You’re going to love the view.
Miami’s come a long way. Once considered a downtrodden retirement community, the city is undergoing a cultural renaissance that has the entire world paying attention. Gone are the days where Miami is viewed solely as a place to party: Cultural fairs like Miami Book Fair and Art Basel Miami Beach have drawn thousands of patrons to Miami’s shores, ushering in a new wave of art lovers and makers in the city. In the last 10 years, a swarm of new arts institutions, galleries, and neighborhoods have started popping up, a multicultural mishmash of artists from across the globe. From the Wynwood arts district to the celebrated new Perez Art Museum by the bay, Miami is making its mark as one of the most culturally-forward cities in the country.
Want to get better acquainted with Miami’s arts scene? Hit these five spots for a healthy dose of visual candy in between getting your Vitamin D fix.
Head downtown for the city’s flagship art museum
First founded in the 1990s, Perez Art Museum Miami evolved from a scarcely visited art museum to one of the most exciting cultural institutions in the country, and one of its most beautiful to boot. The Herzog & deMeuron designed building is situated directly on Miami’s Biscayne Bay, and features hanging gardens and an environmentally responsive design. Located in the center of downtown Miami, PAMM welcomes traveling exhibitions by world-class artists: since opening in 2013, PAMM has presented shows by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, Brooklyn-based Jamaican artist Nari Ward, and Spanish legend Antoni Tapies. Always aiming a lens at the cultural diversity of the city in which it resides, PAMM often presents exhibitions centered on themes of diaspora, identity, geography and climate. Its permanent collection is comprised largely of works by Caribbean and Latin American artists like Wifredo Lam, Glexis Novoa, and Simon Vega.
Wynwood studio spaces at Bakehouse Art Complex
Long before Wynwood Art Walk became the out-of-control street party that it is today, the Bakehouse Art Complex has inviting patrons to check out their warehouse studios every second Saturday of the month. Today, if you want to have your finger on the pulse of Miami’s up-and-coming artistic talent, there’s only one place to go. Dubbing itself an “incubator of creativity,” BAC houses artists-in-residence while offering educational programs and community events. Currently comprised of 60 individual artist studios, artists are selected by a jury of curators, gallerists, and fellow artists. For novices and budding artists, BAC offers classes in printmaking, drawing, and portfolio making, in case you want to get your own artistic career up to speed.
Take to the city streets
A city as vibrant as Miami has the street cred to match. Walk in any of Miami’s iconic neighborhoods and the streets will seem to be exploding with color. Street art is literally everywhere you turn – many would credit Wynwood’s Walls as planting the seed that gave artists across Miami permission to use public spaces to make art: Artists like Shephard Fairey and Kenny Scharf lead the way for artists like Nicole Salgar and Kazilla, who paint their psychedelic femme-inspired murals on the walls at popular Wynwood establishments. In Little Havana, artists like Didi Contreras and Krave paint their signature fly girls. Downtown, AHOL Sniffs Glue and LeBo scrawl their graphic images across Biscayne Boulevard. The city of Miami is a gallery in and of itself.
Gallery hop in Little River
Most local galleries got their start in Wynwood, light years before the neighborhood became the arts and entertainment destination that it is today. But as rents keep rising and space becomes scarce, many of the city’s cultural pioneers are decamping to Little River, a neighborhood just north of the bustling Design District. Most gallerists prefer Little River because there’s no shortage of unique properties – gallerist Nina Johnson, for example, moved her seminal Gallery Diet to a former church compound, complete with lush vegetation and 1930s church that served as the perfect backdrop for Johnson’s design-focused artists. Next, wander over to Spinello Projects, where director Anthony Spinello presents works by the next big names in the Miami art world. Slightly north, FU gallery prefers to work with Latin American artists, often opting to present shows by local artists flying under the radar of the usual who’s who.
Scour the city’s private collections
Across Miami, long-time art collectors are opening their doors to patrons. One of the more extensive collections in America – let alone Miami – The Rubells have been collecting contemporary art since the 1960s, and house their works in a two-floor space near Wynwood. Nearby in the Design District, the De La Cruz Collection present their collection on rotating exhibitions, with artists like Hernan Bas, Jose Bedía, and Ana Mendieta included in the fold. At CIFO downtown, Venezuelan media magnate Ella Cisneros-Fontanal presents artworks she’s been collecting since the 1970s. Particularly interested in geometric abstraction by Latin American artists and photography and video installations, expect to see works by Carlos Cruz Diez, Francesca Woodman, and Carlos Motta.