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Arts & Culture

Art Basel Miami Beach 2012

A diary of the grit and ritz of Miami's annual all-you-can-eat brain food buffet

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We set out thinking anything was possible. It was a noble cause – a righteous one, even, as we tried to ingest as much art as possible in a day and a half. A trip to Art Basel Miami Beach (the annual art fair that has become surrounded by satellite fairs, glitzy parties and other hoopla) is a lazy man's opportunity to see massive amounts of art in one centralized location. As owner-operators of a branding agency and a contemporary art gallery, art fuels our inspiration and creativity, so we knew that the all-you-can-eat buffet of creative brain food that Basel has to offer is exactly what we needed.

It's clearly easier than ever to do something "visual" and call it art. However, one of the most apparent things at Art Basel Miami Beach this year was the importance of expert curators. We stumbled into a conversation comparing the art world to the music world: Some galleries act as the big record labels, selecting for financial gain and mass appeal, and others as the indie labels that gather the best talent for the love of music.

We decided to spend our first day concentrating on up-and-coming arts district Wynwood, where many galleries were taking advantage of all the art lovers (and buyers) in town for ABMB to show off their own rising young artists. Wynwood at times felt like Bandcamp or Soundcloud for the art world – we had to look at a lot of shit, but along with the shit was cutting-edge work, produced by people with true talent.

2:40 p.m.

We make a wrong turn, landing us on the wrong side of Wynwood. The really wrong side, complete with all traffic lights blinking and people staring out of barred windows. This is usually not a good sign.

2:59 p.m.
Begin our walk in the Wynwood Arts District. The other Basel. The better Basel?

3:03 p.m.
Visit Brisky Gallery for a show called Bridges, featuring installations, paintings and sculptures. "Cool Migrations," an installation piece by Alex Yanes, is playing roots reggae. The music is awesome AND they have a restroom!

3:05 p.m.
It's hard to miss people getting high on a scaffold … to create art.

3:41 p.m.
We arrive at the Fountain, an area set up as a marketplace featuring smaller galleries and a hit-and-miss collection of self-promoted artists. The art is edgier than some might appreciate, but it's a good place to find hidden gems. The price of admission includes an open bar, so naturally we down as many rum-and-Cokes as we can and stuff our bags full of free Pop Chips and Kind Bars.

4:14 p.m.
We continue our walk over to Bernice Steinbaum Gallery, where Enrique Gomez de Molina is showing a delightful collection of Dr. Moreau-inspired faux-taxidermy creatures from a series titled This Is Not Taxidermy.

4:28 p.m.
Witness a guy from street-art collective La Pandilla working on a mural while a drag queen does someone's hair on a street corner. Doesn't this happen everywhere?

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