World School of the Arts, challenges visitors to find works scattered around the yard that are somehow “camouflaged or barely there.” Be there for the opening breakfast, from 10 to noon Dec. 6, and enjoy tropical juices, Cuban pastries and Cuban coffee — and coconuts whacked by machetes so that you can sip the cool water inside. Look for live chickens, which tend to roam freely around Wynwood. Only at CasaLin, they just may be part of the art. The breakfast is free to the public. Visit for more info.

Miami in the house. The great thing about Basel week is that it offers a survey of the best art from around the world, which means you don’t have to jet from Buenos Aires to London to Shanghai to Los Angeles to get an eyeful. The bad news is that this avalanche of international art can make it tough to search out the work of local artists, especially those who are not attached to the couple of Miami galleries invited to Basel proper each year, or the handful that participate in satellite fairs. Enter Miami’s Independent Thinkers, a collaborative that hosts a show of only artists from the 305 and 786. Offering work for view and sale by both established and emerging artists, the fair, which also shines a light on local bands, DJs and performance artists with nightly programming, runs Dec. 6-9 at the Armory Studios in Wynwood, 572 NW 23rd St. Hours are 5 to 9 p.m. Dec. 6; 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. Dec. 7-8; and 1 to 5 p.m. Dec. 9. Admission is $10 or a flash of an official Art Basel VIP card. Visit for more info.

Wynwood Walkabout. The earlier in the week you hit Wynwood, the more likely you’ll be to witness an annual ritual by graffiti artists, both the sanctioned and the renegade, that involves racing against the clock to get a few more buildings covered in colorful street art for Basel. Today there are dozens and dozens of murals around the ‘hood, which as usual will be gripped by Basel sideshows, special exhibits and happenings of all sorts. But the art spotting and the people watching alone make a Wynwood stroll worthwhile. A good place to start is Wynwood Walls, established in 2009 by the late developer Tony Goldman and art world star Jeffrey Deitch. The open-air space, on Northwest Second Avenue between 25th and 26th streets, features 40 murals by top artists such as Shepard Fairey, Faile, Retna, The Date Farmers and Kenny Scharf. Wynwood Walls will open to the public at 9 p .m. Dec. 4 with the show Time Evaporates, Emotion Elevates, but you can swing by the Walls day or night during Basel.

Sound Escape. The state-of-the-arts SoundScape Park at the New World Symphony’s Frank Gehry-designed home, 500 17th St., gets into the Basel act with nightly outdoor video art projections. Art Video, part of Basel’s official public programming, kicks off at 8 p.m. Dec. 5 with a screening titled Love, Time & Decorum, featuring a series of short films about body language, behavior and motion. There’s no better place to enjoy world-class art while luxuriating in Miami Beach’s famed balmy breezes. For a full schedule of screenings, visit and click on “Talks + Events.”

Please don’t feed the artists. But do hang out with them in their natural habitats thanks to Basel’s artist studio visits program. Check out the Wynwood studios of Timothy Buwalda, Enrique Martinez Celaya, Gean Moreno, Gavin Perry and others from 9 to noon Dec. 6. On Dec. 7, visit the downtown studios of Naomi Fisher, Adler Guerrier, Leyden Rodriguez, Frances Trombly and more. And on Dec. 8, hang out with Carlos Betancourt, Robert Chambers, Mette Tommerup, Cristina Lei Rodriguez, Agustina Woodgate. Maps and schedules are available by request. E-mail

Sit a spell. Sure, Basel’s endless events can keep you in a frenzy all week. But you’re in the tropics during winter. Make room for a paradisiacal pause: Since 2003, the historic, 83-acre Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden on Old Cutler Road has participated in Art Basel with outdoor exhibits by artists such as Dale Chihuly, Yayoi Kusama, Fernando Botero, Roy Lichtenstein and Will Ryman that draw attention to the lushness of South Florida’s landscape and foster an ongoing conversation between the natural world and the art world. This year Fairchild presents Sitting Naturally, showcasing new works by seven internationally renowned artists. Commissioned by the Cristina Grajales Gallery in New York, the artists are Gael Appler, Sam Baron, Pedro Barrail, Christophe Come, Sebastian Errazuriz, Michele Oka Doner and John Paul Phillppe. Also on view will be an installation by Havana-born artist Jorge Pardo that will light up the garden with hundreds of lamps. Admission to the garden is $25 for adults, $18 for seniors, $12 for children 6-17 and free to children 5 and under. For more info, visit

Art with a view. Trying to decide which of the dozen or more satellite fairs you’ll want to hit can be overwhelming. But only the NADA Art Fair, in the ballrooms of the Deauville Beach Resort, 6701 Collins Ave., gives you walls and walls of artwork by some of the world’s best young galleries — plus stunning views of the Atlantic. Step out onto one of the hotel’s terraces in between art booth stops to revel in restorative ocean breezes. Visit for hours and information. Admission is free — and so is shuttle bus service from the Miami Beach Convention Center.

Peek into the future. Legal Art, in a converted 1924 warehouse, 1035 North Miami Ave., provides affordable live/work spaces for young artists through a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. During Basel, the building opens its doors so the public can visit with the 17 or so artists involved in yearlong or shorter residencies and check out their group show in the building’s gallery space. Visit for hours and more info.

Crash a party without being a bore. The Miami Art Museum Ball has been one of Miami’s best-attended soirees since its start in 1983. But with tickets starting at $1,000 per person, it has always been the domain of the city’s most deep-pockets players. This year’s ball, starting at 7 p.m. Dec. 8, will be the last before the MAM reopens in 2013 as the PAMM, Perez Art Museum Miami, in sleek new digs on the bay at the new Museum Park. But you can party along with the city’s mucketies if you show from 10-2 a.m. for the after party, Crash the Ball, which will take place on the soon-to-be-vacated building’s outdoor plaza, 101 West Flagler St.. Count on dancing, cocktails and a dessert bar by Miami’s star pastry chef Hedy Goldsmith. But no one wants you to actually scam your way into this party, a fundraiser for the museum, after all. Tickets are $150. For more info, visit

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