Before Santa comes his little elves descend upon Miami and take over our town for the biggest, baddest art fair in all of the land. They erect little art villages all along the beach and the bay for more than 13 official art fairs and the original fair at the Miami Beach Convention Center. And they make our city look incredible. It's not just the influx of art minded people or the sheer number of artworks shipped to Miami from, well, everywhere, it's the thoughtful and precise ways that the spaces are designed to celebrate the best parts of our city. While you were busy running the party circuit by night and snapping pics of your favorite art works, I was the planning geek photographing my favorite tents. This is the unauthorized story of Art Basel and Miami Art Week according to your Global Owl.
First stop, Scope Miami. Every year the tent entrances becomes more elaborate and creative. Chalk it up to Design Miami, the furniture art fair, which might have been the first to do this. Sadly I did not get tickets to Design Miami this year, but above is a stunning example of how art becomes architecture at Scope Miami. Long strands of colored plastic move with the ocean air and the monochromatic color scheme from bright red to pale yellow just works. The covered path through the sand is like your own personal runway to excellence.
Pulse Art Fair:
Next stop, Pulse Art Fair. The entrance at Pulse was a little more subtle. Pulse Art Fair was a few miles north of Scope in the Middle Beach neighborhood of Miami Beach. It was also smack in the middle of the sand facing the ocean. Long bits of sheer, black fabric were hung from the top of the tent structure a few feet above the entry floor. The effect was more ethereal, but also kind of annoying when we were waiting in line for to enter the fair because it kept hitting me in the face! What I like about this entrance is how it was open on both sides- the street side and beach side.
It connected nicely to this existing beach path with runs the entire length of Miami Beach.
The tent perfectly aligns with the beach path and beyond to the ocean. Yes, the ocean in Miami Beach really is that blue! To all my friends and family further north, jealous?!
The entrance also has a nice view to the lifeguard stand- iconic Miami Beach.
Final stop, Art Miami. On the Bay side, Context and Art Miami shared a space. The tent was pretty standard, but the exterior spaces were terrific. Above, a sign frames the sidewalk to lead people down a different kind for runway. Not quite as exciting as Scope, but a similar idea.
The inside cafe had some pretty spectacular views to Biscayne Bay. What's exciting is that this is the view I've been promoting through my waterfront activation project. Isn't it simply amazing? But wait till you see the next photo...
The Unexpected Waterfront Cafe:
Step outside to the most amazing surprise-- an outdoor, bayfront cafe with views you can't find anywhere else. This is on the site of the old Miami Herald building which was demoed to make way for a casino/hotel. Now on hold, the site has a temporary use permit for private events like this art fair. While the rest of the year it is often uninhabited, imagine what it could be with the right design.
Concrete Sculpture Garden:
Are you still with me? Still at Art Miami/Context Fair. The two tents form an "L" shape around an existing parking lot. But this is no ordinary parking lot. Check out how the large pieces of art transform the space into a concrete garden. The scale of this gummy bear gone rogue is pretty impressive.
Tree planters and white polished rocks helped to spruce up the space with minor effort. It's a good example of how to make a big impact with a small budget (minus the million dollar art).
Almost feels like the MOMA sculpture garden!
These people are certainly digging it!
There were many other great fairs and events, but these were my highlights. Developers and planners can take some cues from these temporary art fairs which take risks and are daring. Why can't we have a better waterfront? Let's add more engaging design to our public spaces. Temporary is a great way to test ideas. Where Miami has the best waterfront and beaches in the States, let's do a bang up job and plan all our public spaces like it's Miami Art Week.