The main thing about it is, nobody sleeps. Everybody loves to complain about it, but I must admit I love it like a rat loves cheese. Of course I am speaking of the first week in December, when Miami is inundated by the annual migration of thousands of artists, dealers, collectors, and assorted lunatics from around the world. People come to party, but it's tough, because Miami isn't really much of a party town. Just kidding! Waiting in line for gift bags, making googly eyes while blowing air kisses, and looking at art and one another are favorite pastimes of the international art crowd during the day. Night is all about running from party to party while trying to not lose your drugs and VIP passes, and, of course, waiting in line some more. Acting important and pretending to know more than everybody else are also popular activities. All of these things are cliches, I realize, but only because they are true. But, somehow, it's still great!
When Noah Becker asked me to go, I hesitated. After all, there isn't any Whitehot party this year. But when he begged me to run around shooting photographs, and promised me an unlimited expense account, I shrugged and said, "OK." If you don't already know, Art Basel Miami Beach is the big attraction, with 250 galleries under one roof. It's crowded, expensive, and confusing. Somehow, bringing the world's fanciest galleries together has a neutralizing effect. Maybe it's because most of the 250 galleries are showing work by the same 25 artists. I kid, I kid! But I did hear that George Condo had work at 6 booths at Basel. After a very little while, your eyes glaze and you can't see the art any more - it begins to look like plain old money. The whole town is also blighted by fake art events, art of Hello Kitty, Romero Britto, and the like. Fortunately, over the years numerous satellite fairs have sprung up around town. Since it's impossible to see everything in the few days it's up, part of the fun is deciding which fairs to skip.
What was missing this year? First of all there was no Deitch Projects booth at Basel. I suppose here I should insert the fact that everybody already knows, Jeffrey Deitch closed his gallery this year and moved to L.A. to run the LA MoCA. Say what you will about Deitch, he really did bring the fun. Also missing were some of the satellite fairs, but nobody can remember which ones, obviously because they were the ones that nobody went to. It just seems like there used to be 20 or so, and now it's more like 13 or 14.
Olek, in front of Art Basel Miami Beach
Shepard Fairey and Heaps
The Wall of Fame
Art Basel Miami Beach.
Alice Neel @ ABM
Retna, at Primary Flight
The weather was appropriately gorgeous.
Rhinoplasty, by Enrique Gomez de Molina, Spinello Gallery, at Scope.
With Anne Kim, from the Anonymous Gallery, in front of Erik Foss’s Vintage Porn Alphabet, at Scope.
Jennifer Rubell at her porridge themed installation.
Hiroshi Shafer, getting ready to do something.
I encountered Jeremy Dean’s CEO Stagecoach on N.W. 2nd Avenue.
Hung Liu, at Bernice Steinbaum Gallery
Aaron Zimmerman, George Boorujy, and Heaps at Seven.
Robin Williams, now showing with PPOW, at Seven.
Ryan McGinness mural at Wynwood Walls
Jonathan LeVine on a fly ride
Chicks dig Caveman Robot
My friend Pearl Albino, in Miami with Torch Gallery, Amsterdam. Painting by Terry Rodgers, photographed by Mo Van Der Have.
El Mac, in the back room at Primary Flight
Apex and his crew getting epic on 24th Street
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Joe Heaps Nelson is an artist and writer in New York City.