Art Basel may be ground zero for jet setters looking to snap up another Picasso, but for the true art fanatic, the real draw this week lies far from the Miami Beach Convention Center — in the ever-expanding roster of satellite fairs.
The 22 satellite exhibits, from North Beach to Wynwood and midtown to downtown, are bringing sexting experiments, sound meditation sessions, and "art cops" armed and ready to regulate the uncouth masses.
The most eye-catching installation at any fair might belong to Art Miami, where Peter Anton has built a fully functional carnival ride dubbed Sugar and Gomorrah. The candy-coated device is lined with larger-than-life sculptures of doughnuts, candies, and cupcakes as a tribute to the innocence of youth, the temptations of the flesh, and the sugary songs of Lesley Gore.
"Sometimes we take ourselves too seriously in the art world; there's a sense of self-importance," Anton says. "I thought it would be great to loosen up and have some fun and be free and enjoy yourself and show people it's OK to be a kid again and tap that part of your soul and your personality." His roller coaster anchors an outdoor sculpture pavilion housing a café, lounge, and bar and live graffiti artists. (December 5 through 9 at the Art Miami Pavilion, 3101 NE First Ave., Miami. Admission is $20 for a one-day pass, $40 for multiday, and $10 for students and seniors. Visit art-miami.com.)
On the Beach, Design Miami highlights 20th- and 21st-century "furniture, lighting, and objets d'art," with a renewed focus on American design, all in a striking home base just outside the convention center. Gone is the standard vinyl tent, replaced by a suspended, tubular landscape dubbed Drift, created by Snarkitecture. Inside, the fair features speeches by design icons such as Diane von Furstenberg and furniture pioneer Wendell Castle. (December 5 through 9 at Meridian Avenue and 19th Street in Miami Beach. Admission is $25 for a one-day pass and $15 for students and seniors. Visit designmiamiblog.com.)
The nonprofit NADA Art Fair shines a spotlight on new, underexposed artists through booths such as Bischoff Projects, which is presenting "Night Gallery." This surrealist collaboration has created a labyrinthine fantasy world complete with subliminal images and androgynous androids. If you're having a tough time scoring a babysitter for Basel weekend, LittleCollector offers kids' tours while you get your grownup on. (December 6 through 9 at Collins Avenue and 67th Street in Miami Beach. Admission is free. Visit newartdealers.org.)
Known for its innovative bent, the experimental Verge Art Miami Beach tackles the crossover between video art and traditional filmmaking. Take for example an experiment by Light Assembly, which turns the deco stylings of Miami architecture into backdrops for video projections.
"Cinema has become more intimate. How we receive the media — it's not all received in movie theaters anymore; it's gotten more experimental overall," says the fair's founder, Michael Workman.
Verge will also host a series of screenings in titillating categories such as "Art Porn" and "Tiny Lenses," as well as LiveCasts of Internet porn performance art. (December 7 through 9 at the Essex House, 1001 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; and the Clevelander, 1020 Ocean Dr., Miami Beach. Admission is free Friday through Sunday, and tickets to Thursday's opening-night party cost $15 to $25. Visit vergeartfair.com.)
Basel newbie Miami Project showcases works from 65 galleries, including Karen Finley's intimate take on sexy text messages, on display in Coagula Curatorial's booth. Visitors can purchase Finley's phone number and then sext her a picture of their nether region, which she will immortalize in painting. Miami's Jen Stark will display a colorful, kaleidoscopic creation at Cooper Cole's Gallery, marking her first return to Dade after moving to the West Coast last year. The fair also has a "group therapy" sound meditation session and artist Nina Katchadourian's ingenious retrospective of photos, videos, and digital images taken on airplanes and depicting only tissues, magazines, seat cushions, and other readily available items.
"A large percentage of guests coming to look at the show will have recently gone through the experience of sitting on an airplane, so it's kind of cool to present that body of work," says Max Fishko, cofounder of artMRKT Productions, which created the fair. (December 5 through 9 at NE 1st Ave and NE 29th St. $20 for a one-day pass, $35 for a multiday pass, $25 for a preview ticket, and $45 for a preview and multiday pass. Visit miami-project.com.)
Miami artists are repping at Pulse Miami this year, including LegalArt (now known as Cannonball), Dimensions Variable, and the TM Sisters, who will mix digital clips, handmade animations, and interactive videos in a live performance piece. When you've reached your breaking point of über-serious art snobs in black turtlenecks, check out Pulse Play, a curated video and tech lounge with a lineup of films by Casey Neistat. Seated in a pseudo-living-room, attendees can ask Casey questions about topics such as boxing, Nintendo 64, and World War II. And Pulse Projects has hired "art cops," who will issue tickets to anyone breaking the unwritten rules of art. (Britto better owe big by the end of the weekend.) (December 6 through 9 at 1400 N. Miami Ave., Miami. Admission is $20 general and $15 for students and seniors. Visit pulse-art.com.)
In an ode to the blurring of lines between artistic disciplines, Scope Miami and VH1 are collaborating on the VH1 Outdoor Lounge, highlighting emerging and undiscovered talent, including winners of Red Bull's Canvas Cooler Project, which challenged artists to turn wrapped mini-fridges into colorful creations. (December 5 through 9 at the Scope Pavilion, 110 NE 36th St., Miami. Admission is $20 general and $15 for students. Visit scope-art.com.)
The Seven fair brings in the best of New York's art scene, but five of the galleries featured this year were damaged during Hurricane Sandy (two severely). Seven wasn't about to let Mother Nature prevent it from constructing its collaborative studio in a new location on NW Second Avenue, though. With, yes, seven major works as the focal point of the fair, the rest of the pieces are chosen on the spot to create a cohesive whole.
"It's all very different aesthetics and different points of view," says organizer and P·P·O·W Gallery co-owner Wendy Olsoff. "It's always come out so good." (December 4 through 9 at 2200 NW Second Ave., Miami. Admission is free. Visit seven-miami.com.)