A trip through the mirage of Art Basel into the scarred face of Miami
The bear split open, and thousands of tiny white particles of stuffing poured out into a warm Miami breeze, swirling high into the air and reflecting the glow from the floodlight. I ran to join the kids, who were now playing and laughing in the sudden snowstorm. A guy I recognized from Brooklyn rode by on a tall bike. Bay Area artist Monica Canilao went careening by on a scooter with no helmet. A cop drove by and smiled and waved. Guys from Overtown with cornrows and gold teeth were laying out a spread of huge chicken legs on a flaming grill. Some punk kids from Brooklyn sat on the curb, drinking beer. A girl in the group laid her head on a boy's shoulder as they all watched SWOON work.
For a second, I flashed back to the Stallone scene earlier in the day, back on the convention floor. Here, in this intersection, I had found something living and breathing. This could be the real city of art. But I also knew the SWOON mural was commissioned by Jeffrey Deitch. I stood and watched the painting and the dancing and laughing and eating in the fake December snowstorm and contemplated what the city would be like if we all had the free time, resources, and permission to take to the streets and transform the city any way we pleased. Was this a window to a different world where anything might be possible?
Or was it just art?
The second half of this essay will run in the Jan. 27 Guardian. *