By Dena Stewart
Back in 2002, as artists and community activists, Stewart Stewart and I (Dena Stewart) were among the lucky Miami Beach residents invited to the very first Art Basel-Miami Beach. We have attended this International Art Fair every year since. Twenty years later, we still consider ourselves lucky to see the first-rate Artworks and Installations from around the World presented in the modernized Miami Beach Convention Center.
As Miami Beach has grown, so has Art Basel – along with its reputation. As a result, Miami Art Week came into being: Satellite Art Fairs, Art Galleries, Street Installations, and Storefront Exhibitions. Artists, Art Lovers, Art Collectors, Patrons, Tourists, Celebrities, and thousands of people, young and old, flock to Miami Beach and Miami for this annual opportunity to be educated, visually stimulated, inspired by all genres of art, make new connections, and meet up with friends.
Every year with best intentions we plan to take it all in. Of course, that’s a pipedream. But we do our best. This year, Miami Art Week started early with an evening event at WEAM (World Erotic Art Museum) located in the Wilzig Museum on South Beach. The main attraction this year was “The Wall of Vulvas”. Our curiosity was aroused. The display, plaster casts of hundreds of vulvas, was actually educational. For those of us who haven’t been exposed to lots of vulvas, this art demonstrated that no two are exactly the same!
Tuesday morning, in the Miami Beach Convention Center, a jubilant Media Conference kicked off the Twentieth Anniversary of Art Basel|Miami Beach. A much-anticipated preview of the exhibition followed. Simply entering the Hall was breathtaking and slightly overwhelming. Conceptual paintings, big and small; Installations, some that move; NFTs and computer-generated art. And, the creatively costumed people. What a fabulous show!
After absorbing as much of the Art Basel experience as possible, we crossed the street and went to the Design/Miami tent. Chocked full of historical and contemporary furniture, lighting, and objets d’art, the cheerful “living room” environment got me fantasizing about adding some of what we saw to our own home.
Then there were the impressive satellite fairs:
Among our favorites was Scope. Located in a huge tent erected on the beach, the works are eclectic and the artists more so. Most of all, the energy was loose and everyone was smiling. It’s at Scope where we met “bone” artist Butch Anthony known for the Museum of Wonder, a drive thru attraction on his 80 acre compound in Seale Alabama.
After several long days of art-seeing, we went to Aqua Art, a pop-up gallery in the Aqua Hotel. With its wrap-around terrace-walkways and beer bar, it’s a great scene. And while we were there, we spoke with a long-time friend, artist Sid Daniels who was displaying a few of his paintings in this art exhibition.
And while in Miami, we breezed through sister fairs Red Dot/Spectrum. Here, the art was affordable!
Although we missed many exhibits, we did go to The Wolfsonian (FIU) to see the murals painted on the outside of the building.
Not to be forgotten is the Street Art.
While there, we spoke with Brigitte “Bibi” Andrade and Rudolph Van Valkenburg who promoted their Art Train movable art billboards.
We also spoke with Ronit Neuman, the person responsible for curating the artwork in the Hotel and for making this annual Sagamore event possible. Thank you!
After Miami Art Week ended, with everyone exhausted, the final Art Basel summation arrived. To quote their Press Release: “Celebrating its 20th anniversary at the Miami Beach Convention Center, Art Basel staged its largest-ever edition marked by buoyant sales, strong attendance from international collectors and institutions, and standout presentations from the Americas and beyond.”
Alive on South Beach is so serious about Art Basel that they have been promoting it for 11 + years. Here is a trip down Art Basel Memory Lane…