By Chris Umpierre
From its colorful Wynwood murals to its shining new art museums to its hip Design District, Miami exudes art. You can’t go anywhere in this town without seeing this staple of Miami life.
Miami’s arts metamorphosis — most of which occurred in the last 15 years — has helped attract the world’s wealthy, fuel a modern skyline and transform a beach town into a top global city.
One of the catalysts for this new Miami began in 2002 when Art Basel, the Switzerland-based art fair, made Miami Beach its American home. Art Basel Miami Beach — the biggest contemporary-art fair in the United States and one of the largest in the world — showcases Miami every December in front of the world’s top collectors, gallerists, artists and industry professionals.
The 15th annual fair — which runs from Dec. 1-4 — is expected to field more than $3 billion in art, draw more than 77,000 visitors and attract more private jets (800) than the Super Bowl. Art Basel Miami Beach has shown the world Miami is an arts destination. Its popularity boosted local real estate as more international investors and homebuyers made Miami home. Art Basel’s popularity encouraged developers and local government to launch and fund new museums and cultural institutions.
Miami has shown how a city can market itself around culture. Arts create a sense of place, attract tourists and educate and inspire citizens to develop new ideas. In recent years, Miami has become known around the world for its cutting-edge building designs. Architects like the late Zaha Hadid choose the city.
The unique exoskeleton structure of Hadid’s 1000 Museum (a high-rise residential condominium under construction in Downtown Miami) and the concrete-and-glass, internationally acclaimed design of the 1111 Lincoln Road parking garage are two examples.
New museums such as the Pérez Art Museum Miami, the Institute of Contemporary Art Miami and the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science have been completed or are on their way.
The skyline has changed, too, as developers built high-rise hotels and luxury condominiums to accommodate the affluent international visitors who want to live, work and play here.
Miami’s Growing Cultural Infrastructure
The success of Art Basel Miami Beach has led to the development of The Miami Design District (a shopping destination dedicated to innovative fashion, design and art), Wynwood (a hip Miami neighborhood with more than 70 galleries, museums and collections), and a revitalized Downtown Miami (America’s fastest growing neighborhood that just so happens to be home to the most cultural institutions in the Southeast).
Downtown’s two largest art institutions: The Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts and the Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) opened after Art Basel Miami Beach’s first show in 2002. The Arsht Center (2006 opening) is Florida’s largest performing arts center. PAMM (2013 opening) is a modern and contemporary art museum.
The Arsht and PAMM are located adjacent to each other at Museum Park in Downtown Miami. The centers will soon get a third arts destination when the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science opens at Museum Park in early 2017.
Frost isn’t the only new art museum under construction. The Institute of Contemporary Art Miami’s new permanent 37,500-square-foot Design District home is nearing completion.
Cities throughout South Florida are also adding to the region’s cultural infrastructure. North Miami has the Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami. Miami Beach has the Bass Museum of Art. Coconut Grove has the Vizcaya Museum & Gardens. Fort Lauderdale has the Museum of Discovery & Science. The Miami Children’s Museum and Coral Castle Museum are two other cultural institutions.
Some of the biggest art deals in the world are made at Art Basel Miami Beach. Celebrities such as Leonardo DiCaprio, Tommy Hilfiger and Sean “Diddy” Combs arrive each year to get a chance to look at some of the best pieces of art in the world.
Works by Jeff Koons, Andy Warhol, Picasso and so many more artists are on display. At last year’s fair, a New York dealer sold Picasso’s Buste au Chapeau (1971) for $10.5 million.
The fair opens with invitation-only dates (Nov. 30-Dec. 1). Major art deals happen. Then the fair opens to the public for four days (Dec. 1-4).
There is no VIP section. Anyone can buy a ticket. Families are allowed. Tickets cost $50. Children under 12 are free. It is a unique scene. Few other places in the world offers the public the ability to see work by Picasso and Warhol so close.
Miami Art Week will also feature 22 satellite fairs in close proximity to Art Basel at the Miami Beach Convention Center.
Art Miami, a 27-year fair, now takes place in December to take advantage of the Art Basel phenomenon. Art Miami will have 280 galleries in three locations across midtown and South Beach.
The Miami arts phenomenon and growth of Art Basel Miami Beach has also had an indelible impact on Miami’s youth through the years.
Art Basel donates fair passes each year to hundreds of high school students in the Miami-Dade County Public Schools District. Walking in step with Miami’s art phenomenon, MDCPS offers acclaimed visual arts education.
“One thing that gets missed with Art Basel is the enthusiasm that it generates in our children, in our youth,” Douglas Elliman Florida CEO Jay Parker said during the MIAMI Association of REALTORS® (MIAMI) 22nd annual International Real Estate Congress in November.
“I think the arts are the way of the future. I think making our city a showcase and a spotlight for every type of visual art you can imagine really invigorates and gives our children an opportunity to dream big and look for creative ways to present their ideas.”
From its youth to its skyline to its museums to its neighborhoods, the arts have redefined Miami. No longer is Miami a beach town. It’s a top global city where art and artists are educational, fun, welcoming and enriching.
Photos courtesy Art Basel