The Miami Guide
In the past few years, Miami has quietly—and powerfully—redefined itself. While the oonz-oonz vibe is very much alive and well and out all night, the city has shifted its focus to art. In the sixteen years since Art Basel made its second home here, a new crop of exciting and provocative galleries has taken center stage in the city. This has become a place to discover new artists and take in some of the most engaging exhibits anywhere. Meanwhile, the food landscape is as much a testament to smaller, more creative spots springing up in emerging neighborhoods, like Little River and Little Haiti, as it is to international imports, like Zuma and the newly arrived Chotto Matte. Don’t misunderstand: There is no dearth of ways to drink tequila at 4 a.m. It’s just that you’ll probably want to visit a gallery the next day.
Bass Museum of Art2100 Collins Ave., Mid-Beach | 305.673.7530
South Beach's only public contemporary art museum reopened in fall 2017 after a major renovation, which doubled the amount of available exhibition space with a major expansion of the original, 1930s-built Art Deco building. The much-anticipated reopening featured major exhibitions by Ugo Rondinone, Mika Rottenberg, and Pascale Marthine Tayou in the new space.
Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation1018 N. Miami Ave., Edgewater | 305.415.6343
Ella Fontanals-Cisneros's private collection is focused on Latin American artists, which is unsurprising, as Fontanals-Cisneros herself was born in Cuba and came of age in Venezuela. The exhibitions are housed in a former boxing gym near the Arts District: a square building that's significantly spruced up by a stunning tile mural, which creates the illusion of a bamboo forest. Her foundation, for its part, gives annual commissions to mid-career Latin American artists who then become part of group shows at the space. It's an opportunity that not only exposes them to Miami's global art community but also gives them space to create their work outside the pressures of the market. Like other private collections in Miami, entry is free.
De La Cruz Collection23 NE 41 St., Design District | 305.576.6112
Carlos and Rosa de la Cruz, who made their fortune with Carlos's bottling and distribution company, CC1, made their art-filled home open to the public for more than twenty-five years before they finally built a dedicated, and privately funded, space for their collection. Since 2009, the public has been able to view the works in their collection free of charge in an Arts District building the couple operates as an extension of their home. The exhibitions here rotate on an annual basis to showcase a wide selection of works, while performances, films, workshops, and artist tours dot the calendar throughout the year. Like most private collections in town, entry is free.
Emerson Dorsch Gallery5900 NW 2nd Ave., Little Haiti | 305.576.1278
When EDG opened in Wynwood more than fifteen years ago, it was one of the first to anoint a neighborhood that’s now saturated with local art. Today, the pioneering gallery—founded by former engineer Brook Dorsch and his curator wife, Tyler Emerson—has a new home in Little Haiti, where you’ll presently find a beautiful solo show from Brooklyn-based South Floridian Elisabeth Condon. Photo: Unnatural Life by Elisabeth Condon.
Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami61 NE 41st Street, Design District | 305.901.5272
This newish Design District institution was formed when the board of MoCA North Miami split off from the original institution (the politics and ethics of which have been thoroughly debated within the art world, to no firm resolution). The past firmly behind them, ICA is looking forward to a bright future, with a brand-new, 35,000-square-foot building that opened in late 2017 just around the corner from the de la Cruz Collection. Before the opening, they worked out of the historic Moore building on 2nd Avenue, where they hosted some of the most interesting exhibitions in the city, in no small part due to the influence of their young and (justifiably) hyped chief curator Alex Gartenfeld. Gartenfeld is known for bringing in some of the world's most forward-thinking contemporary artists, and he's also got an incredible collection at his disposal, with some of the city's most important collectors—Martin Margulies, the Braman family, and the de la Cruzes—among the donor pool. It's a critical stop on any walk through the Design District.
Locust Projects3852 N. Miami Ave., Design District | 305.576.8570
Three Miami-based artists got together in 1998 to create a not-for-profit art collective, and Locust Projects was born. At the time it was in the Wynwood neighborhood, but it has since relocated to the Design District. The current show, Horizons by Justin Rancourt and Chuck Yatsuk, is a commentary on the current state of media, the nature of commercialism in our culture, and the appropriation of hope as a marketing device. Previous exhibits have included a series of collage-style self-portraits by Pepe Mar that map that artist’s past and present experiences in the gay cultural meccas of Miami and San Francisco. A recent video installation by LA-based artist Fern Vargas Vargas that explores the relationship between drivers and police.
Margulies Warehouse591 NW 27th St., Wynwood | 305.576.1051
Billionaire real estate developer Martin Z. Margulies has been a fixture of the Miami art scene for more than forty years. His private collection, in a 45,000-square-foot warehouse in Wynwood (he opened it a few years after the Rubells, when the neighborhood looked very different than it does today), showcases major works from contemporary artists across mediums, with an emphasis on sculpture and photography. The Margulies collection separates itself from other private art spaces in the city with its long-time and highly respected curator, Katherine Hinds, who is Margulies's right hand on all collection-related matters. It has built a reputation for spotlighting ambitious sculptural works and immersive installations, like mirrored tile works by Olafur Eliasson, and one of Do Ho Suh's famous silk apartment works. Exhibitions rotate seasonally.
Nina Johnson Gallery6315 N.W. 2nd Ave., Little River | 305.571.2288
Little Haiti’s Nina Johnson Gallery favors emerging artists. Johnson is a well-respected curator in Miami and has a keen sense of the work that will resonate with the community. A prime example is Tom Scicluna’s first commercial show: Named for a fictional address next to the gallery, 6319 NW 2nd Avenue is meditation on Miami’s rapidly changing urban landscape. Scicluna gathered things he found near the gallery and exhibited them to reflect the social and political context. Another recent exhibit was Derek Fordjour’s Ritual—a series of paintings made from acrylic and oil painted on newspaper scraps. These portraits capture men of color in moments of reflection and deep thought, while the grittiness of the paper is intended to subtly echo the poverty of the artist's upbringing in Memphis.
O Cinema Wynwood90 NW 29th St., Wynwood | 305.571.9970
This nonprofit indie theater in a converted warehouse is steps from the Rubell Collection and the Wynwood Walls—though it's tucked away behind the street, so it can be a bit tricky to find. O Cinema regularly screens independent, foreign, art, and classic pop culture films inside the cozy 112-seat theater, and it occasionally hosts outdoor film screenings on the patio. The Wynwood location is the original, but there are now theaters in Miami Beach and Miami Shores, too.
Pérez Art Museum1103 Biscayne Blvd, Edgewater | 305.375.3000
Opened in 2013, the Herzog & de Meuron–designed building has been largely responsible for the renewal of downtown Miami. Funded partially by collector Jorge Pérez, for whom the museum is named, the 20,000-square-foot glass-and-concrete space boasts some 1,800 works from the likes of John Baldessari, Olafur Eliasson, and Dan Flavin. There are also works on display by important Latin American artists including José Bedia and Beatriz González. Don’t miss a walk through the outdoor tropical-plant-dotted sculpture garden, with large-scale sculptures that are breathtaking against the water's edge.
Rubell Collection95 NW 29 St., Wynwood | 305.573.6090
One of the most special collections making up Wynwood’s art-filled galleries, the private holdings of collectors Mera and Donald Rubell are noteworthy on a global scale. The Rubells’ at once controversial, eccentric, and thought-provoking pieces include Andy Warhol, Yayoi Kusama, and Keith Haring in spades. They’re known for supporting young American artists as well. The audio tour, which is included in the price of admission, is incredibly worthwhile. (If you can time it right, plan your visit around one of the twice-daily guided tours, at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.) After twenty-three years in the neighborhood, the family recently announced they’ll be moving their collection to a two-and-a-half-acre campus designed by Selldorf Architects in 2018, which will include forty galleries, a research library, and a tropical sculpture garden.
Spinello Projects7221 N.W. 2nd Ave., Little River | 786.271.4223
Since 2005, Spinello Projects has been the heart of the revamped Little River area. In line with the city’s artistic DNA, Spinello is a space for experimental artists whose work isn’t suited for traditional galleries. The installations are meant to provoke, make you think, maybe make you rethink your positions on social and political issues. Spinello leans into artistic commentary however uncomfortable it may be. A recent example was Antonia Wright’s powerful exhibit intended to reflect the nature of police and riots in our society. The artist was standing behind a police barricade, a living sculpture, facing visitors, who were also in a confined, barricaded space.
Wynwood Walls2520 NW 2 Ave., Wynwood | 305.531.4411
Easily one of the most Instagrammed places in Miami, Wynwood Walls is the brainchild of developer Tony Goldman, who was key in the neighborhood's transformation from forgotten industrial zone to hipster paradise. The industrial buildings here, many of which lack windows, made the perfect canvas for Goldman to bring in what reads like a who's who of graffiti artists, including Shepard Fairey, Ron English, Jeff Soto, Os Gemeos, and Barry McGee, to paint major large-scale murals. Though Goldman has passed away, his wife and children bring new artists to the project every year, breathing fresh life into his colorful legacy. While the best way to experience these pieces is simply to walk around the neighborhood, street art nerds may want to book a tour, as they dig into the specifics behind some of the major pieces.