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Art Basel for the Common Man

No Basel Hook-Ups? No Problem. Here's How to Own Art Basel without Buying a Thing


You may not believe this, but Art Basel is not an event just for pretentious New Yorkers. Sure, you get your Upper-whatever-side douchebags who come down and insist on using “Basel” as a verb. But if you look past the obnoxiously exclusionary parties and out-of-towners pretending to know about art, there’s actually some really cool stuff to see. From a neon video arcade to a local beergarden to Lego sculptures and performance art from hotel security cameras, the best that Basel has to offer is surprisingly accessible. So leave the VIP lists for the black tie affairs for people flying home on Monday. If you really wanna enjoy Art Basel, use this handy guide to (mostly) free and interesting events and exhibitions.


Wednesday, December 4
You don’t have to go all the way to Winter Haven to see awesome stuff made out of Legos. Nathan Sawaya has a whole collection of Lego sculptures you can check out at Villa Azur, along with a collection of erotic photography from Guy LeBaube’s. So, unlike Legoland, maybe leave the kids at home.

Thursday, December 5
Chow down on barbecue from chef Henry Hane and drink cocktails from Belvedere and Perroini (or Perrier if you don’t drink) at the Del Toro Block Party from 4-8 p.m., where they’ll be celebrating the new Del Toro Walls - six new murals painted by local Miami Artists as well as an Art Basel Artist Shoe Exhibition.

Pharell Williams and contemporary Japanese artist Takashi Murakami are teaming with Grey Goose to re-create the nightclub from David Lynch’s “Mulholland Drive” at Silencio in the Garden Building in the Design District.

Friday, December 6th
De Nolet (those are the people behind Ketel One, if you didn’t know) are celebrating the “Modern Hispanic Gentleman” with a sort of pop-up distillery from 7-11 p.m.  at 75 NW 24th Street.  RAFT, the world’s first cellphonist (yep, cellphonist) will be performing, creating an innovative visual and sonic performance. RSVP to the distillery here.


VH1 will host the Official VH1 + SCOPE Party, featuring a performance by Tegan and Sara, plus DJ Cassidy and Brendan Fallis. The party’s invite-only, but if you wanna see the performances just camp yourself outside. It’s still probably closer than you’d get at a show you have to pay for. Check the details here. 

Saturday December 7th:
From 2-6 p.m., there’ll be Valentine NYC lingerie and barbecue in the back of Broken Shaker. What else do you need to know? Except maybe there’s also be free WattsUp Rose from 2-3pm. So just .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) and it’s all yours.

XIV Sessions at Hyde Beach – typically South Beach’s craziest, champagniest pool party – goes artsy this month for their Art Basel edition, where the servers will be decked out in art-inspired outfits and local artist Alexander Mijares will unveil his artistic interpretation of the SLS giant ‘rubber ducky,’ plus hundreds of colorful floating rubber duckies in the pool from 2pm till Dusk.

Local Graffiti-ist Scott Marsi is throwing a cocktail party at the Catalina  for all his closest friends that RSVP .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) with an Open Bar, LeBron James’ DJ and good old Americana food like grilled cheese, wings, and sliders from Maxine’s

The Basel Castle in Grand Central Park is open to the public (get tickets here) where DJs, rappers and artists will be playing all day long in a giant culmination of the art that’s been going on all week. Starts at 11 a.m. and it’s all hosted by a guy called The Fat Jew.


Tour the installation art at South Beach’s swankiest hotels, making your first stop the 12-foot tall gold plated Dragon sculpture by Michael Benisty (of the “Die to Live” Swarovski crystal skull fame) in the orchard at the Delano, then check out “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” a gigantic interactive installation around the pool at the Mondrian.


Or hit the Sagamore with FRAMING THE MOVING IMAGE, a collection of film, video, new media, and performance art that, among other things, includes a troupe of performance artists acting out everyday activities captured by the hotels’ surveillance cameras.

Perrier’s FAILE BAST Deluxx Fluxx Arcade 2013 – Running from Dec 3-8, this installation will have you playing bright neon pinball and foosball, plus psychadellic-painted arcade games in a vacant storefront on Washington and 16th Street. See? Playing video games isn’t wasting your life…ITS ART!

Beluga Vodka Terrace  - From December 3-5, you can hit up the terrace at db Bidtro Modenre downtown and grab a free crafted Beluga cocktail before you tour the JW Mariott Marquis’ “Art Deco Highlights,” from Christie’s Auction House.

Basel Biergarten – From December 5-7,  this spot at at 2600 NW 2nd Ave. will overflow with beer from local Florida Craft Breweries and beer-friendly bites from Miami Smokers and Smokey’s Cantina from 4 p.m. -3 a.m.

Viewpoint of Billions - If you’ve never played with Google Glass, there’ll be no better place to start than with the 12-fpot American flag in the Design District at 97 NE 40th St. David Datuna has created ‘Viewpoint of Billions,” a flag covered with a network of positive and negative optical lenses. Google Glass will will allow viewers to unlock the underlying images with video and interactive experiences.


Piston Head : Artists Engage the Automobile  - From December 4-8, Damian Hirst and other artists will display their sculptural take on the automobile, and. LaFerrari will make an appearance as inspiration for Joshua Callahan’s newest work. And where else would it be but the only parking garage that’s also a work of art, the 1111 Lincoln Garage.

ELLE DECOR Modern Life Concept House - If home design is your idea of art, then head over to Sunset Island II from December 4-8 where Elle Decor magazine has drafted top home designers and paired them with well-known fashion brands to transform a waterfront home into home-decoration artwork. The event is ticketed, but all proceeds go to the Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. Get the location and tickets here.

Barbie Basel – Barbie is a lot of things to a lot of people, but to Electric Bloggeralla’s Ginger Harris, she’s a work of art. Or lots of works of art. See all of the ones she created in The Art of Barbie, a stunning Barbie photography exhibit at The Local House beginning December 3,  where they’ll also be serving pink cocktails in Barbie’s honor.

Interactive Art Fair – Form December 4-8, this fair will feature artists using digital means and technology as art, showing how these technologies can be both functional and artistic at the same time. KINDA LIKE WHAT BOSTON DID WITH MUSIC.


Related Categories: Miami: Local News, Miami: Travel News, Miami: Things to Do,

About the Author: Matt Meltzer is a featured columnist at Miami Beach 411.

See more articles by Matt Meltzer.

See more articles by Matt Meltzer

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2 Comments on

"Art Basel for the Common Man"

Laurie says:

Great list, Matt!

Posted on 12/04/2013 at 2:57 PM

Matt Meltzer says:

Thanks, Laurie!

Posted on 12/05/2013 at 5:01 PM

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