Discovering Art Basel Miami Beach Beyond the Convention Center

Client: New York Said | Role: Director, DP, Writer and Editor | Location: Miami Beach, Florida


I intended to host this Art Basel video like Anthony Bourdain or try to emulate the travel show hosts I see on TV. But then I thought, why don’t I just be myself and tell my story. That is a lot easier for me. I’m not very good at being other people.

My trip to Art Basel started in the Lower East Side. I first caught a super early flight to Fort Lauderdale because the tickets were a better deal than flying into Miami.

I skipped the rental car this time because it made more sense to just cab it everywhere, and parking in South Beach can be a hassle.

I booked a room at a hotel on Collins Avenue, just a short distance from Wet Willies. It was within walking distance from Art Basel and the food, drink, and other art shows.

Art Basel takes place at the Miami Beach Convention Center, and the show is enormous. I learned quickly that comfy shoes are a must because there is a fair amount of walking. My kicks are pretty comfortable, but I will say that at the end of each day, my feet were killing me.

The amount of art that I saw was staggering. Art Basel is this beautiful maze of over 200 international modern and contemporary art galleries. Those galleries display artworks by about 4,000 artists easily. That’s everything from paintings to sculptures to installations, photography, film, digital art… you name it.

Before entering the building, I did some research. Nothing too heavy, but I had an idea of the artists and galleries I wanted to check out. That way, I didn’t miss the work that genuinely moved me while exploring the show. Art Basel has a pretty thorough app, but you should also have Artsy on your phone, especially if you’re consuming art in other locations around the city.

This brings me to my next point, Art Basel is way more than what takes place in the Convention Center. There are literally dozens of other satellite fairs to check out. They each have their own vibe and flavor, depending on the time of day you go.

I checked out the SCOPE International Contemporary Art Show because I knew I’d see many of my favorite artists and fresh work from emerging artists.

One night, I stumbled upon a show called Aqua Art Miami. I was walking back to my hotel and saw a line; it piqued my curiosity, so I went in. It was cool because they gutted this hotel’s furnishings and turned each room into a gallery.

OK, let’s talk about food for a second.

Right by my hotel was a spot called Naked Taco; I ate there about 5 times for lunch and dinner. I kid you not. Don’t judge me. I’m always down to discover and try new food spots, but when I find something that just works, you’ll see me again… and again and again, if need be. They also make great Pineapple Mojitos with Coconut sugar.

Head to News Cafe for a fruit salad and a coffee if it’s breakfast time. If you like Cuban coffee, stop by Las Olas Cafe for a colada and a giant egg sandwich.

OK, I hopped in a cab from South Beach and headed to Wynwood. It took about 30 minutes, but that was primarily due to traffic.

Wynwood is like Bushwick out in Brooklyn. It used to be a rough area, and while I was there, a local told me about a riot, but now Wynwood is drenched in art and culture.

An excellent place to start is 2nd Ave. Start at Wynwood Walls, and you’ll see work from artists from across the globe.

Inside are murals, of course, but there are also 2 or three traditional galleries with many great jobs, a spot to get some food, and if you’re on a health kick, there is a juice spot called JugoFresh.

Here’s a tip: most videos or blogs will keep you from telling you.

There are few bathrooms in Wynwood, so I recommend using the restroom at JugoFresh before you leave the property to explore because once you get out, there is no one.

If you really want to catch the flavor of Wynwood, you have to explore. If I were you, I’d just zigzag through the back blocks. Trust me, you will find all kinds of hidden gems.

While walking around, I saw super dope graffiti and murals galore, some of which took up entire buildings. I also had the opportunity to catch various artists bringing their ideas to life. Most of them are approachable, but if they had headphones on or looked like they were in the zone, I wouldn’t bother them.

If you’re taking pictures of artists working in their element, be mindful of their desire for anonymity. Some folks don’t want their faces shown, and others don’t mind; you can quickly get the answer by looking at pictures they post on their IG, or a more accessible option would be to ask them. They might even get a kick out of it.

As I got deeper and deeper into Wynwood, I kept finding more and more cool stuff. I found this ice cream shop called Serendipity Creamery, which had killer strawberry cones. I found the old RC Cola Plant, gorgeously bombed top-to-bottom in tags, throwies, burners, and blockbusters.

It’s owned by the Mana Urban Arts Project, and much of the work here is curated by the Bushwick Collective, so you’re bound to see some pretty epic walls.

Wynwood at night is pretty dope, too. They had a festival called Hive. It was like a big party that housed a skate park, good music, food trucks, and more art. They even had Pete from the Airbrush Factory doing old-school Shirt Kings style airbrushing on tees for free, so you know I got one for New York Said.

Before I made it back to New York, I stopped by the Faena to check out the Gold Mammoth Bones by Damien Hirst and Science Ltd, visited the Public Sector, which is a sculpture garden curated by the Public Art Fund, ate more tacos, then took a dip in the pool so I would be nice and exhausted for my flight back home. And that’s how I did Art Basel.

Thanks for walking with me.



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Music for this Video was Kindly Provided by

Willard Hill & Broke for Free