Satellite fairs: Better than Art Basel?

Art Basel's satellite fairs have been growing for years and have spread across Miami like the world's most fetching fungus. Without doubt, there's something to satisfy every artistic temperament: cautious newcomers, counterculture rebels, and highbrow connoisseurs. So here, then, are our top 11 alternatives to the Miami Beach Convention Center.

1. Red Dot Miami. 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. December 1, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. December 2 through 4, and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. December 5 at 3011 NE First Ave., Miami. Tickets cost $15 to $25. Visit reddotfair.com. This boutique clambake with the allure of a parking-lot fire sale is an approachable, down-to-earth fair partnering this year with GreenMiami, a pet project of former Mayor Manny Diaz. The opening reception's donations will benefit the City of Miami Tree Trust Fund, helping to support Miami's dedication to preserving trees within the urban jungle. In conjunction with the Miami International Film Festival, there will be a special film and photography program in the midst of more than 40 modern and contemporary booths carrying traditional paintings, works on paper, and sculptures.

2. Scope Miami. 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. December 1, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. December 2 through 4, and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. December 5 at 3055 N. Miami Ave., Miami. Tickets cost $15 to $20. Visit scope-art.com. Without a doubt, this is the most internationally recognized satellite fair. It was founded ten years ago by art-world renegade Alexis Hubshman and is now helmed by director Mollie White. Five editions of Scope are held throughout the year in New York City; Basel, Switzerland; the Hamptons; London; and Miami. Seventy-five international galleries will serve as the foundation for the tenth anniversary of Scope Miami, with special projects such as "Thatness and Thereness," curated by Miami-based a.m.f. projects cofounder Daria Brit Shapiro. Expect mind-bending sculptures (such as Karyn Olivier's Doubleslide); provocative video projects (such as Monika Bravo's The Vortex); and Miami's favorite fashion designer, Karelle Levy, with her sixth Quickie Couture operation. Situated just across the way from Art Miami in midtown, it's hard to miss the massive white pavilion, which at first glance looks like a monumental bounce house.

David Leroi's Media Package at Spinello Gallery
Courtesy of Spinello Gallery
David Leroi's Media Package at Spinello Gallery

3. Fountain Miami. 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. December 3 through 5 at 2505 N. Miami Ave., Miami. Tickets cost $10. Visit fountainexhibit.com.

This is the fifth edition of the show, launched in 2006, and will feature projects from New York-based galleries DCKT and Claire Oliver. Oliver's hysterically flamboyant performance artists Eva + Adele (husband-and-wife hermaphrodites who have dressed alike, quite fabulously, for the past 15 years) will likely grace every major fair with their playful antics. Expect celebrity-collage portraits, life-size dummies, and guerrilla-style installations.

4. Pulse Miami. 1 to 7 p.m. December 2, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. December 3 and 4, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. December 5 at 1400 N. Miami Ave., Miami. Tickets cost $10 to $15. Visit pulse-art.com. Now in its sixth incarnation, one of Wynwood's lights-out fairs roars back with more than 80 galleries from across the globe and with a section celebrating the incorporeal human body and skull-staving lineup of video presentations. Pulse Miami promises to be one of the swankiest satellite fairs on the circuit this December. Gansevoort South will host parties for exhibitors and VIPs, and the fair has a haute list of sponsors, including Jaguar, Artnet, and the Epic Hotel. But don't be fooled by the glitz: This show presents powerful contemporary photography (arguably the fair's primary focus), installation, and mixed-media works. Gallery Diet, featuring a special installation from Christy Gast for Pulse Projects, and Diana Lowenstein Fine Arts will represent the 305. Be sure to check out the Impulse section, where galleries present solo exhibitions of artists' work created in the past two years, as well as the Pulse Play> video lounge, featuring "Water on the Mind" — videos about the emotions inspired by the Gulf oil spill.

5. Aqua Art Fair. 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. December 2 through 4 and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. December 5 at 1530 Collins Ave., Miami Beach. Tickets cost $10. Visit aquaartmiami.com. Now in its sixth year, this breezy, indie soiree returns to its roots on South Beach after a brief stay away. It features mostly fresh produce from West Coast purveyors in a laid-back, hypercozy hotel courtyard display. Expect affordable, offbeat works, with a few iconic names such as Diane Arbus, Frank Stella, Ansel Adams, and Henri Cartier-Bresson thrown into the mix. Forty-three galleries from across the United States and Canada offer an enticing alternative. Within walking distance of Art Basel, this is a healthy dose of the hip and underground.

6. Art Asia Miami. 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. December 1, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. December 2 through 4, and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. December 5 at 2901 N. Miami Ave., Miami. Tickets cost $15 to $100. Visit artasiafair.com. Art Asia, established in 2008, is one of Miami's newest fairs. As its name suggests, the fair showcases galleries and artists from the Eastern Hemisphere, including Taiwan, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Seoul, Moscow, and Istanbul. A new curatorial platform, Art Asia Presents, will feature mixed-media project Ecstasy by Feizi Gallery's Li Xin and large-scale installation Traverse by Galerie Kashya Hildebrand's Meeson Pae Yang. One show-stopping sculpture displayed at last year's Art Asia included a giant cube made of ivory mahjong tiles with a telescopic hole on each side — all pointing toward a miniature stereoscopic image of a Chinese couple getting it on.

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