Taking Over Basel, Miami

A travelogue by urban artist Aaron Woes Martin.

Day 1, November 30, 2010. Miami.

Oh how I love airports. Airports have pretty much been my life for the last three years, and I still hate going through the process. Nonetheless, I touch down in Miami and am ready for Art Basel. It’s my first day in Miami, but events are already popping up prepping for what has become known as the most important art show in the United States. Driving around, I’m already seeing the aftermath of last year, murals by heavy hitters still gracing some of the walls. It’s cool seeing art blasted everywhere.

The gallery hosting our show, The Take Over, had an assistant running around wheat pasting posters all over town. For the show, we were supposed to create an installment from home, then cut the piece down into panels and send before we arrived. But because I been so busy traveling, working back in Hawai‘i and on both my Converse release and Kid Robot Dunny drop, I haven’t had time to work on any pieces for The Take Over show. I figure I’d finish when I arrived.

Day 2, December 1, 2010. Exploring Basel.

They’re not letting us install our pieces until tomorrow, so we decide to check out the other sites and watch an amazing abundance of art emerge from the ground up. Collectives like Primary Flight and Graffiti Gone Global host graffiti artist from around the world, so there are heavy hitters prepping wall spots everywhere. It seems like you could post up at any wall and just paint, but most walls during Art Basel are commissioned by galleries and art promoters, and so everything in downtown Miami, from warehouses to abandoned buildings, are taken over by art groups to smash out huge murals and installations. I run into local boy Estria and Mike “Bam” Tau rocking a giant wall along with the rest of the Montana Spray Paint team. It’s coming out so fresh! Definitely is good to see local island boys out here killing it.

I stop by Wynwood Walls, which is an outdoor mural project produced by Deitch Projects and Goldman Properties and also my favorite exhibition at Basel. Artists I consider my heroes smash out Wynwood: Os Gemeos, Nunca, Shepard Fairey, Futura, Ryan McGinness, Space Invader, Ron English, Logan Hicks, Jeff Soto – such an insane roster! Seeing this show alone I could have gone home happy. By then, my manager Palmetto arrives from California. We end up getting shit faced at the hotel. Walking around all day, it seems like the best idea.

Day 3, December 2, 2010.

I finally run into Pixel Pancho, my crew member from Italy who’s looking for some open walls to paint. I try to find some spray paint to rock on a wall, but since the city is filled with graffiti artist, all the paint is gone. Palmetto and I leave Pixel and head to Art for Basketball, an exhibition using NBA-issued backboards. All the pieces are selling for $10,000, and they all sell! We head to the Fresh Produce show, an amazing venue with free vodka all night long. The roster is heavy: pieces by Revok, Dabs and Myla, Jim Darling, Tatiana Suarez, Parskid, Herbert Baglione and London Police, just to name a few. We take advantage of the vodka bar, then decide to head out, only to be stopped by the free ice cream truck outside.

We manage two last stops before calling it a night. The first is Anthony Lister’s, whose show is like a cross between David Choe and Neck Face. I really dig his huge installs because of the rawness and freedom of his paint. Then we top off the night at the Tools of the Trade art show. Another killer roster: Mike Giant, Ron English, Donny Miller, Tara McPherson, Buff Monster, Anthony Ausgang, Claw Money, Oliver Black, Mark Bode, Vaughn Bode and more. I got to meet Mark Bode, the son of Vaughn Bode. I was bugging out; he said he was a fan! Vaughn Bode inspired a lot of New York graffiti writers who adopted Bode’s famous cartoon characters like Deadbode Erotica and Cheech Wizard. The crew goes off to explore after hours in South Beach, but I head back to the hotel. I have a whole mural to start in the morning.

See if Aaron finishes his mural in our ART & DESIGN issue!

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