When creative activations and art fairs produced by Art Africa, NO COMMISSION, AfriCOBRA, and PRIZM claimed space adjacent to Art Basel Miami Beach then attracted collectors, scholars and admired artists, Black Basel was born.  The intellectual and creative void their presence fills also creates access for communities, curators and artists that feel priced out of the main event at the Miami Beach Convention Center.

For most of its 20 years, Art Basel Miami Beach has been billed as a 3-day event, though it easily commands a full week (Nov. 28 – Dec. 4, 2022) due to the dizzying array of satellite art fairs, hotel activations, museum unveilings, designer collaborations, private parties, and celeb performances to experience.

Cover image: ‘Soundsuits’ by Nick Cave at Art Basel Miami Beach. Photo by Sean Drakes.

Barbadian artist Sheena Rose, whose career is on fire following coverage by The New York Times and Vogue, scored commissions for her vibrant, acrylic-based murals from institutions in  Des Moines, Iowa (2022) and Washington, D.C. (2019).  “When I first saw Miami Beach, I was impressed by the tents and the way they presented the artists’ work.  I exhibited in PRIZM and felt honored to exhibit with artists from the Black Diaspora.”  She says her most “surreal and exciting” encounter was when tennis legend Venus Williams purchased her drawing at a Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation auction.  “I do get overwhelmed with the tons of activities, but [Basel Week] is great for networking.”

Word-of-mouth reports are pivotal to attracting Caribbean artists to investigate showing during Art Basel Miami Beach.  In 2021, art educator April Bey (Bahamas) appeared on “This Week in Caribbean Art and Culture“, a Sugarcane Magazine podcast hosted in the Convention Center, and Jeffrey Meris (Haiti) installed his multidisciplinary work at NADA Miami.  The stimulating mixed media art by Ebony G. Patterson (Jamaica) is always a show-stopper, and Hew Locke, of Guyanese heritage, has had a striking assemblage of replica sea vessels suspended in the foyer at PAMM for multiple Basel seasons.

Nyugen Smith (NYC), Zak Ové (UK), Miles Regis (LA), Wendell McShine (NYC), Christopher Cozier and Peter Sheppard lead the delegation from Trinidad & Tobago who have exhibited at various fairs during Basel Week. 

Artists Peter Sheppard (TT) and Ebony G. Patterson (JA) at UNTITLED art fair at Art Basel Miami Beach. Ph: Getty Images

Sheppard positioned his award-winning miniature paintings “in a couple fairs as a stepping stone to have my work seen, if not sold.”  He explains, “I looked for galleries [with] ties to the Caribbean Diaspora.” While one gallery charged him a wall rental fee, another invited him to show.  “Most galleries selectively feature works from artists they represent and are confident will sell.”

Beyond Black Basel, these two Miami institutions showcase artists of the African Diaspora year-round: Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami and Little Haiti Cultural Center.  During Basel Week you can also discover the brilliance of the Diaspora among the collection at Rubell Museum and NADA Miami near the trendy Wynwood Arts District, PAMM and Art Miami a short distance from touristy Bayside Park, and under massive tents raised on the sands of Miami Beach you can explore Untitled and SCOPE.

Many celebs jet to Miami to host Basel parties, but none get it lit like Swizz Beatz.  His NO COMMISSION x Bacardi collab, which launched in 2015 with a free concert featuring the incomparable Alicia Keys, remains the hottest ticket.  Other headliners over the years include Busta Rhymes, Chronixx and Meek Mill, often with a stack of celebs viewing from the rafters.

In lieu of having a Black Basel app to map your moves in Miami, drop the names of art fairs mentioned above in your social media search to locate experiences that will elevate your Basel Week.

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