Some 50,000 people fly into Miami for Art Basel, and an astonishing number of them are from Boston. In fact, you can’t swing a dead cat (preferably by Damien Hirst) without hitting someone from the South End, Back Bay, Beacon Hill or the ’burbs (and yes, Cambridge represents).
That’s largely because the Museum of Fine Arts, the Institute of Contemporary Art and the deCordova Museum all lead tours of the five-day art orgy for major donors, trustees and other muckety-mucks. And because Miami Basel is madly social, all three institutions do some fairly lavish entertaining as well.
The ICA kicked things off with a cocktail party by the pool at the Surfcomber, with a swanky guest list that included hedge-fund tycoon Mark Schwartz and his media-mogul wife, Marie, sister act Joni and Hope Cline, gregarious gallery owner Camilo Alvarez, the improbably tall Onnie Mayshak, private-wealth poobah Max Bardeen, the interchangeable Matt Greer and Mark Andrus, and a bevy of beauties that included Tristin Mannion, Betsy Gifford, Tess Atkinson and the Allisons—Johnson and O’Neil. While the palm trees swayed and the bartender shook his bon-bon, artist Jessica Jackson Hutchins (whose 2012 ICA exhibit was a huge hit) dangled her feet in the water.
On the way to the James Royal Palm for the MFA’s patron dinner and reception, we ran into former ICA curator Nicholas Baume (now at NY’s Public Art Fund), who almost made us late for cocktails by the swimming pool, where the well-heeled mixed with the well-dressed and the well-met. On hand were such worthies as discerning philanthropist Joyce Linde, the soignée Lorraine Bressler, Desi beauty Mona Kumar, the dashing Myles Slosberg with his gorgeous wife, Diane Krane, Cambridge collectors Ann and Graham Gund, Museum School grad Brian Burkhardt (who now lives in Miami) with his uber-hip wife, Trisha Brookbank, the delightful Jody Vipperman Saarmaa and one woman who sashayed up to the bar and said, “Eight-inch heels and alcohol—a winning combination.” Drinks were followed by a superb dinner courtesy of chef Kris Wessel, and MFA contemporary-art department honcha Emily Zilber answered the burning question “How many curators can you fit into a Zipcar?” (The answer: more than you’d expect.)
South Beach hot spot du jour BLT Steak at the Betsy Hotel was the site for a super-swanky brunch hosted by the ICA. Taking an air-conditioned break from the fair were Louis Boston doyenne Debi Greenberg, South Shore stunner Becky Hildek, beautiful blonde Robin Hauck and naturally carbonated curator Cathryn Griffith, who rested and refueled themselves for an afternoon of perusing art.
Meanwhile, the folks at the Fontainebleau were busy preparing for that evening’s outdoor reception for supporters of the deCordova. Seen sipping, supping and schmoozing in a fully loaded cabana were contemporary-art savant Geoff Hargadon, Irish thoroughbred Ciara Hunt, equestrian hottie Paul Butterworth, the delectable Paul and Pia Miller, design guru Ken Dietz, redheaded siren Karen DeTemple, incorrigible scamp Tristan Govignon, the smolderingly sexy Frank Amelia and one woman who said, “If everyone looked like us, there wouldn’t be Photoshop.”
Indeed, it was hard to decide which was more interesting to look at, the art or the people. From the vintage GTO filled with polka-dotted Santas rolling down Ocean Drive to the fluorescent video arcade by NY street artists FAILE, it was a nonstop visual feast punctuated by cocktail parties and air kisses.
The MFA combined all of the above with a brunch held at the CIFO Art Space, where guests got a sneak peek at Permission to Be Global—the exhibit of Latin American art from the collection of Ella Fontanals-Cisneros that comes to the MFA in March.
By that point, though, some of us had OD’d on art and hors d’oeuvres, while several members of the Boston contingent had added to their collections.
And then there was the couple who came dangerously close to a major purchase. “We had to use our safe word,” the husband said. “Money.”