How I Almost Didn’t #BLACKANDBASEL for Art Basel Miami

Stephanie Art Basel 2017

I almost didn’t get to #blackandbasel at Art Basel Miami because this December I traveled to Florida to visit family and more importantly to celebrate my nephews 1st Birthday. However, three years ago, around this sometime, after venturing down to Miami on a solo trip, I had vowed that I would travel to Florida every year in December just for Miami Art Week It was that amazing for me. Last year and this year it was about family, while the thought of going to Art Basel haunted me.

Excuses, visiting family, limited budget

Prior to my trip to Florida, I had mustard up a couple valid excuses as to why I couldn’t or wouldn’t be able to go to Miami and #blackandbasel at Art Basel. Every year that I had gone it had been on a pretty tight budget that I somehow, I made work. This year it was an even tighter budget, I wanted to get my nephew a few things for his birthday and I honestly didn’t plan for Miami.

So, I wasn’t as prepared as I would normally like to be. Having a tight budget makes it very necessary to have things in order, okay. I didn’t know where all the awesome things were taking place. How could I go down there with no plans and no money, right?

JUSTDEKIT

Listen when it is for you, there is always a way! I hung out with my family for about two days. I was playing with my nephew, eating and preparing food and just hanging out, but always thinking about Art Basel. My thoughts were pretty much, “You’re going to come all the way down here and not got to Miami?” and “Damn, I wish I could go to Art Basel.”

I didn’t have the money going down to Florida, but I did get paid Friday. Thursday night I asked my sister if she wanted to go to Miami with me, of course she said no, she didn’t have the money. That night I was thinking I really don’t have the money either, if I go it’s going to be hella tight when I get back home. I went to bed thinking about it and on some level, had convinced myself that I shouldn’t and couldn’t go to Miami.

Mega Bus made this trip possible, lol

Friday morning, I woke up dumb early. It was 6:32 a.m. and I immediately got on the computer to start looking for buses to Miami from Tampa. Lo and behold, there was a 9:00 a.m. Mega Bus  leaving from Tampa to Miami. I quickly started looking for the places to go for Miami Art week. Based on my two previous trips, I knew that I wanted to explore art spaces outside of Miami Beach, I wanted to see more artist of color and women creators. Very quickly I came across, Sugar Magazine’s guide to Art Basel and Miami’s black artscreen and culture  guide

Thanks to the Mega Bus, for $25 I went to Miami. I was going to hit up three area’s South Miami, Wynwood and Little Haiti.

#iknowforgiveness & Wynwood

There is Miami and there is Miami Beach, I’ve grown to love the Miami where the people live. With that said, my first stop was Wynwood. I love Wynwood it is where the mural artist lives and thrives. It’s like going to Never-never land where the kids grew up and became muralist. This is where the art has a heartbeat, it is alive. The colors from all sides of the road is so vibrant, it’s energizing—it’s whimsical.

 

So, I also have a project called I Know Forgiveness. I met several artist and entrepreneurs along my way and you can meet a few of them on Instagram @iknowforgiveness. The I Know Forgiveness Instagram offers me an opportunity to speak to people wherever I travel and build on my photography skills. Like Dekit, it was created out of necessity to address and improve my quality of life. The hope is that by sharing  my experience it will in someway improve other people’s quality of life.

Fair Market’s All Women exhibit with Taja Lindley, Tatyana Fazlalizadeh & Juan Valdes

From the Sugar Magazine guide, I found myself on Instagram following the #blackandbasel and came across Taja Lindley’s  Instagram photo of her standing in front of her work at the Fair Market  show. After visiting her website, I had to check her work out in person, plus the Fair Market exhibit solely featured women creators.

Taja Lindley instagram post Art Basel Miami

When I got there, Taja’s work not only made a huge statement at the entrance of the space, but it was  also side by side the legendary Guerrilla Girls. The entrance of the wall was covered with black plastic garbage bags, with the names of unarmed black men and women killed by police  following the statement, “RE-MEMBERING IS THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE LIVING.”

“Because black lives get treated as disposable, I’m specifically concerned about who gets remembered and who doesn’t and making an insertion in our collective and cultural memory about the people that we’ve lost,” said Lindley about her work.

Taja Lindley 's This Ain’t a Eulogy: A Ritual for Re-Membering (2017) at Fair. Photo by Stephanie Harris
Taja Lindley ‘s installation This Ain’t a Eulogy: A Ritual for Re-Membering (2017) at Fair. Photo by Stephanie Harris

 

Tatyana Fazlalizadeh’s work was also in the building! Fair Apparel. featured her “Not Going Anywhere” &  “Stop Telling Women to Smile” t-shirt. Tatyanna is most know for her “Stop Telling Women to Smile” campaign. She also is the artist/art consultant who painted Nola Darling’s paintings shown in  Spike Lee’s “She’s Gotta Have it” on Netflix.

 

Tatyana Fazlalizadeh's T-shirt at Fair "Not Going Anywhere." Photo by Stephanie Harris
Tatyana Fazlalizadeh’s T-shirt “Not Going Anywhere” at Fair. Photo by Stephanie Harris

 

I was a little disappointed, I didn’t get the chance to meet Taja or Tatyana in person, but not to worry they both live in NY. So you know Taja and Tatyanna we’ll just have to make that meeting happen up here on the east coast!

 

Juan Valdes's colored china rags at Fair. Photo by Stephanie Harris
Juan Valdes’colored china rags at Fair. Photo by Stephanie Harris

Afro-Cuban Miami based artist Juana Valedes’ ceramic “Colored China Rags I (La botaron como un trapo viejo)” of varying skin toned porcelain is, to sum it up in one word, deep. Fine china or porcelain is usually snow white and valued as so, so the varying skin tones introduces another interpretation of societies value of colored people, but particularly women. Historically, there’s a lot of symbolism with the rag as it relates to women. Valedes, originally titled the ceramic rags “La botaron como un trapo viejo ” and this translates to “They threw it away like an old rag.”

I really love work that has interwoven concepts and components because it is like discovering hidden treasures for me. The best way I can describe it is, it’s like going down a rabbit hole. With Valdes’ work on site you think you know what it means, but then when you find out what it’s made of it takes it to another level. Then when you know the history behind that material it takes it to another level. Like the art is communicating so much history and it’s existences interlaces humanity.

Little Haiti, Muce & Stacy Icke

After hanging with the ladies, I went over to Little Haiti for the Now or Never Hip Hop Art Fair, produced by Muce.  It was held in the Little Haiti Cultural Complex Center. There were artist from all over the world feature. However, my favorite pieces were by Terrence Vann and Brenda Presil. Check out the complete list of artists here.

Terrence Vann

Terrance Van painting "Building" at Now or Neverland Hip Hop Fair. Photo by Stephanie Harris
Terrance Van painting “Building” at Now or Neverland Hip Hop Fair. Photo by Stephanie Harris

 

Brenda Presil

Brenda Presil's potrait of Ice "Billion" Berg at Now or Neverland Hip Hop Art Fair. Photo by Stephanie Harris
Brenda Presil’s potrait of Ice “Billion” Berg at Now or Neverland Hip Hop Art Fair. Photo by Stephanie Harris

What I didn’t know was that there was a keynote speaker in the auditorium.  I walked in the auditrim not know who was speaking or what the talk was about. I quickly found out  the keynote speaker was Stacy Icke and this chic real talking sis had a remarkable story about how she met Oprah and how how she ended up with a show on OWN. Well I didn’t know who she was, but I blown away and I’m so glad I stumbled across her talk. Here’s a little clip.

Back at Wynwood

Okay, I ended the night in Wynwood at the Wynwood Yard. I was so hungry needed to charge my phone and wanted a drink. I was able to get some  vegan Mexican food, charge my phone and a $13 watered down gin and tonic. It was a chill ending to my day in Miami. I met some cool people who kept me company until they had to leave. Finally, at around 4:30 am I went back to the bus station, caught up on some sleep and at around 6:00 a.m. found myself back on the Mega Bus to Tampa.

Closing Remarks

Ladies, #justdekit! That’s the moral of the story. I am so grateful for my impromptu 1-day trip to Miami for Art Basel/Miami Art Week. I wouldn’t have been happy with not going. There were a lot of shows and events that I didn’t get to see, but I’m satisfied with the experience and the people I had the opportunity to meet. I went to each place I planned to with the criteria I set out with and on a very tight budget, lol. fter this experience, and as I’ve learned from many prior, #justdekit go for it and if it’s for you, the universe will respond with all on deck  to help make it happen.

Be a creator, sis #justdekit

Stephanie