Miami Life: The Art Fairs, Big Pink, Books & Books, Special Invite

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Art Basel and all of the art fairs are here, and we have been attending several events a day. Here’s my report plus photos of some of the art we have purchased. Eliot and I hadn’t been to Big Pink in years, but we recently had lunch there and I love the vibe. Our favorite bookstore, Miami’s Books & Books, just reinvented itself as a foundation to expand its cultural influence. I have a special invitation for all of you from KREL Tropical Knitwear to talented Miami designer, Karelle Levy’s solo exhibition.

The World of Art Basel and All of The Art Fairs 

We have several Art Basel and Miami Art Fair events a day for the next two weeks. I’m not sure how we are going to handle all of the private and public exhibitions, openings and parties we have been invited to. We start out by writing them all down in our iPhone calendars just to make sure we don’t miss a thing but by the time the days march on we get a little choosy.

The bumper to bumper traffic is the biggest deterrent. It’s getting more and more impossible to travel to all of the events, many of which are in tents on and off the beach. Most experienced Miami Art Fair attendees usually pick the mainland one day and then the beach on the other. They keep rotating.

Eliot and I really have some big challenges. Being locals, the activities actually start this weekend, five days before the official openings. We are invited to dinners at the homes of some of the most active art collectors, many local galleries sent us invitations to a brunch crawl this Sunday, the museums want us to attend private showings and many artists are having receptions in their studios.

If we want to be considered loyal patrons, we better show up to as many as possible. It’s all about if the art world can count on us to participate in their personal activities. We really want to show our support to all because that’s the way we get to see new work and meet new contacts. That’s what art collecting is all about. You get on a whirlwind that never stops. Here we go.

I have attached the official Art Basel link for everyone who wants to participate online or learn how to attend in person. Have fun. That’s what it’s really all about. GET THE DETAILS.

Some of our recent art purchases.

Back To the Future with Big Pink 

When we first arrived in Miami Beach 27 years ago, we used to go to the Big Pink all the time. It was new and so were we. It’s located in the South of Fifth area on the famous Collins Avenue. The streets surrounding Big Pink were a drug haven but that was all getting cleaned up as many new glass high rise condos were being built and other restaurants were finding their way there. That’s the area I have lived in for the past 22 years.

It’s difficult to describe Big Pink because everyone has their own interpretation. I say it’s a combination diner and sports bar. The reason I am telling you about it is because Eliot and I had lunch there last Saturday.

We haven’t been there in years because so many other restaurants opened up in the last decade. Big Pink is owned by Myles Chefetz, one of the leading restaurateurs in Miami. He also owns Prime Fish, Prime Italian and Prime 112. They are all located in the same vicinity and are considered to be among the best in the business. I have only heard the most positive comments from those who constantly dine in the Chefetz empire.

After our delicious lunch at Big Pink, Eliot and I promised each other that we would have lunch there more often even though most of the crowd are young enough to be our grandchildren. The big attraction, in addition to the many large screen TV’s situated around the dining area, is the size of the meals. They are enormous and can be shared.

The place is loaded with teens, young families, fashionistas, athletes, and some oldies, (us). I wish the world was like Big Pink. Everyone greets each other with a big smile and cordiality. It makes me tear up. I hope it continues forever.

Books & Books Creates Literary Foundation

There was a time when Miami had a reputation of being a city where people didn’t read. That was what several bookstore owners said when they couldn’t survive as a business in the sunshine state. That wasn’t the case for Books & Books who has successfully been in business for 41 years. The independent bookstore chain is one of the most successful in the nation because of how it merchandises itself to the public. There is never a week that goes by that it doesn’t have some sort of a huge attention getting book or civic activity.

Books & Books has locations in Coral Gables (Headquarters), Bal Harbour, Pinecrest and Coconut Grove. Books & Books stores in Key West and at Miami International Airport are affiliated with the chain but have separate owners.

Eliot and I have always considered Books & Books a big part of our social activity. You walk into one of its locations and you feel like the whole world has opened to you. Every section emphasizes current events. More authors appear at Books & Books when they are introducing a new book than any other bookstore in the country.  The other main attraction is founder and owner Mitchell Kaplan’s well-known podcast, The Literary Life. Kaplan makes non-readers read after they have listened to his fascinating interviews with every popular author.

Eliot and I attended the event where Kaplan announced that Books & Books is now an affiliated, tax-exempt nonprofit. This new stature allows the Books & Books Literary Foundation to accept charitable donations and government and foundation grants to support and significantly expand the store’s public and community programs.

Kaplan was quoted in the Miami Herald saying this new arrangement is to make the Books & Books programming “self-sustaining and to ensure its continuation into the future, free of commercial pressures or considerations. The ability to raise funds would also allow a long-planned expansion into schools, under-resourced communities, prisons and, perhaps, even youth sports leagues, spreading the rewards of reading and literacy well beyond the four bookstores fully owned by the chain, which remains a for-profit company.

“It’s a new way of imagining how Books & Books can continue doing what we do far into the future. Nobody really knows what’s going to happen with retail 15 years from now. So this is about being able to do more, and at the same time securing the legacy of Books & Book, to keep doing all the community work we’ve been doing, while allowing the additional dreams we have to be uncorked.”

The Books & Books nonprofit was set up under the aegis of the Coral Gables Community Foundation, which acts as its fiscal agent. Gables foundation president and CEO Mary Snow said. “That means Books & Books is spared the time, difficulty and expense of setting up its own stand-alone foundation and undertaking legal and administrative functions, such as ensuring it hews to strict state and federal regulations to maintain a nonprofit status.”

A Special Invitation from KREL Tropical Knitwear

I secured one of the hottest tickets at the Miami Art Fair for all of you. Karelle Levy, a talented Miami designer, but known worldwide, has turned her KREL Tropical Knitwear fashion line into true art. You are encouraged to see it up close.

Karelle’s work blurs the boundaries between traditional craft, contemporary art and avant-garde fashion. The solo exhibition is at the Green Space Miami till February 29, 2024.  7200 Biscayne Blvd, Suite B

Called KNIT ≠ SWEATER, (Knit Does Not Equal Sweater) honors the same stitches that connect her disciplines into a singular vision for an immersive, interactive, engaging experience. Those are the words she uses to describe her work, but I can’t wait to see a demonstration of what this is all about.

Garments are designed and made to order on a Shima Seiki knitting machine and hand-finished at her atelier and shop in Miami Ironside center. The efficient process and natural materials foster sustainability and a bespoke experience. The brand is available at retailers throughout the Americas.

See you there.


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