Miami Beach is not only known for its wonderful weather and clear water beaches or its superb Passover programs or its mega synagogues; it is also known for its metamorphosis into a giant art gallery known as Art Basel on the first week of December, closest to Chanukah. Art Basel Miami Beach brings a much more eclectic set of people than the typical snow birds. As the fair has grown over the past 16 years, the first weekend in December brings art enthusiasts from all over the world to the international display and shows as well as its 20-plus satellite exhibits that transform the city entirely.
Art Basel is a for-profit, privately owned and managed international art fair staged annually in Basel, Switzerland; Miami Beach, Florida; and Hong Kong. These fair exhibits display and sell art in various forms. The commercial fairs also offer parallel programming produced in collaboration with the host city’s local institutions such as museums, hotels, convention centers, and galleries. Art Basel attracts a large international audience of art spectators and students, buyers and A-list celebrities. There are times when the audience is more colorful than the art itself. Included are countless opening parties that have red carpets that rival any Hollywood event.
This year’s leading galleries from North America, Latin America, Europe, Asia, and Africa show significant work from the masters of modern and contemporary art. Including a new generation of emerging artists continues the broadening of talent showcased here. Paintings, sculptures, installations, photographs, films, and digital works of the highest quality are on display in the main exhibition hall of the Miami Convention Center.
For a first-time visitor, Art Basel Miami can be confusing. The heart of the show is at the Miami Beach Convention Center. It’s huge in scope, but I promise you will thoroughly enjoy your experience, especially if you are an art lover! There are also 25 satellite art fairs that set up shop surrounding the main center, rearranging the entire Miami into one big art installation.
Here are just a few examples.
NADA Art Fair: This tends to be the most prestigious and exclusive of all those outside the Convention Center, which also translates into the most expensive art.
Aqua at the Aqua Hotel: A quirky hotel lobby fair that became a must-see for the more bohemian, West Coast art aficionados. It’s within walking distance of the Lincoln Road mall if you need a break from the art crowd. Go to Freeze for the best kosher frozen yogurt!
Design Miami: If you enjoy your art accompanied by intellectual content, then this is your place. The more educated elite art maven is more likely to be in attendance. The art tent is an exercise in experimental architectural design, which completes the entire experience.
Verge: Essex House and Clevelander Hotel’s contribution of art focused on emerging artists. Catered to the more sophisticated and East Coast focused as compared to the Aqua Fair.
Art Miami: The Wynwood district has a collection of art fairs (including artMRKT), but Art Miami is the premiere anchor of this midtown area. It’s the original and longest-running contemporary art fair in Miami and tends to be populated by a more established art crowd.
Pulse: This cutting-edge fair emerged soon after Art Basel came to Miami and it’s one of the more respected hip, cooler fairs. Beyond the art for sale there are original cultural programs, a video lounge, and performance art.
Red Dot: This show takes over Mana Wynwood along with Spectrum Miami. The curatorial themes for the shows this year are “Illuminate” at Red Dot and “Allure” at Spectrum. It showcases more affordable artistic works from artists all over the world.
Art Basel is a Chanukah gift for your eyes. I always found it to be my personal version of The Nutcracker ballet. No longer did I need to dismiss the Christmas theme and pageantry of a secular and Christian holiday. I now had sugar plum fairies in the glorious art that was presented during Art Basel. Dancing dolls and candied pine trees came alive with each of the fairy tale art fairs in the magical land of Miami.
Like the miracle of Chanukah, my eyes are illuminated by art and the talents that Hashem has given to the world.
Watch JWOMEN live on Facebook every Wednesday night at 7:30 p.m. on Tobi Rubinstein’s page.
Art Basel will run from December 6-9 at the Miami Beach Convention Center, 1901 Convention Center Drive.
Tobi Rubinstein is a retired fashion and marketing executive of 35 years who currently produces runway and lifestyle events for NYFW, specializing in Israel’s leading artists and designers. She is the founder of The House of Faith N Fashion, fusing culture and Torah. Tobi was a fashion collaboration and guest expert for ABC, Geraldo Rivera, Huffington Post, Lifetime, NBC, Bravo, and Arise. She hosted her own radio and reality TV series. Tobi is a mother, wife, dog owner, and shoe lover.