A Delectable Experience at Art Basel Miami Beach, Courtesy of Jennifer Rubell

At Art Basel Miami Beach this year, there were many contenders for top culinary attraction. The Dutch’s new Miami outpost was a major draw, booking up well in advance by New Yorkers eager to get their hands on their favorite little oyster sandwiches. Cecconi’s at the Soho Beach House was crammed with brunch-going scenesters sipping bloody mary’s and basking on the olive tree lined terrace. Pubbelly and Yardbird earned the foodies’ attention, while classics such as Mr. Chow and Casa Tua remained packed throughout the event. But the real draw for food-loving art-goers was Jennifer Rubell’s 11th annual breakfast installation at the Rubell Family Collection.

I arrived to find a fascinating two-part installation, each side exploring the creations of life, art, and food. The first was an incubation gallery where yogurt was being made and served by sterile and expressionless women in nurse uniforms. The second was an observation gallery where both gallery-goers and local bees feasted on honey being dripped from the ceiling. Spectators were encouraged to scoop up spoonfuls of the honey to mix with yogurt for a sumptuous breakfast.

Rubell, yet again, created a successful conversation starter that infuses food, art, and social gatherings to create a consumable sensory experience. Beckoning onlookers to participate and engage, Rubell’s large-scale installations form a shared experience, where gallery goers can eat, touch, and deconstruct the piece’s edible goods, breaking the traditional boundaries of art. Rubell’s past projects have included constructing a gargantuan size piñata of Andy Warhol’s head for Icons at the Brooklyn Museum’s 2010 Brooklyn Ball, creating a performance piece called The de Pury Diptych at London’s Saatchi Gallery – which involved thousands of edible props–and producing an installation at the former Dia Center for the Arts called Creation, wherein Rubell pulled from biblical inspirations to create an enthralling installation involving honey being dripped onto a ton of ribs (she must have a thing for honey).

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As with most provocative artists, Rubell’s craft is difficult to define. Performance, installation, and food artist don’t quite suffice in describing her dexterity. In addition to working as a vegetable butcher at Mario Batali’s Eataly, producing wine in Puyloubier, Provence, and raising her daughter, Stevie, the Harvard grad is a seasoned hostess. Her book Real Life Entertaining was published by HarperCollins in 2006. As the niece of Steve Rubell, famed co-owner of Studio 54, Rubell has been surrounded by artful and creative minds from an early age. She learned her love of entertaining from her famous uncle as well as her art-collecting parents, Don and Mera, whose legendary Whitney Biennial parties were frequented by the likes of Liza Minnelli, Ryan O’Neal, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Cindy Sherman, and Andy Warhol.

While restaurants in Miami’s dining scene come and go, Rubell’s bona fide expertise in hosting social gatherings has led her breakfast installations to remain a hit for 11 years and counting. Make sure to check out what artful and edible treats she conjures up for 2012.

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The Best Party at Art Basel Was at a Place Called Purdy Lounge

"You down here working or partying?" was the most quoted line at Art Basel this year, and more often than not, the answer was a bemused shrug, and then the latter. 

As far as art world elites actually working were concerned, my pick for best party was the Art.sy party on the beach, at Soho Beach House. The mix of high-brow-low-brow-middle-brow-uni-brow (Both Hilton sisters bumping into ancient A-list collector Aby Rosen bumping into Will Smith bumping into Gagosian, then stumbling into the ocean) was commendable. I also pick this as a shining beacon of a great super art world insider party because, full disclosure, Art.sy is my brother’s company. But again, Basel is more about the hardcore party people these days than the legit art world people, so let’s move on to where the real party people were doing their thing this year.

French club Le Baron‘s annual Basel takeover of the Delano‘s Florida Room was so slammed, as expected,  that they did an offshoot next door at the Shelborne, called Paris Paris Cabaret, where the French party people rocked kook karaoke, and the always entertaining Simonez Wolf held down the entrance with typical aplomb and well timed fuck yous.On Saturday night, when the Le Baron DJ got fed up with the Florida Room management’s insistence on turning the sound down, they took the Le Baron spinoff next door and merged it with their Paris Paris offshoot, creating a French Miami art world party clusterfuck of epic proportions. In the picture above, the Le Baron crew hang poolside at the Shelborne on Sunday after the Delano debacle, and offer their advice to Florida Room management. 

All that said, the very best party of Basel was the Sunday night end-of-madness industry throwdown at the reliably sketchball Purdy Lounge, where true Miami hip-hop heads and Basel industry elites threw caution to the wind and went apeshit bananas on their last day in town. Le Baron went low-brow that night as well, taking over the Free Spirits dive off Collins, but there’s always something about Purdy’s Basel debaucherous finish that gets everyone dancing and going nuts. Perhaps it’s their Tony Montana room in the back? So our pick for best Basel party: Purdy Lounge, Sunday night. We’re looking forward to winding down our Basel down there next year as well.  

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Photos by Eric Ervin

The Sound of Music: 4AM DJs, WMC, Women

With the Winter Music Conference blasting Miami, a great many of the DJ staples are not at their usual haunts. Sure, they often enlighten us, educate us, and take us to a different place, but all too often they play the same tracks in the same order as their brethren. With Vinyl and CD’s heading in the same direction as the Eastern Ghost Cat and the Dodo — extinction, if you didn’t catch my drift — the loss of ingenuity looms dangerously, as redundancy threatens.

Miami’s gain can be ours too, as new DJs and sounds will have a chance to spin. While the cats are away, the mice might play at a club near you. Things might be getting a bit too desperate, bookers may indeed be scraping the bottom of the barrel. Example: Rob Fernandez has asked me to spin at Pacha real soon. Don’t panic, house heads: the only house I play is at home with my Amanda. It’s a rock and roll event.

Since some people who don’t pay attention, or are maybe just a bit lost, are asking me to DJ, I think I will take up 4AM’s offer, and sign with them. The DJ/talent and management agency is hosting a WMC soiree on Thursday night at 10PM ‘til 1AM in celebration of their one year anniversary. It will be held at the Soho Beach House. Featured DJs include Jus-Ske, Jesse Marco, Ani Quinn, Brooklyn Dawn, Mia Moretti, Orazio Rispo, Phresh, Price, Sinatra, Suss One, and Theory. Now, it may become a conflict of interest if I am writing about someone I am getting work for, but that would concede the fact that there is actually interest in my talents, or lack of. I will disclose.

If I was in Miami I would have attended last night’s Def Mix the Godfathers of House Descend Official Opening Party for WMC 201, held at the Vagabond. Frankie Knuckles, David Morales, and Hector Romero were in charge of the music. The other day was International Women’s Day: a shout out to all the women in nightlife who struggle in what James Brown would surely call “A Man’s World.” Jayma Cardoza is killing it over at Lavo, and there are a few other ladies of the night out there, but the cards are stacked against them. The awareness day hits home in an industry where women are generally categorized as commodities. On the night of International Women’s Day I happened to be at a joint sipping a Diet Coke with some friends when a lovely lass left the mayhem of a promoter’s table to say hello. She thanked me earnestly, through once prettier eyes, for always taking care of her at clubs I associated with. Still drop-dead gorgeous, I imagined she cocktailed somewhere when she wasn’t getting plastered. I declined credit for her entry into clubdom, and kissed her on her cheeks. I remembered the words of Scott Lipps, head honcho over at One Model Management. He told me recently that you never see the real girls at the clubs, as they’re too busy working. So the sad scene of the “C” model, with the “C” promoter, at the see and be seen table, was sad. (Editor’s note: What? She couldn’t just be out having fun? Blowing off steam after working all day as a hedge fund analyst? You never know! Love you, Uncle Steve) I guess they aren’t all getting what they want, but maybe what they need, as the girls are indeed having fun making connections for small work, and meeting cool guys. The promoters are delivering talent to the club, which is scoring on the bottles that the suits at the adjacent table were Black-Carding. Now there is no reason to change too much, but it would be nice if owners possibly hired a few women promoters to bring some model boys to the bar. Patty Doria used to do that, and worked everywhere. Now, of course, she keeps things smooth at the Chateau Marmont in Beverly Hills. Maybe International Women’s Day should be a monthly.

Art Basel’s 10 Most Prolific Art Flies

Art Flies are usually wannabes, socialites manqué who circle museum shows and gallery parties, networking in garish garb with the hope of getting noticed by Patrick McMullan. At Basel, however, the term means something entirely different, referring instead to art connoisseurs who make their presence known without seeming at all desperate or deplorable. Herewith, a list of the 10 most-seen personalities on the Miami scene, from an Oscar winner to the members of a fictional family.

image 1. Susan Sarandon The Academy Award winner, ping-pong enthusiast, and recent V cover “girl” was all over Basel this year, from the W magazine dinner hosted by Daphne Guinness at Soho Beach House, to the Pringle of Scotland and Serpentine Gallery dinner hosted by Tilda Swinton at The Webster. Her party blitzkrieg ended, appropriately, at the Delano, where Sarandon hosted the Art of Ping-Pong bash along with her New York venue, SPiN Galactic, and the Museum of Contemporary Art. Pictures abound of her laughing with a faux-cop in spandex booty shorts and a matching sleeveless tank.

image 2. Brooke Geahan At the Standard Spa’s Playboy dinner and cocktail party on Saturday night, Geahan, the founder of the Accompanied Literary Society, worked the room in a red Marchesa pantsuit. Earlier that week, she was spotted throwing down at Assouline’s Art Game Book event, a screening of Marco Brambilla’s film, Evolution (also at the Standard), and the Interview, LVMH, and Fendi dinner at the Delano. It was hard to stay on topic while at the Playboy event, discussing with her the jam-packed week she’d had—we were surrounded by installations of naked models created by Terence Koh, Vanessa Beecroft, and Lola Schnabel, and the one word being thrown around most carelessly than “art” was “shrinkage.”

image 3. The Hilfigers In support of its new advertising blitz, Tommy Hilfiger sent its campaign family—“The Hilfigers”—to Miami in their all-American finery. They made appearances at the Standard Spa to celebrate 10 years of Bruce Weber’s All American book series (where the majority of guests looked like they’d been poached from Abercrombie catalogs), as well as the Paper magazine-hosted N.E.R.D performance, which was, yes, co-sponsored by Tommy Hilfiger.

image 4. Klaus Biesenbach Biesenbach is the current Director of MoMA PS1 and the Chief Curator at Large at MoMA, so it would do him a disservice to call him an art fly. Still, he buzzed through the fair like no one else. In addition to the Playboy party, Biesenbach touched down on the MoMA PS1 and Interview presentation at the Delano (where he cut a serious rug and drank directly from a bottle of Moet), the Interview, LVMH, and Fendi dinner, and the Maybach and MoCA-sponsored LCD Soundsystem performance at the Raleigh hotel (where civilized tippling quickly devolved into major Coyote Ugly-style table dancing).

image 5. Lorenzo Martone You couldn’t leave your hotel this year without running into Nycked swimwear designer and former (current?) Marc Jacobs arm candy, Lorenzo Martone. In addition to the Playboy, Bruce Weber, and Marco Brambilla parties, Martone was spotted at the Alchemist & Art Ruby Garage Party and the actual fair inside the Miami Convention Center. (He gets major art fly points for showing up in a tank top and warrior sandals.)

image 6. Lori Cheek I wasn’t previously familiar with Cheek, but I saw her everywhere—Bruce Weber, Assouline, and Andre Balazs-hosted unveiling of designer Marc Newson’s new Aquariva boat at the Standard Spa—and woke up one morning with a black business card in my pants that reminded me I’d been “Cheek’d.” I’m not exactly sure what that means, either, but it sounds fun.

image 7. Mia Moretti Of all the DJs on the Basel circuit—with, perhaps, the exception of the MisShapes, who were everywhere—Moretti was the most prolific. She provided the soundtrack to the Bruce Weber and Paper parties, and spun the Swarovski dinner—hell, I even saw her playing music at the Gansevoort’s Café Bustelo while en route to get my morning coffee.

image 8. Stefano Tonchi Since taking over W late last summer, Tonchi has made his presence very known to the worlds of film, fashion, and art. The editor stopped by the Swarovski dinner, the Marc Newson party, the main fair, the Vanity Fair-hosted dinner for Bruce Weber at MoCA, the Bruce Weber party at the Standard, and, yes, the W dinner—where, presumably, he finally found time to slow down and eat.

image 9. KAWS Brooklyn-based artist and designer Brian Donnelly, known professionally as KAWS, made cameos at every party, although in a subtle, baseball cap-wearing way so as to avoid getting shot on myriad step-and-repeats. Since he’s an actual artist, he can’t really be an art fly, but I saw him—not his works—everywhere, so he counts!

image 10. Aurel Schmidt The Purple-loved, New York-based, Waldo-bespectacled artist (whose name, from experience, is pronounced oh-rell, not oral) was never far from an open bar, as she made stops at the Interview, LVMH, and Fendi dinners, the Marco Brambilla screening, the Playboy party, and, naturally, Andre Saraiva’s Le Baron pop-up club at the Delano’s Florida Room, which is where most of Miami ended their nights, sweaty and bombed until well into the morning.

Soho Beach House Miami Brings Membership, Madness, & Bittersweet Memories

As I begin to report on the opening of the new Soho Beach House in Miami, I can’t help but let memories flood back from when I worked front desk at Soho House New York back in 2004. My experiences were enriching: Losing Charlize Theron’s Lacoste gift bag (on purpose, actually, if that’s any indication of how she treated the staff); bringing Posh Spice a suspicious pack of matches every night at 2am; giving 007 director Mark Forster my screenplay, him frowning; getting fired by the then-manager for not sleeping with him after he buttered me up with backstage access to the Calvin Klein fashion show (he then got canned for membership abuse). Such a riveting environment, with a cast of characters and office gossip to rival Gawker.

I was truly envious of the members who had unparalleled access to the exclusive club and rooftop pool, where the celebrity regulars kicked back with celebrity visitors. I’m assuming not much is going to be different at Soho Beach House, slated to open October 11. Surprisingly, it’s located in Mid-Beach, just a little north of South Beach in that Fountainebleau kinda way.

Also surprising is the fact that a hotel chain of its reputation couldn’t muscle its way into the prime South Beach strip. In any case, the hotel will offer 50 guestrooms ranging from 350-1500 square feet, two pools, a beach club, a screening room, and Cecconi’s restaurant. The staff, if tradition serves, will be aspiring models, actors, film makers, and singers. I’m pretty sure they’ll all have stories to tell after getting the boot for not sleeping with their manager. Merely tradition.