Music and art have long gone hand in hand and so it comes as no surprise that Art Basel Miami 2017 was filled with more art and more incredible music than ever before. This year’s edition welcomed in 20 new galleries, a new curator in the public sector and a new exhibition layout to shake things up. After spending afternoons strolling through art fairs like SCOPE and Superfine, the night lay ahead with lots of parties with world-renowned DJs filled with art installations, live painting and exceptional décor. Skipping out on the first New York snowfall, we were stoked to be in Miami for four days and nights rubbing shoulders with some of the most creative people on the planet. Here are our top five highlights from Art Basel Miami.
Sprawled across Miami Beach on the sand underneath a mammoth tent, SCOPE Miami’s 17th edition was seriously impressive. Featuring 140 international exhibitors from 25 countries and 60 cities, SCOPE welcomed in over 55,000 visitors throughout Art Basel. Entering the enormous fair was at first overwhelming but as we meandered our way up and down the aisles we became so absorbed in all the art that hours went by without us even noticing. Highlights included nudes of ballet dancers painted in silver by Italian artist Guido Argentini who has been working on his series for twenty years, mandala paintings by Cryptik whose work is inspired by science, math and mystery, and David Rice’s stunning acrylic on canvas painting “Interlude” depicting a black woman holding a flamingo amongst green foliage. Upon discovering a bar midway through, champagne in hand, we could have been there for days talking to artists, gallery curators and marvelling at all the amazing artwork. But Basel being Basel there were literally dozens more galleries, fairs and parties beckoning us so we hopped in a cab to make our way over to Wynwood to explore Miami’s flourishing street art scene.
Comprised of over 200 murals and 50 city blocks home to eateries, galleries, antique dealers, and bars, Wynwood is one of the largest open-air street art installations in the world. One or two weeks before Art Basel, Wynwood undergoes an annual facelift as both local and artists from all corners of the world come to paint building facades throughout the neighborhood. Parties spill out on the street on almost every block, traffic is bumper to bumper and sound systems clash coming from various cars and bars. On the night of Thursday December 7, we stopped into the Magnetic Magazine x Bushwick Collective x Ciroc event held in a large open warehouse space where J. Phlip Ardalan and Oliver Dollar Worthy were spinning behind the decks. Ciroc poured complimentary cocktails for the first hour and live art, a barber shop and body painting kept attendees entertained. After, we wandered around the streets checking out awe-inspiring murals by Frankfurt’s Case, Tristan Eaton, LA’s Retna and dozens of other artists from all over.
GUY GERBER’S RUMORS
Taking place on the Friday afternoon into evening, Guy Gerber’s infamous Rumors threw a free party on the stretch of open sand behind the 1 Hotel on Miami Beach. Featuring the signature red and green décor synonymous with the label’s parties, Guy Gerber’s set was eclectic and fun as he busted out early noughties tracks like St. Germain’s “Rose Rouge”. After 11pm the party was to move up to the hotel rooftop with its stunning views across the beach and Downtown, but in true Art Basel style we party hopped on over to Do Not Sit for Chaim B2B YokoO at Behrouz’s Do Not Sit On The Furniture before heading over to SPACE for Bob Moses (live).
Upon arrival, the line for Space stretched down the street as eager Bob Moses fans waited to get in. After making our way up the stairs we found ourselves on the terrace of the Miami super club institution. With large windows, it’s no wonder that morning sessions on the terrace are considered to be where it’s at as partygoers dance the day away with the sun streaming in. Several mirror balls and dream catchers dangled from the ceiling alongside gold streamers as vines crept up the walls making for a pretty spectacular looking party. Playing inside a booth branded as Part of The Gang (yes tINI and her crew were set to takeover Saturday morning), Bob Moses busted out plenty of hits including “Talk”, “Tearing Me Up” and “Far From The Tree”.
Arriving early Sunday morning once again to SPACE for Solomun’s iconic Solomun +1, the party was in full swing as the Ibiza kingpin played alongside our favorite Swiss DJ duo and Diynamic mainstays Adriatique. At the 25th hour Magda stepped up to the decks to go back to back with the Diynamic label head before Magdalena took over to close around hour 28. Talk about a marathon event! With tickets reportedly going at the door for $200 and an astronomical table minimum spend, this was the place to be on Sunday for those wanting to party at Basel with money to burn.
Without a doubt, this was the most impressive lineup for any music event during Art Basel. The lovechild of Innervisions and Life and Death, it was obviously going to be a great party. Taking over the stunning surrounds of Historic Virginia Key Beach Park about a 15 minute drive from Downtown Miami, Rakastella was comprised of three stages. A campari bar and orange balloon-like art installation made for a cool photo opp, especially when reps came over offering up free Campari branded phone charges! Live painting over by one of the stages entranced partygoers looking for a break from the dancefloor which was absolutely rammed during Âme back to back Âme and later Dixon. Other standout sets included DJ Koze, Life and Death label head DJ Tennis, Red Axes and the super talented Octo Octa (live). The production, sound and lighting was impressive and the overall vibe was electric.
Sadly a few bad apples ruined the night for quite a few partygoers as a team of guys worked the dancefloor stealing cell phones from revelers including this writer’s. It’s apparently a common occurrence in Miami and a good reminder to always watch your things closely, particularly on crowded dancefloors. Nevertheless we continued with our night deciding to embrace being forced to unplug and letting ourselves get lost in the music. Catering to a crowd of 4,000, there were ample bars and porta-potties; a lot of planning had clearly gone into Rakastella. Seeing Dixon and both Frank Wiedemann and Kristian Beyer all cracking rare smiles and high-fiving each other behind the decks was really awesome to see which only further enhanced the positive vibes rippling throughout the dancefloor.
If art, music, good weather and long hours on your feet are your thing, you should definitely consider heading to Art Basel next year. As it seems fewer people are making the trek to Miami Music Week in favor of ADE, Art Basel is the perfect chance to indulge in some culture and good times while basking in Miami’s beautiful weather.