By: Shayne Benowitz
Get the insider’s guide to Art Basel Miami Beach.
It takes a lot of savvy to navigate everything that Art Basel brings to Miami in early December, so who better to turn to than Miami’s local gallery directors for the ins and outs of museum exhibitions, satellite fairs, parties and even how to escape the crowds. We spoke with a few of Miami’s top gallerists and got the scoop.
Nina Johnson-Milewski of Gallery Diet (174 NW 23rd St., Wynwood)
Representing a roster of both local and international artists, like Bhakti Baxter, Emmett Moore and Charley Friedman, Gallery Diet in Wynwood is committed to community outreach and education in addition to providing a platform for their artists. Founder and director Nina Johnson-Milewski also runs the literary magazine Miami Rail.
What are your plans for Art Basel this year? We’re hosting the first solo exhibition of Ann Craven in Miami. She’s a spectacular New York-based painter whose works are in the permanent collection of numerous museums around the world including our very own ICA.
What's your favorite thing about Art Basel? I love having an excuse to share our city with so many outsiders. We have so many great hidden gems that just come alive during the fair.
What aspect of Miami's local art scene do you recommend visitors check out? Our museums, our non-profits, artist-run exhibition spaces and as many studio visits as possible.
Robert Fontaine of Robert Fontaine Gallery (2349 NW 2nd Ave., Wynwood)
With works by the masters of Pop Art (Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Rauschenberg), alongside cutting edge contemporary international artists, Robert Fontaine Gallery is a dynamic space for art in Wynwood. Fontaine’s artists range from London-born mixed media artist Nick Gentry to street artists, like Australia’s Anthony Lister and London’s RYCA.
What are your plans for Art Basel this year (your gallery)? We will be showing at Miami Project on North Miami Beach, as well as SCOPE art fair on South Beach. The gallery will host a group show of emerging and blue chips works.
What’s your favorite thing about Art Basel? The crowd, the excitement and the chance to meet new collectors and artists. It’s rather unique to have Art Basel here in Miami.
What aspect of Miami’s local art scene do you recommend visitors check out? Wynwood, of course. It's a melting pot of international and local artists.
Cristina Gonzalez of Primary Projects (151 NE 7th St., Downtown)
Founded by some of Miami’s most well-respected and ambitious artists, Primary Projects has always been on the vanguard of creative expression in Miami. As the name implies, their projects often extend beyond the scope of the gallery walls.
What are your plans for Art Basel this year? Primary will be doing a solo exhibition with Magnus Sodamin. We are also currently working on an experimental project in Morningside that will be a ton of fun. We love to deliver something out of the ordinary.
What's your favorite thing about Art Basel? Having access to such a wide range of art in our backyard, as opposed to traveling to view works from all over the world. We really enjoy being able to sit down with artists, curators, consultants and friends that we don't get to see very often. When it comes to the fairs, we always make sure to pass by NADA and Design Miami. They are a breath of fresh air. It's a hectic time of the year, but we love it!
What aspect of Miami's local art scene do you recommend visitors check out? There are many art galleries doing noteworthy projects in Miami. I would make sure to travel from Little River all the way to downtown. Go to Gallery Diet, GucciVuitton [at ICA] and Mindy Solomon. In Little Haiti/Little River, visit Michael Jon Gallery. See Art Lexing in Ironside and then make your way to Bas Fisher Invitational and Dimensions Variable towards Downtown. No Miami visit is complete without stopping by the De la Cruz Collection and The Rubell Family Collection.
Fredric Snitzer of Fredric Snitzer Gallery (1540 NE Miami Ct., Wynwood)
One of the most highly respected galleries in Miami, Fredric Snitzer Gallery has been a mainstay at the main attraction, Art Basel Miami Beach, for years. He was the only Miami gallery represented at the fair, until recently when Spinello Projects joined this exclusive list.
What are your plans for Art Basel this year? We have an exciting program. In the gallery, an exhibition of new work by Kenny Scharf. At our booth in Art Basel Miami Beach, a Kabinett by land artist Alan Sonfist with vintage works from the 70s.
What’s your favorite thing about Art Basel? When its over. No, really, hosting the incredible number of visitors—the most sophisticated group of contemporary art followers in the world.
What aspect of Miami’s local art scene do you recommend visitors check out? The really serious galleries are spread out as many have left Wynwood. You have to be selective.
Dina Mitrani of Dina Mitrani Gallery (2620 NW 2nd Ave., Wynwood)
A 20 year veteran of the art world, Dina Mitrani opened her Wynwood gallery in 2008 and is one of the only to focus exclusively on photography. The space was formerly her father’s clothing factory of 40 years, and today, it houses artist studios, galleries and an outdoor exhibition and events space.
What are your plans for Art Basel this year? I will be exhibiting a large photographic installation by Roberto Huarcaya (Peru) and will also be participating in Miami Project art fair.
What's your favorite thing about Art Basel? The amazing energy that flows through the city. The excitement that surrounds art and culture.
What aspect of Miami's local art scene do you recommend visitors check out? All the museums, collections and galleries usually have excellent exhibitions and installations up for this time of year. Try to fit in as much as you can.
Curator Katherine Hinds, Assistant Curator Nunzio Auricchio and Head of Education Jeanie Ambrosio of The Margulies Collection. (591 NW 27th St., Wynwood)
Widely considered one of the world’s most important private art collections, The Margulies Collection opens its doors to visitors during Art Basel offering unprecedented access to the incredible works.
What are your plans for Art Basel this year? This year at The Margulies Collection at the Warehouse, we are presenting the most comprehensive exhibition in the 16 year history of our public space. It is a powerful and historic exhibition of seminal work by one of the most important and influential European artists of our times, Anselm Kiefer.
Additionally, for the first time in our history, we are presenting a sound art installation, which we think will create a lot of excitement for our audience, especially the young students who come in droves every year. The conceptual sound installation is by acclaimed European artist Susan Philipsz who won the Turner Prize, Tate Britain in 2010.
Because our exhibitions this year are so historic, we are designing a docent program with the museum studies students at FAU to give tours of our exhibitions to the public during Art Basel Miami Beach week. That program is being developed by our head of education, Jeanie Ambrosio.
What aspect of Miami's local art scene do you recommend visitors check out? The private collections. Miami is home to five of the top 200 private art collections in the world. Four of them have public spaces, which is known as the Miami model. It is one of the major reasons Art Basel came to Miami in the first place. Skip the parties. Visit the private collection spaces. It’s all about the art.
Rhonda Mitrani of the Screening Room (2626 NW 2nd Ave., Wynwood; 305-582-7191
In a similar vein to her sister Dina’s gallery, Rhonda Mitrani’s Screening Room right next door focuses exclusively on video art and the moving image.
What are your plans for Art Basel this year (your gallery)? The Screening Room is not a typical gallery. It is a project space that only focuses on the moving image and this year we are exhibiting video installations by Wendy Wischer.
What's your favorite thing about Art Basel? The energy that this city creates with all of her visitors and, of course, seeing so many great friends who are here for the big week.
What aspect of Miami's local art scene do you recommend visitors check out? The Rubell and Margulies Collections in Wynwood, as well as all the galleries in Wynwood and Design District. There are great galleries in Little Haiti, too. And, of course, PAMM. It has such a great program and stunning view of the city.
Marite Iglesias of Wynwood Walls (2520 NW 2nd Ave., Wynwood; 305-531-4411
Arguably the anchor of the Wynwood Arts District, Wynwood Walls is an outdoor museum dedicated to world-renowned street art founded by the late Tony Goldman, a visionary pioneer of the neighborhood.
What are your plans for Art Basel this year? For 2015, we will have a stellar roster of extraordinary international artists painting new murals within the Wynwood Walls, the Wynwood Doors, and a new area we are calling the Wynwood Garden. The expansion of the walls allows for additional murals as well as new event space. Our Wynwood Walls programming for Art Basel 2015 commences on Tuesday, Dec. 1st with the annual, exclusive artist dinner followed by the Wynwood Walls Opening night VIP party. We have a line-up of Artist Talks on Wednesday, Dec. 2nd and an Artist Print Signing Event on Thursday, Dec. 3rd.
What's your favorite thing about Art Basel? My favorite thing about Art Basel Miami is the massive wave of creativity and diversity throughout the city.
What aspect of Miami's local art scene do you recommend visitors check out? Wynwood, Little Haiti, Little Havana—there is local art all over the city. You just have to look.
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