22 Nov 2012

Art Basel Party Guide

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If the packed streets of Wynwood and the Design District in Miami every weekend in the last year have been any indication, the week of Art Basel (roughly between December 4th and December 9th) will be absolutely ridiculous.

The following “itineraries” have been carefully crafted for your enjoyment of Art Week in Miami. Your adventure will take you mainly to Wynwood and the Design District – no beach nonsense unless it’s truly worth it. These neighborhoods are brewing what’s truly magical about Miami in the last couple of years.

Keep checking back in the coming days as more events get added.

Major protip: Use the “DWNTWN Art Shuttle” this week to get around instead of drive between 11am and 11pm.  Check out the trolley route here.

Tuesday, December 4th

Rule number one: do NOT, I repeat, do NOT wear yourself out too early in the week, or else you’ll find yourself on the couch on Friday night, massaging your bloated belly complaining of a potential ulcer due to your overzealous drinking from free art gallery booze.

Tuesday is still pretty quiet. Head to the Vanity Fair International Party at 7pm. Get ready to fork over $35 and make sure you send your RSVP to RSVP@MoCaNoMi.org. If you’re a North Miami Beach resident, you get in free.

Wednesday, December 5th

Here’s where things really start to pick up. The best parties usually happen on Wednesday and Thursday, so it’s important to go out these two days to experience the peak of Art Basel, but not get completely exhausted as you head into the weekend.

Get properly sauced at the New, Used, and Abused Vernissage at the Miguel Paredes Fine Art Gallery in Wynwood starting at 8pm. Miguel Paredes always delivers a reliably good open bar during the monthly Art Walks, so this one’s a safe bet to stop at.

Next, there’s a Gentleman Jack Art, Beats + Lyrics free event with yet another open bar from 7pm-12am in the Design District. Text MIAMIABL to 68405 to RSVP. Why can’t it always be that easy?

Harper’s BAZAAR Pop-up Shop opens tonight from 8:30-11pm at the Buena Vista Building to celebrate BAZAAR’s new e-commerce site. For the next four nights starting tonight, expect some good shopping, interesting installation and booze.

If you’re a local, you definitely know Afrobeta. They’re playing at News Lounge free at 11pm.

Over on Miami Beach, Art Public (a big outdoor exhibition open to the public) will have its opening night from 8-10pm with various performances and an art bar sponsored by Absolut (ah, there you are Absolut!)

Thursday, December 6th

Your day today starts early with some free breakfast at the Bakehouse Art Complex from 9 am to noon. Check out their exhibition and consider buying some art – all of their pieces are under $1,000. If you ask me, this is just a test in whether art buyers are swayed by free booze or free breakfast.

Mosey over to Wood Tavern throughout the afternoon to check out the now-open Heineken Beer Garden – this pop up beer garden will be open throughout Basel. There’ll be some tunes as they host the Daytime, Downtime, Basel Hang all day from 1pm-8pm with DJs Sleazy McQueen, Will Renuart, Camp Gabby, and Chang.

There are a couple of opening receptions tonight for several exhibition, so you’ll have a chance to choose your flavor. If you’re a fan of Andy Warhol, swing by the FENDI Casa Luxury Living Showroom in the Design District at 8pm to enjoy some cocktails and see some cool pieces. Not big on Warhol? Primary Flight is nearby and tends to host a good time – their opening reception starts at 6. If you’re on the beach, OHWOW is hosting an opening reception for It Ain’t Fair from 6-9pm.

Now that you’ve spent the earlier part of your evening casually checking out art and sipping on a drink proudly sponsored by a random liquor brand, it’s time to party.

Your options are as follows:

Nicolas Jaar at Bardot will be quite the clusterfuck in true Bardot style and tickets are $40 (for now), but Sir Nic is sexy, deep, and deserving of my well-earned dollars. Update: Tickets appear to be sold out online. Don’t fret, you can still catch him tomorrow at The Mondrian or try your luck by showing up at Bardot.

Metric is playing at the SCOPE Miami Official Party presented by Vh1. It’s not really an option as it’s invite-only, but I’m a true believer in willing your way to see a band you really like. Make it happen. It’s Art Basel. It’s a magical time.

KURT is a performance and exhibit at the Gusman Theater on the late Kurt Cobain. They’ll show a short film and a “Smells Like Teen Spirit” inspired performance at 8pm.

Matt Tolfrey, Simon Baker, and Lazaro Casanova at Electric Pickle. It’s always a good time for house music.

Friday, December 7th

Thursday was crazy. I know. But you must keep on. Don’t lose hope. You have maybe two more late nights to go. They’ll be fun, I PROMISE.

If you’re out and about in the afternoon, check out Wood Tavern for their Artsy Fartsy party with DJs Laurence Lee, Kieren Taylor, and Ryan Evans.

Starting at 4pm, SPIN hosts NQB8R with araabMUZIK, Kool Keith, and others – make sure you RSVP and expect this party to run late.

Get to the Gusman Center at 8pm in Downtown Miami to catch The Chromatics and Prince Rama, hosted by Sweat Records. Tickets are $20 and more than worth it for some chill vibes to start your evening. I also hear there’s free beer if you get there early. FREE WHAT? I’M THERE.

Definitely check out the Fountain Art Fair opening reception in Wynwood, which starts at 7pm and runs till midnight. They’re always the most memorable of art fairs in my experience, coming with plenty of independent artists, interesting music, giving you a break from all the uppity-ness of other art fairs.

I’m personally excited about the Moving the Still – GIF Festival celebrating my favorite form of art. They’re having a party with guest DJs from 8pm-midnight in Wynwood. Send your RSVP now to RSVP@paddle8.com.

Later, Bardot concocts a bizarre hipster gumbo  with Solange Knowles, Neon Indian, Corin Roddick (Purity Ring), Jacques Renault, Justin Miller, and Chris Taylor (Grizzly Bear).

Unpredictable, rare, and likely to be pretty bizarre, Daniel Johnston is going to be at Poplife at Grand Central. If you’re the kind of person in which this means something to you, check out his live performance and installation at 9pm. You probably already know if you’re going.

While you guys are having a good time, I’ll probably sneak away to see Nicolas Jaar yet again at the Mondrian in South Beach at 9:30. Don’t underestimate a girl’s crush on a deep voice and a saxophone. If you missed him yesterday, definitely check out his live set for only $20 if you use promo code “Mocafriend”

Saturday, December 8th

You’re almost there! If you’re tired, DON’T BE A BITCH. Saturday is the grand finale.

For those who work the daily 9-5 grind and didn’t get a chance to check out the art fairs during the week, get up early and head to Moloko in Midtown for the amazing Thai Coffee (iced coffee + condensed milk), or the notorious Panther Coffee in Wynwood before hitting up the art fairs.

Now this is important. If you have a student ID in an old, ratty box in your closet somewhere – grab it. Many art fairs will give you a discount if you’re a student.

Next, head to Wood Tavern or Art Miami and visit the Heineken Bike Stations. Yup, bikes are your best friend today as traffic will surely blow anywhere near the art fairs. And after all of those calories consumed from free cranberry vodkas, let’s be honest, you need the exercise.

Use the Chevrolegs to get yourself to any of these great art fairs:

  • SCOPE Miami
    110 N.E. 36th St.
  • Art Miami
    3101 N.E. 1st Ave. Midtown
  • Art Asia
    N.E. 36th Street at North Miami Ave.
  • Red Dot Miami
    3011 N.E. 1st Ave
  • Primary Projects Gallery
    4141 N.E. 2nd Ave. Suite 104
  • Fountain Art Fair
    2505 N. Miami Ave.
  • Pulse Miami
    1400 North Miami Avenue
  • Mr. Brainwash
    Boulan South Beach
    2000 Collins Ave
    Miami Beach FL 33139.

After you’ve completed your art exploration, take a nap or drink one of those disgusting 5 Hour Energy shots because you’re only halfway there.

You’ve got plenty of good music options tonight, but my favorite are these two:

Check out Basel Castle, likely to be the most popular event of the night. Tickets are free, which means you’ll pay for it by waiting in a really long line. But big name sponsorships (Spotify, Bacardi, and of course, PBR), mean it’s probably going to be a good party if you make it in.

F*ck Art, Let’s Dance is my top pick of the night, with DJ Harvey, Pillowtalk, Eats Everything, Krisp and more at Electric Pickle. The name of this party is extremely legit, so let the Ghost of Dance take over your body.

If house music isn’t your thing, head to Grand Central to catch Flying Lotus, Zola Jesus + Dan Deacon at 11pm for $20. With our dear Flylo canceling, the lineup now consists of Dan Deacon, Tanlines, Animal Collective (DJ Set), Hundred Waters, and an art installation from Daniel Johnston. Still $20 bucks, still 18+, free drinks from 11pm-12am.

If you’d like to spend lots and lots of money, Tiesto will be playing at LIV. If you’re just into his creepy smile, get his autograph at the GUESS store on Lincoln Road at 6pm.

Sunday, December 9th

What better way to ease out of this insane week than a BBQ at the Electric Pickle. It starts at 5pm, it’s $10, and it’s a good way to not go cold turkey following last night’s events. Alternatively, relax with beautiful bay views and good tunes at The Standard’s Lazy Sunday BBQ from 3pm-7pm.

If you prefer to go H.A.M., head over to Goldrush for the annual end-of-Basel Hard 2 Leave party, or party with Fedde Le Grand at Space.

Food & Fuel

Between all the art appreciation and drinking, you’ll need to indulge in Miami’s newest, most interesting restaurants. Note that you’ll want to play it safe and make reservations in most cases. Here are some spots that will enhance your experience this week:

North Miami/MiMo:
Ni.Do Mozzarella Bar: Intimate Italian spot with top-notch cheeses and pastas.
Blue Collar: Shrimp and grits, pork and beans. Good ol’ hearty American food.

Design District:
Harry’s Pizzeria: Slow-roasted pork pizza and polenta fries. Enough said.
Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink: Great for dinner, even better for brunch. A must-go if you’re visiting Miami.

Gigi: Can and probably will get disgustingly packed, but I still have mad love for this place. Bonus: Open till 5am.

Lost & Found Saloon: Soul-warming Tex-Mex. Get the warm white chocolate cookie a la mode. Open late.
Jimmy’z Kitchen: Charmlng little Latin spot with great mofongo and bread pudding.

Nemesis Urban Bistro: Alligator ribs? Duck pot stickers? Quirky, crazy – a meal to remember.
The DRB:
500 beers from around the world. Surprisingly fantastic food menu for a “bar”. Try sliders and the chicken sandwich while downing a new beer from a random country.


Hopefully we all love Miami a little more after this week. If there’s anything I missed, got wrong, or there’s something amazing that absolutely needs to be included, feel free to reach out and I’ll give you credit.

Not entirely pleased? Check out these other great Art Basel guides:

For the music lovers, check out Miami New Times’ Ten Best EDM Parties and Miami New Times’ Art Basel Music Guide.

My favorite local journalist, Arielle Castillo, posts her guide on SaltyEggs.com: Guide to Shows during Art Basel.

The ever-reliable The305.com Art Basel 2012 Event Guide helps organize the madness for the week.

SoulofMiami’s Art Basel List contains the full catalog of fun.


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