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Art Basel Miami Schedule and Hotel Ideas

While the exact dates for Art Basel Miami vary, with certainty it is held the first week of December, and always from Wednesday through Sunday. As tens of thousands of visitors attend, it’s helpful to have a clear itinerary for Art Basel Week. The first step is to consider which art fairs are most important to see. After choosing and prioritizing the fairs, then it’s time to research hotels. The last step is to choose your daily schedule based on hotel and fair locations. One’s enjoyment is severely depleted by sitting in traffic for two hours due to lack of a smart schedule. This article focuses on selection of fairs for an itinerary.Creating a schedule of fairs is not easy, as there are about fifty art fairs distributed around Miami Beach and Miami. In Miami Beach the bulk of the fairs are in South Beach, but there is one fair, NADA, in north beach about three miles distant. In mainland Miami, two neighborhoods contain most of the fairs: Midtown and Wynwood. In addition, downtown Miami is adding more events and fairs to attract hotel guests and visitors. Besides the varying locations, the fairs vary from world-class quality to emerging quality to low quality “want to be” works.First, let’s consider the fairs on Miami Beach. Of course the primary fair is also the official one, Art Basel in Miami Beach, which locates at the Miami Beach Convention Center. This is the locus of all the other fairs, which are unofficial, unaffiliated “satellite” fairs. The Art Basel committee selects 300 galleries worldwide to exhibit their best works, and the feeling in the convention center is an unusual mix of trade show, art gallery, and Vanity Fair party. The colors, shapes, and ideas are eclectic, mirroring the crowd.Across from Art Basel is Design Miami, a fair of unique furniture and lighting design. In between is an oasis to rest your feet and lunch, the Miami Beach Botanical Gardens. This year a major satellite fair moved to South Beach from Midtown: Scope Fair. Scope will locate on Deco Drive in the public park between the beach and famous hotels such as The Betsy and The Clevelander. This brings Art Basel to Ocean Drive, which previously did not offer much in terms of fairs or installations. For visitors, this means you can walk among three major fairs, as Scope is eight blocks from the Convention Center.Continuing with Miami Beach fairs, the next cluster is along Collins Avenue in various Art Deco hotels. These offer a different vibe because the fairs are small, quiet, relaxing, and the art is still amazing, albeit less expensive. One can spend one hour at each fair without rushing, and it’s easy to “fair-hop” along Collins Avenue from hotel to hotel. The Aqua Fair at the Aqua Hotel is the southernmost fair, at 15th street, and from there visitors can walk north to five other hotel fairs ending their track eight blocks north at the Bass Museum, which has funky outdoor art installations. Located across from the W Hotel South Beach, this area known as Collins Park will house a large multi-media (re videos) fair. After a day of fair hopping and walking, get a drink at the lobby bar in the W, which is home to world-renowned contemporary art works including a Bastiat. Besides the Aqua fair, other fairs in art deco hotels include Ink Fair in the Dorcester, Select at Catalina, and New Material at Chesterfield Hotel.Miami, which is across Biscayne Bay from Miami Beach, has fair clusters in two neighborhoods, Midtown and Wynwood. Midtown is a relatively new area of Miami, with condominiums and shops built during last decade’s real estate boom. The fairs set up next to each other in large white tents. Parking is challenging, with just one parking garage nearby, so plan to park in the neighborhoods. Guests easily walk in between fair tents, and Midtown has some good restaurants for lunch. These Midtown fairs are the best of the satellite fairs, with the exception of Scope, which was at Midtown until changing to Ocean Drive for 2013. The fairs include Art Asia (artists from Asia), Red Dot, Art Miami, Spectrum and Art Brazil, among others. Art Miami and Art Asia are just behind Scope in terms of quality. Definitely plan one hour in each fair to truly appreciate the work.Just a few blocks south is Wynwood, famous for its art galleries, restaurants, graffiti art, and true grit. Per its reputation, the fairs and exhibits here are the most raw and emergent. The feeling is one of youth, or youthful exuberance and illusions, which makes the artists’ meanings clear-cut. The exception is the Pulse Fair on the south side of Wynwood, in a cool building named the Ice Palace. Besides Pulse, be sure to visit Miami Art Project, a large fair in its second year.Besides the fairs, Wynwood is home to excellent galleries and art collections such as Wynwood Art Center, Bakehouse gallery, Avant gallery, Rubell collection and the Margulies collection. While traversing Wynwood, enjoy restaurants such as Morgans and Wynwood Grille, which is next to Wynwood Walls.Accessing Wynwood is easy from hotels in downtown Miami, Miami Airport, and Coconut Grove, but difficult coming from Miami Beach. The traffic knots up at the ramps from I-195, resulting in hour-long waits. Be sure to go early in the morning, or be willing to drive from North Miami. Guests in downtown Miami hotels can drive there in ten or fifteen minutes.In summary, Art Basel is a wonderful, stimulating set of fairs and events in Miami and Miami Beach. With a little planning and research, visitors can avoid hours in traffic and ensure they see the art they came for. A major part of the planning routes is one’s hotel location, which the next article will address.