ARTIST’S CORNER: TIPS TO NAVIGATING THE GALLERIES AT MIAMI BEACH’S ART BASEL

ABMB22, Misc, General Impressions, Public Interactions, PR

The Florida Keys this time of year brings a crisp dusk with pinks and lavender colors. The heat of the day is going away and you can feel the ocean breeze.

With our wide-open spaces and turquoise waters, the Keys are very different from our neighboring city, Miami. We are so close but worlds apart. Our neighbors have a large international art fair that is truly an event. The beginning of December is Miami Art Week, which hosts over 20 international art fairs — not to mention the countless other shows, concerts and events. Top galleries around the world can be found at Art Basel Miami Beach, held Wednesday, Dec. 8 through Friday, Dec. 10. 

Art Basel is an art fair that takes place at the Miami Beach Convention Center. The 500,000 square feet of exhibition space holds art from more than 4,000 artists and more than 200 top international galleries. There are several other shows and events going on during the same period, but we will focus on Art Basel. An event this big brings extra traffic in the city and the beaches, so be patient and figure out when and where you are going.

Our favorite art down here might have more to do with a fish or a coastal landscape; it is important to be open-minded. Art is about exploring ideas and concepts. Having so many artists and international galleries all in one spot is a great way to learn more about art. The art fair is similar to a music festival with well-known recording artists around the world playing in one venue. The best part is that it is right in our backyard.

Art Basel is a lot. It is hard to think of a more complicated way or a more beautiful way to say it, but there is not. Art Basel is fun, intense and tiring. There is so much to look at visually, there is art everywhere. Trust me, if you spend a full day there, your eyes will be tired. There will be art you love, art you hate and art that you really wonder why they call it art. When we think of art traditionally, we think of Monet or Michelangelo, but art is not only that. A lot of modern art is more of a concept or idea. 

Art Basel Miami Beach brings hundreds of artists every year. COURTESY ART BASEL

I remember first going to Art Basel in 2006. It was honestly kind of overwhelming. As an artist, I was inspired. I just remember afterward thinking that I would make it a goal to be one of the artists in the show.

Art Basel is divided into sections: Galleries, which feature the works from leading galleries; Nova, which displays works created in the last three years; Edition features print and edition pieces; Positions is dedicated to emerging artists; Survey highlights artistic practices of historical relevance. Kabinett sector has 29 curated exhibitions; Meridians sector features 20 large-scale works; and a Conversations sector has exchanges about key topics in the world of art and culture. Magazines feature art publications.

How do you tackle so much? First and foremost, it is about art. Take your time and enjoy, become familiar with what you like and don’t. Many works you will see need deep pockets to buy. Much of the artwork can go for anywhere from the cost of a car to that of a house. It is just cool to see the art world. While the festival feels like it was made for the Rockefellers, there are a lot of emerging artists who can be discovered. The festival has done a great job over the years getting the general public, artists and kids to celebrate and appreciate art. 

You can’t just show up to Art Basel. Tickets are available only online at ArtBasel.com. Only a limited number of tickets are sold for each day.  The public opening hours are Dec. 8-10 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Check it out. Maybe you’ll go and it will help deepen your appreciation for art; some of it may make you cringe, some may make you weep, and chances are, more than a few will have you scratching your head. Either way, the overarching lesson is that art makes you feel.

William DePaula is an artist, designer and gemologist who believes in the power of art. From his early childhood onward, he has never stopped drawing, painting and creating. He envisions a world in which beauty is as important as function, where culture and history are respected, and where nature is at once powerful and vulnerable. Infusing an essence of life in all his paintings, DePaula understands beauty is accessible to all. DePaula's art has been featured in select art museums around the world.