Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Art Basel: An Insider's Guide … by gimleteye

By tomorrow's opening of Art Basel, private jets will be stacked wing to wing, forming a flock of the world's most expensive birds. Cannes, Aspen, St. Barths. Miami is a transient moment for a transient place. For a few days, the vast and concentrated wealth of the world's richest pond here. Where is the best party? Vanity Fair? UBS? Amex?

Yesterday in the Miami Herald, the breathlessness unfurled like a white heron in full plumage.

"There is little that Miami’s urbanites love more than counting the ways their city is on the rise," the Herald preens. "By far the biggest sign is the bayfront Pérez Art Museum Miami. The city’s first grown-up art museum debuts this week (on schedule and within budget) during the 12th Art Basel in Miami Beach with a show as intrinsically Miami as it is internationally first-rate."

That's the museum for which Jorge Perez put a down deposit garnered through an insider relationship with Genting Gambling (owned by a reclusive Chinese billionaire). Perez earned $40 million -- exactly what he "donated" to the museums construction -- during a period when his fortune hung in the balance with banks "too big to fail". The transaction was reported in the Miami Herald as the return on a six month investment in real estate he and partners flipped, and in flipping adding to the footprint of the Genting purchase of Miami Herald property on Biscayne Bay.

"Miami is taking itself more seriously," says Jessica Goldman Srebnick, who along with her father, the late Tony Goldman, helped to transform Wynwood into an increasingly hip (though still gritty) neighborhood filled with street art, galleries, work spaces, cafés, shops."

Thriving Coral Reef
Dead Coral Reef (not all the fish not here)
"Basel recognized we were at a tipping point," says Alberto Ibargüen, president and CEO of the Miami-based Knight Foundation, which more than any other local entity has put its money behind the growth of the city’s cultural institutions, according to the Herald where Ibarguen was once publisher.

Just a few miles away, the cost of Miami's tipping point is a different story: the extinction of natural resources that once defined Miami as a glorious, incomparable place.

"It's bad, we are probably the worst stewards of our coral reef here than anywhere in the world judging by the coral." That's the greatest natural art show on the planet. Wrecked within a stone's throw of Art Basel.

Marine scientist Brian Lapointe made the comment to a television reporter in the context of the coral reef die-off at Looe Key; a marine sanctuary that is failing to be a sanctuary except for scavenger species.

"I don't know anywhere in the world where we have lost coral at such a rapid rate. Today we have about 6% coral on average in the Florida Keys. That is less coral than any other reef in the wider Caribbean region," LaPointe told WPTV. (http://www.wptv.com/dpp/news/harmful-algae-invades-the-florida-keys#ixzz2mLHP5iCp) LaPointe notes the dark side of growth that is, in its fundamental nature, predatory and murderous.

"It's bad, we are probably the worst stewards of our coral reef here than anywhere in the world judging by the coral." The cause of the die-off? The rapacious water management practices that have favored Big Sugar billionaires and wealthy, powerful developers of suburban sprawl. Those birds of prey will be circling the aisles at Art Basel, too.

Judged by preserving what sustains us, Miami isn't a steward. Miami can't possibly be a "great city". On the other hand, we throw a killer of a party.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Amen!! I have nothing against art and in general like the creativity in all of the arts (dance, music, film too) that is growing in Miami. But boy oh boy we sure seem to be at a tipping point in trashing this place. Dying reefs, contaminated parks, ludicrous new starchitecture, the growing gap between rich visitors and the rest of us - all signs of decline to come. Maybe we should impose a special Basel tax on all Art Basel sales and dedicate it to preserving the bay. Oh and can't we do something about big sugar?