Miami has its own set of seasons, and the social season kicks off with Art Basel. It was a crazy week, for sure. By the end of it we could barely drag ourselves to brunch.
We kicked off the week with cocktails at The Tipi Project at the Mondrian’s Sunset Lounge. With the always amazing bay view, the Grey Goose-sponsored event was a wonderful welcome for my friend who had come for the week, and put us in the right mood for our main event: The New Now Next Awards.
LOGO TV’s annual Awards show was filmed poolside at The Surfcomber. Despite what seemed like a mini-hurricane, the attentive staff had the stage and seating ready to go on time. Possibly to mask his windblown hair and crumpled suit, the gag intro for Darren Chris was that he overslept and dressed on his way to the main stage while live on camera. Cute guy, and he did a great job. We were seated with Adriana and Frederic Marq, next to Lance Bass and just in front of Joe Jonas, who was DJ for the evening. We had a prime view of the evening’s presentations. Performances by Kristin Chenoweth and Betty Who (accompanied by a synchronized swimming team) were highlights for me, while my companion was thrilled to see a dripping wet Billy Reilich (“Nick the Gardner” from the Ellen Show) swimming the awards up to the stage.
Our next stop was an ultra-luxe private event at Casa Tua. I think it was my date’s lively conversation with a celebrity client he placed in production housing in Atlanta that got us up the stairs. As my friend will attest, it was diamond-studded, high profile cocktail party that provided our first glimpse of the big players who had come to shop for serious art.
There was a moment of business to attend to on Wednesday as we attended the New York Times International Luxury Conference. This year explored the intersection between luxury, art, and technology. We caught a conversation with Astrid Welter, the special projects director of Prada, who discussed the role luxury brands have on art and vice versa. An interesting point expressed was that fashion and art create culture, as opposed to being reactions to changing cultural themes. The champagne was excellent and I agreed with her completely.
A sharp contrast from out bright lights big city evening, the next night we found ourselves in a dimly lit, smoky, back- entrance lounge called Bardot in Midtown. We were there to see LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy do a DJ set. He showed up at 1 am, but didn’t disappoint. Nor did the girl who danced like Elaine from Seinfeld. She kept us entertained while we waited. Fortunately, we were full and happy after a second-choice-turned-fantastic-surprise of an Italian dinner at Salumeria 104. This is where the Italians in Miami come to eat. There were piles of prosciutto, fluffy little gnocchi, creamy burrata with crispy fried green tomatoes, and a Bolognese that was almost as good as my ex-boyfriend’s grandmother’s- which is the best I’ve ever had. To amuse us, there was intoxicated opera singer at the bar and the best looking waiters in town (Italian, of course).
With Thursday the official start of Art Basel, we set out to find some art. First on our list was to see the ARTHISTORY2014 project, a partnership between the city and the nonprofit advocacy group trying to save the Miami Marine Stadium. A dozen or so street artists were allowed to completely cover the stadium with murals. Unfortunately, the Miami-Dade Sherriff who runs his training programs there considered it vandalism and wouldn’t let anyone in to see it. Not a great start, so we headed to Wynwood.
Wynwood is the new hipster/art/counterculture epicenter of Miami. For Basel, it had been taken over by corporate sponsors, pop-ups, and TV networks and was where the party was. Amid four or five major curated festivals, there were dozens of temporary galleries mixed in with the permanent collections. As an added bonus, street artists had each been given a space of wall to paint, and the results were amazing (Photos here). We stuck around Wynwood, taking in live music at Brickhouse, a stroll through the Design District, yummy dinner at Michael’s Genuine, and eventually heading over to the Ketel One De Nolet party to see Twin Shadows.
I was ready to be done by Friday, and the weekend had just begun. Eat, Drink, Art, Beach, repeat. We added disco nap to Friday’s agenda in order to have the energy for the SCOPE / VH1 party we had been graciously invited to by handsome young man we met at New Now Next. It was a great opportunity to check out the exhibit with a smaller crowd and speak to several of the artists in a more relaxed environment. And, of course, VH1’s contribution was music- we were entertained by NABIHA and DJ Swizz Beats throughout the evening.
Saturday, thankfully, was more calm. A casual beach day lead up to a wonderful program by the New World Symphony. John Adams conducted pieces by Copeland, Norman, and Stravinsky, in addition to his own Saxophone Concerto. We couldn’t have followed it with a more fantastic dinner at than we enjoyed at Oolite, much in part to the attentive and engaging wait staff and management. The evening ended with the manager at our table discussing the nuances of grappa with my friend who was an equally enthusiastic grappa fan.
Sunday we headed back over to Wynwood to see how the murals had turned out. Panther Coffee was a MUST, and we found a wonderful little open faced smoked salmon, arugula and fennel tartine at MMMM Café for brunch. That was about all we could do. I think it was quite enough… until next year.