The Bay at Basel (Come to Miami with us this weekend!)

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Like a rhinestone hamburger (SCOPE Festival Miami 2011)
GUARDIAN PHOTO BY CAITLIN DONOHUE

There are two moments from my 2011 pilgrimage that duel in my mind for the title of quintessential Miami Art Basel. One, when that couple at the SCOPE Festival was examining the multi-thousand-dollar rhinestone hamburger for purchase. Two, Pharrell climbing onstage before Yelawolf's set at the much-hyped "party of the year" Basel Castle and telling us that "this week, it's all about the artists. But also, it's all about... you guys." 

Someone smart -- was it Erick Lyle? -- once told me that for an artist, visiting the premier US art festival (which centers around the Art Basel Miami fair proper at the Miami Beach Convention Center, a happening imported of course, from Basel, Switzerland) is akin to seeing one's parents having sex. Money is thick in the air, because that's how art survives in capitalistic society. Events like Art Basel are the reason we can have professional artists -- even if the action right in front of you can still make indie types feel creepy-crawly.

But Guardian sex writer Kelly Lovemonster and I are nonetheless headed down on Thursday. Because Basel week, for all its wacky, is an artistic convergence like nothing else. Miami becomes the place for superb (and superbly-funded, but more on that later) murals, rhinestone hamburgers, Pharrell cameos, women living in glass boxes with pigs, South Beach promenades that culminate in surprise pool parties, and if you're lucky like we were last year, Lance Bass sightings. 

BUT IS THE BAY AREA GONNA REPRESENT?

Well, yeah. At Art Basel proper, we're being repped by the flash downtown types that do well with the $10,000+/canvas club: John Berggruen GalleryAnthony Meier Fine Arts, and Altman Siegel Gallery.

Of course, if you're reading something I've written, you're probably more interested in the younger bucks, like the New Art Dealers Association (NADA), where Mission gallery Ratio 3 is showcasing some Barry McGee, Mitzi Pederson, and more. Also at NADA will be the rad Silverman GalleryWe're not gonna lie, we're kind of hyped for Untitled, the too-cool beach expo that already has stirred up a rivalry with NADA, which encouraged its artists not to exhibit at both fairs. Ink Miami, a relatively low-key affair that focuses on paper-based art, Berkeley's Paulson Bott Press will exhibit intaglio prints from Clare Rojas and the luminous Isca Greenfield-Sanders: 

Across the causeway, in the Wynwood/Design District/Midtown neighborhoods, will be most of the younger (read: cheaper) scene. White Walls gallery will once again be at SCOPE. I'm particularly stoked to check out SF artist Ferris Plock's pieces, since I missed his solo show there earlier this year.

SCOPE will also host 11 of Scott Hove's freak cakes, which you need to see to believe:

WHAT ELSE? STREET ART?

Wynwood bowled me over last year with its halluciongenic wall-to-wall of fresh murals like, everywhere (I hear the competition this year is fiiiierce for vertical space.) The progenitor of this scene, developer and gentrifier par excellence Tony Goldman, died this year (I snuck in an interview before he passed), which is bound to have some repercussions on street art funding in the years to come. Shepard Fairey is doing an R.I.P. wall for Goldman at the "Come and Dream" memorial being painted for him at 25th Street and 2nd Avenue in Wynwood, so... 

There's noone galleries from California on the line-up, but the seventh annual Fountain Art Fair should also be really good if you're into younger artists -- they've got a whole "Breeder Lounge" full of up-and-comers, and one of the largest street artist lineups of the week.

Last year's Basel street art darling RETNA painted the facade for this year's new Louis Vuitton Design District store... Another street art oddity will be the six-and-a-half tons of Banksy walls that have been removed from their original settings and plunked down at the ironically-named Context, the first year of 23-year-old Miami Art Fair's event-within-an-event. There's a rumor that some of the walls came outta Bethlehem. We'll investigate for you.

Also at Miami Art Fair, Peter Anton's amusement park ride "Sugar and Gomorrah," which plays on themes evident from the title (Peep a slideshow of that toothache here.)

And obviously, keep your eyes peeled for guerrila shows. With so many art fans/warm bodies in one place, there's bound to be some enterprising, low budget sorts.

Here's a nice map/comprehensive list of all eight million art fairs. Huffington Post dials it back to 18 high school stereotypes, if you're more comfortable with boxes (or just wanna know about the frat boys-in-a-box that SCOPE caged a few years ago.) 

ANYONE ELSE?

Well, yeah. Bay babies boychild and Dia Dear (freakdrag ingenues of Marke B.'s Super Ego nightlife column this week on the new club performance art) will bring the weird tonight, Wed/5, to Chez Deep's Scylla party. On Sat/8, Dear's at the Deauville Beach Resort for the free NADA pool party with Alexis Blair Penney a host of other hotties, and Child takes the stage at Frankie Sharp's Westgay NYC-in-MIA pool party at the Shore Club. Scene queen Juanita More will be sweeping grandly past the Art Deco hotels, too.

Also, I know where Pharrell will be in advance for more platitudes about not being an actual artist! He's at the opening party for the clothing store Moncler in Bar Harbour Shops (9700 Collins, Miami Beach) at 6pm on Sat/8. Perhaps you remember Moncler as the clothing line that released jackets designed by Mr. Williams using bionic thread at Art Basel Miami 2009. Pharrell will be signing copies of his new book whose title has his own name in it, Pharrell: Places and Spaces I've Been.

Other crazies: Tiesto on Sat/8 and a big-ass, hella expensive hip-hop show that'll plunk Rick Ross, Wale, Machine Gun Kelly, and others in the same building as Art Basel Miami (ha!) The big UR1 Music Festival that was supposed to be headlined by Kanye got canceled due to "inclement weather conditions" and lingering effects of "Hurricane Sandy," which hasn't seemed to have affected anything else this week.

If your dogs are barking from too much gallery strut, I've got the perfect spot to chill. Art Basel Miami will be projecting art films onto the Frank Gehry-designed New World Center's 7,000 square foot outdoor wall -- flicks like Ryan McGinley's lovely video for Sigur Ros and Marie Bovo's documentation of a watermelon rolling down the streets of Seoul. 

CAN I CRASH WITH YOU?

Nope! But due to economic vagaries, I just booked my Airbnb room yesterday ($100/night for a room in a Design District apartment fulla younger types), so I'm pretty sure you can -- ahem -- make your own arrangements. 

WHAT ARE WE DRINKING?

You're welcome. 

WILL WE MAKE IT?

I dunno. But for a little perspective on what all this glitter and glitz means in terms of art art, I recommend peeping this disemboweling piece (which I'm recycling from first-timer-this-year Baseler and indie Mission curator Tyler Hanson's Facebook page) before boarding the flight to MIA. 

Follow us on Twitter for of-the-moment favorite walls, outfits, and party mutterings: @caitlindonohue <3 @gurlwhereyouat. And check back with Pixel Vision for images, interviews, musings.

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