Real Housewives of Art Basel Miami

Guardians of an antiquated brand of authenticity are quick to discredit things today that may appear fake or mercenary—as if these qualities have no connection to understanding truth and generosity! Reality TV and art fairs are prime targets for these vigilante haters. The wondrous city of Miami plays host to both, and is better understood in light of them. Art Basel Miami Beach needs no introduction as the dictionary definition of a modern day bacchanal; who better than The Real Housewives of Miami to share their local perspectives on what the overgrown week has become, and how broadly its unwieldy umbrella extends. During the most recent Art Basel I sat with three ladies from the show—Marysol Patton, a Miami native and owner of The Patton Group public relations company; Adriana De Moura, originally from Sao Paulo, whose gallery Markowicz Fine Art is in the Design District; and Alexia Echevarria, editor-in-chief of Venue magazine, also born and raised in Miami—to talk about the event that has put their city on the map for you and all your friends and all the worst people you’ve ever met. Each conversation kicked off with a word association game using some of the week’s most contiguous buzzwords…

Marysol Patton
Photographed at Fendi Casa in the Design District. Marysol wears jewelry by Orianne Collins

Kevin: Art
Marysol: Color
Kevin: Artist
Marysol: Bohemian
Kevin: Art fair
Marysol: Oh god…. Masses.
Kevin: Art Basel
Marysol: Glitzy
Kevin: Design
Marysol: Fascinating
Kevin: Designer
Marysol: Fun
Kevin: Fashion
Marysol: Passion
Kevin: Style
Marysol: Born with it
Kevin: Party
Marysol: Cocktails
Kevin: Luxury
Marysol: Patton Group
Kevin: Brand
Marysol: Image
Kevin: Wealth
Marysol: Interesting
Kevin: Fake
Marysol: Dreadful
Kevin: Real
Marysol: Fabulous
Kevin: Miami
Marysol: Over the top

Kevin: Were you born in Miami?

Marysol: Mhmm.

Kevin: Have you ever lived anywhere else?

Marysol: I lived one year in Boston, my first year of college. And I lived seven months in Istanbul with my first husband, who was Turkish.

Kevin: So have you been involved with Art Basel all along?

Marysol: Since I’ve had my business—so around ten years.

Kevin: What do you think of what it’s become?

Marysol: It’s always been about art, which is its basis, but now it’s taken over the social calendar. It’s just this huge social experience and celebrities, every year there’s more and more. At least in our office, we get a lot of fashion brands that come down; they do private dinners with the designers. It’s interesting how in the beginning we worked with big art galleries, and then it started transforming into a few art galleries and fashion brands bringing the art element in.

Kevin: Does the week reflect Miami?

Marysol: It does. I think it’s the most cultural time of year here. Miami is becoming a more cultural city. It’s still in its infancy and growing. Different performing art centers, and the ballet is going through its metamorphosis, it’s just becoming… we’re in that infancy stage, and Art Basel kind of makes people view Miami in that way, that aren’t from here, and would not view us that way.

Kevin: Do you collect art yourself?

Marysol: I do; not modern. I like Old Masters, old English portraits. I think I only have portraits, actually. We have Warhols in our office. They belong to the landlord. They’re great though. They go with the office. My home is kind of beachy slash English, so I love those dark kinds of portraits that you would see in a library in Boston or something. You know what I’m talking about? Black and brown.

Kevin: Like a Sargent or something.

Marysol: Yeah. I only have women. I’ve never been able to find a portrait of a man that I like. Or one that I could afford that I liked [laughs]. I have a few hunting scenes.

Kevin: Do you live on the beach?

Marysol: I live on Brickell and the office is also on Brickell. Not too much driving.

Kevin: What do you like about portraits so much?

Marysol: I don’t know, I just feel like they have so much character and history to them. When you’re looking into the eyes of someone. I have a portrait of my great, great, great grandmother in my living room, and it was painted in 1640; it’s spectacular. It is. And I look at her and I see myself. I see characteristics of myself, and I look at all the portraits and I wonder, Who is that person? What is their life about? What did they think? What were there ideals? How many days did they sit for that portrait? I don’t know. There’s so much depth to a photo of a human being.

Kevin: Do you find modern art off-putting, or do you simply prefer the classics?

Marysol: I like to look at modern art, and I love it when I go in someone else’s home and see it, but it doesn’t give me the warmth that portraits do—that feels homey to me. Maybe it’s just that part of me that always wants to be at a party. It looks like my house is full of people!

Kevin: How about in terms of designers or brands: do you have favorites?

Marysol: It’s so weird, I love anything that’s beautiful. I’m not a slave to labels or a certain brand or anything. I have noticed lately I’ve been wearing a lot of Emilio Pucci; the whole time we filmed, and lately every time I go to a party and pick something, it ends up being Pucci. But Peter Dundas, the new designer, is doing a lot of things in solids. It’s not so much about the prints any more. But I do love the prints. And I like Cavalli a lot. I love their clothes too.

Kevin: Could you describe your personal brand?

Marysol: My personality I would describe as… I guess you could describe me as shy but friendly once I get to know you. If you see me on the street, I’m not one to stop or walk up to people at parties, I’m very to myself. Sometimes people misconstrue that as me being a snob or particular, but I’m not at all. I’m just to myself and shy. Once I’m in a party setting, I talk to everybody, if they come talk to me. I just don’t talk to strangers, I’m really shy. Actually, I had a man today, on the elevator of my office building, say to me, “Can I ask you something?” and I said “Sure!” and I thought he was going to ask me about the show, like everybody else does. And he goes, “Are you ever going to say hello to me in the elevator?” and I apologized, I’m just always on my blackberry, I’m very shy, and an elevator is such a confining, strange place for people to say hello. It’s not the first time that’s happened to me. I like to joke around a lot. I have a humongous sense of humor–or people tell me that. I don’t think I’m very funny, but other people do. And then, my style of dressing… is that what you mean by personal brand?

Kevin: Sure, everything. That comes into play, it’s a big part of how you express yourself.

Marysol: I love to dress–my interpretation of chic. It’s hard to say. I like things that are really beautiful and striking, but not vulgar, and I don’t like to be too revealing. I never wear low cut things. If I go out with shorts on, then I’ll wear like a little medium heel, make sure I have a long sleeve, and I’m buttoned. If I’m covering this I’ll show more of this, and vice versa. I guess I’m kind of classic. Classic dress but not so classic. Fashionably classic.


Adriana de Moura
Photographed at Markowicz Fine Art in the Design District

Kevin: Art
Adriana: My life
Kevin: Artists
Adriana: Difficult
Kevin: Art fair
Adriana: Ecstasy
Kevin: Art Basel
Adriana: Insanity
Kevin: Design
Adriana: Essential
Kevin: Designer
Adriana: Challenging
Kevin: Fashion
Adriana: My passion
Kevin: Style
Adriana: Who doesn’t have it, doesn’t need to be around art
Kevin: Party
Adriana: Occasionally
Kevin: Luxury
Adriana: Vital
Kevin: Brand
Adriana: Essential, but I already said essential… crucial
Kevin: Fake
Adriana: No
Kevin: Real
Adriana: Yes
Kevin: Miami
Adriana: Center of the world

Kevin: How did you originally come to Miami?

Adriana: I came here for law school at the University of Miami, and I wanted to join my knowledge and passion of art with law. I wanted to specialize in international art law. So I did about a year of law school before I figured out it was so dry and the minutiae of the law was actually going to kill my passion for art, which is all about creativity and spontaneity, things that are opposite to law. So, I just gave that up and instead I opened my gallery on Fisher Island.

Kevin: Do you feel things have gotten out of hand with Art Basel?

Adriana: It’s just overwhelming. I get anxiety before the week even starts. I was doing a photoshoot for something and I’m just, my mind, I can’t even concentrate because of the rush, of everything that needs to be done. It’s just overwhelming, really. There’s so much. You have content in one week that you could spread over three years. In terms of who is here, parties, exhibitions, fairs, and I think they just want to drive everyone crazy, literally.

Kevin: Miami is part of so many out-of-towners’s annual routines now, but are they really picking on the spirit of the city?

Adriana: Something people don’t realize is that the art scene in Miami is thriving, but it’s a year-round happening. People just think Miami happens in terms of art once a year when Art Basel hits, but that’s not true. We continuously work, and we continuously develop this art scene throughout the year, on a much lower key, but it’s pretty steady. I think people need to realize: don’t come just for Art Basel, come for your spring break, or Thanksgiving, or your Easter break, because there are very worthy artists and galleries around town.

Kevin: Who are some of your favorite international artists?

Adriana: My all time favorite is Jean-Michel Basquiat, whom I have in my collection. I have two Basquiats in my personal collection, in my house. Besides that, I have great admiration for a Brazilian artist named Vik Muniz, who has been skyrocketing into the international art scene, and I like him because, not only is he very original in what he does––he does these huge spaces, for example, he got trash, from a trash dumpster, and created images, I’m talking about miles of creating images, and going over in a helicopter and photographing, and so you could only see the image from the airspace–recycling to that extent, I find it unbelievable. So conscious with our times, our need to recycle, and creating art in a great magnitude, I just admire that tremendously.

Kevin: Is that image really precise, or is it figurative?

Adriana: Yeah, it is figurative, obviously not figuratively detail-wise, because it is so big, and the scale is immense, but you see a face within these mounds of trash, but he designs that face and you see the image coming out.

Kevin: Are there particular designers or brands that you really support?

Adriana: Fashion-wise?

Kevin: Sure.

Adriana: I’m a big fan of Craig Robins, he is the guy that developed Design Miami, but also the Design District, where we are at right now, and I think he’s doing a phenomenal job bringing names like Prada, Louis Vuitton, Marni, Martin Margiela, Christian Louboutin, everyone you can imagine is moving to the design district. Personally I love Prada, I love Miu Miu, Christian Louboutin like every other girl. I like a little bit of the girly, vintage-y, quirky look.

Kevin: How about a favorite hotel here?

Adriana: Well, my fiancé is a hotel designer. He’s actually designing two new hotels, they’re going to be amazing. Depending on what you’re going for. If you’re going for medium range price, great value, on the water, nice design, I would say, the hotel that my fiancé designed, which is called the Grand Beach Hotel, which is on Collins and 58th, right on the water. If you’re talking about boutique, the SLS, right now I love, too.

Kevin: It feels like Vegas, they’re all kind of the same in their own way.

Adriana: Yeah, exactly, it’s the strip, we call it Millionaire’s Row, they are within blocks of each other. I usually prefer smaller places if I’m traveling, I don’t usually go where everybody is, but Miami, it’s kind of like that: you have to go either Ocean Drive or Millionaire’s Row. Everybody wants the water anyway.

Kevin: How would you describe your personal brand?

Adriana: I conceive fashion as an art form—the right right look makes me feel confident yet fun and playful. Life is short, seize each moment and don’t take yourself too seriously–”carpe diem” is motto.


Alexia Echevarria
Photographed at a Charlotte Olympia signing in the shoe department of Neiman Marcus in Bal Harbour

Kevin: Art
Alexia: Creativity
Kevin: Artist
Alexia: I don’t want to be redundant and say creative, I’ll say that the artists are unique
Kevin: Art fair
Alexia: International
Kevin: Art Basel
Alexia: Contemporary art
Kevin: Design
Alexia: Worldly
Kevin: Designer
Alexia: Artist
Kevin: Fashion
Alexia: I get a big smile on my face when you say fashion! Fashion would be… makes me smile. Makes me happy.
Kevin: Style
Alexia: Your own
Kevin: Party
Alexia: Miami
Kevin: Luxury
Alexia: Life
Kevin: Brand
Alexia: I love so many brands… to me it’s not about the brand or the label, it’s about the beauty of it, or how you like it… for brand I would say, beauty.
Kevin: Wealth
Alexia: Not important. Individuality.
Kevin: Fake?
Alexia: I was going to say something… but I’m not. The first thing that came to my mind: people.
Kevin: Real
Alexia: Me
Kevin: Miami
Alexia: I don’t want to say international again, so I’ll say hot.

Kevin: So, were you born in Miami?

Alexia: Yes.

Kevin: Have you ever lived anywhere else?

Alexia: I’ve lived in Madrid, Spain. I moved to Madrid when I was seventeen with my mom, and my brothers and sisters, and I did my last year of high school there, and then I went on to the American University, where I did my undergraduate.

Kevin: Have you always been involved with media?

Alexia: You know what, I haven’t. It was my husband, my second husband, whom I’ve been with for 13 years, is the owner of a communications company that focuses on marketing and communications, so he’s at that advertising agency, and then for the last six years, I’ve been the editor for Venue, and that’s also owned by my husband.

Kevin: How long have you been taking part in Art Basel?

Alexia: My husband is a huge art lover. And so am I, but to me, art is about what I love, or what I like. I will buy a painting not because of the financial value it will have or what it will represent for me as far as investment. I will buy it because I think it is beautiful. I am all about the eye and what it looks like. I understand its more complicated than that, it’s more complex and there’s a lot of history behind it and all that, but my husband has always been a huge art lover, and we collect some art, so when I met him thirteen years ago, I started developing more of a love for it. Besides when I lived in Spain, one of my classes was History of Art, and in Europe, different from here, we would take the class in the museum. There a love of art started awakening in me, but besides that the history is very important. To me, once you know the history, you fall in love more with a portrait, because they all have a meaning behind it.

Kevin: What do you think of what the art week has become?

Alexia: Like everything, I think that a lot of times it loses focus, it really should be about the art, and it’s just besides the fact that it’s a week for the arts, its also a week that people like to come for social networking, just because its the place to be and the weather’s great, and there’s all these other activities that are going on. I think Art Basel, it’s great for the city, it’s great for Miami, and I’m so glad we can have that part of culture in our city, because we have a very important city. We have so many different cultures that are here. You know there is a huge latin american art movement, there’s so many movements, and I think Miami is the best city for that. We have so many different nationalities.

Kevin: Who are some of your favorite artists?

Alexia: I like the Cuban artists, because I have become familiar with them, because my husband collects them. So I think it becomes dear to you, of course you want to know who is hanging on your wall, so you do research on them, and you get to meet them. I got to meet one Cuban artist, about three years ago, he’s a contemporary artist, Roberto Favello, He has just beautiful art, and I’ve become a huge fan of his, since I know him. Just like a designer to me, once you know the person, it becomes so much more special, because you get to know what inspired him. Of course you read about it, but this is the artist himself telling you what inspired him to draw this. And it’s always a great story, and this particular artist always puts his wife in the painting, so he always has something funny to say about that. But I love Wilfredo Lam, Mario Carreño, Mariano Rodríguez, those are all cuban artists. I guess that I’m more fond of them because I have them in my house. And I think that the Cuban population, because of the fact that it’s a generation that will always be marked, and will always be very nostalgic, because they had to flee their country. So, you know, you always want a little piece of your country, and I think that the Cubans that do have the means of collecting some kind of art, a lot of them have tended to go that way, to collect Cuban art, because it is something that’s dear to them, and it’s like the last thing of Cuba they can hold onto: their artists.

Kevin: What about favorite designers?

Alexia: There are so many great ones! There really are. We’re living at a time now that there are so many talented people. The creativity, fashion now, it has so much importance in the world. I think fashion, just everything revolves around fashion and food for me. So I have so many, for example, Charlotte Olympia, that I just met today, Christian Louboutin, Gucci, Michael Kors, Roberto Cavalli, Emilio Pucci. So many up and coming ones, Roland Mouret, Victoria Beckham, Tory Burch, Alexander Wang. There’s so many of them, I love them all.

Kevin: How would you describe your personal brand?

Alexia: Well you know, I love sexy, and glamorous. I like classic also, I surprise people because I’ll be classic but throw in something edgy. I’m trendy, I think I’m very feminine and sexy. That’s about it. I don’t like to talk about myself. I’m like open to anything as long as it looks cool. I won’t really follow a trend just because it’s in style. Of course I think the most important part is that you can own it, whatever it is, that you can feel good about yourself in it, and that you can wear it. I’m not going to wear it just because it’s in style. I think you have to be confident. Whether it’s tacky or good or not, if you feel it, and you think it looks great on you, you will send that message, and then you can wear it.

Kevin McGarry

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