Art Basel Day 4: Design District kicks up a notch at Art Basel By Betty Alvarez

I returned to Design District and concentrated my night of gallery hopping to this wonderful artsy area. So many galleries to see in so little time! Miami Magazine hosted a special event at Avant Gallery showcasing many of the current works. Lots of contemporary furniture and designs for one’s room. As I came out of Avant Gallery, I noticed some flashing lights next door so I ventured in. It the flash of the photographers.

This gallery’s theme of the night was fashion and photography as models were dressed in lovely evening attire and posed for professional photographers for a shoot. Designated areas around the gallery were set up in order for the photographers to do their shoot. Every 10 minutes a different model came out with a different attire making every photo shoot interesting.

I stopped in for a bit at Poltrona Frau to see the TRON Armchair presented by Cappellini and Walt Disney Signature designed by Dror Benshetrit for Cappellini during Design Miami 2010. Cappellini introduces a special range of unique arm chairs, inspired by the soon-to-be-released Walt Disney Pictures film TRON: Legacy. These armchairs will be individually hand-finished – each uniquely designed- by Dror Benshetrit who pays homage to the digital landscape of the Outlands terrain in TRON: Legacy.

Fendi Casa was not too far away and did not want to miss a great party and exhibition. Therefore, I ventured on. Luxury Living hosted a private cocktail reception celebrating the debut of the Miami Design District showroom’s conversion during Art Basel 2010.

Featuring high-end home living goods by both international luxury brands Fendi Casa and Kenzo Maison, Luxury Living offered guests the opportunity to explore its unique collection of stylish home décor ranging from armchairs and chaise-lounges to consoles and accent tables. Additional wares include terrace furnishings by Fendi Outdoor – and even a complementary attraction provided by Prestige Imports – Lamborghini Miami.

I was not too interested in Chinese art but there was a gallery on my way to NE 2nd Avenue that caught my eye. I don’t remember the name at this point but when I entered the gallery, I was amazed of the beautiful Chinese art that it housed. Big sculptures and detailed pieces aligned the gallery all around. Many art pieces along with very detailed art works made me a fan of Chinese art.

As I continued my stroll, the big balloons caught my eyes. It was Rainbow City! This is an environmental installation addressing the potency of interaction, ritual and play inspired by Holi, a festival effectuated by Hindu. FriendsWithYou presented a vibrant collection of mutable, air filled sculptures. The installation encouraged visitors to be active and explore-subsequently, inventing their own ritual. It was a very nice exhibition from outside. However, the lines were long therefore I ventured next door where I could see the exhibition in a more wider perspective without getting trampled on.

After visiting other galleries around NE 2nd Avenue, I came down NE 40th Street. I went to a Hope For Haiti event where many guests enjoyed the art and performance by Haitian artists. Haiti Art Expo 2010 demonstrated the visionary power of Haitian visual art that has continued to command international attention. This stunning collection of fine arts is comprised of a variety of media, objects d’art and photography. The exhibition featured top works from the world-famous contemporary art master, Philippe Dodard, as well as many works by renown Haitian artists such as Levoy Exil, Payas, Alix Roy and Lousiane. Extremely talented, up-and-coming Haitian artists such as Sully Gutemberg and Manuel Mathieu will also be featured.

One hundred percent of art sale proceeds will benefit the refugees and artists who have lost their homes in the tragic earthquake. United Way of Miami-Dade is serving as fiscal agent for Haiti Art Expo. The event did not get packed until 30 minutes after I have gotten in. A very popular place to be. To my surprise, tennis superstar, Venus Williams made a special appearance to this event as she made her way throughout the venue and chatted with friends and supporters.

Design District was full of life and vibrance on this day. I could not believe how packed the streets were and how busy the night was for the restaurant as many patrons took the opportunity to dine locally. It was definitely an Art Basel night in Design District.

Photographs by Betty Alvarez