Art Basel
7:14 am
Fri December 7, 2012

How To Basel: Aqua Hotel Is An Art Basel Oasis

This is the eighth year Aqua Hotel has hosted an art fair during Art Basel Miami Beach.
This is the eighth year Aqua Hotel has hosted an art fair during Art Basel Miami Beach.
Credit Arianna Prothero

There is a lot to do in Miami during Art Basel so you may not want another item added to your list of “must sees.” Nevertheless, consider including this fair: Aqua Art Miami at the Aqua Hotel on Collins and 15th  Street in Miami Beach. 

The fair has a laid-back vibe, lots of art and a good-sized crowd that feels happening without being claustrophobic.

Hidden Gem

The entire two-story hotel is turned over to art for the fair. Every room has a gallery in it and they all open  onto a central courtyard which, on Thursday night, had a bar, a band and a lot of Christmas lights strung from the second floor balcony and wrapped around trees. 

Artist Marisa Dominguez works in the courtyard at the Aqua Hotel.
Artist Marisa Dominguez works in the courtyard at the Aqua Hotel.
Credit Arianna Prothero

Despite being in Art Deco central, the place had an Old World, European feel to it.

The age of the crowd was mixed but predominantly young, which makes sense considering Aqua takes a special interest in promoting young dealers and galleries.

“We came here last year and loved the atmosphere and feeling,” said Jordan Klein, who co-owns the Tappan Collective in Los Angeles. “We loved how it supports emerging artists.”

Lots O’ Art

The art itself is a good mix of pretty things you would put in your house, crazy things you would never put in your house and awesome things you wish you had the guts to put in your house. Among my favorites (and I didn’t see everything) were these basketballs encased in glass from the Tappan Collective.

Credit Arianna Prothero

...and this glitter pop art by Rene Garcia Jr. 

Credit Arianna Prothero

Not Crowded… Yet

This is Aqua’s eighth year holding the fair. Donald Wanda has been helping out with the event for the last three  years and he estimates the number of patrons has grown by more than 50 percent over the time he’s been there.

“First year I was here, it was all West Coast galleries,” said Wanda. “Now, we have an international presence -- galleries from Japan, Buenos Aires and Toronto.”

The Aqua Hotel is  at 1530 Collins Ave., Miami Beach.  It's open from 11 a. m. to 9 p. m. Friday and Saturday and 11 a. m. to 4 p. m. on Sunday.