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Heading to Art Basel Miami Beach? Navigating all the events, fairs, exhibitions, pop-ups, and parties is a tall order. Let us give you some clarity. Here, the Surface Hotels guide to essential stops during the week.

By Tom Austin


Franklin Sirmans The former curator of contemporary art at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) is the new director of the Pérez Art Museum Miami.
“Over the years, I’ve come to Miami for Art Basel, but it’s a whole different ball game to actually live here. Most of my engagement with the city has been through art: At Midtown’s YoungArts (, for instance, I curated a show for this year’s Basel, Daniel Arsham’s sculptural ‘The Future Was Written’ (through Dec. 11). To me, the most remarkable neighborhood in Miami is Opa Locka, an Arabian Nights fantasy created in the 1920s. At The ARC ( , Tumelo Mosaka—who was co-curator of PAMM’s ‘Poetics of Relations’—has an amazing new visual show, ‘The Art of Transformation’ (on view through Dec. 11). In the evenings, I enjoy the food at the Aegean bistro Mandolin ( in the Design District.”  




David Grutman The kingpin of Miami nightlife oversees megaclubs Story, on South Beach, and LIV at the Fontainebleau. His newest venture is Komodo, an Asian restaurant and lounge on Brickell Avenue.
“During the day, I like to be out on my boat, a VanDutch 55, with people from LIV, everyone from Kanye West to Tiesto. If I’m around my house in Miami Beach, I’ll have lunch at Carrot Express ( I get a kick out of the LIV wrap, with turkey, kale, and avocado. For art, I go to the mixed-media gallery Now Contemporary Art ( One of their artists, Dante Dentoni, did LEGO-inspired sculptures for my house. During Art Basel, I’m usually at the Fontainebleau (, eating at Hakkasan ( or Scarpetta (, and, of course, hanging out at LIV (”

Philip Levine The recently re-elected mayor of Miami Beach is an old-school local, with roots that go back to the 1980s.

“Art Basel is always a great time—the only problem is deciding which event to attend. My favorite thing during Basel is our new free shuttle service ( between Miami and Miami Beach, with stops at the Miami Beach Convention Center and Midtown. Apart from the fairs, I’m a big fan of quieter—and more unusual—places. South Pointe Park (, with its new pier, is absolutely beautiful and relaxing, like going on a cruise. Ocean Terrace in North Beach is kind of a throwback to the old Ocean Drive of the 1980s, with real atmosphere: I really like Las Vacas Gordas (, an Argentine steakhouse with meat that’s off the charts. Everyone always asks me about Cuban food, and on Ocean Drive there’s Larios on the Beach ( owned by Gloria and Emilio Estefan. It’s a great Cuban restaurant, right in the middle of everything.”


The standard-bearer for multi-discipline art fairs sprawls out over the South Beach sand, just off Ocean Drive, and draws some 45,000 visitors. On hand this year, over 120 exhibitors and, for the 4th year, Feature, a showcase for photography. On Dec. 4, Scope is partnering with VH1 for an invite-only party at Nikki Beach, headlined by up-and-coming performers Mack Wilds and Lil’ Dicky.      






The contemporary art fair returns to Indian Beach Park for the second straight year after a long run in Wynwood. On the lineup: burgeoning talent like New York–based Jim Osman, who will display a Le Corbusier– inspired architectural work, a neon-sign installation by Texas-based Alicia Eggert and Mike Fleming, and “Conversations,” an inaugural dual-artist presentation.  






Art Basel
The most celebrated of the fairs is back with a new head of Americas, Noah Horowitz, formerly of New York’s Armory Show. Two hundred sixty seven of the world’s preeminent galleries will make the trip, including 29 that are making their debuts: White Space Beijing, Noga Gallery of Contemporary Art, and Beijing Art Now Gallery. Luxury fashion fans should make a point to stop at “Objets Nomades” at Louis Vuitton’s store in the Design District to see a new collection of foldable furniture and travel accessories, including the unveiling of a Marcel Wanders–designed lounge chair. The Conversations and Salon series will feature London’s Serpentine co-director Hans Ulrich Obrist on Friday; Obrist will then change chairs and moderate a talk between artist Alex Israel and author Bret Easton Ellis on the modern L.A. art scene.




Design Miami
From Dec. 2–6, Design Miami once again draws in the design world with its annual five-day forum of design, culture, and intellectual dialogue. This year, the fair boasts a number of first-time exhibitors from all over the globe: Beijing-based Gallery All, Galerie Philippe Gravier of Paris, Firma Casa of São Paulo, and Le Collection’Heure of Brussels, to name a few. Additionally, Parisian illustrator Pierre Le-Tan has been commissioned to create a series of sketches inspired by Miami that will be available for purchase at the fair and a selection of J. Crew stores. Design Miami is also partnering with the Harvard Graduate School of Design to present this year’s fair pavilion canopy.




Art Miami
Serious collectors head to the international-focused Art Miami in Wynwood, one of the most popular fairs during the week, to view 125 of the world’s leading galleries. Looking to scope the emerging artists scene? Sister fairs Context and Aqua Miami highlight works from the culture world’s rising stars. 









Faena Hotel Miami Beach
This year’s winner for grand hotel debut is Alan Faena’s luxury micro community, designed by Baz Luhrmann and Catherine Martin, and situated within the former Saxony Hotel. The property includes a 3,000-square-foot theater that puts on cabaret shows andgrill master Francis Mallmann’s Los Fuegos, his first and only United States restaurant. On top of a Foster + Partners condominium, the upcoming Faena Forum, an exhibition space, is designed by OMA. For Art Basel, the hotel will host public installations by Jim Denevan, Almudena Lobera, and Assume Vivid Astro Focus, (avaf), the visual and performance artist collective, who created a neo-disco roller rink, with Faena providing roller skates to the public.            

Miami Beach Edition
The star of last year’s Art Basel is a collaboration between hotelier Ian Schrager, who reinvented Miami Beach with his landmark Delano, and John Pawson and Yabu Pushelberg. Occupying the former Seville Hotel, the Edition’s flame still burns: It houses a Jean-Georges Vongerichten restaurant, an ice-skating rink, and a nightclub—consider it a Fontainebleau for the 21st century.  


1 Hotel & Homes South Beach
This environmentally sensitive partnership between Barry Sternlicht—the brains behind the W chain—and Richard LeFrak is all about boho hip: The hotel burned sage at the opening to instill good energy, every room has a water filtration system, and the room hangers, called “Love Letters,” are made from recycled paper.  As an added bonus, Tom Colicchio’s Beachcraft is one of the best restaurants in Miami, with accomplished dishes composed of feel-good natural ingredients and an airy, warm-wood design by Meyer Davis Studio.    


Nautilus, a Sixty Hotel
Jason Pomeranc’s latest hotel—originally designed by Morris Lapidus of Fontainebleau fame—opened recently on South Beach, bringing its urban cool to the ocean. For Basel, the hotel is displaying “Wonderwheel,” a graphic exhibition with pop-cultural impressions conceived by CURA and featuring such artists as Petra Cortright. Driftwood Room, with chef Alex Guamaschelli at the controls, has become an instant hit thanks to local staples like shrimp a la plancha and cobia crudo.

The Standard Spa, Miami Beach
The Shawn Hausman–designed Standard in Miami, known for its spa, starts the week off strong on Dec. 2 with a cocktail party hosted by graffiti artist André Saraiva (of the globally renowned nightclub Le Baron). Other events throughout the week include a book signing and celebration for documentary photographer Cheryl Dunn’s new book Festivals Are Good (Damiani), a Friday night soirée co-hosted by Stacey Bendet of fashion brand Alice and Olivia, and a Creative Time “lazy Sunday” BBQ.



Museums & Galleries

Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM)
Showing during Basel, “Nari Ward: Sun Splashed” (through Feb. 21) is the largest -ever retrospective of the artist’s found objects and sculptures. Supplementing the show, PAMM’s Verde restaurant, under the direction of chef Kaytlin Brakef ield, has added an art-conscious touch to honor the Jamaican heritage of Ward, creating a special menu with items like calabaza and corn soup.




Gallery Diet
The gallery recently left Wynwood, blazing a trail to Little Haiti and setting up shop in four stark-white buildings. On display: Ann Craven’s solo exhibition “I Like Blue,” which explores the intersection of landscape painting, conceptual art, and the passage of time, and “Trees in Oolite,” the gallery’s first-ever instillation of outdoor furniture, presented in the new courtyard.


Locust Projects
Showing at this non-profit experimental art space, run by Chana Budgazad Sheldon since 2009, “Martha Friedman: Pore” features an exhibition of new work by the Brooklyn-based artist, who will do four large-scale rubber “pours,” representing the four humors of blood, phlegm, yellow bile, and black bile. Vividly colored rubber will also encase dancer and choreographer Silas Riener, Friedman’s collaborator on “Pore.”          


Bass Museum of Art
Art Basel means more shows at BassX, a pop-up gallery space at the nearby Miami Beach Library: The Bass is undergoing a $7.5-million renovation and will reopen in fall of 2016. For Art Basel and beyond (Dec. 1 1-Jan. 10), BassX will present the United States premiere of “Sylvie Fleury: Camino del Sol,” a sound and dance performance by the Geneva-based artist. For “Camino del Sol,” a cast of female characters are wired with sensors that translate their movements into sound, which is then manipulated into a live composition by Fleury.


Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA)
Fresh from staging a benef it with Kim Gordon’s band Body/Head, the ICA is presenting a solo exhibition by video and performance artist Alex Bag, The Van (Redux)*, focused on a video installation conducted in a customized Dodge van parked inside the ICA.










Restaurants & Shops

(CLOCKWISE, FROM LEFT) Le Zoo. La Feria El Mercado de San Miguel. Michy's Michelle Bernstein. The Wolfsonian-FIU. A table and chair at the Delano pool. The new Hermès store in the Design District. 

Le Zoo
For his fourth Miami restaurant, prolific restaurateur Stephen Starr opened a French brasserie at the Bal Harbour Shops. Helmed by Craig Wallen, Le Zoo is inspired by a mythical French Riviera town, and is outfitted with midcentury lighting fixtures, rattan chairs, and ceilings made of wine corks. On the menu: scallops nicoise, trout amandine, and classic steak frites.

La Feria El Mercado de San Miguel
After a night at the PAMM, take a short walk to this pop-up market and restaurant from Spain’s historic food emporium in Madrid. The Miami satellite stays open through Jan. 31, and is all about Spanish artisanal food, from Manchego cheese to Andalusian-style calamari to Iberian ham.

Michelle Bernstein’s beloved upmarket pop-up is back for the third year in a row. Inside the Botanical Garden’s Banyan Room across from the convention center, she’ll be doling out her usual mix of tapas, including her signature braised short ribs with roasted root vegetables, and a range of international wines and well-executed cocktails.  

The Wolfsonian-FIU
On view at The Wolfsonian at Florida International University will be “Margin of Error,” an artistic nod to Murphy’s Law featuring artists like Man Ray and Margaret Bourke-White and curated by Matthew Abess. It’s also a one-stop shop with its boutique and café where museum goers can pick up kitsch-meets-cool wares, or enjoy a coffee.

The Delano
The Delano hotel will up its Art Deco digs during Art Basel with an installation-slash-pop-up shop by the MoMA Store. The display will feature skate decks adorned with Andy Warhol’s iconic “Campbell’s Soup Cans,” which will be for sale starting Dec. 2.

Miami’s burgeoning Design District is now the home of Hermès’s third U.S. flagship. The French fashion house just opened the doors of the three-story, 13,000-square-foot boutique. Instead of the usual accessories, the ground level hosts menswear and crystal brand Saint-Louis’s first shop-in-shop. Nods to the Magic City can be seen in a flamingo motif on silk scarves and stackable bangles. Outside, a glass facade is topped off with an Hermès horseman who flies two flags—made of Hermès scarves, of course.

Surface Hotels: Stay at the world’s best designed hotels—curated by the editors of Surface magazine.