Art enthusiasts preview Art Basel collection at Miami Beach Convention Center

MIAMI BEACH, FLA. (WSVN) - For artists, buyers and lovers of art, Art Basel is the most wonderful time of the year.

The official opening isn’t until Thursday, but a lucky few got the chance to preview this year’s collection at the Miami Beach Convention Center, Wednesday.

“Spain is the natural bridge between Latin America and Europe, so what is of special interest for us is to meet our Latin American friends and see Latin American art,” said Jose Robles, who is visiting from Spain.

Art Basel Miami Beach beckons art enthusiasts from all over the world, locals and visitors alike as well as celebrities.

Nancy Ertag, who splits her time between South Florida and New York City, has visited Art Basel six times in the last 10 years.

“It’s just gotten much, much bigger, as has the convention center, so it’s always a little overwhelming,” said Ertag, “but you see what you can see, and you take in what you can take in, and that’s fun. It’s a nice diversion from real life.”

If modern art isn’t your thing, don’t be intimidated.

Ernesto Poma, an art aficionado, has picked up a few tips from his father, who is a collector.

“It’s really individual how art speaks to people in different ways,” said Poma.

Meanwhile, Kwame Brathwaite is pleased to see the interest in his father’s photography.

“People have been stopping,” he said. “They’re really enamored with the images and how they’re making them feel this nostalgic kind of sense of bringing you back to the ’70s and ’60s.”

Brathwaite’s father and his cohorts popularized the phrase “black is beautiful.”

“I found that people are very interested in the work. I think there’s been a kind of shift in the way that people are appreciating African-American art, African art, both in this fair and around the world that I’ve seen thus far,” said Brathwaite.

Art Basel came to the U.S. 20 years ago.

The choice of Miami Beach as the host city has led to a few growing pains, but Norman Braman, the philanthropist and collector who brought it here, said it has paid incredible dividends.

“Since Art Basel came to Miami, Miami Beach, we’ve had four new museums that we didn’t have before,” said Braman. “In the year 2001, there were only 10 art galleries in our community. Today, there are over 100.”

Several streets will be closed for Art Basel, Design Miami and Miami Art Week.

Northwest Second Avenue between 20th and 29th streets will be closed except for pedestrian traffic in Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood.

Roads will be closed to motorists from 3 p.m. to 6 a.m., from Dec. 7 through Dec. 9.

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