‘All aboard, next stop Art Basel’
The 16th edition of Art Basel kicked off as early as last Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017 with private parties, influencer mixers and invite-only soirees. Undeterred by heavy rain, over 77,000 tourists poured into Miami this past week for South Florida’s premiere art fair. Unfortunately, traffic jams at all hours of the day became the new norm causing local art enthusiasts to seek alternative and less crowded ways to enjoy the week-long art affairs. One savvy business owner in particular curated a creative solution to meet the art consumers’ needs.
Art Basel is comprised of 200 plus galleries from over 4,000 artists showcasing paintings, sculptures, installations, photography, film, video and digital art. At Basel, art lovers from all over the world enjoy pieces from both young and new artists as well as museum caliber pieces ranging in price from hundreds to millions of dollars.
Nonetheless, despite the diversity and grandeur that Art Basel brings, urban artists noticed a lack of Black Art and Black representation. Accordingly, multicultural Basel events emerged allowing residents and tourists to celebrate and participate in a cultural arts renaissance. The popularity of Black Basel is undeniable as several websites showcase Black Basel itineraries which in addition to art galleries include panel discussions, dinner parties, honors awards events and cocktail lounges.
Understanding the plight of my community in particular, I opted to venture off the beaten path and do Black Basel this year. CHATMiami provided the perfect opportunity by hosting The Art of Black, a cultural arts & VIP cuisine tour, and as a by-product of this tour, I was able to avoid traffic, long lines, crowds and possibly getting lost. Additionally with the tour stop-ping in Miami’s historic communities, i.e. Little Havana, Little Haiti and Overtown, I was able to convince two (2) other friends to experience Black art with me during Art Basel weekend, VIP style.
We boarded the tour van with less than a dozen other travelers, our driver and our host, Stephanie Jones. Once on board, Jones introduced herself, and her company CHATMiami, as a “family owned and operated business that allows tourists and interested residents the opportunity to visit and become acquainted with cultural and heritage neighborhoods.” Our first stop was in Little Havana where we painted rosters, sipped mojitos, tasted pure chocolate, danced salsa and ad-mired the Umbrellas of Little Havana Art at Futurama 1637 Galleries. In Little Havana, we experienced art in so many forms inclusive of chocolate making, a live art demo, mixology art and musical art. As we danced and sipped, you could feel our collective stresses of the week disappear.
Next, we headed to the Little Haiti Cultural Center for the Now or Neverland Art Fair: Ode to Hip Hop. This exhibit honored modern and classic hip hop artists. Witnessing vibrant colors, 3D art and Hip Hop dedication murals, tour guests snapped pictures, recited Hip Hop lyrics, brought art and connected the story of Hip Hop to the story of Little Haiti. One art admirer can be heard associating the commercialization of Hip Hop to the gentrification of Little Haiti. In depth dialogue saturated the gallery demonstrating why Black culture will always fascinate and attract consumers globally and eternally.
Our final stop before dinner was the Art Africa Miami exhibit which has doubled in size since last year. In fact, Art Africa emerged about seven (7) years ago giving the art expo some soul. Art of Africa is situated in Miami’s historic city of Overtown, and ironically, art lovers of all racial and social backgrounds wandered the gallery aisles. Originally known as colored town, the area was once thrived as a center for commerce in the Black community. Today, economic stress has brought on a homeless epidemic, unemployment and crime.
With this year’s theme: Back to Black: No On or Off Ramps, art continues to imitate life as pieces representing the African Diaspora, as well as social and political issues faced by the Black community created a wide range of emotions and reactions. Thought provoking art on every wall lend to speechless pauses between strolls, but the “Stay Woke” piece of a tar painted man raising a “Black Power” fist and rocking a high top fade made of sequins touched my soul. It depicts the strength and style of my community while sending a message to the world, to never sleep on us.
Our final stop was Lil Green House Grill where we had dinner and recapped the day’s art festivities. The entire tour was nothing shy of magic, and I highly recommend that residents not skip Black Basel. Get there “By Any Means Necessary”, even if you have to veer off the beaten path.
Crystal Mathis Press Release Marketing, LLC Event Hosting – Marketing – Public Relations
(954) 588-3250 www.justpressrelease.com www.facebook.com/pressreleasemarketing/