Once again, December is nearly upon us and so is Art Basel Miami, the annual wintertime sister fair to the vaunted Art Basel international art fair held every summer in Basel, Switzerland. For this one-week South Florida descends into artful chaos, with miles of outdoor murals, installations and pop-up shops mushrooming around town — plus dozens of concerts, parties and DJ sets. They’re all competing to attract the eyes and ears of visiting jetsetters and curious locals alike. It’s the height of Miami’s cultural calendar, offering an overwhelming menu of events that’s as challenging to navigate as it is to actually get there.
For magic city residents and visitors alike, Art Basel challenges our tolerance for excess and forces difficult decisions about what to see, at what time and what traffic will force us to skip. So rather than an exhausting list of events, Oasis would like to present out-of-towners and art newbies with a practical Art Basel guide to navigating Miami.
The weeklong hodgepodge of booze, art, money and power is one of the most unique events of the year for Miami. On one end of the spectrum, mega wealthy collectors from across the globe are shuttled around in private luxury cars to drop millions of dollars on avant-garde art. On the other end, artists themselves and their friends can often be found in grubby warehouses and alternative art spaces. With all this in mind, Miami can be broken down into several major neighborhoods and venues:
- Miami Beach Convention Center (site of ABMB itself)
- Art Basel Miami Beach Art Positions space, usually on the beach near the convention center
- The Design District
- The Wynwood arts district, concentrated around NW 2nd Avenue
- Midtown, whose property hosts several major satellite fairs
The main hotspot that encompasses the “official” attraction of Art Basel is inside the Miami Beach Convention Center, a select 260 galleries from 29 countries representing North and South America, Europe, Africa, and Asia are exhibiting 20th and 21st-century artworks worth upward of $2.5 billion. More than 2,000 artists — from Picasso and Warhol to emerging geniuses and relative unknowns will be represented at the big show.
Beyond the confines of Art Basel proper, more than 20 satellite fairs, snaking outward from South Beach to Wynwood and Little Havana, will draw an estimated 1,000 more galleries and an untold number of artists.
Tips on Getting Around:
Traffic in Miami is bad. I mean real bad, to the point that many people, ourselves included, schedule their lives around not having to sit in it. While it may not offer the endless miles of gridlock in Los Angeles or the unmoving narrow streets of New York, what Miami lacks in volume it make up for in insanity. Traffic during Art Basel can be especially trying to say the least, but avoidable to an extent.
Below are 7 tips to help you save time and frustration. Use this Art Basel guide when looking for chic Miami apartment rentals to live and work, so you are not caught in any of Miami’s cornucopia of traffic jams:
- Find alternative routes to avoid Biscayne Boulevard south of 36th Street, Brickell Avenue, Collins Avenue south of 50th Street and Alton Road south of 25th Street.
- Use the Oasis Collections app to assist as an Art Basel Guide, which helps show where the best restaurants and venues are located, as well as how to get to them.
- Contrary to what most publications will tell you, Wynwood is still somewhat of a rough area. Running all the way to the northern fringes of Downtown, this relatively small neighborhood is bounded by NE 2nd Avenue to the east, I-95 to the west, I-395 to the south and NE 36th to the north. This strip is surrounded by low-income neighborhoods, so be sure to lock your car doors and always be weary of your surroundings when walking the streets at night.
- Go to South Beach before Noon (good tip for parking as well) and get there via the Venetian Causeway (there will be traffic but probably not so bad as MacArthur Causeway.)
- Use the Metromover if you are making your way through downtown or checking out the new Perez Art Museum.
- Get together with friends and hire a driver or Uber to reduce parking issues.
- Think about dining in places away from the main Art Basel events like Coral Gables, Coconut Grove, Biscayne Boulevard north of 36th Street, and Bal Harbour – there will be less good people watching, but better service and shorter waits for a table.
- Under no circumstances should you ever get on any portion of US-1 going northbound between 6:30-9:30 AM. Unless you like all the nonstop traffic of a freeway along with the constant stop and go of traffic lights. Same applies going south between 3-7:30 PM.
- In South Beach there’s a bus that runs along Washington Avenue from 23rd Street to First Street, then back up Alton Road and back toward the Convention Center.
- Do not come South on I-95 between 7-9 AM or go north between 3-7:30. These are our rush hours and they pack 95 with people who are too afraid to live in Miami (aka Broward County residents) who still insist on working downtown. Let them sit in the traffic.
- As tacky as it sounds, RENT A SCOOTER. Traffic will be at its worst, and the scooter is the best way to get around without using precious hours of your life. You can make it to parties on the beach and downtown in the same night, plus you can park almost anywhere.
Miami, What to do in Miami