Seven Signs That Art Basel Miami Is Almost Here

Nov 28, 2012

A geodesic dome under construction in the Design District before Art Basel Miami 2011.
Credit Trina Sargalski

You may notice a growing buzz of activity--especially in Midtown, the Design District and Miami Beach--that signals that a week (or more) of art appreciation, parties and sensory overload is almost here. The height of activity is next Wednesday, Dec. 5 through Sunday, Dec. 9, but gallery openings and other events are already starting.

Below are are seven signs that Art Basel is upon us.

If you have any more signs to add, please leave a comment here or send us your idea or photo via Twitter @WLRN with the hashtag #ArtBasel. 

1. Construction

White tents mushroom around the stores of Midtown Miami. Other temporary shelters for art (some more elaborate than others) spring up on the Beach. Hammers echo as you drive through Wynwood and the Design District. The Miami art scene may be partying next week, but right now it is still immersed in industry, as installations are gingerly unpacked and temporary galleries constructed.

2. Basel-specific job offerings

Besides construction work, Art Basel offers some other opportunities for employment.  A quick search of Craigslist reveals a need for stilt walkers to promote a tour of Art Basel known as "The Art Experience" and for graffiti artists.  Of course, food-related jobs (line cooks, servers) have the greatest demand. These are paid gigs, but there are also a few offerings for unpaid interns to help out at some of the art fairs and installations.

Screen grab of Craigslist after a search for Art Basel jobs
Credit Trina Sargalski

3. Branding opportunities

Articles and event announcements promote brand-sponsored parties or art happenings running concurrently with Art Basel from companies like appliance-maker GE Monogram, automaker BMW and energy drink, Red Bull. Some product associations may be more of a stretch than others. One motive: capitalizing on the crowds of moneyed visitors and the numerous gawking eyes. Then again, the intersection of commercialism, patronage and art is nothing new...

Oak Tavern restaurant recently opened in the Design District.
Credit Oak Tavern

4.  A slew of restaurant openings

Along the lines mentioned above, restaurants time their openings to coincide with the tourist season. The first week of December is a nice hard stop of a deadline for a restaurant; missing the potential of Art Basel crowds and word-of-mouth makes some restaurateurs cringe.

In the past couple of weeks, several restaurants and bars have opened including Florida Cookery at The James Royal Palm Hotel in South Beach, Oak Tavern in the Design District, MC Kitchen in the Design District, Lagniappe House in Midtown.

Slated to open very soon are the permanent home of the Feverish Ice Cream cart in Midtown and the permanent home of The Broken Shaker  in Miami Beach.

Courtesy of Robert Morillo (@robert486) via Instagram

5. Traffic, traffic, traffic

This is also due to the overall seasonal shift in South Florida, as snowbirds and tourists descend. You may have already noticed license plates from New York, Massachusetts and Quebec. In addition, events like Basel concentrate cars from all around South Florida into hubs like the Design District, creating readymade opportunities to practice your deep breathing.

Crawling traffic is something you will probably experience whether you're participating in Basel activities or not. In the next week or so, we'll be giving tips on how to get through or around Basel if you must drive in the area, as well as tips on taking public transportation to Art Basel events.

6. Art-appreciating Celebrities

Miami is a celebrity playground of course, but this time of year brings unusual opportunities for seeing stars. For some Basel-goers, the chance of random sightings is half the fun: might you run into James Franco at Panther Coffee in Wynwood? Will you encounter Thurston Moore of the band Sonic Youth walking near the Fillmore? Is that Pharrell Williams admiring that giant floating gator head in Biscayne Bay?


7. Lest we forget: actual art

And of course, we've observed art popping up, including pianos, gators crawling on the Freedom Tower or a giant gator head floating in Biscayne BayDon't forget to look up!