Art Basel: Actually, It Was Awesome

Word to all the haters: Art Basel rocked this year. A little softer perhaps, but rocked nonetheless. Maybe the fair has become somewhat of a corporate institution many rebel against; still, the opportunity to be seen here turns painters into artists and up-and-comers into legitimate stars. Not to mention what it brings to Miami Beach’s coffers and the pockets of middlemen. This year, there was an abundance of artworks to be experienced, some better than others. Events and parties accompanying Art Basel complimented the fair so well that participants didn’t seem to mind the intense pace, despite one collective hangover and general exhaustion. We did our best to keep up with the art-crazed stampede, and in the spirit of sharing, here’s our “Five Coolest Things We Saw at Art Basel and Now You Know” list.

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1. Art Basel inspires the best giveaways. Case in point: totes. Stylish and practical, they were proudly carried on shoulders of the painfully hip. Our fave, by far is the Moncler for L’Uomo Vogue bucket tote given to the lucky Bruce Weber dinner attendees. An honorable mention goes to Design Miami reversible nugget in blue and yellow. Little but mighty. image

2. Tree garden in the Design District’s Brosia restaurant saw much of the Basel-related action. At times waiters seemed frazzled, but no one broke sweat thanks to the 150-year-old white oak trees cooling off the heated “hold the butter, substitute soy for milk” crowd. 3. Art buyers, like Elizabeth Fiore, who offered to explain why a small painting should cost an arm and a leg. image

4. Sheep stomachs, if lit up the right way, are actually gorgeous. Honestly. Although not a vegetarian, Julia Lohmann, a German-born, London-based artist, has embraced the “yucky/icky” and delivered a presentation that merits recognition — not just for its provocative appeal, but for its artistic value. 5. Scope Art is where it’s at. This off-shot fair features young, up-and-coming artists, and the good news for a novice collector is that at Scope, art is budget-friendly. It is inspiring and inspired. To put it all in perspective, Francis Jackson, who lives under the overpass of Interstate 95, laid it down like this: “It’s nice, people dressed up come out, and there is a lot of life in this neighborhood.” Indeed, art does change things. By Monday, the Euros boarded their planes back home, and tents were rolled back. The sound of popping champagne bottles has stopped, but not for too long. This is Miami after all.

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