The arrival of the international art dealing behemoth known as Basel draws many Magic City residents to a slew of festivals, fairs, and public art displays in early December. And while much of Miami Art Week is geared toward billions of dollars of spending, we plebeians can still enjoy the frenzy. Just don't forget that local gallery shows vying for a piece of the pie are hiding in plain sight. Basel only comes once a year, so load up your plate with this smorgasbord of cultural offerings.
Wendi Norris Gallery. San Francisco gallery Wendi Norris is bringing Ana Teresa Fernández's show "Of Bodies and Borders" for Basel viewers during an especially poignant time for the work's subject matter. The artist addresses migration and its concurrent trauma through performative videos and large-scale oil paintings in which Fernández is submerged under water with 13 pound weights attached to her body. In motion, her body is thrashing endlessly against a bed sheet, but the paintings portray an eerily beautiful suspension of light and darkness. Through December 8 at 6391 NW Second Ave., Miami; gallerywendinorris.com.
Superchief Gallery Miami. New Times recently urged viewers to avoid the unauthorized exhibit, "The Art of Banksy" (and Banksy himself has issued a "product recall"). But there's a slightly less problematic way to see the consumerist-allergic artist's work this Basel season. "Saving Banksy" is not only a documentary on Netflix, it's a travelling exhibit featuring the salvaged "Haight Street Rat." While art conservator Brian Greif has been offered hundreds of thousands of dollars for the piece, he chose instead to tour the work for free because, according to the project's website, "we believe street art is important and meant to be shared with the public." December 6-9 at 3100 NE Seventh Ave., Miami; superchiefgallery.com.
Nina Johnson Gallery. The Nina Johnson gallery is packing a three-in-one punch for Basel season. In conjunction with the survey happening at the Institute of Contemporary Art, "Judy Chicago Atmospheres" will be on display until March 2nd, 2019. Assemblage sculpture and subversive politics meet in Jim Drain's show "Zapf DingBats," on display until January 5th, 2019. And finally, "Of Purism," on view until February 2nd, will collect modern and contemporary works chosen by architecture and design firm Charlap Hyman & Herrero in homage to the fact that they designed the gallery. You may not be able to afford the work on the walls, but the time you save seeing all of this in one spot is definitely a bargain. 6315 NW Second Ave., Miami; ninajohnson.com.
Space Mountain. Aside from the fact that this gallery is one of the few alternative art spaces in Miami, you should head to Space Mountain for "DIVINITY." LA-based artist Precious Child will bring a multi-disciplinary show addressing abuse in a culture still in the wake of events like Kavanaugh's confirmation to the Supreme Court. The opening night will feature performances by Precious Child, Non Grata, Wild Torus, and Oscillator, as well as a zine launching an initiative to address sexual violence in Miami's music and culture scene. Opening night performances start at 9 p.m. on December 7th; the show runs through January 18th, 2019, at 738 NW 62nd St., Miami; spacemountainmia.org.
Ward Rooming House. Hampton Art Lovers, the Miami CRA, Chairman Keon Hardemon, the Black Archives, and Urban Collective have all worked to bring "Elizabeth Catlett and the Hampton Arts Tradition" from Hampton University to Miami for Basel season. Catlett was a significant champion of black and brown people as subjects for her art and activism. During a week where money and status eclipse the messaging and soul of art, this show is an important reminder of how representation and cultural production are tied up with every aspect of our social structures. December 5th through December 10th at 249 NW 9th St., Miami; eventbrite.com.
Primary Projects. If you need a twilight retreat from the boom and buzz of Miami Beach and the Base crowd, look no further than Carlos Betancourt's "Process Ritual Future Eternal" at Primary Projects. Made primarily of rescued objects, Betancourt's installation is a reaction to the loss of his family's personal iconography in their move from Puerto Rico to mainland United States. The hanging display of strand lights, plastic birds, and fabric flowers is full of nostalgia and color — a welcome respite from the inundation of high-brow art you're most likely to encounter. Through January 12, 2019, at 15 NE 39th St., Miami; thisisprimary.com.
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Mindy Solomon Gallery. Maybe you haven't smelled the rank death of the red tide or strolled along the sand on Virginia Key to see endless bottle caps, plastic bags, and condom wrappers. Still, you don't need to experience these firsthand to understand how little people consider Florida's natural landscapes. In a video animation and painting installation, Ezra Johnson works with objects found alongside Hillsborough River in Tampa. During the season of mass consumption, "Floating On Top" asks viewers to consider the lasting effects of our daily decisions. Through January 12th, 2019 at 8397 NE Second Ave., Miami; mindysolomon.com.
IRL Institute. Keeping with the theme of destruction and degradation, IRL Institute is opening San Francisco-based artist Kentaro Ikegami's show "Waves." Through a combination of light and installation, Ikegami invokes the intense flash of a nuclear bomb and its after effects. Inspired partly by photos and accounts of the bombing in Hiroshima, the show takes a history we typically only understand conceptually and makes it tactile and physical through artistic abstraction. Through February 4th, 2019 at 8365 NE Second Ave., Miami; facebook.com.
The De La Cruz Collection. One of the more intimidating aspects of Basel Mania is the expectation to somehow know about abstract art as though you've studied it your entire life, despite only encountering it for three days a year. At "More/Less," the De La Cruz Collection is providing a tasteful balance that not only serves to familiarize those uninitiated into the world of contemporary art, but also explores the relationship between the formal and the abstract. While not technically a gallery, it's still worth the visit for over 200 works of art on display for free. Through November 2019 at 23 NE 41st St., Miami; delacruzcollection.org.
Miami International Airport. While also not inhabiting a traditional gallery space, Jillian Mayer's "Still Life Scans" at the Miami International Airport are worth the stroll through a sea of rolling suitcases and slow moving travelers. Mayer made the work by feeding various objects through the x-ray machine used by TSA to screen luggage - mundane, maybe, but the images are strangely beautiful in their layered, abstract fluorescence. Though May 2019 at 2100 NW 42nd Ave., Miami; miami-airport.com.