Art Basel Miami has been on my radar for some time now. I have a standing invite from a gallery but have not made the leap of faith do to the fear of bankruptcy (I purchase a lot of art).
Thanks to an amazing roundtrip price of $129 from JFK to Miami Edyta and I headed down to Miami Beach for 2 days. The goal was to hit up Wynwood Walls and check out the new Martin Whatson on the Eneida M. Hartner Elementary School for The Raw Project and some of the older pieces by Shepard Fairey & Cleon Peterson, How & Nosm, David Choe, Maya Hayuk, Pixel Pancho, 2010, and Logan Hicks.
When we got there I was blown away by the sheer number of people visiting the area on a Tuesday in January. This brings me to a thought I have been having for a while now. Why aren’t more cities looking to spawn a micro economy through art by creating their own version of an art festival like Wynwood Walls, Pow Wow (held in multiple cities) or the annual Montreal Mural Festival? Municipalities need to be creative in this current and ever evolving tourism marketplace. Putting up a skyscraper or getting a professional sports team just isn’t enough any more.
To truly make an economic impact with tourism a city must look outside the box to cultural events and festivals; Bonnaroo, Coachella, VELD, Wynwood Walls, Pow Wow Hawaii, Art Basel Miami, etc to bring in year round tourism. In the 90’s Miami was known as the most dangerous place in the world to rent a car if you were a tourist. Read this article for proof: http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1991-10-04/news/9103300773_1_tourists-rental-car-greater-miami-chamber
Now look at the art/cultural capital of the world Miami has become.
Miami has not cornered the market on art districts. Shoreditch in London, Hoiser Lane in Melbourne, Australia, the area of Skostredet and King Oscars Gate in Bergen, Norway, Bushwick in Brooklyn all have found a way to integrate artwork into a neighborhood in order to help it thrive. If cities are looking to attract a specific economic crowd while beautifying the city then street art is a great way to do it.
Following the “who really knows what art is” ban on all “graffiti” art” edict by former Toronto Mayor Rob Ford new mayor John Torre has been allowing commissioned artists to come in and beautify certain areas of Toronto. There are now two pieces by Shepard Fairy, a wonderful piece by Maya Hayuk and a Hebru Brantley mural on Ossington.
Here are some of the great shots we took while at Wynwood Walls.
The Pelican Hotel 826 Ocean Dr Miami Beach, FL 33139 Phone: (305) 673-3373
Every room is different, they offer FREE Breakfast, a Happy Hour and are located in the heart of the Ocean Drive party scene. Hotels.com had the cheapest rates and during Art Basel Miami this place is expensive ($399) and booked up. My recommendation is to book way in advance.