Here it comes, ready or not: Year 13 of Miami Beach’s blockbuster Art Basel fair, which will as always fill the vast Miami Beach Convention Center floor and overflow into nearby public spaces with a mind-boggling gamut of contemporary art, plus a few fresh wrinkles — including a free screening of a new Tim Burton film.
In the biggest change, fair-goers will see a new opening schedule on Wednesday and Thursday that’s designed to give serious art collectors more “quality time’’ at the gallery booths before the doors open to the general public. Ticket buyers will get three hours less inside the hall on Thursday’s public opening day.
The fair also boasts a pair of program additions this year, one inside and the other outside the convention center. Inside, the new Survey sector will focus on overlooked 20th century artists deserving of fresh consideration. Perhaps unsurprisingly, given how the art world has long been a men’s club, the Survey artist roster is dominated by women, said fair director Marc Spiegler.
Then, at the unlikely venue of the onetime Playboy Theater at the Castle Beach Resort, artist Ryan McNamara will stage MEEM 4 Miami: A Story Ballet About the Internet. The “immersive’’ choreographic performance, a tweaked version of a work that debuted last fall in New York, features 20 dancers dancing in a range of styles, from classical to club dancing and contemporary, to a parallel mix of music.
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In its most unconventional aspect, audience members will be bodily lifted on gurneys while still in their seats and wheeled to different areas of the performance space, mimicking the jumping-around experience of the web.
“It’s a mind-blowing experience,’’ Spiegler said, adding that he considers the performance to be one of the must-sees at this year’s fair.
Coming back this year is the popular Film program, which features videos inside the hall but also free outdoor showings on the projection wall of the New World Symphony’s building across Seventeenth Street. On Friday, director Burton’s new film, Big Eyes, about a notorious, real-life art fraud, will screen at the Colony Theatre on Lincoln Road Mall. Seating is free but obviously limited.
Also returning is the free Public program, which this year will bring 26 sculptures and installations, guided tours and live performances to Collins Park.
Then, from the sublime to the practical, the fair’s restaurants inside the convention center will be moved this year from the center of the floor to the two entrances, and — hosannah! — seating will be doubled, Spiegler said. Hunting for a table in past editions of the fair has been a frustrating experience for some fair-goers.
This year’s edition will be the next-to-last before the Beach embarks on a total renovation and updating of the aging convention center, work that has already forced a planned relocation of the international boat show.
But Spiegler, sounding optimistic, said the city has pledged there would be no real disruption for the art fair during the two years of construction because work will be done in phases around it. Only one edition of the fair will happen while renovations are in progress, he said.
The upshot of the makeover will be significant improvements for the fair, in particular to the convention center’s inadequate Internet service, an important element because of the image-heavy web traffic the event generates, Spiegler said. The addition of multilevel parking to the center, he said, will also be helpful in reducing some of the parking crunch that has plagued the neighborhood during the fair, which draws about 75,000 people.
“The city has been extremely collaborative in understanding what we need to have to continue to be a world-class show,’’ Spiegler said. “This is a show that needs to run smoothly all of the time.’’
The departure this year from the established opening schedule might lead to some initial confusion, Spiegler conceded. But he said the shift is necessary to better serve the fair’s two main constituents — the galleries and the collectors who come to the fair to buy.
The previous schedule — with a semi-public Vernissage Wednesday evening and admission to the general public starting on noon Thursday — did not allow enough time for gallerists to meet and chat with new customers, a main goal of their attendance at the fair, Spiegler said.
“We wanted to extend that time,’’ he said. “We think it will have a great effect on our galleries.’’
Now, Wednesday will be for VIPs only, with the Vernissage moving to 11 a.m. Thursday and extended by one hour, running until 3 p.m., when the general public will be admitted.
Beyond the Art Basel fair, another two dozen satellite fairs will take over hotels and set up in tents in Miami Beach, Wynwood and Midtown. Those include long-established fairs like Art Miami and SCOPE, and relatively newer shows including Untitled, MiamiProject and the first-timer PINTA. And for those who have become accustomed to finding fairs in specific places, it’s a year to consult the map: Pulse, for instance, will move from the Ice Factory near downtown to Miami Beach.
If you go
Public days for Art Basel Miami Beach are 3 to 8 p.m. Thursday; noon to 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday; and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday. Day tickets are $45. For more fair information, go to http://www.miamiherald.com/entertainment/visual-arts/art-basel/