Proprietor of The Vagabond and friend of mine, Carmel Ophir, had this to say about Basel…
Take a walk, alone… Go into the small random galleries, warehouses, and storefronts. Pick any art fair and not worry about paying the admission fee. Walk around, and take in some of the most incredible creative works in the world. Don’t fret about where your friends are and what they may be doing, or what’s the cool/hip place to be.
We are so lucky to have such a collection and gathering of the art world at our doorstep. Enjoy it…Immerse yourself in it.
So, with that in mind, I set out late this afternoon…
I had some shopping to do, so on the way home, I figured I’d pop into Wynwood, park somewhere, and just cruise.
Finding a spot just west of Wynwood, I set out on foot from my parking spot and headed east to NW 2nd Avenue, which is the heart of the Wynwood scene. Upon my arrival at 5:30, it was already a traffic horror show. If not during Art Walk, at least during Art Basel, the city needs to block off from NW 27th to NW 20th Street and restrict it to pedestrian traffic only. It’s a madhouse.
However, the scene was already in full swing. The artists were out decorating their buildings, and the numerous local bars and restaurants that have sprung up over the past few years were open for business, and crowded. Wynwood has “arrived”. It’s not the ‘next big thing’, it has arrived. South Beach is history and falling apart, the Design District is in it’s cruise phase, Wynwood has just touched down. If you plan on establishing a presence there, it’s going to be expensive. Just go west by I-95. It’s cheap and on the way up.
As it was dusk, I was capturing a great juxtaposition of a very colorful sky, with the bold schemes of the galleries in the neigborhood. Magic hour, as they say. I kept it wide and just concentrated on the photo and not wondering if I should switch to my 50 1.2, due to the decreasing light levels.
Along with the artists, galleries, and their work, the usual suspects turned up for branding opportunities. Heineken was very much in attendance, and I was glad to see Car2Go making a statement as well. I’m normally ambivalent to product launches and “activations”, but if it’s someone I can get behind like C2G, then go for it. Yes, I’m very petty and subjective. But at least I admit it.
Of course, the usual party cruisers were out. I guess they are here to stay, and Art Basel Miami wouldn’t be where it is today if it weren’t for the hordes of people jumping from one booze-soaked hangout to another. But again, I wish they’d just be honest.
And, of course, there were plenty of street performers as well. I was glad to see Miami PD left them alone, and not pulling the Beach antics of hassling everyone for a permit and a fee. South Beach wonders why it’s fading into generic obscurity, and part of that is the culture is being taxed to death by the government and the profiteering property owners who seemingly triple the rent at random.
I did my part, and checked out a lot of random little galleries and one-off events. My favorite by far was Asif’s Guns. In a nutshell, Asif produced accurate cardboard models of popular firearms, including Walther, GLOCK, H&K, and the ubiquitous AK-47. It was a riff on US gun culture, and a parody of a US gun store. While I might not see eye-to-eye with him on his gun politics (he calls for more controls, whereas I advocate better enforcement of existing statutes), it was really the highlight of my little run through Wynwood. A 400-square foot setup off to the side somewhere. Carmel’s advice paid off. I even bought a T-shirt. I’m sure it will be a hit tomorrow morning…