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Citysumer Innovation: Miami Does Art Basel

As associate Reinier Evers, founder of, has noted in his recent trend report on Citysumer, urban areas are reinventing and reinvigorating themselves. With a focus on URBAN BOOM, URBAN MIGHT, and the spread of URBANE values the future is about the city, and I believe this is true.

If a city really knows itself and supports its natural, inherent, innovative, and pragmatic talents it will do well. This has been my passion of late and while I am taking a look at various cities, it seems to come down to the relationship between grassroot communal support and the business and political 'powers that be' around that support.

"If my town does well I do well." I am stuck on supporting the field of influence we reside in, be it the company we work for, the community we share, the country or countries we call home, or the families we are connected to and wish well. The word "town" takes on a broader meaning in our newer and more complex, connected lives. I believe this IS how we will do well into the future—through unified fields of support—and by well, I mean feeling fulfilled in what we choose to do.

The power of playful grassroots is about meeting the needs of community and amplifying outward. Meaningful engagement is authentic and brings with it a healthy and natural amplification of story from person to person and social network to social network. This is a highly valued human movement within our market system that is built and cannot be bought.

How to rebuild a city around a core ability and natural passion? We are all doing it, taking steps, rediscovering the play and the magic of simple pleasures that ignite and grow. Last year Carl Hildebrand brought me in to do a Pecha Kucha talk within Miami's Art Basel during a time of economic difficulty, how did it go this year? Art Basel started out as one thing and is now shifting to cross class contribution, as we see below. Let's take a look.

Miami Does Art Basel Democratized & Mobile
by Carl Hildebrand, edited by Elizabeth Adams

Every first week of December some 50,000 art enthusiasts passionately invade Art Basel Miami Beach to indulge their senses in the world's best contemporary art. With the Miami Beach Convention Center as Creative and Innovation Headquarters, some 15 satellite fairs in massive white tents create what could be called ARTistan. While trooping from tent to tent, visual, social, and mobile trends emerged.

A little spray paint on the wall goes a long way in Miami's Wynwood Arts District where artist are the impetus behind the area's urban revitalization. Déjà vu Soho ... Primary Flight, the catalyst, has created the world's largest street level mural installation featuring over 250 world-class artists, the majority of whom travel to Miami for Art Basel. Wynwood (district) Walls is one street block not to be missed. Graffiti, or the politically correct term "Street Art," has come a long way, from the back seats of police cars to gracing the walls of the world's most important collections and museums. Everyone can claim this aspect of Art Basel as his or her own.

Buses, Bikes and Hummers
While Art Basel VIP's get the chauffeur treatment in black BMWs, 'Art Basel Edition' brought bicycle exploration and practicality to Art Basel's Wynwood district. Bicycle docents led guided tours through urban murals, bringing an intimate, playful and personal experience equated to a guided tour of the Louvre.

"This year is about growth - Miami is set in full motion and we are paving the way," said Books IIII Bischof, principal of Primary Flight. "Since our involvement, Wynwood has become a street art Mecca with legs of its own. It's time for Primary Flight to grow in new directions, per usual we are taking cue from ever-changing culture around us."

What about public transportation? Artbus had that covered. An itinerant exhibition space, Artbus presents video screenings, interventions and performances by international artists. Ordinary commutes are transformed, happily bypassing the banal public and private transportation experience.

Human Stats
Interestingly, #class #rank explored how "the Miami art fairs make literal the hierarchies within the contemporary art world and its detachment from broader society. The Miami fair events sort everyone—visitors, locals, and participants—into a highly stratified caste system based on which fair (if any) we are associated with; which color pass (if any) we are wearing; which parties we plan to attend; which day we arrive in Miami; if we are paying for our own plane ticket and place to stay; which neighborhood or hotel we are staying in; if and where we are showing or buying artwork; if we drive, get driven, or take the shuttle bus; and countless other ranking mechanisms."

From either an artist or collector point-of-view, it's a lively debate whether art is still a luxury commodity for the wealthy that limits access to ownership, participation and understanding for the majority of society, based on class, education, gender, and geography.

Next year, Art Basel Miami Beach will be celebrating its tenth anniversary and is destined to attract the masses no matter their caste, class, or mobility.

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