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Published November 15, 2022

Tips to Master Miami Art Week from Miami Beach to Your Own Home

By Annabel Keenan

Annabel Keenan is a New York-based writer specializing in contemporary art and sustainability. Her work has appeared in The Art Newspaper, Cultured Magazine, Brooklyn Rail, and Hyperallergic, among others.

With several major art fairs, dozens of museum exhibitions, and countless special events, Miami Art Week is one of the biggest times of the year in the art industry. While European collectors and dealers enjoyed the recent activities surrounding Frieze London and Art Basel’s new Paris+ show, American audiences are soon flocking to Miami for Art Basel Miami Beach, with events launching the last week of November. As commercial and cultural endeavors, art fairs present perfect opportunities to see a broad cross-section of the newest and most buzz-worthy art. The sheer volume of activities can easily overwhelm, but these tips will help to navigate Art Week seamlessly.

Art Basel 2021 entrance.Photo courtesy Art Basel

​The Lay of the Land: Miami Beach Fairs

Art Basel Miami Beach is undoubtedly the main attraction of Miami Art Week with big names like Hauser & Wirth and Gagosian who bring their most coveted, and often most expensive, works. Taking place in the sprawling Miami Beach Convention Center, the event attracts thousands of people, including dealers, collectors, and several celebrities. Visitors attend Art Basel, and any fair in general, for countless reasons from collecting art to learning about new artists to having fun at the myriad parties and events. Highlights of this year’s edition include Magenta Plains’s solo booth of photographs by Barbara Ess and Roberts Projects group presentation including Amoako Boafo and Kehinde Wiley.

Understanding your goals is paramount before experiencing any fair, and this is particularly helpful for Art Basel. If you are planning on seeing a specific exhibitor or artist, make sure to look up the booth number and find it on a map. No matter how set you are on seeing something, missing exhibitors is shockingly easy, and there’s nothing worse than navigating an entire fair for hours on hard concrete floors only to realize you forgot to look for something or someone.

Art Basel 2022. Barbara Ess, No Title (Sunflower), 1997-98, C print. Courtesy of Magenta Plains.

Down the road from Art Basel is Untitled Art, which is held in a tent on the beach. The fair features exhibitors with strong curatorial practices and international presences. It also hosts a section called NEST that offers subsidized booths to allow smaller galleries and non-profits to participate. Some international highlights for the 2022 edition include Bode Projects of Berlin, which will present a solo booth of new abstract paintings by Dana James, and Double V Gallery of Paris and Marseille featuring works by B.D. Graft and Inês Zenha. Another highlight of the fair will be Luis de Jesus of Los Angeles’ booth with new works by Iraqi artist Vian Sora.

Also a very short walking distance from Art Basel is INK Miami Art Fair, which features prints and works on paper, relatively affordable options compared to the other fairs. INK is held in the suites of The Dorchester Hotel, providing an opportunity to engage with art in a more intimate setting. Several internationally renowned print publishers exhibit at INK, including Mixografia from Los Angeles, Tamarind Institute of Albuquerque, and Highpoint Editions of Minneapolis. INK is a much smaller, more manageable fair that can easily be added on after a day at Art Basel and is a short walk from the beach and Collins Avenue where countless parties and exhibitions pop up on the sands and in the iconic Art Deco hotels. While many of these are private, public art is everywhere in Miami and a walk up the beach to Faena Art or down to South Beach will undoubtedly uncover some event or cultural experience.

Untitled Art 2021 edition. Photo courtesy Casey Kelbaugh

Across the Bridge: Biscayne Bay and Downtown Miami Fairs

While Art Basel, Untitled, and INK are in Miami Beach, along with other fairs including Design Miami/ and Scope, several fairs and museums are across Biscayne Bay in and around Downtown. If you’re staying in Miami Beach, it’s smart to combine the Downtown activities to limit sitting in traffic on the few bridges that cross the bay. One of the highlights of the area is the New Art Dealers Alliance (NADA) fair, which is held in the Ice Palace Studios and features emerging and established galleries exhibiting some of the most promising names in young and mid-career artists. Some highlights of this year include Charles Moffett, which is bringing new paintings by Maggie Ellis, and The Pit, whose booth will include new work from Heather Day.

Overlooking Biscayne Bay are Art Miami and Context, fairs located directly next to one another, allowing for easy access between the two. These typically feature exhibitors of the same caliber as NADA, along with several lesser known dealers, giving the opportunity to discover new artists. A highlight of Art Miami this year will be Zolla/Lieberman Gallery’s booth including new figural works by René Romero Schuler.

Art Miami 2022. Rene Romero Schuler, Cascade, 2022, oil on canvas, Zolla/Lieberman Gallery. Couresty Zolla/Lieberman Gallery

Art Miami and Context are a quick walk from the Pérez Art Museum Miami, which will have several exhibitions on view during Art Week, including Liminal, a highly anticipated solo show of works by Leandro Erlich. Particularly buzz-worthy is Erlich’s Swimming Pool installation that creates an illusion in which visitors who enter on a lower level appear to be submerged underwater.

While these fairs and museums are in Miami Beach and Downtown Miami, there are many other areas like that are worth a visit depending on how long you’re in town. The Design District is home to the Institute of Contemporary Art and a number of local art and design galleries, and nearby Wynwood is known for its graffiti and murals.

Untitled Art, Aerial view of Untitled Art 2021. Photo courtesy of Casey Kelbaugh

Navigate Miami Like a Pro

Visiting Miami fairs is as much for the art as it is for the people-watching and fashion. Visitors, and some exhibitors, put on their brightest and loudest attire and hit the fairs ready to spend $25 on a miniature glass of champagne. This is half the fun, but it’s important to remember that fairs involve a tremendous amount of walking, and transportation to and from the fairs can be hectic. Art Basel provides free cars from their sponsor BMW for all VIP passholders, but they’re first-come-first-serve, so the wait times can be long. Rideshares are reliable but are also in high demand during the fairs, leading to long waits and higher prices.

Transportation in general is an important consideration when planning where to go during the week. While accessing a ride isn’t an issue, traffic can be prohibitive. A drive that’s normally 15 minutes can often take over an hour in complete gridlock during peak times. Walking as much as possible is a great way to get around the city. Miami Beach has convenient, free trolleys that you can hop on to get closer to your destination, and there is a lot to see by foot. Art Basel is a short walk from The Bass, which has a number of major exhibitions on view during the fairs, including El fin de la imaginación, a solo show of installations and sculptures by Argentinian, multi-media artist Adrián Villar Rojas.

The amount of driving needed depends on the area of the city you decide to stay. There are countless great hotels throughout Miami. Many people opt for Miami Beach, where there are several hotels along Collins Avenue. Hotels like the EDITION, the Faena, and Arlo Nautilus are popular choices, in part because several of the Art Week-related parties and events are hosted there as well. If you want to be near the parties, but not necessarily deal with the crowds, the Palms Hotel and Spa is a great option. It’s convenient to the Miami Beach activities, but doesn’t typically host events apart from things like weddings unrelated to Art Week, and its amenities are private, so you won’t have to worry about a sceney pool or bar. For those in town more for the business side of the week, the Loews Hotel is a popular choice. At any given time of day, the lobby and bar are full of gallerists on laptops hoping to close a deal. These are all pricey during Art Week, so some opt for the Downtown hotels, of which there are many recognizable chains, though these options will leave you slightly removed from the festivities.

Untitled Art 2022. Vian Sora, Unveiled, 2022, mixed media finished with oil on canvas. Courtesy of the artist and Luis De Jesus, Los Angeles

Beyond the Fair

For reasons of sustainability and accessibility, many fairs are opting for digital floorplans available through apps or online. These are helpful if you want to survey the layout in advance. Some fairs also produce digital content for visitors who are unable to attend in person, such Untitled and Art Basel, both of which have popular podcasts. Recognizing the global reach of art fairs, Art Basel also launched its Online Viewing Rooms virtual platform in February of 2020, which allows users to browse the booths from home. The fair also posts recordings of programming, like conversations and panels, on its website along with content produced specifically for each fair, including video interviews with artists, dealers, and collectors.

In addition to its podcast, Untitled’s writer-in-residence program offers critical discourse accessible outside of the fair, similar to Art Basel’s commissioned editorial features. Untitled is also producing Titling the Untitled: An Interview Series, interviews with the fair founder and staff, as well as attendees and exhibitors. The series is presented by The Locker Room and will be hosted by artist Catherine Candor, who will ask questions in “man-on-the-street” style conversations. The interviews will be released on Untitled’s Instagram November 28th and 29th and December 1st.

Whether you’re attending Miami Art Week or not, there are countless ways to engage with the cultural and commercial activities. For those who are joining in person, these tips will hopefully help make planning smoother and participating more fun.

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