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  • Art Basel-2009Art Basel Miami has become less of an event and more of a happening. Sure art is still the focus, but between the parties, dinners, concerts and private events,  it’s become a place to be, as much as a place to shop for high priced art.

    More than 250 leading art galleries from North America, Latin America, Europe, Asia and Africa exhibited 20th and 21st century artworks by over 2,000 artists, according to Art Basel.

    The exhibiting galleries include the world’s most respected art dealers, offering exceptional pieces by both renowned artists and cutting-edge newcomers.

    More than 15 satellite fairs have also sprung up around the event, and if anything, there is a danger that those who go just to see and be seen will crowd out the collectors who shell out the big bucks for all the big art.

    Rachel Beach “The Rabbit Hole” Burled Ash veneer, oil paint, and mixed mediums.

    Rachel Beach “The Rabbit Hole” Burled Ash veneer, oil paint, and mixed mediums.

    Miami’s elite was well represented as well as the art crowd. Art loving celebrities and wealthy patrons from Central America, South America, Latin America, North America, Asia, Europe, India, Israel and New York City, of course, swarmed the exhibits.

    Wine, champagne, cheese and strong espresso overflowed, generously made available by generous sponsors such as UBS, Cartier, Lufthansa, Café Bustelo and N’espresso fueled the crowd.

    I was fortunate to be able to view Art Basel at the Convention Center, Verge and Ink on Collins Avenue, Art-Miami, Pulse, NADA, Sculpt Miami, Photo-Miami, Red Dot Art Fair, Green Art Fair, and SCOPE.

    I attended private viewings such as at the Peter Lik photography gallery on Lincoln Road and a private dinner with Like the Spice Gallery hosted by Marisa Sage. I also attended the Wolfsonian Museum 20th anniversary reception.

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    While studying the art, it’s best to wear flat shoes, jeweled or embroidered add some flair, because you will be walking around the art floors for hours. For ultimate support, comfort and fashion, I highly suggest clogs. Also flashy cowboy boots and ballet slipper inspired flats seemed to be well represented.

    If you lack height, then wear color, sparkle and glitter to make a really special impression. If you must wear heels then opt for wedges.

    It is hot in Miami but the savvy wore a blazer or cover-up because the air conditioned inside was so cold. Shorts with a blazer, sun dresses short or long were elegant and widely worn. Sun dresses were paired  with a belt to accentuate the waist. Clutch bags were very elegant high fashion and artsy chic at the same time.

    Jewelry was ethnic and bulky, kept modern by large pieces. If you decide to wear delicate jewelry, make sure to balance it with a few bracelets and more than one strand; try a few at different lengths.

    Among some of the art highlights were vintage works by Joan Mitchell at Cheim & Read and James Rosenquist at Acquavella, according New York Times art critic Karen Rosenberg. Alex Katz’s new, eye-popping portraits were part of a thriving secondary market, she noted.

    Silvester Stallone, not a buyer, but a seller.

    Silvester Stallone, not a buyer, but a seller.

    Latin American art was also well represented. Works Mexican artist Gabriel Orozco, were prevelant. Orozco’s giant oval pool table was a major element in the most talked-about off-site show, the Bass Museum of Art’s exhibition of works from the Jumex Collection.

    It’s Latin America’s most prominent private collection of contemporary art, and was shown in the United States for the first time.

    The show was a mix of classic Pop Art, Mexico City bricolage and international contemporary showpieces like Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset’s door marked “VIP,” said Rosenberg in her critique.

    The Rubell Family Collection’s show, “Beg, Borrow and Steal,” highlighted various generations of appropriation art, according to the Times.

    Also from south of the border, Carlos Estevez, leader of the Cuban Art Movement, hosted a collectors party at the Ritz Carlton that made mid-century Havana its theme. “The fête was an elaborate and atmospheric mix of vintage autos, costumes, rare rums, music and movies, according to New York magazine.

    In the Art Nova section, Alexander Gray displayed Lorraine O’Grady photographs and Zach Feuer had new paintings by Dana Schutz.
    The New Art Dealers Alliance fair, or NADA, was another big attraction outside of downtown Miami in Deauville north of South Beach.

    Artist Blue Logan drawing at Art Basel Miami 2009

    Artist Blue Logan drawing at Art Basel Miami 2009