Art Basel Memories

Monday, December 11, 2017

The A List swept into Miami for Art Basel, transforming public places into party playgrounds, streets into parking lots. Kim, Kanye, Drake, Lil Wayne, Future and Cardi B hung at a waterfront manse. Leonardo DiCaprio, Brooke Shields, Paris Hilton, Cindy Crawford and Rande Gerber made the scene.

New York snowbirds flew down to their beachfront winter perches, to reconvene at art openings and parties. They complained about having too, too, too many invites, compared notes and retexted more invites. Then, it was over. It was off to Casa de Campo or Cancun for the weekend, or back to the city for the snow.

Which soirees made it through the clutter? As we catch our breath, and nurse our hangover, here are three insider events that we’ll remember for the Miami Beach stories they told:


A Private Dinner Under The Stars For The Opening Of The Wynwood Walls 

Without the late developer Tony Goldman, Miami might not have had the buzz to entice Basel. Goldman started the Deco revival in an erstwhile old age enclave in 1986, when he renovated two small hotels on Ocean Drive. The art and fashion crowd followed. Suddenly, this was not your Bubbe’s South Beach.

In 2006, Tony turned his attention to a sketchy Miami neighborhood, bought 30 one-story warehouse buildings, and helped created a hip museum district called Wynwood. The Walls is the Goldman family’s gift to that community: their private property used as a public park, walled with curated graffiti from all over the world. “We like to look at as our town center,” said Jessica Goldman, who took over as CEO of Goldman Properties when her father passed away, five years ago.

“We revitalize neighborhoods,” Jessica told me about the family legacy she now carries. “We were in New York in the 1970s, Miami Beach in the 80s, Center City, Philadelphia and Wall Street in the 90s and then Wynwood in 2006.”

The 40 artists from 15 countries she had selected, had barely finished painting their new murals on Tuesday, when it was time for the great reveal: an invitation only dinner party under the stars. Guests included Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, Goldman Properties chairman Janet Goldman, musician Jermaine Dupri, Miami Dolphin Julius Thomas and artist Peter Tunney. “I’m a New York City old school gangster now doing Miami seven to eight months a year,” Tunney said. “And I was the first tenant in Wynwood due to the grace of the late Tony Goldman.”


Pat Field’s ARTFASHION Takes the Runway in Wynwood’s White Dot Gallery 

On Saturday night, I entered a Pop Up Gallery in Wynwood’s White Dot Gallery, filled with hand-painted, one-of-a-kind clothing so trendy you’d think you were in Japan or the Marais. It was the brainchild of trend setter Patricia Field, who created the looks for Sex in the City, The Devil Wears Prada and Younger. Tony’s widow Janet—a longtime girlfriend—had lent Pat the gallery. Thursday was the opening night bash, and Saturday was a runway show.

Fields, who invented leggings in the 70s, and gave Sarah Jessica Parker a tutu in the 90s, claims credit for today’s emblazoned art-on-clothing trend, as well. “When I decided to sell my shop on the Bowery almost two years ago, we had a few artists there,” she said, “and I felt the vibe returning.” In the day, Field hung out in the East Village with Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat. A few years ago, she said, “The stylists were complaining that the clothes had become too commercialized. I had things nobody else had.” She converted her store website into ARTFASHION and made it a fulcrum for downtown artists like Jody Morlock, Kyle Brincefield and Scooter Laforge. “It was supposed to be a little hobby to keep me busy,” said Pat, “but it turned into more.”

And Pat’s connection to Miami goes way back. “I bought my apartment in South Beach in ’87, right on Ocean Drive and 5th Street,” she told us. “That’s when I met Tara. I was working here quite a bit but, then, I got busy in NYC.” With a little thing called Sex in the City


Wolfsonian Wonder

On the more established side of the party spectrum was Friday night’s top tier cocktail party at the Wolfsonian/FIU Museum, honoring the Italian Ambassador to the United States, Armando Varricchio, and his wife. Museum Director Tim Rodgers’ personal invitation asked guests for their bios and came with instructions on how to enter through a private back door. Inside, the crowd was the Miami Beach social set, the kind who knew each other from Ransom and Everglades prep.

I asked former Genoa curator Silvia Barriscono, now presiding over the Miami collection, about their guiding aesthetic. “Our interest is in art and design,” she said, “and in how it reveals the inventive and I character of the modern world, influences the present and shapes the future. Our collection starts with the industrial revolution and stops with World War II. We let the objects tell stories about the political, economic or social situations of the period, try to connect them to the present and through them, tell the history of modern man.”


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