antonia-williams-gary_2_web.jpgIt’s that time again!  Art Basel in Miami! I’ve been involved in Basel since its debut in Miami 11 years ago and this year promises to be more exciting than ever.

There is a growing buzz about all things Basel and, in particular, for black art/artists expected during the first week in December.

For the past two years, I have been using this column as a vehicle to help you get to know and understand the impact and importance of these events.  As one friend described it, Miami has become the gateway to the global art community — and we live here.

This year, it appears that there has been an explosion of black art in Miami from throughout America and Africa.  Our local black artist collectives, especially the Kuumba Artist Group, are enjoying renewed interest in their work that will be displayed at Art Africa.

The offerings are much more plentiful and, most importantly, the public is being invited to participate in not only viewing and buying but also in the elevated discussions about the value of black art in the marketplace, as well as on the cultural landscape.

One of the newest galleries to open in the ever popular Wynwood neighborhood is N’nandi, which is black-owned and features established fine black artists.  Be sure to stop by and visit this upscale gallery on Northwest Second Avenue and 23rd Street in the heart of Miami’s Art District.

You have been invited to Basel, not just to visit the places, such as the  galleries, the Miami Beach Convention Center and private collections, but also to join in the act of seeing and seeking expressions of who you are — on canvas, in photographs, as sculpture and in every other medium used by a growing number of black visual artists who will be on display in and around Miami.

Of note, on Saturday, Dec. 8, Black Art in America, a leading global social network and resource for African-American visual artists, collectors, industry leaders and art enthusiasts, will present a whole day of events at the Wolfsonian Museum on South Beach. You may have seen or heard about their “Do you Basel?” promotion.

Beginning with breakfast, you are invited to come to a series of discussions about collecting black art — its current rise in value —and what major investors are looking at now.  This is a very unique opportunity to learn more about the business of collecting and about the financial impact that the body of black art has in the marketplace.

For more information, visit blackartinamerica.com. In some quarters, investment in black art is considered the new gold standard.

The conversation will also include a discussion about the definition of black art. Does it all have to come from us, look like us, and/or reflect the universal experience of being black?  And what exactly is black art anyway?

It is especially poignant that these questions are being raised — again —  after the re-election of Barack Obama to a second term as the first African-American President of the United States of America. The spin on the notion of “black” has grown wider, yet cloudier, and, at the same time, more sharply focused since the election. 

I suspect that many of the new images that will be seen during Basel will reflect a powerful black experience, what I am calling the Obama effect. I am eager to see if, and how, visual artists may be incorporating the political currency earned by Obama into their artistic expressions.  This should be a great time for the black artist. 

For another stimulating discussion about the subject, plan to join Ludlow Bailey, curator, at the third annual discussion on contemporary African diaspora fine art at the University of Miami at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday, Dec. 9.  It’s another free event and breakfast will be served.

For the second year, Art Africa Miami is offering a larger weeklong set of offerings that include art and entertainment at several venues.  Be sure to put their events on your calendar. Visit artafricamiami.com for more information and a schedule of their events Dec. 4-9.

I do hope that you plan to come out and enjoy all the art that is being shown and sold during this great annual event. 

This year, you’ll find more of what you’re looking for and more of yourself.  You may even find out that you have a fortune on your walls and, just as significantly, that you may hold a piece of the legacy of the black artistic movement in this country.  Don’t you want to know? 

“Will you Basel?”

Antonia Williams-Gary may be reached at toniwg@bellsouth.net