Behind Basel: Meet Ashlee Thomas

Art Basel in miami


Ashlee Thomas serves as the President of Miami Urban Contemporary Experience most commonly known as MUCE.  MUCE is an arts production company located in Miami. Thomas has served as an arts educator in Los Angeles, Australia, Haiti, Trinidad, Guyana, and the Dominican Republic. In 2013, she co-founded Melbourne Webfest in Australia, serving as the Festival Director. Returning to Miami, she worked as the Marketing Manager at the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center and the Manager of Education and Community Engagement at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts.

Her company MUCE was born as response to her, and her partner, Bart Mervil realizing that a local platform needed to be at the helm of creating access and opportunities for artists who resided in Miami, especially those in urban neighborhoods like Little Haiti, Liberty City, and Overtown. She sat down to give MMM the scoop on what she is looking forward to for Basel this year.

“For the visual artist and for Miami, Art Basel is a big deal. It creates an industry where the arts actually flourish. International galleries make this their home. What Los Angeles is to the actor, writer, and director is what Miami's Art Basel is for the visual artist, gallery owner, and curator.”

First tell us a bit about yourself. How would you describe your taste in art? 

I'd say I really enjoy unpacking abstract art, whether it be photography, canvas, or sculpture. If the art has subtle messages to unpack, I can enjoy the piece for hours. I love colors, and playful art with significant meaning. Some of my favorites include Belina Wright and her use of vibrant colors and story telling about her mixed heritage as Haitian and American. I really enjoy work by Frank Christopher. Its funky, visceral and really tells the Miami story. I bought one of his Miami-opoloy tables. I love Edouard Duval-Carrié ‘s work, and another favorite is Patty Suau. She creates the tiniest of images in the most intimate positions. Her work makes you explore private places in public spaces. My taste in style is more about the connecting and meaning to the piece. 

How would you describe the Miami art scene? 

The Miami art scene is funky and sometimes exclusive. Because Miami is so transient, locals like myself are almost watching the art scene from a rotating glass door that never stops turning to let you in. This is a huge reason why so many of us that live here decided to create opportunities for those who are here year round. The arts scene, like many other scenes in Miami, fall into the name validation category and its something to be worked on for sure. With all that said, I'm happy that a scene exists and it provides me the space to do what I love full time. 

What can we expect from MUCE this Art Basel? 

MUCE is excited to present the MUCE Arts & Culture festival presenting art, film, and fashion. The festival will showcase: 
- Artists in the ode to hip hop exhibit 
- Feature films by local film makers 
- Youth filmmakers from Urgent Inc & Turner Tech Media Academy. 
- A featured artist talk with Ted Lucas of Slip & Slide Records and UM Senior Lecturer Germane Barnes about community design and its impact and influence on hip hop culture. 

We're also partnering up with Style Luxe Expo to feature Art Meets Fashion. All of this is happening in the theater & lobby at the Little Haiti Cultural Center Wednesday December 5th – Sunday December 9th, between 10am -8pm, Most events are free with RSVP. View the full schedule and get tickets here

For those looking to kick back after all the gallery fun they can join us at the MUCE Makers Campus for an artsy kick back. We will have games, art, music, and chill vibes from 9 pm -11 pm!

What fairs and shows can we "NOT MISS" during Basel? 

MUCE Ode to Hip Hop Exhibition of course! SuperFine does a great show as well. I love Prizm Art Fair, Art Beat Miami, Futurama, and Edouard Duval-Carrié does a fantastic exhibit each year with the Haitian Cultural Alliance. This year Magic City is showcasing the works of Bansky, which should be worth attending. 

Anything else you want readers to know?

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


Photo courtesy @muce305

Mary Dorsett

M. Dorsett is a life loving aficionado, living mostly in Miami, and writing from wherever. Like Nadura. Do Chibur. Believe #whynot?! Necessito practicar mi espanol.

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