Day 1, 11:35 p.m.
My first night at Basel. Here with Mitzi Jo, checking in at Bardot in Wynwood for a private party featuring a performance by Perry Farrell. Hes launching a program called Precision Guided Musicians that I cant figure out, even after reading the press info. Bardot is a cool venue, though. Lots of art on the walls, shelves stacked with carefully selected random items sort of haute kitsch.' Perry is performing with his wife, Etty. Im curious to see what type of music theyll play. Im guessing that Etty is that fake-busted-blond-Asian woman everyone wants a picture with.
Day 2, 1:15 a.m.
Favorite Basel Accessory: Flask of whiskey.
Barely escaped from Bardot and the Farrells drug-tinged show. Wander around the design district and encounter a cluster of ominously placid giant inflatable striped things. Am I imagining this or is this really happening?
Day 2: 10:30 a.m.
Late night means a late start.
Art Basel is a lot like Disney World. Its important to have a plan so that you dont spend your whole day on the Dumbo ride. Todays plan: Argentinean breakfast, check in at the Convention Center (the epicenter of Basel), Design Miami, and then Scope Art Fair.
Day 2: 11:30 a.m.
There are four major quests of Art Basel:
1. Private Parties to Crash
2. Free Parking: South Beach or otherwise
3. Gift Bag: Each fair, promoter or sponsor seems to have their own swag bags
4. Free Beer: Finding the new cool art spaces is fun. Finding the free beer is sometimes better
Day 2: 12:30 p.m.
Enjoying one of the highlights of Design Miami: the worlds fanciest portable restrooms. With wood floors, chrome accents and live plants, this shitter is nicer than my house.
Day 2: 2:15 p.m.
It seems that artworks can be made to seem more artsy by adding either nudity or transvestites, or arranging things in piles. Note to self: Create art work featuring piles of nude transvestites, sell at Art Basel 2011, become rich.
Scope is great as usual. I like the high-end offsite fairs the best. They leave more room for experimentation and are less concerned with whether the work is saleable. This year there are lots of fabricated environments and things that look like other things concrete blocks made from paper, books made from marble, etc.
Day 2: 5:00 p.m.
Have noticed that almost every art fair has a one-word name with five characters or less: Nada, Scope, Aqua, Pulse, Ink, Blu, etc. It sounds like club row in Ybor City.
Day 2: 8:30 p.m.
Crashing some opening at the Wolfsonian. Lots of interestingly dressed rich-looking European people. Some woman is shooting interviews with fancy guests I dont recognize. It appears to be a party for Isabella Rossellinis new art film.
Basel is the only time of year that I get to rub elbows (and share space in the line for free champagne) alongside this many billionaires and lesser millionaires.
Day 2: 9:00 p.m.
Joes Stone Crab, one of my favorite parts of visiting Miami. Adivce: Dont fill up on that hashbrown crap they try and sell you. Stick with the claws.
The table next to us has several plates of the largest possible size of crab claws, costing literally hundreds of dollars, plus several bottles of Budweiser and two plates of hot wings. I love me some hot wings and cheap beer, but here? Money cant buy taste.
Day 3: 9:00 a.m.
Todays plan: Rubell Collection, Aqua, Ink, Main Basel Fair, football, Wynwood at night.
Day 3: 10:00 a.m.
Just participated in the ironic brunch installation at the Rubell by Jennifer Rubell, the food-obsessed golden-spoon daughter of Papa and Mama Rubell. Last year was doughnuts. This year we had to wander through an abandoned, broken-down house and collect all the parts to make a bowl of porridge: bowls, spoons, porridge, sugar, raisins and milk.
Not sure what the difference between porridge and oatmeal is, except porridge sounds fancier. Also not sure about the fire codes of having people walk around in a falling-down building.
Day 3: 12:00 p.m.
Stopped for a $15 pastrami sandwich and a $7 cheap beer thanks South Beach and wandered through Aqua, where local gallerist Lori Johns had a room. I like how Aqua makes use of a cool deco hotel to create nearly 50 intimate gallery spaces.
Day 3: 3:00 p.m.
The main fair at the Convention Center is quite an experience. Hundreds of galleries showing thousands of works all worth more than I could ever afford. Saw two piles of Ai Weiweis porcelain sunflower seeds, but was unsuccessful trying to steal any.
Champagne carts and dozens of rich but unattractive older men and their much younger and better-looking companions. While there may be a ton of really amazing art here, there is also a lot here that reminds me of things I dont like about the art world.
Mind going numb Eyes.. unable to focus, Im entering Basel art fog.
Best cure for art fog? Football.
Day 3: 5:00 p.m.
My favorite part of Art Basel is football. Each year Art Basel Miami Beach coincides with the SEC football championship. The juxtaposition of incredible high-art overload with light beer and college football makes for one of the most wholly satisfying afternoons I can think of. Finding a bar with the game on in South Beach is surprisingly difficult. Luckily I already know my favorite football spot around here: Teds Hideaway at the South end.
Stopping by to check out the Mr. Brainwash installation on Collins Ave. before heading back to the hotel to change for dinner. I didnt know this installation was going to be here Im really really glad I downloaded an advance copy of the film Exit Through the Gift Shop (recently shown at Tampa Theatre). It sheds a fascinating light on street art and focuses on this artist in particular. The film shows his meteoric rise from a nobody crazy guy named Thierry to the famously high-priced MBW, all with very uninspired art but a buzz that makes talent irrelevant.
Day 3: 7:00 p.m.
Dinner with fellow Tampa art enthusiasts at GiGis, an incredibly hip spot in Wynwood. Had the fried chicken skin appetizer and a mini soft-serve maple ice cream cone for desert. Awesome.
Day 3: 9:00 p.m.
Second Avenue looks more like Guavaween than an art world art walk. Its a zoo down here. Food vendors, people selling necklaces and shoes on the street lame. I bet you $100 that next year the street will be blocked off with an outdoor music stage sponsored by PBR. Not my scene tonight. Wynwood, you disappoint me.
Day 3: 11:00 p.m.
Stopping by a party at Fountain near the Electric Pickle Company (which, incidentally, used to be a real seedy dive bar that was scary to walk into, and now is a club that even in my suit Im not usually fancy enough to get into). Supposedly there is free beer and a show by Wyclef worth checking out.
Day 3: 11:15 p.m.
Well, its true there is free beer here. After standing in line for 20 minutes next to some guy who kept yelling that he needed beer for Ron English, I discover the free beer in question is a warm bottle of Famosa, the most high-class beer in all of Guatemala. Meanwhile my girlfriend stands in line for more than 30 minutes waiting to use the bathroom and gets an earful of Shepard Fairey chatting up some young artist.
Day 4: 10:00 a.m.
Todays plan: everything else Nada, Art Miami, Art Asia, Red Dot, etc. etc.
Enjoyed Nada before stopping by my favorite baleadas-served-in-a-laundromat place. Actually its probably the only baleadas-served-in-a-laundromat place.
Day 4: 5:00 p.m.
Was able to cram an amazing amount of art into one afternoon. Exhausted.
Time for some low-brow beer and hot wings.
Thanks for a great weekend, Basel. We will see you next time.
End of Line.