Everyday was a real life chess game. During my trip, I simultaneously learned how the big players do it and how locals provides its guests with a total freedom experience. Throughout the organized chaos, I found myself texting every person I knew who was in town to shamelessly ask for plugs, guest list inclusion and walk-ins for the evening after parties. Places where we attended private art parties included The Dream Hotel, Nikki Beach, FDR at The Delano and also the E11Even Rooftop.
South Beach was adorned in tents for the Scope and Art Basel Miami Beach art fairs. Thousands of art buyers flocked to these shows as galleries from all over the world showcased and highlighted work from their curated projects, exhibitions and programs. You wouldn’t be surprised if you bumped into celebrities while viewing art. I will say that walking through sand to get to the tents in heels was not fun, not to mention that these fairs are huge and you will do an insane amount of walking. I obviously didn’t think about that beforehand and instead wearing a cute artsy outfit.
On the other side of town, international graffiti artists and muralists worked from sun up to sun down to complete their artistic compositions in the vibrant streets of Wynwood. The dedication of these artists was truly admirable since it rained all weekend. Not even continuous showers stopped them from achieving their goals.
This never-ending art oasis is comparable to a labyrinth, where every wall is different. Famed artists such as Retna, Kobra and Fafi leave their mark for stunning photo and selfie opps. After sunset, the streets of Wynwood felt like Mardi Gras as thousands roamed the streets freely. In addition, many galleries had open studios until the wee hours, giving art goers a personal experience and a chance to get to know the artists.
Amidst all the galleries that I visited in Wynwood, I was glad to come across a black owned gallery, N’Namdi Contemporary. N’Namdi was a breath of fresh air and a reminder of the importance of black art dealers who market to affluent America.
If you plan to attend Art Basel at some point, here’s what to plan for:
The art fairs and evening parties take place throughout three parts of Miami: Downtown, South Beach and Wynwood. Although these neighborhoods are only 15-20 minutes away from one another, because of the HIGH volume of people that are in Miami for Basel, it can take you anywhere from 30-45 mins to get from one end to the next.
Getting cabs – Uber prices during this weekend are extremely pricey due to the high demand. Be ready to have every car service app on your phone so you can compare prices while you budget.
Waiting in the rain – I’m not saying that this will happen every year, but it did this year and it was not fun to walk around in soaked wide leg pants and heels. Do carry flats in your bag at all times.
Event tickets—buy tickets for events in advance. There’s a lot of people in town and waiting in line for 45 minutes to an hour is not fun.
There’s so much happening at one time that you will have to pick and choose between fairs, concerts, and parties. It can even feel a bit overwhelming because there is something going on every second of the day. Overall, it was a great experience and I can’t wait to go back next year.
Ghislaine Leon is a Harlem, NY native with roots in the Dominican Republic, a passion for community and an avid traveler. She is a Integrated Marketing professional by day and runs her art and spirituality website FearlessLeon.com by night.