AOLAB CRESCENT ROLL/ Part TWO: Back into the Art-world thunderdome, day one.

I woke up on the 5th of December with a strange smile on my face. An explosion of sound happened as I raised my head, like the green and red parrots i used to feed on the roof had gathered everybody in a tree outside the room to wake me up.

My body has been on eastern time since October 3rd anyway so the early a.m. thing was fine, but I don’t think it really sunk in where i was until i peeked through the slats of the heavy wooden blinds and saw my old front yard gleaming in bright Sobe light. I was back on Ocean Drive, literally looking out across the Atlantic Ocean.

Grateful for the complimentary stay courtesy of the Decowalk, i bounded out in search of the first soma of the day. When I arrived at Pinnochio, a boisterous cheer went up from  the owners and other regulars who depended on the only perfect espresso offered on the beach to start their days as much as i used to, faces and rituals recognized, keyed into the scent of true italian everything in the air. That i was remembered, even by the Rimini partyboys as having belonged in their territory was one thing.That how i like my latte was handed to me with a hug, kiss and grins from the cool couple who run the place without missing a beat was like a jolt of espresso before the first sip hit my lips.

I happily headed off to my 2nd soma of the day: a stroll south of Fifth into the quiet neighborhood on South Beach that was my go-to haven when Ocean Drive was too loud. At South Pointe I all but blush-grinned at the sun, soaking up the clouds rolling away from the beach towards the city like a cover thrown off on Christmas morning by a kid.

So much of what was good as an artist being based down here for the residencies really was about the light. After God, it had always been that morning sobe light that made it feel good to be alive each morning. The sun over south beach in the morning is like love covering a multitude of sins. It has the ability to make up for every other thing you could find fault with the zone for.

Because you HAVE to do it at least once, I went for breakfast at Newscafe. My perches up top were full of artysnowbirds so for the first time ever i sat in the courtyard, and inadvertently got down to the business of being here over eggs that eventually went cold due to the animated conversations jumping off above them. Two hours later I was giving my first walk-through of the rooftop murals in nine months, amped to be back in  Miami for a time such as this.

I was open, and happy to be here, and the day unfolded as if in direct response to that. My goals were not about finding galleries to rep me, partying like a rockstar, and the like. This was less about schmoozing and more about “seeing/feeding”  for me, which brought such an element of ease to the whole thing. Plus seeing so many faces of artists who i’d met the years before, out on the prowl/working it only added to the happily frenetic, joyful pace of things, even if I was a bit wunderkind about that aspect of it.

Like airports and train stations, the flow of energies, lives, funds is tangible during Art Basel. The beauty is in the movement, the inspiration is in the motion, and it is That reason that i tell other artists i meet on the road to at least do it once. Everyone finds something to believe in during it. It changes your scope in the strangest way, even the most lone-wolfed of us creatives.

But I had a very specific set of things to accomplish here. Last year, i never made it to the collections, so this year I had it on me to hit at least De La Cruz collection up in the Design District and the Rubell family collection in Wynwood. Galleries up in NYC that used to set my heart aflutter everytime were scattered across the major fairs, and since I haven’t been able to make it back to NYC in 4 years due to road-tripping for AOLAB, many gave me complimentary passes to stop by and say hello. Other than that, there was food i needed to taste again as if for the first time, pulses I needed to take on future projects, inspirations and elevations artistically hoped for, an appointment with a man’s lobby about some wild stretches of marble, and DESIGN MIAMI.

In fact, for much of November i was so on the fence about coming that God pulled out all kinds of carrots to get me off of it. I had the Audubon project i put on pause, plus the press of finally picking where to next for AOLAB and planning accordingly, there was finding funds to cover the cost of this trip, the fourth novel Exile is finally coming, Aerosmith was hitting the Big Easy and my inner child was going Joe Perry crazy all over again, yadayadayada-but i kept being nudged. He even put a music & art fest I was really curious about on the list-up-with Lenny Kravitz closing it out[of all things], then Postponed it after I agreed to go.

But of all the things that had a call on me that didnt waver, it was Design Miami. I knew there was something there i was supposed to see. In fact, I didnt even factor the cost of a Basel ticket into the budget. But like the collections, having never been, Design Miami was a full-on necessity.

So, after getting my bearings the afternoon of the 5th, i headed up to the box office to purchase the ticket to handle that necessity, meandering through  Espanola way and other visual keys for me here like i was absently being led by some sort of dowsing rod. By the time i got a block away from 17th street, i was so giddy to be going to DM that i almost sailed by the gents I’d had breakfast with as they jovially shouted me down out of my revelry and introduced me to a friend they were having lunch with.

‘Where are you headed now?” They asked.

“I’m going to get my ticket for Design Miami, i may not GO today, but i want to make sure i have my tix” I grinned.

The S.E. says to his friend “Hey, why dont you let her use your pass?” His friend went “Sure, why not?”  and passes me the equiv of Wily Wonka’s golden ticket. “Just tell them you’re my guest & i’m on my way in.” he smiled. I picked my stunned jaw up off the ground, thanked everyone and all but skipped off.

Design Miami superceded expectations i didnt even know i’d had. I don’t know if its the current table projects, the walls or what, but i felt  so at home surrounded by the whole applied design aspect of actual art. I even ran into an old Industrial Design major roommate i’d had during my time at UC/DAAP i hadnt seen inalmost 16years. She teaches yoga & does her jewelry down here.

I was so full from DM that I gave up on trekking to pubbelly afterwards- a restaurant i’ve been trying to try for like a year now. Instead I had a supersized NYC flashback-a Smore’s Shake & Insane BBQ Blue burger at Serendipity III, then lost the rest of the day in a blur.

That night i agreed to meet up with a friend who was heading out to St.Thomas on a boat the next day at the Art Public opening party. We played the night away across SELECT and the AQUA openers as well. There is something so amazing about this place when artists flood the beach. Everyone was open, people over forty were dancing their asses off harder than the hipsters running round in 80s spandex and headbands, and the art was just across the spectrum, as were the open bars. Whoever this tribe is, it is when they hit the atmosphere that i feel most at home on Earth. There is a resplendence to the collective presence of the outright capacity to create, and to recognize creators. No matter your stake in it, you know you’re surrounded by kindred of some kind and the ones that make life more interesting for them. It may just be this quiet understanding that many will be going back to their isolated studios content in the aftermath of the closest thing i’ve seen to a wild family reunion that works.

We had so much fun on the beach that we didnt even make it over to the Miguel Parades party in Wynwood, which i KNOW was amazing. By the time we got back to Deco, we were famished, so I paid forward the blessing of the gentleman who let me enter as his guest to Design Miami by taking my friend out to dinner at the Diner on 11th at like 1am, finally having the eggs i’d forgotten to have earlier that day.

We said our goodbyes, he hoped i’d decide to stay long enough to see him when he got back[ i’d planned to leave the 7th,actually, but left space in my schedule just in case], and i crumpled into a happy heap of sleep, exhausted by a phenomenal day one at Miami Art Madness week.

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