The Art of the Budget: Miami Beach's Art Basel Isn't Just for the Rich and Famous

Art Basel Miami Beach, the most important contemporary art fair in the United States, is most certainly a high roller affair, a place where, in 2017, an Asian art collector dropped $9.5 million for artist Bruce Nauman's installation, "Untitled" ("Two Wolves," "Two Deer"), which to the untrained eye was pretty much a hanging sculpture of deconstructed deer and wolves. Clearly, it was much more, but to the uninitiated, it was a head-scratching buy. And while big money is busy being exchanged at the actual Art Basel Miami Beach exhibition inside the Miami Beach Convention Center, that doesn't mean this whole Basel-dazzle is reserved solely for the 1%. In fact, Riviera South Beach reports, it is one of the best times for bargain hunters to find not only affordable artwork by someone who may, indeed, become the next Basquiat, but for free events and priceless people watching.

The real underground, hipster action takes place where the energy is more electric than the expense account flush, at boutique hotels where burgeoning street artists, sculpturists, performance artists and those who fancy themselves as an amalgam of all of them convene to cocktail, network and show off their talents.

Among those hotels is the Riviera South Beach, a contemporary, multi-building, chic stay with modern, colorful rooms - some with truly over the top, must-see decor, rooftop and courtyard pools, Insta-worthy art walls, and buzzy cocktail and Cuban cuisine canteen, Mas Cuba, an oft-Instagrammed artsy outpost of funky, re-purposed art and fab fare.

For some, it's the art that attracts, while for others, it's all about becoming the art.

Lesley Abravanel

Miami Herald

Nearby is the Catalina Hotel, a high energy South Beach landmark with a distinctly retro-mod vibe - think Austin Powers meets South Beach, with two pools, two restaurants, three bars, and ultra-modern rooms. The adjacent Maxine's Bistro & Bar is open 24-hours serving farm fresh food, potent cocktails, and a perfect perch from which to people-watch.

Some may consider the Tradewinds, an off the beaten path apartment hotel with full kitchen and stunning, sunny courtyard pool. An ideal address for Art Basel, Tradewinds is uber close to the Convention Center.

There are several free must-sees during Art Basel. The first is a live performance piece by Mexican conceptual artist Abraham Cruzvillegas, whose debut performance piece, "Autoreconstruccion: To insist, to Insist, to Insist," will take place twice a day in the Miami Beach Convention Center's brand-new ballroom and features dancer and choreographer Barbara Foulkes attached by a strap to the artist's scrap metal assemblage while musicians do their thing.

Another must-see freebie is The Faena Festival running December 3 - 9 at the 3000 block of Collins Avenue, with a slew of public art, performance artists, exhibitions and all sorts of social-media-worthy opportunities to enlighten the masses. This year's theme is "This is not America," which, according to Zoe Luke, curator of Faena Art, "Addresses America as a concept more than a place, a contested and powerful idea that is greater than the waters and borders that frame it."

The fair has spread beyond Miami Beach thanks to the emergence of Wynwood as the arts district. Here, the streets (and walls) are plastered with art by renowned graffiti artists. An absolute to-do is the free Basel House at the old RC Cola Plant, 550 NW 24th St., where a collection of culture is housed all in one space, from music and vendors to new age art installations, late night DJs, mural tours, live painting, food trucks, and pretty much anything else, running December 7 - 9.

Delving a little deeper, but not into people's pockets, is the free exhibition at the Patricia and Phillip Frost Art Museum featuring artist Hank Willis Thomas and his nonprofit For Freedoms project, and Baz Dreisinger, who spent years teaching in prisons and collecting handwritten and typed messages from the incarcerated. 

Further exploration will undoubtedly turn up a slew of other opportunities to be immersed in the arts. Miami Beach circa Art Basel is a dazzling, dizzying, fascinating experience that can be enjoyed by people of all levels of appreciations of art, and most importantly, of all budgets. As the locals like to say, Basel Tov! 

Source: Riviera South Beach


Categories: Accommodations and Lodging, Arts and Entertainment, Travel

Tags: art, Art Basel, Art Basel events, Art Basel hotels, Art Basel Miami, Art Basel Miami Beach, art exhibition, art gallery, Miami Beach, Miami Beach Convention Center, South Beach, South Beach Group


Additional Images

About Riviera South Beach

View Website

Blending classic sophistication and contemporary chic, the Riviera South Beach hotel offers stylish accommodations just minutes from the beach.

Riviera South Beach
318 20th Street
Miami Beach, FL 33139
United States