You will miss the big Tomatina taking place in August in Spain and in Februar in Miami, but while you are shifting your weight from one stiletto to the other watching the booth or talking to some random suit, you can fantasize about walking on a mash of cool, red, disintegrating tomatoes. You will feel so much better. The annual Flying Tomato Bash takes place in Tobacco Road by the way, apparently the oldest bar in town, which you will find just after the bridge to Brickel Av on Miami Av. Worth going? Maybe. A mixture of 8mm meets White Trash.
THE OTHER MIAMI
It might be hard to believe, watching ladies necklines plunge as deep and skirts rise as high as the city's real estate market, but there is more to Miami than meets the eye. Way more.
As the art world gliteratti, the less gliteratti and well just about anyone is boarding towards the sun, here is a list of things which might prove useful to you in navigating the city and/or when you need a break from the art-mainstream path. And you will need a re-charge, probably even sooner than your iphone.
No shame, no sophistication (oh no, none of this European nonsense), no bra! - I am in Miami bitch! Dec 2012
Miami (for art purposes) stretches on to three districts South beach (Art Basel+Delano+Soho+most parties), North beach (NADA fair+Nada pool party) and the mainland, or else the place you did not make it because you did not want to pay the taxi fare.
You should though because this is where it gets interesting. Mainland or downtown Miami is where the so-called (quite misleadingly) Designer District, or gallery district is. There are no petit boutiques here, but huge graffiti filled warehouses, half of which sell cheap mass-produced clothes and the other half expensive, mass-produced artworks. You can skip both.
Visit the collections, Rubell Family Collection and the De La Cruz both impressive, both also have a residency, the second you can also apply for. If you can find a moment during your VIP tour hop in the Miami History museum. Offers a great insight on the development of the city and you will feel better afterwards knowing all this kitsch might not have an end, but it does have a beginning. All the collections and museums are free with a Press or VIP pass.
De La Cruz collection, free all year around, with a very friendly staff that will follow you around and will be happy for a chat and an artist selection that matches my imaginary collectors list almost perfectly.
You can bike from South Beach to Downtown Miami in around 15min, almost car and stress free, through the Venetian Causeway and its six little islands, called like that because...well it kind of looks like it- also people living here, reach their homes using little boats. I heard that if you get invited to a party here, you should definitely go. You can rent a bike quite easily and you can take your bike in almost every four, five or no star hotel room and elavator.
Santeria or Voodoo or Lukumi is a syncretic religion of West African and Caribbean origin, some would say influenced by, some would say disguised under Roman Catholicism saint names and iconography. Most Loa (Haitian voodoo spirits) are associated with a Catholic Saint. If you see a statue of St Patrick for example it is a shrine for Damballa, the Sky God. This gets even more interesting when you hear that most Catholic saint statues are made hollow. This allows devotees to use them for stuffing more traditional Loa offerings inside. So people can be worshipping the statue, the contents or both. Very much like art and its market value. There is a big Cuban and Haitian community in Miami (Little Havana is just south of the Designer District and Little Haiti north). If you want to get rid of a rude collector, tell them to meet you there for brunch. Chances are you will not have to deal with them again.
There are countless of these little shrines around Miami, you just have to watch out for them. There is even a voodoo tree, typically enough "hidden" behind a Virgin Mary statue. Not to piss anyone off here, but you can find it on SW 1300 block, just off of Cache Ocho behind the WWI monument. Watch your step, yes these are bones.
Not far from Tobacco Road (oldest bar in town) is this building. If you are lying about your age, you should pretend you do not know what that is though.
Wake up early on the third or fourth day of the art fair and take a car to the Everglades, about an 45min drive west of Miami. The Everglades National Park is quite a huge swampland, home of -between other wild life- many a snoozing alligators. Snoozing at least during the day, which is when you should take one of the Indian Air boat rides available and get as close as feeding them. Things later in the day are apparently not as beginners- friendly. The Everglades are not a German colony, no, the flag is for the native American tribe Miccosukee, who are said to believe that life spins in a circle, beginning in the east, then north, west and south. The bands of color symbolize those points of the compass: yellow for east, red for north, black for west, and white for south. They also sell very cheap cigarettes.
Another type of natural environment for wild life, you might also enjoy a ride down Brickel Avenue, the bank, hotel, throughout insane architecture and later on villas street. Madonna lives on Nr 3029.
What else, if you have a bike and free time you can go swimming and exploring on Key Biskaine, there are actually quite a few bikes paths.
You can smoke in Miami and cigarettes are quite cheap.
Delano also has a beach door. Just saying.
Pack dresses that work with quite a bit of wind and can take up some sand.
Because it is windy and you will end up on the beach.
When you do, watch your bag. And your back probably.
Thanks to scouters, friends and fellow artists Steven Gagnon and Philip Topolovac, without whom I would know only the Madonna address.