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Art Basel Brings Over 200 International Galleries And The Hottest Parties To Miami

Lee Fryd

Russell Simmons & Venus Williams at the Rush Foundation Art for Life Charity Auction. (Photo: Richard Alvarez)

Martha Stewart. (Photo: Lee Fryd)

Art Basel doesn't just happen in Miami Beach, it takes it over, electrifying its heart and clogging its arteries. Ancillary art fares dot the island. Parties range from exclusive soirees to block and beach fests. Gallery and store events stretch from Vizcaya in South Miami to the Spinello Project in the North. Hotels and restaurants get in the game. And locals wait for it to end, so they can once again drive to their Pilates on the Beach classes in peace.

Martha Stewart, Barbra Streisand, Madonna, Bon Jovi, Andy Cohen, Calvin Klein, Donna Karan, Serena Williams, Karolina Kurkova, Maxwell, Brittny Gastineau, Paul Sevigny, Chaka Khan and Alexandra Richards are just a sample of those who made the scene.

"Was there art there?" Mira Lehr, one of the few local artists with enough gravitas to be included, responded to our query. We know she spent hours walking the exhibit. What moved her? "There were beautiful Dubuffets, Marino Marini's, and a smattering of gorgeous Matisses all around the room. I also was struck by Sean Scully and rising star Stanley Witney's geometric abstractions. The new things didn't hit me as amazing, but that's where the edge is."

Brittny Gastineau and Harif Guzman. (Photo: World Red Eye)

There were 269 leading international galleries, drawn from 29 countries across North and South America, Europe, Asia and Africa. Local galleries tend to grumble they are excluded. But, this is not a celebration of local art. UBS is the fair's major partner at its Miami Beach Convention Center site.

We ran into Lehr - one of a handful of local artists to merit inclusion - during the first exclusive preview hours in the UBS Basel VIP room, where she and East Hampton gallery owner Janet Lehr were trying to decide if they were related. Other Hamptonites we spied: Janna and Zoe Bullock, Robin and Dom D'Alleva, Wendy Federman, Beth Rudin DeWoody, Randi Schatz, Jean Shafiroff, Leesa Rowland and Larry Wohl. R Couri Hay, Norah Lawlor, Nadine Johnson and Patrick McMullan commandeered many key events proving, again, that New Yorkers consider Miami a satellite destination just as they do the Hamptons.

They - and Miami Media Maven Tara Solomon - filled our in boxes with more events than possible to attend. Couri and Tara helmed Nick Korniloff's Art Miami and Art Context opening night that kicks off the week and Art Aqua the following eve.

Jeff Harakal and Tim Rodgers. (Photo: World Red Eye)

Tara Ink commandeered FAENA BAZAAR, at Faena, with daily events - including Carlos Betancourt's monumental participatory pinata "The Pelican Passage" - that kept the hotel sizzling. Other invites from Tara Ink included the Brickell City Centre's collaboration with United Talent Agency, with a live performance by MOTHXR, featuring lead singer Penn Badgley (aka Gossip Girl's resident Lonely Boy); Whitewall Magazine and EAST, Miami's event where Brittny Gastineau danced to music spun by Paul Sevigny; Art on Rivington + Domingo Zapata; Alec Monopoly and TAG Heuer's unveiling of the new TAG Heuer Art Provocateur 100-foot mural/"tag" artwork at the Mondrian, Thomas Jirgen's jewelry collection farewell toast at the Forge; and of course, the hottest ticket in town: an evening of music, art and mischief at Faena Forum hosted by Madonna, where the cheapest seats went for $5,000.

Liz Cohen, Scott Currie and Jill Brooke. (Photo: Lee Fryd)

At the yearly Rush Foundation Art for Life Charity Auction hosted by Russell Simmons, Danny Simmons, Sam Nazarian and Jorge M. Pérez, Venus Williams was bidding away. Liz Cohen, Scott Currie and Jill Brooke invited us to cocktails for Galerie Magazine. Patricia Field debuted an Art Fashion Pop Up and Runway Presentation at the White Dot Gallery in Wynwood.

The bash at the Wolfsonian FIU Museum in South Beach filled its floors. Director Tim Rogers guided us through the Modern Dutch Design exhibit on the third floor and the Christie Van der Haak "More is More" site specific exhibition on the ground floor that echoed the iconic Dutch design book covers she found in the Wolfsonian FIU library. "For me, it's unbelievable that I come from Holland to Miami," she told us, "to find the library filled with the Dutch books I read all my life."

Nadine Johnson's events included: the X Contemporary at Nobu Hotel and The Setai Miami Beach kick off with Gaetano Pesce and Hosts Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn and Paul Johnson.

Jean Shafiroff and Randi Schatz. (Photo: Lee Fryd)

Conceived before 9/11 and thereby delayed a year, Art Basel - and Miami - have come a long way since then. Today, one gives the other its beaches, hotels, clubs. The other gives Miami international art cache.

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