#BehindBaselAshlee Thomas

Miami Local Feature



Continuing our #behindbasel series, this time we’re featuring Ashlee Thomas. Ashlee serves as the President of the arts production company called Miami Urban Contemporary Experience (MUCE).  She has served as an arts educator in Los Angeles, Australia, Haiti, Trinidad, Guyana, and the Dominican Republic. In 2013, Thomas co-founded Melbourne Webfest in Melbourne Australia, serving as the Festival Director. Returning to Miami, she worked as the Marketing Manager at the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center and  Manager of Education and Community Engagement at the prestigious Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts. She is no stranger to FOMO when it comes to Art Basel, and is sharing with us her thoughts on this special time of year.

“I love that so many artists and producers have taken it upon themselves to create opportunities for patrons to find the hidden gems of Miami.”


Describe your first time attending Art Basel.

I moved back to Miami at the end of 2013 to see my mom graduate from her master’s program. She was the first in our family to do it, so it was a major deal to be here to honor her. I was unaware of the major arts growth that had happened in Miami, as I had been away in Los Angeles since 2006. I saw an AD that Art Basel was coming and when the week hit, I was like an arts kid in a candy store! I was amazed at all of the art shows, tents, and the people. All here to experience art! I remember going to a few ancillary tents in Midtown and saying at that moment,

“I want to be a part of this. I don’t know how, but I definitely want in.” 

What are you most looking forward to this year?

There are a lot of great things happening in extension to the Art Basel Miami Beach experience. Exhibitions like MUCE’s Now or Neverland Ode to Hip Hop will showcase 17 visual artists who explore and deconstruct the five elements of hip-hop. An artist talk with the award-winning Ted Lucas, founder of Slip & Slide Records, is a conversation I’m excited about during Ode to Hip Hop. The entire Art of Black Miami experience is pretty awesome to me as well. Art Beat Miami, Prizm Art Fair, Art Africa, Soul Basel in Overtown, – all of these experiences lending to a celebration of the African Diaspora and its magnificent diversity. And let’s not forget about Futurama and Viernes Culturales in Little Havan curated by Patti Vargas. The exhibition there is extremely unique with artists from all over the world bringing their stories to life on canvas. I love what all of Miami’s mainland becomes during “art frenzy” aka Art Basel.

What are your top 3 tips to survive the week?

Tip 1: Do your research on the type of art that you like and try to find shows that will pique your interest. Don’t try to go to everything. I know FOMO is real but it’s better to enjoy a few shows than run in and out of a lot of them.

Tip 2: Save some coins and buy some art! It’s a great time to start your collection or add to it. You’ll find great ranges on prices at the shows mentioned.

Tip 3: Wear comfy shoes, and along those lines take an Uber or Lyft. Parking and traffic are not fun to drive in during this week.

Learn more about MUCE on all social handles @muce305 . Come check out the MUCE Makers Campus during Art Basel Weekend and keep living and loving art.


Saturday, November 17 2018

Love Arts & Culture? Join us for the 2nd Annual Uptown Avenue 7 Arts & Culture Festival.

Presented by Commissioner Jean Monestime & the NW 7th Avenue, CRA, this free, family-friendly event takes places at the intersection of culture & commerce, bringing a dynamic day of visual art, entertainment, vendors and cuisine to the 7th Avenue corridor at the Arcola Lakes Library Plaza. Festival-goers will enjoy a MUCE art exhibition, live performances, a kid zone, fitness activities, food trucks and a culinary showcase of local restaurants, plus much more!

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