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Thursday is when the world's art elite descends on Art Basel Miami Beach for three days of exhibitions, public art displays and schmancy parties that attract a blend of celebrities, one-name artists and the mere super-rich.

It's not only for those art elites, though. The weekend event features more than 250 galleries open to the public as well as the transformation of urban walls and parks into living art exhibits. (The Oceanfront at Collins Park between 21st and 22nd streets features outdoor art installations showcasing four cities at the forefront of the international art movement: Detroit, Glasgow, Berlin and Mexico City.) And there will be more of the popular Conversations Series of public forums with museum curators, institutional collectors and journalists that can take visitors from novice to proficient collector.

Ron English works at Miami's Wynwood Walls Project, one of the features of the Art Basel festival. The latest festival is this weekend.

Every year it seems another hotel become the Art Basel hot spot. Last year it was the

W South Beach

, where collectors mingled and several of the top art parties were held. It will once again host several of the weekend's hottest events, including an invitation-only party by Visionaire 59 Fairytale, one of the art world's most avant-garde publishing brands.

But this year the W South Beach faces stiff competition with the recent debut of

Soho Beach House

, the hottest hotel reservation in town. Located on a more northerly strip of Collins Avenue beach frontage, the London-based membership house will be the premiere stomping group of those who can flash an Everyhouse Membership card to get through the door.

Rumored to have rushed its completion to coincide with Art Basel -- Its Tiki Bar will host a Saturday night fashion show at which U.K. fashion house Chloe shows off its spring collection -- Soho Beach House features a 50-room open-to-the-public hotel with beach club. Having a room at the hotel means access to the club's in-house spa, fitness center, member's lounge and restaurant, in addition to a concierge that is one of the most connected in Miami.



, the pre-eminent South Beach fashion emporium, will host public shopping and more private events, including parties by Nadja Swarovski and London's Serpentine Gallery. In between hobnobbing and trying on the latest Lanvin, be sure to check out the rooftop lounge and Kaspia Caviar Restaurant on the first floor -- one of Miami chicest lunch scenes. Nearby Italian boutique


will host a series of evening cocktail parties hosted by Ferrari and the Falling Whistles campaign for peace in Congo.

Those interested in auctions can do their homework at a first-ever Art Basel preview of Christie's London sale of postwar and contemporary art at the new

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JW Marriott Marquis

. The Miami property -- not your average Marriott -- is also hosting a series of private cocktail parties, including one with an installation by Canadian artist Pamela Masik, whose work will be part of The Caged Bird collection on display through Dec. 17 in the Wynwood Arts District. The hotel also boasts db Bistro Moderne, chef Daniel Boulud's first non-New York City outpost on the East Coast.

The booming district's

Wynwood Walls Project

continues to bring revolutionary street art to the masses in a series of 12 wall murals. This time Tony Goldman of Goldman Projects and Jeffrey Deitch of Deitch Projects have recruited artist Shepard Fairey, the artist made famous by the Obama campaign poster and the Andre the Giant "Obey" image. His works will be accompanied by those of Aiko, Jim Drain, Barry McGee, Ara Peterson, Clare Rojas, Kenny Scharf and David Ellis.

Next to that you'll see another Goldman project: Goldman's daughter, Jessica Goldman Srebnik, debuting

Wynwood Kitchen and Bar

, specializing in farm-to-table international dishes led by chef Marco Ferraro. WKB's loft-style space, once home to such restaurants as Michel's Genuine and Senor Martinez, provides a broad canvas for a graffiti mural from Brazilian artists Os Gemeors, a 20-foot painting by German Christian Awe and a bar area where Fairey was given carte blanche to create a stunning floor to ceiling wrap installation and wall mural -- one of the best displays of public art of any American restaurant.

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Michael Martin is the managing editor of, a luxury travel and lifestyle guide based in Los Angeles and London. His work has appeared in InStyle, Blackbook, Elle, U.K.'s Red magazine and on ITV and the BBC.