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How To Basel Like WLRN Staff

Julia Duba

We won't claim to be experts at this, but most of us at WLRN-Miami Herald News have been in the thick of an Art Basel fair or two. Through years of reporting on Miami's biggest annual art event, we've gathered a few favorite Basel traditions.

If you want to know how we survive Miami Art Week, and do it like us, read on.

My tip? Buy something. With all the art going on even outside the satellite fairs, you're bound to find a tchotchke maker set up on a Wynwood sidewalk, possibly pricing products at $30. Indulge. It should help you remember a week that could easily blur into a mix of nondescript gallery openings and abstract conversations with strangers. 

Aqua Art Miami
There is a lot to do in Miami during Art Basel, so you may not want another item added to your list of “must sees.” Nevertheless, consider including this fair: Aqua Art Miami at the Aqua Hotel on Collins and 15th Street in Miami Beach. The fair, in its ninth year, takes a special interest in promoting young dealers and galleries. The entire two-story hotel is turned over to art for the fair. There’s a gallery in every room, and each opens onto a central courtyard which gives the fair an Old World, European feel to it despite being in Art Deco central. In the past, the fair has had a laid-back vibe, lots of art and a good-sized crowd that feels happening without being claustrophobic.
Arianna Prothero, Reporter/producer

Floating Tile Art: Gator in the Bay
In true local fashion, I suggest you see the massive gator installation that's going in Biscayne Bay to raise awareness about the Everglades. Speedboat to it. Listen to fuzzy radio salsa on the way. And try not to get eaten by Rufus, the real Nile crocodile that's somewhere out there. If you feel like a true pioneer give Rufus a functional limb. Poor guy will need a last meal because he's under shoot-to-kill orders from wildlife officials. FYI: The tourists aren't.
Nathaniel Sandler, Contributing editor

Art Public
My favorite part of Art Basel is Art Public, the outdoor sculpture exhibit in Collins Park. Unlike the convention center, admission is free (it's a public park!), and that means you get a broad mix of art lovers. You can actually touch some of the pieces -- even climb on top of them. On opening night, at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, there will be live performances as well (still free). And even better? You don't have to worry about dealing with Art Basel traffic to see the sculptures: The exhibit runs through March.
Elaine Chen, Interactivity producer

Satellite fairs
You don't need to spend Basel money to see the incredible creations. Skip the convention center, and go to the satellite shows, which have many eye-popping collections. Last year I spent a whole afternoon at Scope Miami and the Art Asia Fair. I'm looking forward to Art Miami this year.
Stefania Ferro, Public Insight Network analyst

Walk, don't drive
The whole thing is so overwhelming, but in such an excellent way. What Basel does, especially for locals, is change the lens through which we see everything around us -- a crushed coffee cup, a fallen palm frond, a lone bicycle wheel, a discarded swimsuit. After you take in all that contemporary art at the fairs, walk through the neighborhoods, don't just get in the car to leave. Linger on what's around you. Ask yourself: What is art? And then -- tell us.
Alicia Zuckerman, Editorial director

Breathe deeply
Basel has its own scents -- and they can be just as stimulating as the visuals. At the Miami Beach Convention Center, it's the smell of recently cut wood, white-washed gallery walls, luxury perfumes, champagne. It smells expensive. But across town in Wynwood, there's a messy, electric scent -- clouds of Krylon, the sticky skin of dehydrated 20-somethings, food trucks' fryers, exhaust from idling cars stuck in traffic. It's potent.
Sammy Mack, Reporter

Go with the flow
Full disclosure: I'm not looking through any event calendars for Art Basel this year. Not because I'm not interested, but because I want to have a totally organic experience. My plan is to just walk around Wynwood (Yes, Wynwood, not Miami Beach) for hours to take it all in. You might find artists doing live art on the street. And that's what street art is all about -- creating art in the moment, wherever an opportunity presents itself. And that's what Art Basel should be too. So grab a drink, walk around and keep an eye out for these happy accidents.
Julia Duba, Morning producer

Art or Junk?
While Basel proper is contained in and around the Miami Beach Convention Center, the art spills everywhere: pop-up tents, local galleries, exterior walls, sidewalks, streets, curbs, trash cans, plastic cups in trash cans. When Art Basel's in town it's suddenly hard to tell what's always been there and what's "art" (clothes on clothesline, anyone?). That's why I suggest you challenge your friends to a game of Art or Junk? Just snap a photo of some art (or some trash), text it to your crew and let the fun begin. Art or Junk?: It's fun for the whole family. It's super-fun on Twitter -- #ARTorJUNK?
Kenny Malone, Reporter

Stay on the edge
During Art Basel, I recommend finding something cool to do outside of Miami Beach. Try Wynwood or Overtown to discover some truly unique pieces. Last year, I discovered Art Meow-sel, which, for me, was the highlight of the whole event. 
Marva Hinton, Morning anchor

Stay awake
Art Basel lives at night. So wake up early, or stay awake. Miami in the morning is glorious. The sun is easing over the eastern horizon waiting to get high enough to burn off the overnight dew. With a light breeze the scent of a new day wafts through the air, mixed with equal parts ocean and humanity. Then there's the people watching as they drag themselves around with last night's Basel's spoils still fresh.
Tom Hudson, Vice president of news

Ride a bike
As someone who wants to see things on the beach and in the Midtown-Wynwood area, there are really two alternatives if you don’t want to drive. One is to take a bus. The bus, though, only cuts out the parking time and some of the parking fee (fares are now $2.25, $2.65 for the express bus). You’re still going to be stuck in traffic. The second alternative is my recommendation to you: RIDE A BIKE. It's cheap, it’s easy, you won’t have to worry about getting stuck in traffic, you will be a lot more flexible, and I would argue you'll travel faster than any other form of transportation, all things considered.
Wilson Sayre, Reporting fellow

Have a plan
Approach Art Basel as a rich buffet containing seven days of aesthetic delicacies. If your finances and time budgets allow, you may be able to graze from the entire menu. You definitely want to approach Basel with a plan, though, because the artwork and people can be overwhelming. Several guides are available. I'd start with the one at miamiherald.com/artbasel.
Terence Shepherd, News director