The official event called Art Basel, the one inside the Miami Convention Center, located in Miami Beach, Florida, starts Thursday and runs through Sunday.  But Basel director Marc Spiegler understands the main event has expanded to include a lot more than one space, extending beyond the Convention Center and reaching it’s tentacles into the entire city of Miami.

Now in its 11th year, the official Art Basel show will exhibit over 250 leading galleries from around the globe, showcasing the works of more than 2,000 artists of the 20th and 21st centuries. There are also over 20 “satellite” fairs, untold numbers of private exhibits, events, parties and large-scale installations.

From the Convention Center to the beaches, galleries in the Design District and Wynwood, and hotels along South Beach—Miami will be alive with art.

One off-site show is called “Masterpieces at the Berardo Collection,” and though it may not be in the Convention Center it is expected to be one of the most important art events happening during Basel. With 110 pieces hand-picked by Miami gallery owner Gary Nader from the private collection of Portuguese mogul Joe Berardo, the exhibition will make its debut at the Gary Nader Art Centre.

[Miami] is the heart of Latin America, literally a meeting point or bridge between the North and South. The only thing Miami is missing is a really great art school. Once that piece is added, it has all the potentially of being a central city for art.

- Cuban born and independent curator Omar Lopez-Chahoud

“It’s the largest in the world. It will be like a museum,” says Nader. “I’ve already received over 500 requests for the VIP party. This exhibition is my gift to Miami.”

The exhibition boasts $500 million worth of art, with some pieces ranging from $30-40 million each.  Featured artists include Bacon, Basquiat, Calder, Dali, Duchamp, Ernst, Klein, Koons, Lichtenstein, Magritte, Mondrian, Picasso, Rivera, Stella, Twombly, Warhol, and more.  This not-to-be-missed exhibition will feature the world's best Contemporary and Modern artists, rarely accessible to the public. 

Cuban born and independent curator Omar Lopez-Chahoud will be curating another highly anticipated show during Basel. Set to take place on the beach, “UNTITLED”, will be presented in a tent designed by former MoMA curator Terence Riley.

“The work is contemporary and conceptual, developed over time by mid-career and more established artists, who although they’re presenting new works, will focus on the re-examination of the 60s and 70s—so it’s a new reflection of work done 40-50 years ago,” Lopez-Chahoud says.

Both Nader and Lopez agree that Miami’s art scene is not only thriving through Basel and the many events happening this week, but fast becoming one of the cities young and emerging artists are flocking to.

“The real estate is reasonable so artists can afford to live here, and in every other large city that’s not the case,” said Lopez-Chahoud. “It’s the heart of Latin America, literally a meeting point or bridge between the North and South. The only thing Miami is missing is a really great art school. Once that piece is added, it has all the potentially of being a central city for art.”

Mexico City-born artist Gerardo Cid will present his work for the first time this year. He brought eight pieces for the Red Bull booth, at the Scope Art Fair—another huge satellite fair exhibiting during the week.

His work will focus on the theme of immigration. Using photography as his medium, his portraits will offer viewers images of how immigrants are seen by those who don’t really know them.

“From a distance you can see their faces, but the closer you get the more blurry they are.  It’s the reality of the immigrant experience. The concept of a stranger in a new place,” the 31-year-old Cid says. “I moved from Mexico City to New York three years ago. I believe artists who live away from the place where they were born and raised discover a unique perspective and return that to their work, offering a cultural transaction of sorts.”

One exciting outdoor project will feature artist duo Kolkoz. The two will attempt to re-create the landing area of the Apollo 11 mission.

“Pop-Up Piano Miami” will return this year with eight pianos painted by different artists and placed throughout the city in Wynwood, Midtown Miami, the Design District and Downtown Miami.

At the Freedom Tower downtown, the environment-focused public art exhibition FOREVERGLADES will showcase 300 animals made of recyclable plastic, resin, and aluminum “literally crawling up, down and around” the building. The installation by artist William Sweetlove and the artists collective Cracking Art Group is presented by Galleria Ca’ d’Oro.

The “Banksy out of CONTEXT” exhibit will feature five partial walls – four cinderblock, one wood – displaying work by the mysterious street artist to be scattered throughout the Art Miami and CONTEXT pavilions. All the pieces will be kept under wraps until the official opening.

At SELECT Fair at the Catalina Hotel, co-directors Matthew Eck and Brian Whiteley will present over 60 avante-garde artists to collectors.

Whether people are in Miami this week simply to party or to actually buy and see art remains to be seen by the artists and art dealers themselves. But one thing is certain: the city of Miami will be center stage brimming with all the vibrancy of a true masterpiece.

Rebekah Sager is a nationally published lifestyle and culture writer. She's a regular contributor to Fox News Latino. Follow Rebekah on Twitter @Rebekah_Sager

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