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Swanky Seedy South Beach

Updated: Dec 10, 2018


The Miami Art Fair runs from December 5 through 9 at multiple venues throughout the city. We parked at 12th and Collins and walked north along the beachfront through South Beach, admiring the refurbished Art Deco buildings for which the area is famous. Hotels in soft pastel colors with graceful roof lines were packed with tourists.


South Beach is a thriving mix of swank and seediness, where the well-heeled and the scantily-clad mingle on the sidewalks and beaches. Some establishments entice customers with 2-for-1 60- ounce cocktails served up in giant plastic martini glasses; others offer expensive champagne. We enjoyed a delightful lunch at The Betsy, which offers a full menu of cocktails named after notable literary personalities. Their cheese-stuffed popovers were a meal in themselves.


After lunch we headed into Untitled Art, a curated art fair set up in long enclosed tents right on the beach. The fair comprised a diverse range of approximately 150 international galleries showcasing excellent and provocative works of contemporary art in all media. There were multiple artist installations, and creative performance art, as well as a live radio broadcast featuring artist interviews. Crowds lined up to watch a performance of T-shirt screen printings with sayings like "The Revolution Will Come in Every Direction,"and then clamored to purchase them.


I wonder how much art is actually sold at these events, but I was impressed with the effort to make it affordable––more than 25 galleries participated in Art Money, which offered credit for art purchases: 10 payments. 10 months. No interest. One artwork that mesmerized me was a video of the Aegean Sea, overlaid with changing transparent color blocks. Even at the art fair, I found myself longing for the sea. This reminded me of a Zen koan: Even in Kyoto, I long for Kyoto.


It was the fourth day Chanukah. A teaching reverberated in my mind throughout the day. I had joined my Rosh Chodesh group, a monthly gathering of 8 women who meet at the beginning of every Hebrew month, by FaceTime on Wednesday night. My friend Irene had offered a guided meditation for this month of Tevet, in which she asked each of us to recall special moments––of ecstasy, prophecy, or insight––and to plant them as seeds of joy and light during this season of darkness. I found that the more I recalled "special" moments of my life––graduations, marriages, childbirth, my first time sailing on the ocean–– the more that "ordinary" moments of life seemed to offer themselves up as seeds of joy, creating a continuity that I could trace, even through long periods of sorrow. Savoring joy increases our joy; calling forth light increases the light. This is the message of Chanukah. Reflecting on our joy, we become lights for one another other.

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