Art Basel is one of the largest international art fairs in the country. It takes place during the first week in December which is also Miami Art Week. It has been an annual event for over three decades. It draws artists, art lovers, and art collectors from the world over. I had been wanting to attend for years, but always came up with a reason not to, usually time or cost related.
When The Bull Hits Basel
by: Candy Carver
This year was going to be different. While out to lunch with a group of friends, I met a woman who currently lived in Miami. As we got to know one another, she mentioned Art Basel and suggested that I attend. We kept in contact and she continued to encourage me to make my way down to Miami. With the idea that it would be good for my growth as an artist, I decided to go. I realized that the only challenge that I would be facing was financial. I contacted a few friends that have always been big supporters of my art and career and asked them to donate funds to cover my travel costs. Those folks donations made this trip a reality.
I decided to attend Art Basel only one month prior to my trip. I rushed to find a place to stay, to learn about the city, and to seek out events where I could showcase my art in. Last minute trips might be stressful, but this one was surely enjoyable to plan. I asked one of my favorite event helpers and friend, Ariel, to take this adventure with me. I rented a car, grabbed an Air BnB, and we hit the road.
The twelve hour drive down was filled with great music, tasty snacks, and yes, naps. The beginning of the road trip started with cool weather and rain. We arrived on Thursday evening, just in time for our hunger to kick in. A comfortable 78 degree evening welcomed us to Miami. Although I had never been, I thought that the Wynwood arts district might have food and some funky art stuff going on.
I rolled the dice and we took a Lyft to the area. We found a residential neighborhood that opened up into a sea of large wall murals, an area with tons of people, awash in luxury cars, and home to a giant stage with a DJ playing Hip-Hop.
We wandered through pop up events, checked out some cool murals, and grabbed a bite from a food truck. Knowing that we had a long day ahead tomorrow, we took a Lyft back to the Air BnB, and hit the sack.
Upon waking that Friday morning we realized that we were super hungry and quickly found a smoothie bar in the Brickell financial district. Emails and text messages regarding the events that I was participating in starting rolling in around 9:45AM.
I soon realized that my two events that were on the same day , had overlapping setup times. This was gonna make for a crazy day. I contacted the folks from both events and worked out a way to setup at both without having to clone myself.
The first event was in Wynwood, which we had visited the night previously. This area was filled with eclectic shops, galleries, restaurants, and best of all, those giant murals everywhere!
I met lots of wonderful musicians and visual artists from all of over the country.
I showcased my paintings inside and outside of the main event area.
The backdrop of palm trees, live music and an 85 degree day made for an extremely entertaining time. As the event came to an end, we quickly packed up my art, ate while driving and hurried to set up for the next event.
My evening showcase was in the warehouse district.
There was nothing fancy or special about the exterior of the building, but it was definitely more than meets the eye. Inside there were vendors, artists, and art patrons from all over the world.
There were live performances from New York music artists, vendors from the Jamaica, and plenty of Caribbean food to try. It created the vibe for the night to come.
By midnight, we finished up and were once again starving. Google Maps saved our lives and guided us to a late night pizza spot called Casola’s. They serve double slices that are bigger than my head for a super reasonable price and have fast service too! The night ended with us eating pizza on the patio at 1AM, watching traffic, and Lyft drop-offs.
Woohoo! We got to sleep in until 9am! This was our play day that made Friday and all of that running around we did worth it.
I texted a Durhamite who had recently moved to Miami about meeting me for breakfast. She happened to be cooking for some fellow Durhamites already and invited me over. It was great to feel the Durham warmth and love all the way in Miami!
To make the most of my trip, I had scheduled meetings with a few gallery curators. So after breakfast I made my way to these meetings. The first one was short, and really, more of a tour of the gallery space. I left with more knowledge about the gallery as well as the contact information of the curator.
The most enjoyable one was later in the historic Coconut Grove neighborhood. This area was made up of great houses, small businesses, including a farmers market and a long established barbershop. The curator gave me wonderful insight into the Miami art community as well as information about programs that would benefit me art career.
With my meetings complete, I planned to catch up with another friend from Durham who had moved to the Florida Keys. He met Ariel and I in Wynwood. Though we had been to this area already, there hadn’t been time to explore. One of the goals of this trip was to be inspired by new art and that meant finding new art spaces. Our first stop was the ‘No Commission’ showcase. We slid in right before it closed to the public, that meant that we had to move quickly. I pulled out my phone and captured any art that touched me. As I scanned the room, my eyes landed on the music producer and art lover, Swiss Beats. This wasn’t much of a surprise as this was his event.
The Wynwood arts district was chock full of culture. We moved through at least a dozen art galleries, more pop up events, outdoor markets, and those Wynwood Walls.
The food spot that we decided on had lines two blocks long (in both directions)!
While resting our backs against the Viceland bus, we came up with a new plan that would be better than a two hour wait in line. We decided instead, as the night grew cooler, on grabbing pizza and some spirits.
Miami, I will surely visit you again. Art Basel taught me so much. And it was surely worth all of the effort. I enjoyed the sunshine, the very warm weather, the great food, and the beautiful art.
I made new friends. I networked with fellow creatives. And I was able to gain some valuable new insight into the current art market. I surely plan on attending Art Basel in the years to come.
Candy Carver is a North Carolina native who spent her formative years in Elkhart, Indiana, where she developed her abstract creativity. Working primarily with acrylics on various surfaces from canvas to vinyl, she creates vibrant, textured pieces that touch the soul and excite viewers. Carver attributes much of her inspiration to her own love for the excitement, color, and beauty found in the human form.