How to be a Poor Person at Art Basel Season Finale

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It was our last kind-of beautiful El Nino day in Miami, and I allowed myself the very leisurely morning time of 10AM. Over the last few days I had mastered the art of sleeping without pants without anyone else in our 8 person room noticing or being weird about it. It was still pretty rainy outside so we kind of chilled in and around our hostel-home for a while, taking our time to shower and rearrange all of our items, and say hello to the new flood of Australians.

Our hostel had a bar that was staffed with more ex-MMA looking guys so Megan was hanging around and chatting to one of them about a scar on his eyebrow and how he was a really good bar bouncer with a killer left-hook. I took a tiny break at Zara down the street because Ohio, my current geographical prison, doesn’t know what Zara is and it had been three months since I saw one. We also found what was the closest thing we had seen in Miami to a proper bodega and got a bacon, egg, and cheese. Bacon egg and cheeses in Miami are like $3 more expensive than in New York which was very surprising. But we did get to eat it while looking at ocean waves, and that’s worth those extra $3.

art basel miami
Some real pornographic cheese right here.

Saturday morning was pretty quiet. We kind of wandered around South Beach and walked down the strip when the sun came out, looking at all of the pastel art deco architecture, doing a mini-photoshoot and contemplating when we should go back to the Cucu’s Nest.

art basel miami
Seriously, what a babe.
I wanted to see one last art fair before we left. A couple of months ago at the New Museum in New York I came across this piece, that used an Oculus Rift, where you explored a rainforest made of what looked like ASCII art. I was searching for more stuff like that, so we decided to go to Pulse Miami Beach later. Word on the street was that I may be able to see some cool stuff like that there. They were also having a sunset closing party later that night, and that sounded like there could be free champagne.

We hopped on some CitiBikes again and pedaled around until we reached Collins Park.

art basel miami
Sylvie Fleury, Eternity Now

There was a ton of awesome sculptures and art hanging everywhere. I especially loved this piece inside this sarcophagus looking structure.

art basel miami
Xiao Yu, Elevation No.2

We were getting a little hungry so Megan was really brave and asked a group of older people who looked like they knew their way around if they knew of any fresh fish markets anywhere around us. There’s a wharf her dad takes her to in New Jersey where you can apparently eat fish that has just been caught and we figured that since we were near the ocean, we couldn’t be far from something like that. The group looked at each other puzzled, and then answered, “Have you ever been to Whole Foods?” And then preceded to very nicely and patiently give us directions to the nearest Whole Foods. We laughed about this for like an hour, as we found our way to the Cucu’s nest again.

art basel miami

 

After getting our fill of some JukeBox Fetty Wap, we started to make our way to Pulse. Walking along the boardwalk in South Beach at night is magical. It’s like a Star Wars beach planet. Megan had her hair up in rave buns and I kept telling her how awesome she looked. Everything felt very sparkly and magical, which is always a great start to any night. We got to Untitled with about 2 1/2 hours till closing, and were informed that our $35 tickets came with an open bar, which was really good news.
Pulse was great. It felt slightly more relevant than the convention center, and more new artists were represented. There was still tons of neon pieces everywhere, and more animated works, which I really liked.

 

I was also really surprised (and slightly confused) to see an area that was sponsored by Target, featuring Target sponsored art, like this piece where troll dolls spun around and emulated the shapes of the bodies of people standing in front of it.

 

And a piece where Dyson fans are shaped like the Target logo and blew around a big red ball that fit perfectly through every fan.

 

This piece touched me in a way I can’t quite explain.

 Target also sponsored free drinks that tasted like creamsicles, so we had like three.

 

We also had this sudden and brilliant idea that we should make an Instagram where we only post selfies that we took in the art that had the most reflective surfaces. We were having a great time. There was a bunch of heat lightning in the sky that night and it made everything more eerie and magical so we decided to head to Wynwood to capitalize on how witchy we felt. We were told Wynwood was definitely the witchiest neighborhood. We hopped in an Uber and promptly had him go through a McDonalds drive-through for some fries and a McFlurry.

 

We arrived in Wynwood, which was weird and took almost an hour due to traffic. The sidewalks were bursting with people. It felt like Uber was routing the entire city of Miami to this neighborhood. We didn’t really do anything too specific in the few hours we were there, just kind of walked around. Wynwood is super industrial. Everything looks like your uncle’s garage except instead of old men wrenching and complaining about their wives, all the buildings are filled with people selling sick jawnz and Supreme bucket hats.

 

There were tons of street art. We watched some people compete in a graffiti competition called Secret Walls which was pretty cool. I even spied a London Police piece.

 

art basel miami
The London Police

Which I recognized because they also have a couple of pieces in a very chic city called Covington, Kentucky.

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I have a really “cool” ex who hung this show at this gallery called BLDG in Kentucky.

Wynood was okay, but we wanted to dance without paying a cover or talking to a bouncer or standing in any lines. We heard The Pharmacy was having a party that night and there was no surge pricing on Uber so we hopped back across the bay to North Beach.

art basel miami
The Pharmacy is the best.

It was awesome, and probably the best decision we could have made for our last night in Miami. We made some new friends, drank $5 beers (a Miami rarity), and danced in a foggy abandoned pharmacy. Megan even made out with someone even though she was wearing black lipstick.

art basel miami
So brave.

The perfect way to end any fever dream.

The next day Megan left me on an airplane back to Brooklyn. I had some reflective beach time to myself before flying back to my own northern winter prison.

art basel miami
South Beach is so chic.

I also spent the time before my flight wandering around and gathering some photography for my line of textiles inspired by natural textures. Miami has a lot of great manicured foliage.

art basel miami

art basel miami

art basel miami

IN CONCLUSION…

I learned a lot from Art Basel, which I can condense into a pretty convenient list.

  1. Staying in a hostel is 100% worth it but bring shower shoes.
  2. Don’t be afraid to talk to the people showing work. Or anyone. Talk to literally everyone when you’re traveling. You never know who you’ll meet or what you’ll learn. Also people just like it when you express interest in their work.
  3. Spend money where it counts. Buy the tickets to the bigger fairs, but opt for cheap tacos for dinner.
  4. Twitter is usually only a place for jokes and people calling themselves “thought leaders”, but it’s actually a really good tool to find cheap pop-up events literally anywhere.

And finally.

5. Don’t be scared of anything.

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The weird impostor feeling you get when you walk into a gallery or a party where lots of people are wearing silk and cool glasses is in your head, and you can present whatever side of yourself you choose to a group of strangers. Every moment in life is a blank slate, and a chance to be brave, whether you’re presenting artwork to a client or trying to charm your way onto a yacht. It’s always better to take a risk, rather than ask yourself later why you didn’t.

And when one of your best friends asks you if you want to go to Art Basel with her, always say yes.

You can see all the photos I took, which is way more than I wanted to subject anyone to, here.

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