Thursday, December 8, 2011

Art Basel 2011 - Miami Beach

This year was the 10th anniversary of Art Basel Miami in Miami Beach. The world's premier international art show for modern and contemporary art was started 42 years ago in Basel, Switzerland. I was invited to Art Basel for the first time about 8 years ago by a very good friend and master of fine art photography. I enjoy a good arts and craft show so I figured - why not?

Comparing Art Basel to an "art show" would be like comparing a Florida sun shower to the sensory and emotional assault of a category 4 hurricane complete with a tornado and hail storm thrown in for good measure. Prepared or not, you will be introduced to, or immersed in the finest modern art from across the globe.

Since my first visit, I have attend 6 more, so I have a pretty good amount of experience to draw upon. The $40.00 price of admission hardly deters me. I am an extremist and I want to enjoy it all. I want every emotion activated but I don't care to linger too long on any one piece. I want to soak it all in and to do that, I have a well formulated plan.

Added myself to the art
I go on Sunday as the other three days are usually just too hectic. I always plan to be ready with ticket in hand for the noon opening and more often than not, stay till closing at 6:00 PM. I have gone with a different person each year so I make sure my event partner for this show has proven themselves durable both mentally and physically.  I start my day early with a double espresso and a couple of Tylenol. Oh yes - it's going to be that kind of a day. To beat the crowds and get parking, I typically arrive around 10:30 at the garage near the convention center and head straight to Lincoln Road for a fortifying breakfast.

Starting the day with a great, relaxing meal (Eggs and champagne) and the best people watching in South Florida is always a nice way to ease into the show. We arrived right on schedule and passed through the front doors just after noon. This was going to be a gigantic show and the only way to take it all in was to not spend too much time at each item. In shows past, I was hassled at the door because my phone had photo taking abilities. This year, everyone had a camera of every conceivable configuration and were snapping away like crazy. I only had my phone so sorry for the photos.

This year's show was tame by the standards of shows past. There were no works that completely offended me or caused me mental anguish depicting the depths of human suffering. There are always displays or installations that astound me with the power of human creativity or the intricacy of their construction. It seemed every material known to man could be found in the creation of this collection. Some pieces were obvious and amusing while others required considerable study to experience every thought they were intended to provoke. No matter what you might think of a piece, it is in this show for a reason and you could literally spend the rest of your life discovering what those reasons are. I think maybe next year I will pick a few pieces at random and trace their history from inception to their appearance in the show. I'm sure the answers will be even more interesting than the work itself in many cases.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Get-A-Way Vehicles - Dania

For the most part, I'm a Get-A-Way from the big city kinda guy. One of my favorite outdoor super stores is the Bass Pro Shops/Outdoor World in Dania. Any given day, it's like walking into Disney but during Christmas, it's even more so. As soon as you pass through the entrance, there is a roaring fire place and stuffed deer in a setting that looks like the cabin in the mountains I always dream about. It's little wonder the real Santa chooses Bass Pro as his winter headquarters. I went to look at maybe getting a tent but something caught my eye. The annual Recreational Vehicle show.

The RV lifestyle has not really interested me but I do have some experience. I lived in a 5th Wheel for a short time while I was between houses. I helped completely restore a vintage motor coach, and I spent a week traveling in Alaska with some friends for the actual RV experience. Each one of those fine vehicles had their pluses and even longer list of minuses. As I get ever closer to my early retirement date and given my desire to make exploring a full time venture, I thought I would give a little look see and get an idea what modern life on the road is like.

Like anything at Bass Pro, the RV show was way over the top. There were about 100 vehicles from North Trail RV Center of every size imaginable except small. They started from a van with a bed and toilet for about $80,000.00 to a palace on wheels for $800K.

Remember the days of Formica counters and cheap linoleum floors? Forget about it!! Try tile throughout and granite counters. How about a full whirlpool tub or toy hauling garage in the back for your golf cart or Harley. The options were insane. The pop-out models looked twice as big on the inside as the outside. They must have been designed by Doctor Who. The one that really got me had a staircase leading to the bedroom. I spent hours checking every model. Multiple indoor flat screen TVs with an outdoor one as well does not seem very back to nature to me. Nearly half the models had a better kitchen than my house. Most had so much storage you would need a treasure map to find your stuff.

You can forget about navigating with paper maps or hand cranked awnings and leveling kits. Everything is a button now. I'm not sure how much classroom time and simulator training it takes before they let you solo but in my case, quite a bit. I'm sure the next models will be fully automatic including the driving and nuclear power plant.

I don't have the price of admission for most of the rolling mansions but there was this one, not super stylish, but not like RVs of Christmas past. All I would need is a little pension money for gas and to get paid for blogging (or beg) for food and it would be totally do-able.