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Art Basel Miami Beach

I’m in Miami Bitch!

by Petra Mason / 20.12.2010

“If you don’t know Patrick McMullan, you ought to get out more” – Andy Warhol said of the photographer who shot New York’s downtown scene in the early 1980s. Last week, Patrick McMullan & Company, in Miami for Art Basel Miami Beach, once again caught all the art world glamour and glitz on camera. I ran into Patrick twice: at the dinner for artist Trey Speegle hosted by Benrimon Contemporary (New York) and again at a private dinner at the Delano hosted by MOMA PS1, Interview Magazine and LVMH. It takes skill to navigate RSVPs for three simultaneous events followed by four intimate invite only dinners, all hosted on exclusive hotel rooftops, all at the same time, night after night: but that’s what America’s biggest Art Show is all about: showing up and showing off.

With more than 250 exhibitors and 46,000 attendees for the official show alone (up from 42,000 in 2009), Art Basel Miami Beach, now in its ninth year, is hands down the most glam, and gawdy, of all the worlds’ art fairs.

Mahala readers might have channel surfed Miami via Scarface, Miami Vice, Bad Boys movies or the lengthy documentary Cocaine Cowboys, or high on the heels of the Kardashian’s – Kim and her trampy sisters, Kourtney and Khloe Take Miami. Basketball fans would know that Le Bron James chose Miami Heat over all other offers because they gave him the most bucks in the bidding war. But it’s a surprisingly gentle city with a bad rep. Even though it’s in the white trash red neck State of Florida, Miami Beach votes democrat. Even so, most of Miami’s gigantic Latin population can’t even vote or speak English: Brazilians, Argentines, Columbians, Venezuelans, Cubans and Panamanians are all over the place, so much so that an irate American Republican referred to Miami Beach recently as a “third world country”.

Young British Artist (YBA) Mark Quinns Strawberries and Orchids

At the MOMA PS1 / Interview magazine poolside party at the Delano, Adrien Brody sat talking on his mobile about a movie deal, hiding in his hat. As we slipped into a cabana stocked with free Belvidere vodka and Dom Perignon on ice, a charming young man known as “The Official Hank” – showed up and introduced himself “not just as a singer, but a dancer, and an all round entertainer” Hank and his gang proceeded to steal the vodka and were “all round entertaining” dressed very Fast Times at Ridgemont High while synchronized swimmers performed in the pool.

As the last passer-by helped them selves to the final bubble in the Champagne bottle and DJ “Blondes” turned up the volume and told everyone to head to the beach, we fought our way through the over-capacity crowd, making it home before midnight.

Petra Mason Miami

South Beach: Stories of a Renaissance

Next day, poolside at The Royal at The Raleigh Hotel sat filmmaker and artist Julian Schnabel, in his signature pajamas, holding court, eating oysters. And for the seventh year in a row, as long as I’ve attended ABMB, artist Kehinde Wiley has held a Fish Fry at The Shore Club. Earlier in the week, Sean Penn and Schnabel played MC at a private dinner held at the Frank Gehry designed New World Symphony. A couple years back I saw legendary Dennis Hopper at the Vernissage; Mr. Hopper was not only an actor but also an artist and a serious collector. Now that the show is over, and the high rollers have signed their UBS cheques and flown home on their private Netjets, I am still in Miami. New York maybe just a 2 hour and 20-minute flight away, but like punk rocker Iggy Pop, I’m fed up with huge, dark, media-centric cities. I’d rather be in a sunny place for shady people. If Miami is good enough for Iggy to call home; it’s good enough for me.

Judith Mason
At Art Basel Miami Beach 2010 South African print studio The Artists’ Press showcased limited edition art prints show at the Books & Books Gallery. On view are Judith Mason’s set of painterly “Pomegranate” prints that reflect the nesting and domestic mood of much of the fair. The Pomegranate images, celebrate the fruits sensual qualities, oozing ruby juice, juxtaposing them with a hammer to remind one of the fruits skull-like vulnerability.


Lemons and Pomegranates after J.v.H – Fine art still life photography “Natura Morta” by Paulette Tavormina at Barry Singer Gallery at Art Miami 2010.

*All images © Petra Mason.

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RESPONSES (5)
  1. Jirrith says:

    A delightful article on a lovely city. Thank you.

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  2. The Special One says:

    Having been at this year’s Art Basel (have been to every one since the first), as before you have it down perfectly. The mood and tone of the event, Miami Beach’s most important in the year, and the city during it is unique and you captured both. Brilliant.

    When is your South Beach book coming out?

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  3. Pia says:

    Thank you – it’s out late January 2011 in the US. I’ll let Mahala know.

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  4. Haneef says:

    Love the images.

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  5. Official Hank says:

    That vodka was delicious.

    Hope to see you again soon…

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