Monday, December 21, 2009
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Gnoobs on parade- A first timer's recollection of Basel
So I found out I had gotten into a show around Art Basel- showing some work with Art Whino and doing a small installation. Specifically, two weeks prior- not much time, but too good of an opportunity to pass up. So my confidante Brandon Phillepson and I drove straight from Denver, leaving at 7pm on Saturday and getting into Miami around 1 in the afternoon Monday. Suffice to say, energy levels were through the roof.
From that point on, it was constant movement from 10am-4am every day, with maybe 2-3 hours of sleep a night.
The first night we met some new friends from Texas, and we explored our immediate surroundings- seeing Mac/Retna's massive wall from last year, one of Shepard Fairey's adwalls, the start of Os Gemos’s wall and finally Barry McGee's stunning building installation- complete with his trademark faces adorning nearby telephone poles and a demolished truck in front. Brandon and I scoured up some local flora to finish our installation, and we were in for the night.
Tuesday we finished up our installation pretty quickly, and began meeting the other artists with the show. Art Whino had rented out Charcoal Studios(right across from the Scope fair) for a massive group show, with a few artists doing installations as well. Hung out with new friends most of the day, and began painting the first of several outdoor walls that night after a bit of beverage consumption. It was a trip- there were cops everywhere, but no one batting an eye as we painted. They mostly kept the bums away from the fairs, and acted as 'security' in a slightly crooked manner. The homeless of Miami were very friendly, and made no qualms about their desire to work- we had no less than 4 ask us if they could help with painting in some regard. They loved the work too, the reactions as they saw various murals and installs was quite powerful.
Wednesday was the early bird opening for the fairs- it was great seeing everything come together and the art masses start descending upon the city. A friend and I went to Scope first, to begin total art over-stimulation. The people at the fairs were amazing to watch too- there were socialites, hipsters, bums sneaking in to look at the work, cute gallery girls(Jonathan Levine and Yves Laroche get honorable mentions), the gorgeous women of Miami, way more young kids looking at art than I've ever seen, and the artists themselves, quietly observing others take their work in. All told, there 20 different satellite fairs surrounding Basel, and I think I got a good look at four tops. Aqua was witnessed 3 times- the preview brunch(thanks Mark Murphy!), the Gen Art party, and Sunday afternoon. After the first Scope walk through, Brandon and I put up a few street installs across the way from Charcoal studios. There were these great 4x4 ft square window boxes in a row, so we filled them with leftover pieces of the installation- tapes, painted wooden blocks, moss and bits of detritus we'd picked up along our travels. The bums again marveled at this, and almost everything was snatched up by passerby’s within a half hour.
Wednesday night was the Primary Flight show in South Beach- we jumped in the back of a pickup and headed over. It was PACKED but fun. Props to The London Police and their hilarious Miami(Vice) themed piece. Got to meet Daryl Pierce, a gem of a dude currently hailing from Oakland. Later we went to the beach, and then got into the ridic after party in some posh South Beach hotel's courtyard. Open bar, Peanut Butter Wolf spinning, and more artists and random celebs than you could shake a stick at were there, getting their dance on.
Thursday the fairs were getting a bit more crowded, and the Art Whino crew setup at Urbanite Bistro to live paint during the day. Everyone had a 4x4 canvas and all the paint they desired courtesy of a generous donation via Utrecht. All painted throughout the day, and some of the graf guys started working on a wall across the street. I wandered over and had some fun- seeing if I could get a watercolor look to show up on brick/metal. It worked pretty well, and I spent the afternoon switching between that and my canvas piece. Gaia showed up and painted a gorgeous pigeon- apparently the 2nd time he's ever spray painted? Nice guy, very humble. Basel made the whole art world seem a lot smaller- lots of familiar faces like Charlie and Jamie Owens from Chicago, LC of Thinkspace and Cannibal Flower, David Smith and his gallery, and meeting many people I'd shown with previously. The camaraderie and genuine outgoing attitude of all there was amazing- I’ve never seen so many people excited about seeing and witnessing art being created.
Friday the fairs kicked into high gear- more out of towners came in, and Art Whino prepared for their big party. Brandon and I had been sleeping intermittently on couches at Charcoal, and occasionally a bed when offered, so we were starting to wear thin. The party went down and the outpouring of people was great. Saw some pals from Denver- Tom and Will from CMYK projects came by, Ancient Astronauts played through the night, and the beer flowed like wine.
Saturday Scotch, Supher, Justin Lavato and myself went to paint a big wall on nw Miami, only to find it had been claimed by some locals for some time. D'oh! So we went to the primary flight compound and got to paint a bit there. I again tried to do a watercolor sort of approach to the wall- I put maybe 10 hours in between Saturday and Sunday, and was pretty pleased with the results. Saw and got to meet Parskid and Tatiana, who did some amazing walls on either side of us. Mear One and Sketwere doing stuff, as were at least 30-40 other writers. Amazing to behold. Brandon came and painted Sunday while we finished up, and made a hilarious piece w a slight nod to Tatiana. Breaking down Sunday night, the crew we had formed over the last week was in disbelief our time was coming to an end. But all things must pass........
After some road troubles, we left Monday from Florida, and stopped by a few friends places on the way back to the middle. Brandon and I hung out in South Bend, and then I headed back to Chicago the next day for some r and r with the family. Nice to take a sabbatical every now and then. Overall, this trip was astounding. The connections made, the people met, the art itself, the atmosphere of it all was just- indescribable almost. Miami was like a Mecca, and I plan on continuing to make this trip for years to come.
Shout outs to Shane, Luz, Susannah, Oktawian, Lee f'ing Lovelace, Sondrah, Damali, Justin Lovato, Scotch, Supher(I thought you were Zephyr for 2 days dood- my bad), Charlie and Jamie Owens, Brent Houzenga, Michelle, Brandon Hill, Rob Fogle, Jo Ka, GAIA, Daryl Pierce, Drew, LC/Andrew(thanks for checking the show out!),Zara , Vikah, Dave Lowell, Sunny, the Ancient Astronauts, Tes One, Bask, Mear One, ,Scott Brooks, Arabella, Chris Sheridan, Herm, Nik(congrats on the move dood), Adrian Roman, Reuben, Damian, Nishi, Jason Snyder,Morten Anderson Dustin Spagnola, Sylvia Ortiz, new art buyers, and anyone else I might have forgotten. Biggest shoutouts and smooches to Bradnon Phillepson , my co-install-collaborator, and the best road warrior a fella could ask to have along. PROPS.