Community Conversations

How does Art Basel transform Miami?

Many locals felt Art Basel is a good opportunity to expose Miami to international art — but don’t mention the traffic.
Many locals felt Art Basel is a good opportunity to expose Miami to international art — but don’t mention the traffic. adiaz@miamiherald.com

As part of Community Conversations, we asked the following question to readers on social media and the Public Insight Network recently: How does Art Basel transform Miami? Thanks for all of your responses. Below is a sampling of your comments, some of which were edited for length and clarity. Learn more about the Public Insight Network and comment on previous discussions at MiamiHerald.com/community and select Community Conversations.

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My 9-year-old daughter loves art and for the past three years we have skipped school to go see exhibits and meet artists. It is an astounding experience. It is like having the best museums move into Miami for a week — and having easy access to most of them. She is thrilled with the small pieces to the enormous pieces. It has been interesting explaining some of the more risque work — but it’s all good with an educational twist. Last year she entered Art4Apes, a contest which showcases its winners during Art Basel week (at Miami Club Rum). She won the kids category and ended up donating the prize money ($250) to the Center for Great Apes, which the Art4Apes benefits. So, yes, we love it it. For the extravagance, the fun, the creativity, the education and the opportunity to participate.

Jane Watkins, Palmetto Bay

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Art Basel is an opportunity to open a dialogue with the South Florida community on what art is and what art can be. An international exchange of ideas and information can provide insight into how the world is responding to global concerns. I think unfortunately, many do not see this value but consider it a big party. Others feel the event adds to the already congested roads we experience on a daily basis. I believe we don’t take advantage of this opportunity to integrate the learning experience. This is the only fair of its kind and it takes place in the U.S. only in Miami. I guess like most things, we won’t know what we have until it’s gone.

John Adkins, Kendall

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Perhaps Art Basel has transformed Miami within the world community, but not a lot west of I-95. A lot of celebrated people with their money will come, but most of the residents who live here for the other 51 weeks are unlikely to be part of the parties or galas.

Charles Peters, Miami

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The relationship between Art Basel and the “cosmic” place we proudly call Miami is reciprocal. In one sense, Art Basel is a symptom of a city that was already in the process of transformation. The growth of Downtown and the Brickell area and the absolute metamorphosis of the Design District and Wynwood were already works in progress when Art Basel came to town. But at the same time, went Art Basel took root on South Beach and the satellite art extravaganzas formed, Miami had truly actualized its growth spurt. No major world city can earn its stripes without a bustling art scene. With the simultaneous creation of the Adrienne Arsht Center, now Miami has both temporary and permanent displays of its commitment to maintaining big style points while adding the substance of showcasing some of the world’s greatest artistic talent. During Art Week, a tourist can come, see all the glitz and glamor and not feel hedonistic nor sun burnt. Conversely, residents can attend any number of Art Basel events and feel proud to be living in a city that drew viewers, art dealers and artists from all over the world. This is my fifth year attending the events and I look forward many more years of the mutually beneficial relationship between Art Basel and the city which brings it so much life.

Mark Elman, Miami

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It is certainly good for the hospitality business, other than that, what? Does it result in anything important that really helps the residents throughout the year? I mean, I love Art Basel, and I love that the owners decided to open one here in Miami. As a local, it is great that I can see all this art without shelling out a ton of money for airfare and hotel. But, other than helping to support all those hospitality jobs, I do not see any other significant impact, certainly nothing I would call transformational. If it were taken more seriously, and if it engaged more with our local artistic scene, then perhaps it could have some transformational impact to Miami. But, that is not their business. Art Basel is a commercial enterprise, engaged in the business of selling art. And it does that.

James Echols, Miami Beach

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Art Basel Miami has transformed into something fantastic. It creates jobs for locals to have extra money for Christmas, brings a ton of revenue to Wynwood, which has turned Wynwood into the next SoHo like New York. The snow birds get the opportunity to see something like no other place in the country. Celebrities come to town and that makes it that much more exciting. It’s safe — law enforcement does an awesome job with the traffic and protecting everyone, which is very important. I’m glad to be here to witness such an amazing event.

Gregory Pitts, Davie

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Art Basel brought to Miami what it was missing: Art, culture, diversity and international crowds looking for more than nice beaches. The days of Art Basel Miami is a micro cosmos of the world and the city becomes alive, bubbling with excitement and creativity. We, the lucky ones that live in this magic city, can witness the evolution of this event year after year and can enjoy the works of art from all over the world without traveling out of our backyard.

Domenica Brazzi, Miami Beach

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Our initial reaction 14 years ago was “this can’t be art,” but we have grown to appreciate the wonderful array of artists that Art Basel brings and the numerous satellite fairs that it spawns. There is truly something for everyone. Lots to see and if you look carefully, some very reasonably priced art works for the beginning collector. It is a wonderful happening and we look forward to it. The only negative is the horrendous traffic. It can be tough to get around and our public transportation is still not great. Being a New York boy, however, allows me to be creative about parking even if I can’t create art very well.

Don’t miss it.

Michael Troner, Miami

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