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Art Basel Miami: Spring Break for the Art World

Art Basel officially opens to the public today.

Every December, hordes of artists, galleries, collectors, performers, P. Diddy, and anyone else with a taste for fun, parties, and art-viewing, descend upon Miami, Florida for Art Basel, arguably the biggest and most expansive global art event of the year. Officially opening to the public today and running through the weekend, it's like Spring Break for art lovers. Now in it's 11th year, Basel started as a single fair catering to international buyers looking to purchase art and grow their collections. Today, Art Basel has spawned over 20 satellite art fairs (focusing on everything from photography, design, and emerging artists), countless gallery exhibitions, pop-ups, public installations, performances, and happenings during the week.

While it's the definitive place to see the best artwork from around the globe, in recent years it's also become a place for art to overlap with music, fashion, design, food, and drink. For better or for worse, art critic Anthony Haden-Guest once summarized, "Art fairs are the new disco."

Below are a few of the things going on this week:

Wynwood Walls takes over the warehouse district and Arts District that is Wynwood, Miami. A mural project set out to revitalize the neighborhood, street and graffiti artists like Faile, Futura, Ron English and Os Gemos (below) have been turning walls and doors in the area into colorful canvases since 2009.

New York-based artist Desi Santiago has taken over the Lords South Beach Hotel with a building-sized commission, in a work called "The Black Lords." He's literally transforming the entire hotel into a "ravenous black dog named Gypsy" which will tell fortunes and respond to visitors questions with sound, lasers, and smoke.


While there will be a lot of revelry throughout the week, it's worth remembering that many of the New York galleries participating in the fairs and events in Miami, were directly hit by Hurricane Sandy. Some are still picking up the pieces after having entire archives of artworks, publications, and physical spaces decimated. To this effect, Volkswagon and MoMA PS1will be hosting a benefit with DJ sets by members of Animal Collective and Chromeo. All proceeds going to Rockaway Waterfront.

For those without deep pockets, Visionaire magazine has partnered with online fashion sites Net-a-Porter and Mr. Porter to open a "FREE STORE" at Miami Beach SLS Hotel. The store is an interactive art installation by Jonathan Horowitz, where "customers" are asked to bring "stuff you can't use and take stuff away that you can." This barter style swap will be a welcome break from the otherwise capitalist week, and you could end up with items from everyone from Michael Stipe to Maurizio Cattelan to Marilyn Minter.

We'll be bringing you a couple highlights each day and at the end of the week, we'll bring you GOOD's crowd sourced wrap up—a selection of images sent to us from the folks on the ground in sunny Florida.

If you're there, Tweet @GOOD a pic with the hashtag #GOODArt or email and we'll credit you in the wrap up.

Images courtesy of Art Basel (top: Courtney Smith and Iván Navarro; second: Enoc Perez; third: Os Gemos)

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