Artists are the New Pop Stars @ Art Basel Miami

The art world came out of their respective black-filled closets last week and inevitably mixed business with pleasure, proving that being in ART is the best place to be, especially if it happens to be on Miami beach when the rest of the country is cold and rainy. Art Basel is a back to back to back string of art fairs, parties, dinners, pool crashing and beaching it — the biggest challenge of the the week was figuring out which party was happening NOW — and I was there living it up.

art basel

There were upper crust celebrities on hand, including Miley Cyrus, celebrity collector Swizz Beatz, Drake, P. Diddy, Paris and Nikki Hilton, Kim Kardashian, Real Housewife of NYC Jill Zaron, Solange (Beyonce’s little sister in case you live under a rock) and contemporary artists that are quickly rising to celeb status. But it was the artists that felt like the new pop stars, as they should be!  They are offering fresh content, endless collaborative potential and most importantly, they don’t have to fake it — they’re actually cool. Maybe, as a culture, we’re drifting away from the Kardashian-effect? I won’t hold my breath, but will for sure be crossing my fingers.

Hopping from Art Basel to Untitled to Scope to all the other fairs right on the beach, it was hard not to feel privileged.  There’s nothing like partying poolside in five star resorts, drinking expensive cocktails for free.99 and having an endless stream of eye candy, whether high brow art or overly tanned hotties on the beach.  This scene would never ever get old and in fact I wish I was still there now.

Early in the week Miley Cyrus hosted a party with Jeffrey Deitch and Tommy Hilfiger at The Raleigh Hotel, recently purchased by Hilfiger. Besides for the Jeremy Scott and Moschino party, it was THE event to be at and be scene.

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Deitch is taking Miley’s art career very seriously, comparing her to the late Mike Kelly, which seemed to upset some people. Although her art was not featured in any of the art fair booths (although there were rumors of it), people couldn’t stop talking about Miley all week.  The image of her smoking joints on stage and singing Beatle covers with Wayne from the Flaming Lips is burned in my head. These were the moments of art history…I guess. Baby dolls were hanging in the well-lit trees.  Post-main-party, I watched as some of her over-the-top-fun flowerchild crew waited mere minutes before a row of black escalade limos snagged them, baby dolls in tow. But not before they made the babies promise to go on diets because they looked totally fat.

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Mid week at the gorgeous Loews Hotel, another not-to-be-missed moment was Swoon & Monica Canilao AMNIOTIC pool party hosted by @ShortyStk aka Ashley Chandran of Chandran Gallery and Juxtapoz Magazine. Sexy, artsy mermaids, great champagne, amazing new friends, and transcendent installations underwater all in attendance; don’t forget to try on the prism goggles while you’re down there. Does it get better? I think not.

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A photo posted by Ashley Chandran (@shortystk) on

On Saturday night, Solange DJ’d the Jack Shainman Gallery party at Surf Comber, spun Drake’s “Tuesday” three times in her DJ set (just ‘cause), dropped it low with her strappy high-end tie-up stilettos and inspired feminists in the crowd by blasting Monica’s “Don’t Take It Personal”. It was a definitely a girly-girly dream moment for the books.

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Later that same evening at THE afterhours party at Edition, which was one of the most gorgeous hotels I’ve ever seen. The lobby felt like a Gavin Brown exhibition. The club was packed, but there were endless pockets to discover- including a stylized James Turrell ice-skating rink, psychedelic bowling alley and drag queens/performance artists giving away cotton candy. Artists Marina Abramovic and Devin Troy Strother were friend-crushing on each other while Bill Brady of Half Gallery was bowling with some East Coast intellectual babes.  Also spotted, Adrian Grenier looking ultra unimpressed. Life imitates art.

Art felt alive there for a moment and the small nature of the “art world” was hard to ignore.  This should be a reality show. Especially with the influx of the social media #INFLUENCER factor, everyone knows everyone. The art world felt flat, approachable and actually FUN.  There were less #basicbitches than normal, and the theme of the week was #InterestingBitches!!!! How utterly refreshing.

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It’s hard to sum up a critique on the actual ART at Basel. The art seamlessly blurred into life. The world’s power-dealers felt like performance artists, each on display in their booths and blending into the walls. There were more things to see than you ever could, so you really had to live in the present moment.  Tents were filled to the brim with everything from brilliant work to completely repulsive garbage (said with a french accent).  That goes for the plastic surgery and fashion too.  Selfie surfaces invited quick #snapshots and no shortage of eye candy.  We’re all too numb for voyeurism.

Miami, thanks for memories and I’ll be back next year.


Jenny Sharaf is an artist and curator living in San Francisco, CA. Follow her on instagram: @jennysharaf.