If you're intimidated by Miami Beach traffic during Basel week, plenty of art fairs on the mainland will keep you busy.
Art Miami, which marks its 25th anniversary, and its sister fair, Context (3101 NE First Ave.; art-miami.com, contextartmiami.com), are the most significant of the Midtown big tops.
Together, they present work from close to 2,000 artists hailing from 60 countries.
Last year, the conjoined fairs drew more than 72,500 visitors during their six-day run. That was more than gathered for Art Basel Miami Beach at the convention center.
See also: Art Basel Miami Beach 2014 Fairs Guide
At the sprawling, 25,000-square-foot Art Miami/Context exhibition space, which covers three city blocks, you can discover everything from the work of modern masters to bleeding-edge contemporary paintings, drawings, sculpture, photography, limited-edition prints, and monumental sculptures. There are even attention-commanding installations in outdoor exhibition spaces and interconnected halls.
Make sure not to miss New York's Keszler Gallery, which is presenting spray paintings and mixed-media sculptures by notorious British street artist Banksy. These were created during his monthlong visit to the Big Apple last year, which was chronicled on HBO's recent documentary Banksy Does New York. Among his work is a sphinx cobbled from concrete rubble that will mash your eye sockets into creamed corn.
Although Pinta (3401 NE First Ave.; pintamiami.com) has racked up a seven-year history in the Big Apple, the boutique fair is in the Magic City for the first time. "We decided to launch our eighth edition here because of the multitude of activity during Miami Art Week," says Diego Costa Peuser, Pinta founder and director. "We felt the city needed a flagship fair devoted to modern and contemporary art from Latin America and the Iberian Peninsula."
For Pinta's local debut, Peuser selected 50 top international galleries from Venezuela, Colombia, Peru, Chile, Brazil, Spain, and Cuba in a tightly curated presentation displayed under two tents housing modern and contemporary works. They span every conceivable genre and are organized around a monumental sculpture garden.
Pinta also boasts a section curated by art historian and author Osbel Suárez that is devoted to geometric art with an emphasis on Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, and Venezuela. "We are not just in the art-fair business," Peuser says. "We have an ongoing commitment to promoting all aspects of Latin American art. Visitors can encounter established masters and emerging artists. There's a focus on important artists of the 1960s and 1970s that we are helping the world rediscover."
At the nearby Miami Project (NE 34th Street and First Avenue; miami-project.com), you'll find a select cadre of powerhouse American galleries flexing programs with historically significant works alongside experimental ones.
Miami Project's third edition showcases 60-plus galleries with heavy hitters from the West Coast, including San Francisco's Catharine Clark Gallery and Seattle's Greg Kucera Gallery.
At the Clark booth, check out the survey of Japanese artist Masami Teraoka, whose evolution can be traced from early minimalist works of the 1960s to his present-day altarpieces depicting the pope groping naked geishas. Afterward, mosey to the Kucera stall, where American sculptor Deborah Butterfield has busted out a stampede of welded, found-metal horses.
In downtown Miami, the Concept art fair (100 Chopin Plaza; concept-fair.com) embarks onboard the SeaFair with 25 handpicked dealers selling work by modern and contemporary masters. Painting, sculpture, photography, design, and objets d'art are all presented for maximum impact in a tony environment aboard the SeaFair megayacht.
What distinguishes this specialty fair is that you can enjoy a seagull's view of the Magic City's glittering skyline late into the evening, long after all the other fairs have shuttered.
The floating art fair marks the debut of New Mexico Arts' Art in Public Places Experimental Dome Program. There's a state-of-the-art mobile dome outfitted with 50-foot video projection, snazzy Oculus Rift glasses, and an interactive digital panel.
Visitors will be regaled with a new video documenting Ai Weiwei and Navajo artist Bert Benally's collaborative installation "Pull of the Moon," which was exhibited in New Mexico's remote Coyote Canyon last summer.
A stone's toss away is the Miami River Fair (Miami Convention Center, 400 SE Second Ave.; miamiriverartfair.com), which returns for its third waterfront season.
The cozy fair offers viewers a chance to swoon over breathtaking views of our city while gawking at modern and contemporary artwork presented by 30 international galleries.
"Visitors can also enjoy monumental sculptures from Italy, France, Cuba, Colombia, Korea, Spain, and a special presentation from Mexico, says organizer Nina Torres. "We also have a project called Art&Environment this year that will feature an installation called Trash-Formers by Uruguay's Ruben Santurian, who makes robots out of technological waste."
Looking for something different? Try the third version of the Fridge Art Fair (300 SW 12th Ave.; fridgeartfair.com), where founder and artist Eric Ginsburg doles out his trademark wacky dog portraits and his co-conspirators join in thumbing their collective noses at the Basel Week hoopla. Located at the Third Street Garage space on the fringes of Little Havana and sponsored by the Barlington Group, which is reshaping the hood's creative profile, Ginsburg calls his antifair "De Staatliches Bauhaus Rijpe Mango Editie."
"People should not be afraid to go and see art, and it should not cost a fortune," says Ginsburg, who is inviting visitors for after-hours cocktails at the Ball & Chain club on Calle Ocho. "I want people to be happy. We want everyone from all walks of life to come to this fair and say, 'That was really cool!' "
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