FIU increasingly involved in Art Basel

By: Brooke Wertman/Staff Writer

Football fans bide their time all year waiting for the Super Bowl, baseball enthusiasts count down to the World Series and tennis buffs have a summer full of tournaments to keep them entertained. But what about those who feel compelled to create, like those who feel a paint brush or a camera is an extension of their arm, and could easily squander a sunny afternoon in a museum? For them, there is Art Basel.

Art Basel Miami, a four-day convention dedicated to all things art, is the sister event of the original Art Basel, which takes place in Switzerland every year.

Photo Courtesy of the Associated Press

Art Basel attracts collectors, designers, curators and critics from around the world, providing panels and lectures on design, architecture, art and fashion. As one of the largest contemporary art fairs, the event takes place over many days and in multiple locations, including Miami Beach, Lincoln Road, the Design District, Wynwood, Midtown and the University’s Modesto Maidique Campus.

Throughout the years the University has become increasingly involved in the festivities and will be hosting several events this year in conjunction with Art Basel.

The first of these will take place on the night of Nov. 30 at the Ritz Carlton in South Beach. The hotel will be hosting the Masters’ Mystery Art Show, an international annual art event featuring over 1,000 artworks by more than 500 artists from 31 countries.

By attending this event, guests can admire and purchase works of art while taking a guess at the artist that created it, as each piece is signed on the back instead of the front.

The event raises funds for the University’s MFA in Studio Art program, while providing exposure for both internationally-recognized and newly-emerging artists.

On Dec. 1, the art galleries at the Miami Beach Convention Center open to the public. This attraction will be open daily from noon until 8 p.m. and will feature works from over 260 leading galleries from North America, Europe, Latin America, Asia and Africa.

The collection of works is by more than 2,000 artists of the 20th and 21st centuries.

On Dec. 2, at night, Wolfsonian-FIU will host a party in honor of their new exhibit — Liberty, Equality and Fraternity —  as part of Art Basel. The exhibit will explore the ways French design has embodied the French motto “liberte, egalite, fraternite.”

On Dec. 3, in the evening, patrons of music can enjoy a free concert at the Betsy Hotel in South Beach provided by the University’s New Music Ensemble, under the direction of Jason Calloway. University students will play a variety of songs by Latin American composers and finish the night with a piece by John Zorn, titled “Cobra.”

“It was his way of creating a piece of music based on game theory,” said Calloway. “When they play the piece, instead of directing them, it will be more like loosely controlled improv. It’s something that has to be seen to really be appreciated.”

The Frost Art Museum will host its annual Breakfast in the Park on Dec. 4, where guests can enjoy a complimentary breakfast, receive tours of the museum and sculpture park and listen to a guest lecturer.

“Each year, we invite a noted sculptor to explain all about their art and why they do what they do,” said Amy Pollack, who works for the Special Projects department at the Frost Art Museum.

This year’s sculptor will be Joel Perlman, an artist who works with the mediums of steel, bronze, copper and aluminum, and through his work explores the ideas of weight, danger, negative space and monumentality.

Art Basel is also an excellent opportunity for newly-emerging artists to make their mark. Several University art students will be showing their work as part of events surrounding Art Basel.

Thesis I and Thesis II students will be exhibiting works in the small installation galleries at the MBUS Gallery on Lincoln Road. “I’m very excited for them,” said Professor Pip Brant. “Many of them have shown before, but it’s a wonderful opportunity.”

These students draw their inspiration from a variety of sources. Lauren Webb Harris, a senior who will be showcasing some of her photography at the gallery, finds beauty in forsaken machinery and the areas around them.

“I am drawn to the unsettling variety of noises and the industrial stench. The work I plan on showing at the MBUS show is a representation of the industrial landscape of Clewiston, Florida, and the families that live and work there,” Harris said.

With an overwhelming amount to offer, it would be impossible to see and participate in every part of Art Basel. To plan ahead, people can download Art Basel’s new app for their iPhones, iPads, Android and BlackBerry devices, and browse the galleries and artists on view.

People can also find further information about the museum shows, events and exhibitions throughout Miami to try to get the most out of the weekend. After that, like all other fanatics, the creative at heart will just have to wait patiently for next year.

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