Art Basel Miami – A Testament to the Spread of Culture

Go Lean Commentary

There’s no business like ‘show business’. – Age Old Adage.

There is money in the ‘Arts’. – Go Lean…Caribbean precept.

And now, the subsequent news article posits: “the community rallies around art creating a unique energy. And art ‘dynamises’ the community, in a very unique way”.

The book Go Lean…Caribbean has a simple purpose: enable the Caribbean to be a better place to live, work and play. The book recognizes that the ‘genius qualifier’ is shown in different fields of endeavor, including the arts (fine, visual, performing, music, etc.). While the Go Lean roadmap has a focus on STEM [1] fields, it is accepted that not everyone possesses STEM skills, and yet many others can still contribute to society. Then when these other skills/talents are “gifted” beyond the extraordinary, they can truly impact their community, and maybe even the world.

The book relates that the arts can have a positive influence on the Caribbean. And that one man, or woman, can make a difference in this quest. We want to foster the next generation of “stars” in the arts and other fields of endeavor.

According to the following news article, the arts can truly ‘dynamise’ the community. The article relates to Art Basel, the movement to stage art shows for Modern and Contemporary works, sited annually in Basel (Switzerland), Hong Kong and Miami Beach. The focus of this article is Miami Beach:

Title: 13th Art Basel Miami Beach (December 4 – 7, 2014), a testament to the spread of culture
Jane Wooldridge, and contributed Ricardo Mor

CU Blog - Art Basel Miami - a Testament to the Spread of Culture - Photo 1If “more” equals better, the 13th edition of Art Basel Miami Beach and the surrounding art week events may go down as the best ever. More new art fairs and just-to-see shows. More record-breaking sales at Art Basel Miami Beach. More CEOs — from watchmakers Hublot and Omega, luggage brand Rimowa, hotel companies Starwood and Marriott — opening luxury properties. And if not more — who can keep track? — then certainly plenty of celebrities, including actors Leonardo DiCaprio, James Marden and Owen Wilson; musicians Usher, Miley Cyrus, Russell Simmons and Joe Jonas; supermodel Heidi Klum and the world’s fastest man, Usain Bolt.

There was another kind of “more” as well — more spillovers, touch points and art for all manner of South Floridians, from entrepreneurs to pre-teen fashion designers, stretching from Pinecrest to Coconut Grove, Overtown to Fort Lauderdale.

If the aim is “to make art general,” as Knight Foundation President Alberto Ibargüen told attendees Monday at the foundation’s annual announcement of Knight Art Challenge awards, this year’s art week put South Florida well on its way. Proclaimed National Endowment for the Arts chairman Jane Chu on a whiplash art tour to downtown, Miami Beach and Opa-locka, “Art is entwined in Miami’s DNA.”

Even as the Pérez Art Museum Miami celebrated its first year anniversary, a new permanent museum building for the Institute for Contemporary Art Miami was announced for the Design District.

Overtown [historical Black neighborhood] hosted its first Art Africa fair of works created by artists from the African Diaspora. Joining it on the list of first-year events are an impressive exhibition of monumental works in the vast Mana-Miami Wynwood space on NW 23rd Street and Pinta, a fair focusing on Latin American art that moved from New York to Midtown.

The festivities reach far, far beyond the traditional art crowd. On the Mana campus, the Savannah College of Art and Design is presenting “i feel ya,” an exhibition that includes jumpsuits designed by André 3000 for Outkast’s reunion tour. The nearby ArtHaus tent is surrounded by food trucks and a sound program where Beethoven is definitely not on the playlist.

This year, more than a half-dozen student exhibits are on the art agenda. At FusionMIA, student photographs hang near works by masters Rashid Johnson and Al Loving; all were curated by Miami’s N’Namdi Contemporary gallery. A few blocks north, at Wynwood’s House of Art, a dozen students ages 5 to 15 from the DesignLab program showed off their creations at a Friday night “vernissage.”

Among them was 13-year-old Yael Bloom, wearing a flounced party dress she made from shrink wrap. No matter that the first-time event was a little-known spinoff. “Art Basel is pretty hard for adults to get into,” Bloom said. “For kids to get into it is very cool.”

As in years past, free events abound, from performances by Chinese artist Shen Wei at Miami-Dade College and artist Theo Jansen’s Strandbeest demonstrations on the sand to official Art Basel events, including films on the New World Center Wallcast and the Art Public sculptures in Collins Park. New is free Art Week shuttle service between Midtown and Miami Beach — a government cooperative effort — that dovetails with trolley service to art venues on both sides of Biscayne Bay.

In institutional quarters, Art Basel Miami Beach global sponsor UBS announced the creation of a $5 million loan fund for existing Florida small business owners. Sponsor BMW USA announced it would fund an “art journey” open to emerging artists exhibiting at Art Basel Miami Beach. And the City of Miami Beach and Miami-Dade County put out a call to artists, encouraging them to propose projects for the $4.33 million public art program associated with the Miami Beach Convention Center renovation. South Floridians are eligible to apply for all three initiatives.

Clearly, art week isn’t just about aesthetics, personal enrichment and community building. It is also about enterprise — which explains all those luxury CEOs, the ground-breaking of the Zaha Hadid-designed One Thousand Museum, and the announcement at Miami Ironside that designer Ron Arad will create the interiors for the revamped Watergate Hotel in Washington. (And no, there’s no real connection to Miami.)

Said Michael Spring, Miami-Dade’s cultural affairs director, “There’s a certain deepening, a realization not just that the Art Basel event but arts in general have a phenomenal effect on the image and economy of our entire region. We’ve talked about it before, but there seems to be more focus this year. It’s not an interesting footnote anymore; it’s the theme.”

That, says Miami Commissioner Keon Hardemon, was the thinking behind the city’s $50,000 grant supporting the Art Africa fair. “We need to encourage people to come now to Overtown. The cultural aspect helps them realize they can safely come here now. And then maybe they’ll come back later and spend money in the community, in our restaurants and stores,” he said.

In Miami, with commerce inevitably comes glamor, which is proving as glossy as ever. Hennessey V.S.O.P., Dom Perignon, Paper Magazine, Interview and B.E.T. have staged events all around town, at private “locations,” hotels, restaurants, the 1111 Lincoln Road garage and the ICA temporary space in the Moore Building. Developer Alan Faena threw a breezy beachside asado. Jeffrey Deitch, Tommy Hilfiger and V Magazine hosted a glitzy bash at the Raleigh featuring a performance by Miley Cyrus.

In the Design District, developer Craig Robins hosted a dinner honoring architect Peter Marino at a single, 142-yard candlelit table for 380 guests on a closed-off street amid the district’s luxury brand storefronts. Sculptor Jaume Plensa was the guest of honor at another long candlelit table — this one for 60 — in the Coconut Grove sales offices of Park Grove, which recently installed a series of his works along South Bayshore Drive.

Alas, once again, manners were not de rigueur among the glossy set. At some parties, guests of guests turned up with entirely uninvited guests. For other tony soirees, publicists emailed out “disinvitations” to previously invited guests, obliquely sending the message that someone more glamorous would be taking those seats.

Decorous or not, during art week, the energy all emanates from the week’s namesake fair, said Dennis Scholl, VP/Arts at the Knight Foundation. “The most important thing to remember is why this week exists, and that’s Art Basel in the Convention Center. If that wasn’t the core of what’s going on — if it weren’t a world-class event — nobody else would be interested in being involved. It continues to be the raison d’être of this week.”

In the Convention Center, at what Scholl called “the core of the nuclear reactor,” many gallerists were quite happy, thank you very much.

Veteran Art Basel Miami Beach gallerist Sean Kelly said Wednesday was his best first day ever at the fair. Newcomer Michael Jon Gallery also sold almost all of its available work — by rising stars like Sayre Gomez and JPW3 — on the first day.

For most dealers, sales remained lively, day after day. At Galerie Gmurzynska, co-CEO Mathias Rastorfer proclaimed it “successful indeed … . In terms of reception, it was an overwhelmingly enthusiastic response from collectors and colleagues alike. In terms of sales, we did several over $1 million sales and many within the $100,000 to $500,000 range, with a Picasso’s Venus and Love selling at near the asking price of $1.2 million.

Said Art Basel Director Marc Spiegler on Saturday, “I’ve gotten nothing but positive response from galleries,” not only because of strong sales, but also because new hours for VIPs gave gallerists more time to meet new collectors. “A lot of people were here and buying for the first time. Many galleries said they had their best fair ever.”

But like this week’s weather, the upbeat atmosphere suffered from uncharacteristic clouds. In Wynwood, a police car hit and critically injured a street artist. An $87,000 silver plate crafted by Pablo Picasso was reported stolen from the Art Miami satellite fair in Midtown. A partygoer at PAMM’s first anniversary fête on Thursday accidentally damaged an artwork installed on the floor. And Friday night, would-be art goers were stymied by traffic shutdowns into art-centric areas of Wynwood, Midtown and Miami Beach by protests against nationwide police-involved killings.

Though unfortunate and sometimes tragic, Spring said, the unrelated events were “a product of the incredible level of activity.” At Saturday’s annual brunch at the art-rich Sagamore Hotel in Miami Beach, the theft and damaged artwork uniformly were brushed off as inconsequential. Said one art insider, “s–t happens.”

Miami Art Week’s merry-go-round nature is surely born from Miami’s appreciation of a good time. And increasingly, perhaps from something deeper.

Said Miami gallerist Jumaane N’Namdi, “Art Basel has put art on everyone’s mind. Everyone wants to be involved somehow.”

And that’s not just about the parties, said N’Namdi, who had galleries in Chicago, New York and Detroit before opening in Miami. “I don’t think you could find a city that enjoys really looking at the art the way this city does. I came through the airport, and even the TSA guys were talking about it, asking each other if they got their Art Basel posters. Every level of art you want is here.”

Outsiders agree. “Miami is very special for its link between art and the community,” said Axelle de Buffévent, style director at champagne house Martell Mumm Perrier-Jouët. “It goes both ways. The community rallies around art creating a unique energy. And art dynamises the community, in a very unique way.”
Miami Herald – Daily Newspaper – (Posted December 6, 2014) –

VIDEO: Art Basel Miami Beach 2014 –

Published on Dec 4, 2014
The international art fair Art Basel returns to Miami Beach for its 13th edition, taking place at the Miami Beach Convention Center from December 4 to December 7, 2014. Art Basel  Miami Beach 2014 features 267 leading international galleries from 31 countries across North and South America, Europe, Asia and Africa, which present artworks ranging from Modern masters to the latest contemporary art pieces. With this edition, the fair debuts Survey, a new sector dedicated to art-historical projects. In this video, we attend the Private View of Art Basel Miami Beach 2014 at the Miami Beach Convention Center on December 3.

This story aligns with the book Go Lean…Caribbean in stressing the economic impact of artistic endeavors. The book pledges that Caribbean society will be elevated by improving the eco-system to live, work and play; and that “play” covers vast areas of culture.

“Culture” has emerged as a central concept in anthropology, encompassing the range of human phenomena that cannot be directly attributed to genetic inheritance. Specifically, the term “culture” in North American anthropology has two meanings:

  1. the evolved human capacity to classify and represent experiences with symbols, and to act imaginatively and creatively; and
  2. the distinct ways that people, who live differently, classified and represented their experiences, and acted creatively.[2]

Anthropologist Adamson Hoebel best describes culture as an integrated system of learned behavior patterns which are characteristic of the members of a society and which are not a result of biological inheritance.[3]

The Go Lean book stresses economic benefits from classic cultural expressions and popular cultural productions, including Caribbean music, paintings/art, sketches, sculptures, books, fashion and food. All the “skilled phenomena” that makes Caribbean life unique and appealing.

The book Go Lean…Caribbean serves as a roadmap for the introduction and implementation of the technocratic Caribbean Union Trade Federation (CU). There is a lot involved in this vision; the prime directives are stated as follows:

  • Optimization of the economic engines in order to grow the regional economy to $800 Billion & create 2.2 million new jobs.
  • Establishment of a security apparatus to protect the resultant economic engines.
  • Improve Caribbean governance to support these engines.

CU Blog - Art Basel Miami - a Testament to the Spread of Culture - Photo 2The foregoing article relates the economic impact that the Greater Miami area is enjoying for hosting the Art Basel event, for the 13th year now. At this point the benefits have spread throughout the community, (Art Fairs, museums, scholarships, foundations, etc.) not just one venue on Miami Beach. The spin-off benefit of art is a strong point of the Go Lean book, highlighting benefits as long as we keep the talent at home working in/for the community. This point is pronounced early in the following statements in the book’s opening Declaration of Interdependence (Page 14):

xxi. Whereas the preparation of our labor force can foster opportunities and dictate economic progress for current and future generations, the Federation must ensure that educational and job training opportunities are fully optimized for all residents of all member-states, with no partiality towards any gender or ethnic group. The Federation must recognize and facilitate excellence in many different fields of endeavor, including sciences, languages, arts, music and sports. This responsibility should be executed without incurring the risks of further human flight, as has been the past history.

xxxii. Whereas the cultural arts and music of the region are germane to the quality of Caribbean life, and the international appreciation of Caribbean life, the Federation must implement the support systems to teach, encourage, incentivize, monetize and promote the related industries for arts and music in domestic and foreign markets. These endeavors will make the Caribbean a better place to live, work and play.

The economic, cultural and image considerations for “show business” on a society have been well-detailed in these previous Go Lean blogs:

Caribbean Role Model – Oscar De La Renta – RIP
How ‘The Lion King’ roared into history
Forging Change – The Fun Theory
Role Model Berry Gordy – No Town Like Motown
Book Review: ‘Chasing Youth Culture and Getting It Right’
The Music, Art, Culture and Legend of Bob Marley lives on!

The Go Lean roadmap posits that change will come to the Caribbean “show business” (Visual and Performing Arts, Music, Film). This is due mostly to the convergence of a Single Market for the Caribbean region. If “size matters”, then the integration of 42 million people (plus the 10 million Diaspora and 80 million visitors) for the 30 member-states will create the consumer markets to promote and foster Caribbean artistic creations for their full appreciation. The first requirement in this goal is the community ethos of valuing intellectual property; to recognize that other people’s creations are valuable. (Then we can enforce on others to value and appreciate our creations).

This would truly be new for the Caribbean.

The CU is designed to do the heavy-lifting of organizing Caribbean society for the new world of art appreciation and “consumerization”. The following list details the ethos, strategies, tactics, implementations and advocacies to foster regional artists and showcase their wares to the world stage:

Community Ethos – Forging Change Page 20
Community Ethos – Lean Operations Page 24
Community Ethos – Return on Investments Page 24
Community Ethos – Ways to Foster Genius Page 27
Community Ethos – Help Entrepreneurship Page 28
Community Ethos – Promote Intellectual Property Page 29
Strategy – Caribbean Vision: Single Market Page 45
Separation of Powers – Central Bank – Electronic Payment Deployments Page 73
Tactical – Separation of Powers – Patents – Copyrights Page 78
Separation of Powers – Culture Administration Page 81
Planning – Ways to Make the Caribbean Better Page 131
Planning  – Lessons Learned from   New York City Page 137
Advocacy – Ways to Grow the Economy Page 151
Advocacy – Ways to Create Jobs Page 152
Advocacy – Education – Performing Arts Schools Page 159
Advocacy – Ways to Impact Hollywood Page 203
Advocacy – Ways to Improve the Arts Page 230
Advocacy – Ways to Promote Music Page 231
Advocacy – Impact Urban Living – Art & Theaters Page 234
Appendix – New York / Arts / Theater Jobs Page 277
Appendix – Taos New Mexico Art Colony Page 291
Appendix – Caribbean Music Genres Page 347
Appendix – Protecting Music Copyrights Page 351

There is BIG money in show business and in the world of the Arts. For the 10th edition of Art Basel in Miami in 2011, there was a record number of fifty thousand collectors, artists, dealers, curators, critics and art enthusiasts – including 150 museum and institutions from across the globe – participating in the show.[4]

This event requires a lot of community investments. Every year, Miami’s leading private collections – among them the Rubell Family Collection, Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation, the De la Cruz Collection Contemporary Art Space, World Class Boxing, the Margulies Collection and the Dacra Collection – open their homes and warehouses to guests of Art Basel. Additionally, the museums of South Florida organize exhibitions including shows at the Miami Art Museum, Bass Museum of Art, Norton Museum, Wolfsonian-FIU and MOCA North Miami.

The community investment has been there for Miami, and so has the returns [5].For 2014, the attendance figures were 75,000, with an increase in hotel occupancy of 30,000 rooms on the days the Art Fair is in progress. The conservative estimates are that the Art Fair brings close to $13 million a year in economic impact to the region. (This figure does not include the purchases of artworks, some of which fetch millions of dollars).

The subject of the Miami Metropolitan area is very relevant for a Caribbean empowerment discussion. A previous blog asserted that Miami’s success, in many regards, is attributable to Caribbean’s failures. Many of our populations (including artists) have fled their homelands and have taken refuge in the Miami area. Where at first this disposition was begrudged, eventually it transformed to tolerance, but now it is even celebrated.

CU Blog - Art Basel Miami - a Testament to the Spread of Culture - Photo 3

Miami has been greatly impacted by both the Caribbean Diaspora and its assimilation of the “Arts”. Whole neighborhoods have been elevated due to this strategy of catering to the arts; (see photo here). This is a great role model for the Caribbean to emulate; our whole society can be elevated.

The Go Lean/CU roadmap represents the empowerment for the Caribbean communities to elevate – we now want to keep our artists at home. The people, institutions and governance of the region are therefore urged to “lean-in” to this roadmap for change. 🙂

Download the book Go Lean … Caribbean – now!


Appendix – Source References:

1. STEM = Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

2. “What is culture?”. Retreived 2013-03-29.

3. Hoebel, Adamson (1966). Anthropology: Study of Man. McGraw-Hill.




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