Art Basel's Winners and Losers
No more art, please! Our eyes have had enough. Really! Between the fairs, we were tempted to take naps in the car. But thankfully everything is back to normal and we can look back at the art orgy that is Art Basel Miami Beach and the satellite fairs. Yes, now it's time to assess the good, the bad, and the downright ugly things we observed last week. Warning: We aren't talking about only art here; the winners and losers extend far beyond the pieces on display.
1. Chinese Artists: Seriously, China, you had to showboat at the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics with your illuminated drums, calligraphy scroll, and lip-synching child singer, and just when we thought it was over, you invade basically every fair during Basel. We couldn't turn a corner without seeing Zhang Peng's doe-eyed kinderwhore Lolitas staring at us so innocently that we expected Chris Hansen to pop out of nowhere and ask us what we were doing there.
2. Grolsch Lovers: We usually drink Grolsch once a month at the Wynwood Art Walk when Gallery Diet and the Dorsch Gallery hand them out by the bucket-full. But leave it to the Dutch lager to sponsor almost every single event this year: Scope, NADA, O.H.W.O.W., Art Miami, and The King Is Dead were just some of the places that doled out the swing-top capped beer for free. Honestly, we drank more Grolsch last week than we had consumed all year.
3. Midtown: We're guessing the Shops at Midtown's developers raked in more money last week than they've made since the development opened. While we've always admired Midtown's fairly cheap garage parking (free if you park for less than an hour), the owners wised up and at times charged $10. At night, the area was full of energy, leaving us wondering what could have been had it all gone as planned.
We are also left wondering how much money they made from letting Red Dot, Bridge, Scope, Art Miami, and Photo MIAMI erect tents on their empty lots.
4. Tabloid Magazines: Naomi Campbell reportedly canoodling with P. Diddy at LIV, Kirsten Dunst and Mary-Kate Olsen feuding at Florida Room, Marilyn Manson and his new goth Lolita, and Pamela Anderson and her hot-pant fiasco. A-list celebrities turned out in full force for the Basel festivities, giving the tabloids plenty of Miami fodder for the week.
Usually the Magic City sees only a string of D-list reality-show whores (see Paris Hilton, Kim Kardashian, Brooke Hogan). Basel may not have broke sales records, but it definitely had enough star wattage.
5. Locals: Local artists, musicians, and ordinary people benifited from this year's economic recession. David Castillo Gallery was selected to exhibit at Art Positions, Scope commissioned Friends With You to create a visitors' lounge, Miami's local music scene got a New York Times shout-out, and the average local was warmly welcomed to the fairs. It doesn't stop there: We heard of invite-only and high-priced-ticket events that at the last minute let in any warm body just so they wouldn't look so empty.
1. Art Basel Miami Beach: While everyone still calls the week Art Basel, the fair itself seems like an afterthought. We heard more about the satellite fairs and the parties than we did about Basel -- and honestly, did anyone care? In addition, the $35 entrance fee wasn't too enticing for locals. In fact, Basel this year seemed a little more chaotically strung together than usual. Blame the economy? Maybe. But we think it was missing the Samuel Keller touch.
2. Target Shoppers: Ugh, the traffic! Who knew it was going to take almost 30 minutes to get to Target from your Edgewater studio just to pick up some deodorant and frozen pizza? (Our shopping list is random; don't judge.) While we applaud the electric feel the Midtown area had all week long, we'd rather go through a hurricane than have to deal with the traffic again.
3. New York Hipsters: Walking through NADA was like being teleported into the center of Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The fair is usually considered one of the best satellite fairs, but we aren't sure if this was NADA's year. The quality of work was, eh, not so great, and the fair's opening party left Casiotone very much painfully alone, Finally, to top it off, locals weren't happy to find out NADA's Art Damage party (co-sponsored by Nike and ANP Quarterly) featuring Panda Bear and No Age, who rarely, if ever, make a South Florida appearance, was invite-only -- actually, that turned out to be a lie.
But NADA isn't the only one to commit a Miami faux-pas, Brooklyn duo Matt & Kim asked a crowd gathered at the "Kill Your Idols" event in the Marcy Building if anyone was actually from here, because, you know, it's so hard to find a Brooklyn hipster that wasn't born and raised in New York.
The only bright spot in the New York hipster art scene here for Basel was O.H.W.O.W., who had a party -- complete with free booze and ice cream -- almost every single night that was free and open to the public.
4. Hotels: Basel's organizers and attendees have complained for a long time about Miami Beach's price gouging of hotel room rates during the week. In fact, plenty of speculated it would be the deal breaker that would take Art Basel to another city that could promise them more affordable rates. However, due to the lagging economy hotels cut rates and dropped the usually 3- to 5-night mininum stay that has been common place for the last few years.
According to the Herald, occupancy remained unchange at 84 percent over last year (it dropped county-wide from 83 to 80 percent). Still, we imagine hotels didn't make anywhere near the same amount of money they made last year.
5. Moochers: While there was still plenty of open bar parties, we did notice a slight drop off in the amount of free booze and swag handed out. Beer replaced vodka, vodka replaced champagne, while goodie bags handed out at the fairs to VIP and press were less than impressive than the ones in year's past.
We also could do a whole blog posts on all the rumored parties that were suppose to happen but didn't due to lack on money. In addition, we noticed a rise in cash bars this year at parties, which is an unfortunate thing for a moocher.
-- Jose D. Duran & Kyle Munzenrieder
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