Which Art Fair is Best for You

Article by: Chip Conley|@ChipConley

Fri November 30, 2012 | 00:00 AM

For the uninitiated, Art Basel Miami can be dizzying. Yes, there’s the big show at the Miami Beach Convention Center. It’s particularly international and huge in scope, but I promise you’ll enjoy your experience more if you check out the more than 25 satellite art fairs that set up shop – often taking over all the hotel rooms in a beachside motor lodge. Here’s a review of a half-dozen to consider:

NADA Art Fair: This may be the most prestigious and exclusive of all those outside the Convention Center, which also translates into the most expensive art. Definitely worth it if you’re a serious collector or want to see and be seen.

Aqua at the Aqua Hotel: Our friend Dirk started this quirky fair and this “little engine that could” has become a must-see for the more bohemian, West Coast art aficionados plus it’s within walking distance of the Lincoln Road mall if you need a break from the art crowd.

Design Miami: If you enjoy your art with a fair dose of intellectual content then this is your global forum for design conversation, especially with an architectural component. The art tent is an exercise in experimental architectural design.

Verge: Another hotel art fair – at the Essex House and Clevelander Hotels – focused on emerging art. A little slicker and East Coast focused as compared to the Aqua Fair. This one has free admission while Aqua charges $10 to get in.

Art Miami: The Wynwood district has a collection of art fairs (including artMRKT), but Art Miami is the premiere anchor of this midtown area. It’s the original and longest-running contemporary art fair in Miami and tends to be populated by a more established art crowd.

Pulse: This cutting-edge fair emerged soon after Art Basel came to Miami and it’s one of the more respected hip, cooler fairs. Beyond the art for sale, there are original cultural programs, a video lounge and performance art.

And Art Collecting is a great website that can be a guide for all the various satellite fairs.