Art Basel Miami Beach Celebrates 10 Years: An Artist's Perspective

Overwhelming might be the word to describe my visit to Art Basel Miami Beach and the satellite art fairs. I had come to see the art, and their Website was very helpful as I was able to download the app with the gallery information and map out what I wanted to see before I got there. I spent the first eight hours Wednesday walking through the exhibit of over 250 galleries of 20th and 21st century art at the Miami Convention Center. This is not a one-day visit exhibit as there is so much going on -- including the other satellite art fairs. The weather is beautiful and the international crowd and energy of the art exhibit is palpable. The international flair is evident by the many languages I overheard.

As I have hung many exhibits of my own work I am always interested in how the galleries present the art. There was a wide range from stark, Chelsea style to galleries like Galerie Thomas from Munich complete with wall-to-wall carpeting and painted walls to enhance the art. It was very effective. Contrast that to Haroon Mirza's Electric Vacuum which I viewed with two sound artists who said the work was probably meant for an institution instead of a private collection as the noise would drive one crazy.

I would definitely recommend comfortable walking shoes. I was there when the fair opened -- it was quite a scene with the media out in front trying to get photos of opening day. Channel 7 in Miami asked to follow me around but I was really intent on navigating the space before everyone else caught up. I veered off to the right heading to the far end of the space so I could view the artwork in relative peace. I was impressed with the international crowd -- a strong South American presence is to be expected in Miami but there were lots of Europeans as well, with a strong showing of gallery representation from those locations.

There is plenty of scene if you are into scene. I enjoyed visiting with friends, colleagues and collectors. After a day in the galleries it was refreshing to see Art Public -- sculptures and performance projects lit up at night in Collins Park and the reception at the Bass Museum. The scene was upstairs but there were some pieces of Renaissance art from the Bass Museum permanent collection on view downstairs with superb lighting offering a space to center after such frenetic stimulation.

I returned to Art Basel Miami Beach the next day and then to Art Miami which did not have the crowds. I had seen the private collections on a previous visit to Miami but they are well worth the visit. An excellent selection of talks, videos, studio visits are offered over the four day fair -- too many treats and not enough time.

And, of course, the backdrop of warm, sunny Miami in December makes everybody happy.

Follow Barbara Ernst Prey on Facebook.