by The Editors | August 25, 2016

Flamingo’s Guide to Miami Art Week

Artists, gallerists and party people from around the world flock to Florida’s biggest cultural event of the year. Here’s where to stay, eat, play and experience the creative fervor.

Bears by Paola Pivi at Galerie Perrotin; Fairgoers perusing works inside galleries at the Miami Beach Convention Center. Photography by Art Basel

Bears by Paola Pivi at Galerie Perrotin (above); Fairgoers perusing works inside galleries at the Miami Beach Convention Center (middle, below). Photography by Art Basel

Where else can two polar bear sculptures covered with indigo ombre feathers face off, while Sly Stallone exhibits his paintings in the former Versace mansion, and a giant boulder with painted-on googly eyes glares at passersby from atop a crushed car?

As the Will Smith song goes: Welcome to Miami—Art Week.

Miami Art Week, as pretentious as it is outlandish, as brilliant as it is bawdy, and as elite as it is accessible, presents established global artists and up-and-comers in a fabulous, and at times chaotic, week of fairs, exhibitions, performances and parties held from South Beach to Wynwood and all points in between.

Now in its 15th year, Miami Art Week, which has become synonymous with its anchor show, Art Basel, attracts both the experienced art enthusiast, able to spot a Jeff Koons animal sculpture from a mile away, and the novice patron partygoer, equally adept at sniffing out celebrity hangouts. But whatever the attendees’ motivation, the revelries offer experiences for every interest and expertise level. In our guide, Flamingo breaks down the pomp and outlines the circumstances for navigating one of the state’s marquee cultural events.

Art Basel’s outdoor installations; Photography by Art Basel

Art Basel’s outdoor installations; Photography by Art Basel

Miami Art Week, for the uninitiated, generally refers to the roughly two dozen art fairs and countless exhibition openings, pop-up installations, performance art presentations, concerts, cocktail parties and cultural tourists canvassing the city, this year from November 29 through December 4. Art Week’s signature event, Art Basel (pronounced baa-zel) Miami, an American adaptation of a Swiss exhibition considered to be the most prestigious art fair brand in the world, takes place inside the Miami Beach Convention Center (MBCC) in South Beach (a neighborhood in Miami Beach). Hundreds of galleries apply every year to be selected for inclusion in Art Basel, which featured 267 participants last year. Launched in 2002, Art Basel is arguably the most important art showcase in North America, with as much as $3 billion worth of art on display by artists of the highest caliber, from emerging stars like Rolls Royce–commissioned Isaac Julien to blue-chip powerhouses like John Currin, Elizabeth Peyton and David Salle.

Despite an anything-goes dress code bordering on the ridiculous (fairgoers have been seen in everything from full-body unitards with amoeba-like motifs to silk ball gowns to jeans and T-shirts), Art Week means serious business for wealthy collectors snapping up insanely priced pieces at a healthy clip. Some of the most expensive works on view in recent years have included an enormous Alexander Calder mobile made of painted sheet metal, wire and rods, which hung from the MBCC’s rafters and was valued at $35 million, and a Jeff Koons sculpture of a blue elephant at David Zwirner Gallery’s booth that sold for more than $20 million.

Last year, heavy doses of rain and even a bizarre, nonfatal X-Acto knife stabbing, initially presumed to be a performance art work, didn’t deter the crowds from viewing and spending. Art Basel reported 77,000 visitors in 2015, up from 73,000 in 2014. And 2015’s Art Basel saw mega transactions, including the sale of a Francis Bacon oil painting for $15 million. Art Miami (the art fair that started it all in the Magic City) had a lucrative 2015, selling a 1955 Alfonso Ossorio painting, just 45 minutes into an opening party, for $175,000.

An assemblage of 760 bicycles called Stacked by Ai Weiwei Daniel Azoulay; Art Basel Miami

An assemblage of 760 bicycles called Stacked by Ai Weiwei; Photography by Daniel Azoulay

Eight-figure transactions aside, for the culturally curious, Art Week provides the perfect place to immerse oneself in contemporary art and an astonishing array of works created in the last decade. More than two dozen satellite fairs bustle under pop-up tents throughout the city, allowing hundreds of additional galleries, often with more affordable works, to have a presence outside of Art Basel. Each of these fairs—including NADA, Art Miami and Untitled, Art—host a robust roster of events and programs throughout the week.

For a more bespoke experience, VIP passes for satellite fairs abound and are available on fair websites in advance of Art Week. With a little notice, regional museums and galleries throughout Florida are often happy to help members secure passes to Art Week events ahead of time. Tougher to come by are Art Basel VIP passes, reserved mostly for the professionals—strongly represented artists, collectors, museum leaders, curators and art advisers.

But real people in search of real art culture need only follow our guide to Art Week and Art Basel. Tell ’em Flamingo sent you.

A TALE OF 2 ART WEEKS

One Weekend, Two Itineraries, in Miami Beach and in Town

Separated by the sparkling Biscayne Bay, marquee Art Week events take place both on mainland Miami and in Miami Beach. The now-legendary Art Week traffic crossing the bridges between the two areas can quickly kill the festive, enlightened mood of the weekend without a well-thought-out plan. Simplify logistics and minimize car time by booking a hotel on the side of the bay where you intend to do the majority of your exploring. Stay in Miami Beach for Art Basel and mainland Miami for the Design District and urban museum and gallery experience. Research traffic-busting ride-share programs and download relevant apps onto your smartphone. Last year, UberBoat made a splash shuttling culture tourists between Miami Beach and the mainland on luxury yachts.

STAYING IN MIAMI BEACH

Art Basel  •  TIME: Half a day

Art Basel is the vortex and signature fair of Art Week. The sprawling show takes up the entire MBCC and deserves at least half a day to see it properly. Grab a guided tour for intros to artwork and backgrounds on artists. Book tours ahead of time at 1901 Convention Center Dr., artbasel.com.

Bass Museum of Art  •  TIME: 2+ hours
The Bass Museum near the MBCC; Photography by Robin Hill, Art Basel

The Bass Museum near the MBCC; Photography by Robin Hill, Art Basel

Bass Museum of Art, a jewel in the Art Deco District, is situated only a short walk from Art Basel. After a major expansion that increased the exhibition space, the stone-faced museum is scheduled to reopen in time for Art Week. Every year, the museum, which features a lush grass promenade leading to its entrance, hosts a large sculpture installation in nearby Collins Park, a free public space offering a great oceanfront respite after meandering through the convention center. 2100 Collins Ave., bassmuseum.org 

New Art Dealers Alliance (NADA) and UNTITLED  •  TIME: 2+ hours each

New Art Dealers Alliance (NADA) and UNTITLED, Art fair highlight works by emerging and more well-known artists for serious collectors. NADA, located this year in The Deauville Beach Resort, and Untitled, Art fair, held outside on the beach, both present a selection of galleries specializing in trailblazing artworks and have a reputation for attracting heavy-hitting collectors seeking new talent. 6701 Collins Ave., newartdealers.org; on the sand at Ocean Dr. and 12th St., art-untitled.com 

Design Miami  •  TIME: 1+ hours

Design Miami caters to furniture junkies and Mad Men lovers. Design Miami is
a must-see for those who appreciate innovative design, plus it’s housed in a venue adjacent to the MBCC. Billed as the premier venue for design, this fair displays 20th and 21st century furniture, lighting and objets d’art. Last year, there were works from New York, Rome, London, Brussels, Beijing, São Paulo and more. Meridian Ave. and 19th St., designmiami.com 

The Wolfsonian–FIU  •  TIME: 1+ hours

In the heart of the Art Deco District, The Wolfsonian–FIU stands out as a tall, white Lego-castle-like building with an ornate beige trim. Recognized as one of the best design and decorative arts museums in the country, the Wolfsonian–FIU hosted a 2015 collaboration between a Brazilian musician and the Miami-based Phenomenal Experience Agency, which transformed the place into an immersive performance installation tying into the museum’s World War I collection. 1001 Washington Ave., wolfsonian.org 

MIAMI BEACH HOTELS

The Raleigh Hotel in South Beach; Photography The Raleigh Hotel

The Raleigh Hotel in South Beach; Photography The Raleigh Hotel

Built in 1940, The Raleigh hotel reigns as an Art Deco landmark known for its beachfront swimming pool and super-chic private cabana service. Within walking distance of the MBCC, it welcomes guests with a dreamy, striped-curtain canopy at the entrance. 1775 Collins Ave., raleighhotel.com

Fontainebleau Lapis spa essence mineral co-ed jet pool; Photgraphy the Fontainebleau

Fontainebleau Lapis spa essence mineral co-ed jet pool; Photgraphy by Fontainbleau Miami Beach

The Fabulous Faena Hotel which opened earlier this year. Photography by Todd Eberle

The Fabulous Faena Hotel which opened earlier this year. Photography by Todd Eberle

Fontainebleau, a fabulous mid-century treasure, offers several dining options, making it easy to grab dinner after a long day of painting and sculpture appreciation. Prepare for possible paparazzi, as it’s a favorite for the A-list jet set, including Kate Hudson, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez. 4441 Collins Ave., fontainebleau.com

One of the newer super-luxury setups, the Faena Hotel houses numerous art installations and the nearby Faena Forum, an arts space with public programs. This 5-star hotel earns its rep with gilded columns and stunning architectural details throughout, as well as butler service providing French-pressed morning coffee and charming bartenders creating just-right nightcaps. 3201 Collins Ave., faena.com

MIAMI BEACH EATS

Matador terrace dining room; Photography by The Miami Beach EDITION

Matador terrace dining room; Photography by The Miami Beach EDITION

If you want to try an all-star chef, consider the Matador Room at the uber posh Edition hotel and the Caribbean and Latin American–inspired cuisine by the Michelin-starred chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten. A chic, circular dining section with sleek, earth-toned decor encompasses intimate tables, making everyone feel like part of the in-crowd. Do consider sharing plates like the avocado pizza, but don’t let the cocktails give you the liquid courage to try on the golden matador jacket on display. 2901 Collins Ave., matadorroom.com

27 Restaurant & Bar with cozy mid-century modern furnishings; Photography by Justin Namon

27 Restaurant & Bar with cozy mid-century modern furnishings; Photography by Justin Namon

For more relaxed, casual fare, try the 27 Restaurant & Bar at the Freehand hotel and savor a super social, communal-table adventure. The music and food beautifully meld Caribbean, Latin American, Asian and Middle Eastern cultures and cuisines. This space connects with a craft-cocktail bar called the Broken Shaker, a James Beard Award semifinalist. 2727 Indian Creek Dr., thefreehand.com

A Gathering at The Dutch Miami led by two time-winning-James-Beard chef. Photography by Noah Fecks

A Gathering at The Dutch Miami led by two time-winning-James-Beard chef. Photography by Noah Fecks

Close to Art Basel, The Dutch at the W Hotel provides New American fare from two-time James Beard–winning chef Andrew Carmellini. Start with a savory treat from the trendy Oyster Room, such as stone crabs, and end with a delicious slice of pie, made fresh every day. 2201 Collins Ave., thedutchmiami.com

STAYING ON MAINLAND MIAMI

Art Miami & CONTEXT  •  TIME: 2+ hours

Art Miami with its sister fair, CONTEXT, is the leading international contemporary and modern art fair outside of Art Basel. Now in its 26th year, it is Miami’s longest-running art fair, showcasing important works from the 20th and 21st centuries. This fair occurs in midtown Miami at a complex in the Wynwood Arts District. Context, launched in 2012, spotlights emerging and mid-career artists and promotes robust and fluid dialogue between artists, gallerists, collectors and enthusiastic learners. 3101 NE 1st Ave., artmiamifair.com; 2901 NE 1st Ave., contextartmiami.com 

Pérez Art Museum Miami  •  TIME: 1+ hours
Pérez Art Museum Miami, east facade. Armando-MannyofMiami_rev

Pérez Art Museum Miami; Photography by PAMM

The Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) is the largest museum in the region dedicated to international contemporary art and was designed by award-winning international architects Herzog & de Meuron, currently working on the Tate Modern in London. It’s a stunning structure that celebrates Miami’s lush, tropical climate with bayside views and cascading green gardens. Inside, take a trip around the world with works by international artists, particularly from Latin America and the Caribbean. 1103 Biscayne Blvd., pamm.org 

Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami  •  TIME: 1+ hours

Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami (ICA Miami), located in the Design District, has mind-blowing Pop, Conceptual, and Op art exhibitions. Led by chief curator Alex Gartenfeld, the ICA has attracted the attention of the glitter-arti. This spot has staged some of the most engaging shows in the city, such as The Van (Redux) by video and performance artist Alex Bag. 4040 NE 2nd Ave., icamiami.org 

The Margulies Collection, the Rubell Family Collection & de la Cruz Collection  •  TIME: 1+ hours each

The private holdings of The Margulies Collection at the WAREHOUSE and the Rubell Family Collection in Wynwood, and the de la Cruz Collection in the Design District contain some of the best contemporary works in the world. These places provide a uniquely personalized art outing, and are all relatively close to each other. 591 NW 27th St., margulieswarehouse.com; 95 NW 29th St.rfc.museum.com; 23 NE 41st St., delacruzcollection.org 

Wynwood Arts District  •  TIME: 1+ hours each

For al fresco art, visit the Wynwood Walls, a public space where some of the world’s most renowned muralists, street and graffiti artists are invited to share their supersized skills on the exterior walls of nearby buildings. The Walls reside in the Wynwood Arts District, an area that was once considered up-and-coming but now has most certainly arrived, with an edgy but polished mix of eateries, shops and, of course, galleries. Notable spaces include Dina Mitrani Gallery and The Screening Room. (Check our Bird’s Eye map for more must-sees in this hip area.) 2520 NW 2nd Ave., thewynwoodwalls.com 

Little Haiti  •  TIME: 1+ hours each

Miami has a sprawling gallery scene in Little Haiti (also known as Lemon City) filled with several privately owned spaces including Michael Jon & Alan, Noguchi Breton, Mindy Solomon Gallery, Gallery Diet, Pan American Art Projects, and IRL Institute. Between 54th St. and 79th St., and NW 6th Ave. and NE 2nd Ave, miamigov.com 

MIAMI HOTELS

Although it’s considered an integral part of the MiMo movement (resort glamour and tropical modern buildings from the ’50s and ’60s), led by prominent architect Robert Swartburg, The Vagabond Hotel has a cartoonish, Technicolor facade. Far from tired, it’s been recently refreshed and renovated in a “retro-luxe” spirit. With 44 happily hued guest rooms, a gym, restaurant, sizable pool and outdoor bar, it sits just minutes from the Design District and Little Haiti. 7301 Biscayne Blvd., thevagabondhotel.com

Rooftop pool cabanas at Epic Hotel Miami; Photography by Epic Hotel

Rooftop pool cabanas at Epic Hotel Miami; Photography by Epic Hotel

Downtown Miami’s EPIC Hotel has wide-open views of Biscayne Bay and the city’s famous skyline and is approximately a mile from PAMM, the Miami Dade College Museum of Art + Design, Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation and Dimensions Variable. Situated right alongside the buzzing Brickell business district and the vibrant Biscayne Bay area, the hotel’s rooftop pool, private cabanas and Exhale spa might just have to wait for your next visit. 270 Biscayne Blvd. Way, epichotel.com

East, Miami is convenient for out-of-towners, as it’s just a 15-minute drive to the airport and located in the middle of a semi-completed shopping and dining zone called Brickell City Centre. Though it’s a new space in a developing area, the hotel adds cachet and warmth with bright public installations and a rooftop bar with a stunning outlook, Sugar. 788 Brickell Plaza, east-miami.com

MIAMI EATS

Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink, in the Miami Design District near the ICA Miami, is the debut effort of James Beard Award–winning chef and owner Michael Schwartz. His mission to provide food made from fresh and local ingredients via a neighborhood bistro has panned out, satisfying appetites of all sizes with a variety of yummy options, from Greek farro salad to duck confit to a hearty wood-oven-roasted snapper. 130 NE 40th St., michaelsgenuine.com

In the center of the Wynwood Arts District, Alter has quickly gained a glowing reputation for its intricate, seasonal fare thoughtfully created by Jean-Georges Vongerichten–trained chef Bradley Kilgore. (See Grove Stand in this issue for an in-depth look at what makes this restaurant special.) 223 NW 23rd St., altermiami.com

An array of desserts at Verde inside PAMM; Photography by PAMM

An array of desserts at Verde inside PAMM; Photography by PAMM

With prime real estate inside PAMM, Verde is a beloved brunch and lunch spot that closes at
5 p.m. on weekends. Check ahead for Art Week hours. Regardless of when you dine there, be proactive and reserve an outdoor table for superior Biscayne Bay views. 1103 Biscayne Blvd., pamm.org

MUSEUMS

Outside of the fairs, the city’s larger art museums, such as the Bass Museum of Art and the Institute of Contemporary Art, host their most ambitious exhibitions during Art Week. Last year, the Nader Latin American Art Museum exhibited 15 large-scale sculptures by world-renowned Colombian master Fernando Botero in Bayfront Park. At the Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM), musician Devonté Hynes and artist Ryan McNamara took over the terrace to present “Dimensions,” an immersive collaboration that blended dance, music and sculpture. Dozens of arts nonprofits also exhibit during the week.

Peformance at PAMM party; Photography by PAMM

Peformance at PAMM party; Photography by PAMM

PARTIES

On the ground in Miami, don’t worry that the best events are exclusive, velvet-rope-only affairs. Whether you fly by the seat of your pants or plan in advance, parties await. Plenty of spontaneous pop-up cocktail parties and art shows are open to the public. Hundreds of Art Week parties, private and public, have cropped up all over town as companies spend lavish amounts to attract the highly affluent culture tourists. In 2013, Louis Vuitton hosted a fabulous fete at The Raleigh hotel’s beachside garden, to showcase a reconstructed beach house by the late French modernist Charlotte Perriand. Two years later, Bacardi and Swizz Beatz presented a hybrid art fair and three-night house party concert series in Wynwood, with an open bar sponsored by the former and performances by Alicia Keys, DMX and Wiz Khalifa. Last year PAMM embraced a kinetic theme, entertaining guests with eight moving sculptural platforms featuring live dancers and musicians. 2016 party details will emerge closer to Art Week.


6 TIPS FOR NOVICE ART BUYERS

Ladies and Gentlemen by Hassan Sharif; Photography by Art Basel

Ladies and Gentlemen by Hassan Sharif; Photography by Art Basel

  1. Prices throughout the fairs range from a few hundred dollars to a few million dollars. Be prepared to see more four- and five-figure buys than three-figure deals.
  2. Engage with gallerists (they won’t bite) and ask questions about artworks of interest.
  3. If your taste in art exceeds your budget, ask about similar but less expensive works and artists.
  4. Join gallery mailing lists to keep informed about future works.
  5. Haggle. A discount or a payment plan may be realistic possibilities for novices.
  6. Don’t buy art as a financial investment. Buy art because you can’t live without it.

 

Contributed reporting by Ricardo Mor