Art Basel 2022 has just about wrapped down in Miami Beach, but that doesn’t mean I’m over all the Blackity-black goodness that I witnessed while I was down there last week.
Thanks to the good folks over at Amazon Prime Video, who thought it’d be lovely to host me down at the annual art, music, fashion, and tech festival, I got to experience the popular event for the very first time—and it did not disappoint. Let me break it down to you like this...
The Hotel Stay
So first things, first: I got the chance to stay at the very fly and very aesthetically pleasing Goodtime Hotel, which is owned by music and business mogul Pharrell Williams and David Grutman. This somewhat of a full circle because I remember watching the hotel’s episode on Architectural Digest’s YouTube channel earlier this summer and thinking how cool it would be to stay there. (Little did I know, I was manifesting apparently.)
The hotel is as fly in person as it is in real-life. But what they didn’t show you in the video was just how JUMPING the place actually was. From the popular restaurant Strawberry Moon—which boasted amazing food and several celeb and influencer sightings—to their pool area—which served as the site for most of their parties that week/weekend—the Goodtime Hotel lives up to its name in the truest form. And it doesn’t hurt that it’s partially Black-owned as well!
Prime Video’s Red Carpet Premiere and Activation for its New Series Riches
On Thursday evening, I arrived for Prime Video’s red carpet premiere and art activation entitled “The Crown We Never Take Off,” in honor of it’s new series, Riches, which landed on the streamer Dec. 2.
Starring Deborah Ayorinde, Emmanuel Imani, Nneka Okoye, and Sarah Niles, the show centers around “the exploits of the stylish, privileged, super-successful Richards family. When Stephen Richards (Hugh Quarshie) passes suddenly, the family’s world comes crashing down. As his business hangs in the balance, his different sets of children are about to collide as they vie for control.”
“It’s a dynamic, fresh, storytelling. It’s aspirational, it doesn’t really feel like something that I’ve seen done before,” Okoye explained during our interview on the red carpet, adding that seeing the furtherance of Nigerian culture in entertainment—and specifically in TV—was a major draw for her accepting the role.
When asked what he wanted audiences to walk away with after viewing the highly bingeable series, Imani explained that he wanted this series to reaffirm the notion that Black people aren’t monolithic.
“Black people already know this, I’m sure, but sometimes we need to be reminded: We’re not one thing, we are so many things. We are a vast spectrum, we cannot fit into any kind of box,” she said. “Just because Black people—we are the ‘mother of nations,’ we are everywhere all over the world. But we are all connected as well. So I want people to walk away with the fact that we are not monoliths and we are all connected.”
As far as the actual art went, the experience celebrated elements from the show that expressed the freedom of expression and identity across the Black diasporic experience, through several mediums including photography, sculpture, painting, music, video and performance art. The pieces were curated by Donnamarie Bapiste and featured works from Josef Adamu, Khadija Nia Adell, Daron Bandeira, Ciara Elle Bryan, Shanneil Clarke, Kum Cletus, Morel Doucet, Lewinale Havette, Loni Johnson, Tammie Knight, Crystal Marshall, Marryam Moma, and Carlos Idun-Tawiah.
After the festivities at Amazon Prime wrapped, I hopped on over to META House, which was being thrown on in collaboration with LeBron James’ and Maverick Carter’s entertainment company, The Springhill Company via their newest brand SpringHill.
The indoor-outdoor activation featured a plethora of large exhibits and Insta-worthy moments from the moment you walked in. Outside, you were greeted by a Mega Meta man (I don’t know if that’s what they actually called him or not but let’s roll with it) before entering into Springhill’s Make It Till You Make It exhibition. Once inside, phenomenal work from artists like Reyna Noriega, Laci Jordan, David Garibaldi, Paul Lewin, Harmonia Rosales and Brandon Deener were displayed. There were also a handful of mixed reality experiences, including multiple VR art galleries, interactive AR murals from emerging artists like COVL, VR sculpting demos and more present which made me almost almost wish I was a bit more technologically savvy to really appreciate that sort of stuff. It was still very, very cool though.
But perhaps the coolest moment of the night went to the surprise concert performance from Doja Cat who had the crowd lit from the very beginning to the very end of her set.
AMEX Black Artists Brunch
After recouping from partying hard with Doja, the next day, I spent the morning at American Express Presents Savor & Soul brunch. Held at the Resy and American Express Design District Pop-Up, the brunch featured a delectable and delightful menu curated by two-time James Beard Award-winning chef, Mashama Bailey and a panel of Black artists and creatives like artist Sabrena Khadija, gallerist and collector Hannah Traore and Everette Taylor, CEO of Kickstarter and former CMO of Artsy, moderated by Phillip Collins, Founder and Curator of Good Black Art.
Between the good food, good conversation centered around the state of Black Art, and the good sounds provided by DJ Amorphous, the event felt like a slightly more upscale cookout between family and friends. And that’s always a good vibe check that I’m looking for when it comes to attending events made for us and by us.
With the 50-leven hundred events happening that weekend, the places on my itinerary were barely a drop in the puddle. And even though I wasn’t able to attend these events due to time constraints and traffic (which you sho’nuff better be prepared for), I’d be remiss if I didn’t shout out the Stay Macro x Chase Sapphire Lounge which boasted an exciting performance by Cardi B on Friday night and the Rock the Bells Yachts, Beats and Arts party which saw am amazing performance from rapper Flo Milli.
Until next year, folks!