By Terrence McCoy
By Allie Conti
By Chuck Strouse
By Scott Fishman
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By Ciara LaVelle, Kat Bein, Carolina Del Busto, and Liz Tracy
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While figurative ka-chings are the aural hallmark of Art Basel days, the clinking of champagne glasses dominates the evening-to-dawn hours of the art festival. The shark fins moving through the social waters are silent, but rivalries between artists, dealers, collectors, and entourages — this year’s must-have accessory — add a kick of bitters to the Campari. What’s a party without a little drama?
With fifteen new gallery spaces listed on the Wynwood Art District map, folks might find it difficult to stagger down the streets in that neighborhood without getting smacked with a cheese cube or plastic cup of Vendage. Spontaneous happenings still seem to occur in Wynwood, so citing what could be a specific fun epicenter is tricky, but it’s a safe bet that the Edge Zones space — with guests from North Miami such as Leonard Tachmes and Genaro Ambrosino (the latter barely on the mend from a recent bad traffic accident) — will provide some good day-after anecdotes.
“The Wynwood exhibits are always raw and creative,” notes publicist and social arbiter Ellen Marchman of GetInk Public Relations, reminding that there are also “some interesting artists at -scope at the Townhouse, which is in conjunction with GenArt this year.”
Indeed the boutique hotels on the Beach offer a dazzlingly adjectived party bounty — for those who can get in. An “ethereal and magical” Perrier-Jou√ęt-sponsored, Art Nouveau-themed performance incorporating sculpture, floral design, musical composition, and culinary and video arts takes place Thursday, December 1, at the Delano’s Water Salon. SkyBar at the Shore Club will transform into the Art Lounge beginning at 10:00 p.m. each evening through Saturday. “The Shore Club and Delano are the two official hotels for Art Basel,” asserts Maile Rodriguez of Roc Media, noting there will also be a number of “exclusive private parties for Art Basel VIPs.”
The much-awaited nightclub Karu&Y will host a fairly high-rolling soiree to close down the festival Sunday night, not at its soon-to-open venue downtown but in the Raleigh Hotel. There are also a number of bandwagonesque liquor company/nightclub collaborations with just enough of an “art” connection to be credible. Designer Jimi Beach will throw a high-spirited launch party Friday at Mansion for Bong Vodka (and, no, the green-accented bottle does not convert to a useful smoking apparatus post alcohol consumption), and ubiquitous Flor de Ca√Īa rum will sponsor a competing event — a couture fashion show complete with opera singer Persia — at Gerry Kelly’s Shine at the Shelborne.
Of course, the most coveted party invitations are the ones that never arrived in most people’s mailboxes: private fetes at the homes of local collector powerhouses such as the Rubells, Thomas Kramer, and Rosa de la Cruz. Though the painters, sculptors, photographers, and furniture designers whose creations actually fuel the frenzy seem to get lost amid all the partying, that’s not entirely the case. Many artists see the shindigs not as socialization pinnacles but as marketing windows.
“Look, my idea of a party is a case of beer and about five friends,” says Paolo Peretti, visiting from Europe with members of a small collective of installation-makers. “But this is about business. It’s no one’s ambition to live in a cold-water flat on government assistance. If I can meet some nice people who’ll give [my work] a look and drink some wine at the same time, it’s good for us all.”