The Bass: Talk of the Town



Before renovation, The Bass displays Public Art during Art Basel. 

The Bass solidifies its position as an art leader in Miami by bringing a fresh way of seeing and experiencing art. The grand reopening of The Bass heralds a new age.

After being closed for 2 1/2 years, The Bass opens with much fanfare and anticipation on Sunday. Before its temporary closure, the museum had transformed itself to a hotspot for contemporary art.

Now it artfully and skillfully showcases its old masterpieces alongside contemporary art. Botticelli, Rubens, El Greco and Van Dyke take center near contemporary art and challenges visitors to rethink their perceptions about art.

Instead of discarding the past, The Bass preserves it in a fresh and exciting way. The Art Deco building that houses the Bass is revitalized with new exhibition spaces, expanded lobby and education center, and grand staircase.

Designed by Russell Pancoast in the 1930s, it is one of the oldest buildings in Miami Beach. With the new expansion, the old and new form a fascinating dialogue.

As William Murtugh states “…at its best, preservation engages the past in a conversation with the present with a mutual concern for the future.”

The Bass has done that in a bold and brash way.


Hey Mr Trump Art is Business

Art Basel bring tens of thousands of cultural travelers to Miami each year.

As a savy businessman and leader of the free world, I would think you would appreciate that Art is Big Bucks.  I read that in February you visited the National Museum of African American Museum (NMAAHC). I am sure you didn’t have to stand in line like most Americans to visit the museum. I had to get up early three months in a row to get timed tickets online. It took me more than one hour to go through an online que to finally get the tickets.

The point I’m making is that the African American Museum is driving people to Washington, DC. Probably people like me who only decided to revisit DC because of the Museum. According to the “African American Museum sets a new standard in Museums as Destination. The large number of visitors in February forced the Museum to offer timed tickets.”
The Alliance of Museums reports that museums “directly contribute $21 billion to the US economy each year and billions more through indirect spending by visitors.” In addition, “There are approximately 850 million visits each year to American museums, more than the attendance of all major league sports events and theme parks combined (483 million in 2011).

Back to the Big Bucks theory. According to the Travel Industry of America “Thirty percent or 35.3 million adults say that a specific arts, cultural or heritage event or activity influenced their choice of destination. In fact, many travelers will extend their stay because of an arts, cultural or heritage event or activity. That mean cultural tourists spend more than the average tourist. This translates to jobs. Hey, I thought you were all about bringing jobs home.

And I know you’re all about business. So is defunding the National Endowment for the Arts a good business decision?

TGIF: No means yes in South Beach

A picture of the museum

The Jewish Museum Florida FIU was designed by Henry Hohauser who attended Pratt Institute.

South Beach is a place of defiance. I once heard someone say, people come to South Beach to do every “God forsaken” thing they wouldn’t do anywhere else! No means yes in South Beach.

It should come as no surprise that the Jewish community in South Beach has often defied the status quo.

Art Deco weekend.

Thousands of people come to Art Deco Weekend each year.

Barbara Capitman was a Jewish woman who defied the establishment. Capitman fought city officials “tooth and nail” to preserve the historical buildings that light up Miami Beach and make it the second most popular place in Florida. If not for her vision and perseverance, there would not be an Art Deco District. The over 800 Art Deco buildings that remain are testaments to Capitman’s defiance. The Art Deco District was the first 20th century neighborhood placed on the National Register of Historic Places much to her efforts. The Miami Design Preservation League continues Capitman’s legacy.


Miami Design Preservation League poster rallying the community.

What’s more, Henry Hohauser, an architect who was Jewish, built over 300 Art Deco buildings. Hohauser lived in an era when signs “Gentiles Only” and “No Jews Allowed” were commonplace in South Beach. Jews were not even allowed to live beyond 5th Street.

An Art Deco chandelier and displays inside the Jews

An Art Deco chandler and displays inside the Jewish Museum.

Visit one of Hohauser’s buildings and experience first hand the story of Jewish culture in Florida. Hohauser’s building, once a synagogue, is now the home of the Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU. Eighty stained glass windows, a copper dome, and chandeliers are reminders of the days when Hohauser and others worshipped in the synagogue. Taste and see the Jewish experience during the Jewish Food Tour that leaves from the Museum. Learn how the Jewish community thrived despite many obstacles.

Falafel and Israeli salad.

Enjoy Falafel and Israeli salad on the Jewish Food Tour.

Facing off with those who thought South Beach should be known only as a place for “fun in the sun,” Holocaust survivors garnered public support for the building of the Holocaust Memorial. A memorial garden and a sobering sculpture recall those who died and remind all who visit: “we shall NEVER forget.”

Sculpture at the Holocaust memorial

A bronze sculpture by Ellsworth Kelly at the Holocaust Memorial.

The impact of Jewish culture permeates every aspect of the city. Mount Sinai Hospital was built because Jewish doctors weren’t given staff privileges at area hospitals. The Bass Museum scheduled to reopen in the fall, is named in honor of John and Johanna Bass, Jewish immigrants who bequeathed over 500 works of art to the City of Miami Beach.

The Bass Museum in Miami Beach.

The Bass Museum in Miami Beach during Art Basel.

It is said that obstacles are opportunities. Fighting bias and opposition, the Jewish community realized that no means yes in South Beach.

TGIF: Tropical Fun At Art Basel Miami Beach

Art by Kehinde Wikey.

Art by Kehinde Wiley draws crowds and big bucks at Art Basel Miami Beach.

With a backdrop of tropical Palm trees, quaint Art Deco buildings and azure sparking ocean,  North America’s largest Art Fair comes to Miami Beach.

Art by Pablo Picasso

Master Works by Picasso, Monet and others are featured in the Salon.

Dive into Art Basel Miami Beach through December 4. Enjoy contemporary art by the masters and up and coming artists at the main venue in the Miami Beach Convention. More than 200 galleries from around the globe display art. The Convention Center is where you can get free information and free transportation to most of the Art Fairs during Art Basel Miami Beach.

Miami Art Basel.

Out door installations by artists like George Baselitz are featured at Bass Museum’s Public Art.

See over 20 outdoor Public Art installations at the Bass Museum and Collins Park in Miami Beach by leading and emerging international artists. Public Art creates an awareness of art and promotes art talk in friendly places.

Stop by the fun pop up galleries. Hotels and vacant buildings are converted into galleries. Along the shoreline, there are tents exhibiting art. People hop from gallery to gallery.

The fun doesn’t end in Miami Beach. There are lots to see at the Rubell Family Collection, de la Cruz Collection, and other galleries in Wynwood, as well as the Design District and more.

Visit Art Fairs located throughout the city during Art Basel Miami Beach with a breeze. Save yourself some cash, stress and a parking ticket, catch one of the free shuttles. Parking is always a premium in Miami. During Art Basel the competition and prices for parking will be at an all time high.
Ride Miami Art Express: a complimentary service that provides transportation to the Miami Beach Convention Center, Midtown, Wynwood and the Design District.

Check out the City of Miami Beach’s free shuttles to the various fairs around the beach, downtown Miami and Middle Beach.

Read my past posts on WordPress for Survival Tips Art Basel Miami Beach and more.

For more information visit, City of Miami Beach’s website or Miami Dade Transit’s website at

Arts and Hospitality Breakfast on March 31

Art by Barkley Hendricks.

Artwork by Barkley Hendricks and other artists at “Art Basel” draw over 50,000 people to Miami.

With a theme, the “Arts Means Business,” this event celebrates the impact of the billion dollar Arts industry in Miami.

Art Deco weekend.

Thousands of people come to “Art Deco Weekend” each year.

Last year I attended the Arts and Hospitality Breakfast in Miami. There were lots of movers and shakers in the Hospitality and Arts industry at the breakfast in the Intercontinental Hotel. I met with the Director of Public Relations and Marketing from the Intercontinental Hotel who discussed opportunities for artists. Since the Intercontinental’s niche was digital media not visual art, I forwarded this information to someone I had met at the Art Institute.

The Intercontinental Hotel in downtown Miami.

The Intercontinental Hotel in downtown Miami.

Artists attending this event should be prepared to pitch specific projects that benefit the business they are approaching. However, this is challenging because participants are not listed in advance. At the event there is a formal networking meet and greet. However, it would be more advantageous for artists if  they could have a table to promote their business.

Wynwood Walls

Wynwood Arts District is a popular destination for tourists.

Last year the focus was more on past projects and projects in the works than on detailed opportunities for artists. While I was able to meet many Arts leaders and Hospitality Execs and gain insight into the industry, it did not generate any relevant opportunities for me as a visual artist. After the event I emailed the organizer and arranged a meeting for the museum I was working for. As an arts advocate, I was happy to advance the cause of others.

You’ve come a long way, baby

Painting by Sue Williams

“We’ve got a lot of work to do” by Sue Williams.

After going to the exhibit “No Man’s Land” at the Rubell Family Collection, I felt a little deflated. I was disappointed about not seeing works by Kara Walker and Carrie Weems—it was a rotating exhibit. I felt that their absences left a sizable void in the exhibit in spite a painting done in 1992 by Sue Williams.

My painting Death of Fertility.

My painting “Death of Fertility” was exhibited at “Widening the Cycle.”

Miami is the only major city in the United States founded by a woman so my expectations were high. Also, I had recently exhibited in “Widening the Cycle” in Boston and expected art that spoke about feminism. The Boston exhibit explored menstruation and had a Feminist Walking Tour to complete the event. The exhibit achieved its goals of raising awareness about menstruation and discrimination women face.

“No Man’s Land” left me wondering what’s the difference between feminism and sexism. Women complain about men exploiting the female body and I saw a few pieces that I thought did just that. So what’s the point?

Are women better off in a post feminist era? Are men more committed to going to Superhero movies than being good fathers? Women now head more families and more children are fatherless and in poverty. I read an article that said the average millennial woman cries one day a week; overwhelmed by the demands of family and work.

Too bad this exhibit did little speak to the issues facing women. It was just an exhibit by women. And may be sadly that was the point.

The Best Way to go a “Baseling”

Jean Michel Basquiat drawing

A drawing by Jean Michel Basquiat.

A couple of years ago as part of my Art Basel Miami Beach experience, I went to the “Ink Art Fair: Contemporary Prints and Drawings” at the Suites of Dorchester in Miami Beach. It was there that I talked with Pia Gallo of Pia Gallo Gallery who showed me a display of Jean Michel Basquiat’s notebook along with a drawing that was torn from his notebook. I thought, “my times have changed.” “Looks like works on paper are no longer the stepchild of the art world,” I said to Pia.

It was at that moment I thought of investigating works on paper by African American artists at Art Basel. I would focus on these artists. Instead of meandering around through the maze of booths in confusion, I would have a plan.

Forget the Maze:

With over 200 galleries vying for attention at the Miami Beach Convention Center, it is easy to get lost in the maze of outstanding artwork if you do not have a game plan. So I compiled a list of artists from articles on the internet with a brief summary of the artists’ work.

Try a Different Entrance:

I even went into a different entrance. I entered on Washington Avenue— shorter lines and indoors. Talk about a new approach!

List your Favorite Artists:

I took my notebook of the Black artists I had seen before and narrowed it down to works on paper. After pairing artists with galleries with the help of the staff at the information desk, I charted my course for the day’s venture.

Plan your Route:

As I began my planned route, I suddenly thought of my favorite artist Jacob Lawrence but quickly dismissed the idea since I had forgotten to check to see if any of his works were there. Hardly a minute had passed when I stumbled upon “Bus” by Lawrence at the Michael Rosenfeld Gallery. God was looking fondly on me, I mused.

My excitement at finding Lawrence’s work subsided as I pondered the scene in the painting. It was in his signature gouache on paper with brown, blue and red color scheme. It depicted life in the segregated South. The painting showed a bus with whites comfortably seated and blacks jammed in the back with empty seats separating the two races. Two worlds on one bus. Quiet symbolism permeated the painting as is typical of Lawrence’s work.

Enjoy your Day:

There are lots of gallery talks and great food at Art Basel Miami Beach. With a plan, your can see more art and actually remember what you saw!