Since Art Basel debuted in Miami Beach 20 years ago, the city’s star has been steadily on the rise. While many might have discarded Miami as a cultural wasteland years ago, the arrival of the fairs—along with the addition of world-class museums like the Pérez Art Museum Miami and the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami, plus the opportunity to access some of the best private collections in the world including the Rubell Museum and the de la Cruz Collection—has put Miami on the map. And while the headlining events and institutions may have attracted the global art world in the first place, Miami’s homegrown contemporary artists, galleries, and exhibition spaces are what make the city so compelling. Here’s what’s new and now in the Miami art world.
3 Trends to Spot
Women and Art
According to UBS and Arts Economics’ new report, The Role of Cities in the U.S. Art Ecosystem, by cultural economist Clare McAndrew, Miami stands out as the only city where emerging female artists were more likely to be exhibited for the first time over their male peers in both museums and commercial galleries. In particular, The Bass Museum of Art on Miami Beach has amplified local women artists over the last several years. In 2021, the museum launched its public artwork initiative, “New Monuments,” with Your Momma’s Voice in the Back of Your Head by Najja Moon; in 2022 the project was awarded to Charo Oquet. Also in 2022, The Bass debuted Cara Despain’s solo exhibition, “Specter.”
“The Bass is committed to presenting international contemporary art of excellence, and the women artists we have shown represent some of the best and brightest in the field,” says Leilani Lynch, curator at The Bass. “We are proud to be a platform for artists who reflect the vibrant diversity and strong artistic perspectives within our community.”
The art world generally seems to be having a moment with figurative painting, and that certainly reigns true in Miami as well. Hyperrealist portraiture remains one of the most sought-after types of work globally, and Miami painters such as Cornelius Tulloch and Thomas Bils put their own spin on this timeless genre. Artists like Bernadette Despujols and Jared McGriff also lean into the figurative realm, mixing in their singular approaches to portraiture with dreamlike strokes and elements of abstraction.
In a city recently named ground zero for climate change by the Biden administration, it’s not surprising that a number of local artists have its impact front of mind. Many of the Miami artists unpacking this topic are considering how their work can help to identify solutions and also galvanizing action among the population at-large by making public engagement a primary focus of their art.
“Climate change has and continues to be an important topic for many local artists who see how it is directly affecting their surrounding landscape and most proximal communities, especially those of color,” says Laura Novoa, assistant director of programs and community engagement at the Bakehouse Art Complex where she has curated numerous shows related to the climate crisis. “For artists in Miami who are witnessing the ecological, political, and social aspects of environmental degradation, sea level rise, and climate gentrification right before their eyes, making art and sharing it with a larger audience becomes both a cathartic exercise and a call to action.”
Artist Lauren Shapiro invites the public to help create coral molds for her large-scale ceramic sculptures, which resemble canyons of coral, flora, and fauna that will eventually decay. Lee Pivnik asks followers to comment on his Instagram account with the climate-resilient structure of their dreams—suggestions he inputs into an AI illustrator to create visual representations of crowdsourced ideas for ways to weather climate change and Miami’s perilous housing market.
3 Miami Artists on the Rise
Miami doesn’t come up short on talent. In the past, many local artists often felt a need to leave Miami in order to find career success—but that’s increasingly working in reverse: The city has continuously attracted artists from different parts of the country or even the world who come to Miami to access opportunities like grants, public art commissions, and eager new collectors.
A fairly recent Miami transplant, Los Angeles–born GeoVanna Gonzalez pushes the boundaries of the public and private realms and examines gender and identity with sculptural works that are activated through film, performance, and dance. Gonzalez’s work was recently exhibited at the ICA Miami, The Bass Museum, and Locust Projects, and she keeps a studio at the Bakehouse Art Complex.
After relocating to Miami in 2021 and settling in a large and luminous Miami studio, Cuban artist Alejandro Piñeiro Bello has been working on a series of surrealist paintings inspired by the writings of Christopher Columbus and his initial landing in the Americas. Through his work, Piñeiro Bello hopes to reflect on how the Americas were fetishized and ravaged by the horrors of colonialism.
Originally from New York, Haitian American artist Stephen Arboite has worked out of Little Haiti’s Fountainhead Studios for many years and is represented by N’namdi Contemporary. With an emphasis on the historical significance of coffee in the Caribbean and Atlantic slave trade, Arboite uses it as his primary material, integrating grinds, stained filters, and brewed remains into large-scale works that depict scenes from his own dreams. For Arboite, art is a path to collective healing and a journey into personal identity.
3 Museum Exhibitions Not to Miss
It’s almost daunting to imagine hitting every single exhibition or event Miami Art Week has to offer; being selective is the only way to survive the week’s festivities. While going to the fairs might be your top priority, don’t miss a few sensational shows happening at museums around town.
Leandro Erlich, “Liminal” at the Pérez Art Museum Miami
Organized by guest curator Dan Cameron, “Liminal” is a showcase of Argentine artist Leandro Erlich’s interactive, monographic works. Comprising 16 playful installations, the exhibition invites viewers to submerge themselves in the artist’s large-scale swimming pool, travel through the floor in his fantastical elevator, or have their hair snipped at the beauty salon; Erlich simulates these experiences in a way that’s both ironic and starkly personal to his Argentine heritage. The show will be on view November 29 to September 4.
Didier William, “Nou Kite Tout Sa Dèyè” at the Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami
Miami-raised artist Didier William will present his first comprehensive survey at North Miami’s MOCA. Didier’s large-scale works weave printmaking, etching, and low-relief sculpture onto wood to figuratively express his experience as a Haitian immigrant in America. Perhaps one of William’s most striking artistic signatures is the way in which he carves thousands of eyes directly into his work, an allusion to the negative attention often placed on Black bodies. The exhibit, which features both new paintings and earlier works, opens November 2 and will be on display until April 16.
Hervé Télémaque, “1959-1964” at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami
Debuting November 29 and on display through April 30, “Hervé Télémaque: 1959-1964” focuses on the Haitian-born artist’s first five years of art production. It was during this period of time that Télémaque—who would become one of the leading painters of the postwar era—was acclimating to life in New York City and being confronted with racial segregation in a way he had yet to experience, a reality that is present in many of his early abstract paintings. After he relocated to Paris in 1961, he began to infuse his signature abstraction with a politicized grotesqueness, utilizing it as the visual vocabulary to depict the colonialism he had faced in the U.S. Toward the end of this era, Télémaque began to flirt with the principles of Pop Art, which would permeate his later work.
3 Galleries to Know
Get out and about during Miami Art Week to visit some of the area’s most
Since its founding in the early 1990s, Emerson Dorsch has committed to showcasing work by mid-career Miami-based artists. The gallery specifically chooses to work with artists who have some exhibition history and are eager to put forth new ideas into the local vernacular. Its artist roster includes Karen Rifas, who creates large-scale geometric abstractions in boldly colored hues; Brookhart Jonquil, whose glass-and-mirror sculptures utilize light to create sensational optical illusions; and Philip Lique, whose multidisciplinary practice spans installation, drawing, and sculpture with unmistakable wit. Originally based in Wynwood, the gallery decamped to Little Haiti some years ago, and it continues to exhibit work by Miami artists alongside exhibitions featuring artists from other parts of the country. This year, the gallery will once again participate in the Untitled Art fair from November 29 to December 3.
Founded in 2005 and situated in the Miami Design District, David Castillo is one of the city’s most venerated galleries, with its eponymous founder at the helm. Castillo’s primary focus is to place the artists he represents in major museums and collections around the world, infiltrating cultural and critical spaces with dynamic new aesthetics and ideas. A graduate of Yale University, Castillo has a penchant for sourcing up-and-coming talent from his alma mater. His program also includes minted art stars like the late Belkis Ayôn (whose work was most recently featured in “The Milk of Dreams,” the headline exhibition at this year’s Venice Biennale) alongside younger artists such as Vaughn Spann, Xaviera Simmons, Jillian Mayer and Kalup Linzy. David Castillo is one of just two Miami galleries invited to exhibit at Art Basel year after year. Be sure to check out his booth at the 2022 fair.
This Allapattah gallery run by Anthony Spinello focuses on uplifting its mostly local artists. Spinello was one of the first gallerists to exhibit Agustina Woodgate, an Argentine artist whose work has been featured in collaborations with Art Basel and was part of the 2019 Whitney Biennial. Spinello also represents Reginald O’Neal, a local painter whose sensitive, Goya-esque portraits of family and loved ones have been on display at the Rubell Museum since Miami Art Week 2021. As an innovative platform also presenting site-specific and nomadic projects, Spinello’s “Fair.” (an initiative he ran in the Brickell City Center for two consecutive years) showcased work by female artists who did not have commercial gallery representation. In 2022, Spinello Projects will participate in Art Basel’s Nova section.
Previewing three of this season’s highest profile art fairs
When: December 1-3
Where: Miami Beach Convention Center
Celebrating its twentieth year in Miami Beach, Art Basel 2022 will include 283 of the world’s leading galleries, making it the largest ABMB to date. Highlights include the Positions sector, which will feature 19 solo presentations from the likes of Tonia Nneji, Leslie Martinez, and Ishi Glinsky. The fair will also mount special anniversary highlights to be announced soon.
When: November 30 to December 4
Where: Art Miami Pavilion, 1 Herald Plaza at N.E. 14th Street
For six days, Art Miami will showcase works from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, culled from more than 155 galleries and created by more than 600 acclaimed artists. To discover emerging, mid-career, and cutting-edge artists, mosey over to the event’s sister fair, Context Art Miami.
When: November 30 to December 4
Where: Pride Park, Miami Beach
Decor and design lovers flock to this fair for its curated global collection of twentieth and twenty-first century furniture, lighting, and objets d’art. Themed around “The Golden Age: Looking to the Future,” Design Miami/ 2022 will welcome 50 galleries and exhibitors in its main booths and Curio program.