For five days every December Miami and Miami Beach are literally overrun with art of every possible stripe imaginable. The centerpiece is the Convention Center… Imagine four to six football fields chock a block with hundreds of dealer booths containing thousands of artworks including 3D, video, installations and sculpture, above and beyond flat art. Now picture twenty other smaller fairs going on simultaneously in various venues plus street fairs, people watching, and the usual south Beach madness… That’s Art Basel Miami!
I made my headquarters in a lovely small Art Deco hotel in South Beach within walking distance of the Convention Center. One night after one of the fairs devoted to emerging artists in the Design District, I decided to take a walk through a tough and rundown neighborhood... hey, I was born in NYC, that sort of thing does not faze me. Anyway, on many of the abandoned buildings are large Graffiti wall paintings, some quite good. Up ahead I see a young man spray painting a very large wall. This "kid" is in his early 20's and is up on a ladder with various spray cans, and salsa music playing from a boombox. I knew in a nanosecond he was the real deal. We talked for 20 minutes and I told him I was VERY excited about his work. In retrospect, that was the highlight of the trip...go figure, right? You've got to trust in fate.
Oh, one more thing. On the way to Art Basel my car service was running 45 minutes late. It was raining, 37 degrees, and I'm dressed for spring. So I hail a yellow cab. The driver is from Haiti and we get to talking. He says: would you like to hear music from my country? "...sure..." L'ORCHESTRE TROPICANA D'HAITI, I loved it! He sees that I'm really into it and offers to give the CD to me. He told me to go to a club in Queens to hear the GOOD STUFF. I'd like to give it a shot.
- Rick's Art Basel adventure.