March 7 2014
An Arty Walk through Miami
Miami is like New York’s spicy Latin cousin! The most famous seaside resort in Florida has become a melting pot of creativity in which emigrants from all over Latin America have come to live, bringing joy and a Latino joie de vivre with them.
And ever since Art Basel first set up in Miami in 2002, the city has become known as the Arty capital of the East Coast of the United States. Galleries have set up in abandoned warehouses in the now very trendy neighborhood of Wynwood. Street artists from all over the world have been flocking to exhibit their tags on the city’s outdoor walls. Even when a new car park is built, it looks more like a work of art than a garage! Miami is the new mecca for artists who want to exhibit their work, whilst also catching a bit of the Florida sun!
In order to get away from South Beach and its beaches full of bimbos in bikinis, one must head to the Wynwood Art District to take in the arty air of this city that has emerged as the new scene for North and South American artists. The landscape of this area has always been dominated by warehouses and small factories. And during the economic crisis, when companies were forced to put the key under the door, street artists took to the walls of the warehouses as huge canvases. As it is impossible to cover the entire neighborhood on foot, fortunately Roam There offers a Vespa tour to discover the most beautiful pieces of street art. Driving your own scooter, you follow a route provided by a cool and clued-up guide. They will explain the stories behind the graffiti to you and let you in on all the current artistic clashes happening in the street. It’s fun and informative. And undoubtedly the best way to discover this up-and-coming district. It is a must to pass by the Ricart Gallery which presents pictures of the French artist Peggy Mella whose work is called “Fragment”, based on extensions, coloring and deconstruction of the image, gives rise to a style that’s abstract and graphic on an XXL scale. And don’t forget your sunglasses…we are in Florida after all! A helmet is not required to ride on two wheels. But sunglasses, definitely! So different, so crazy, so Miami!
The Wynwood Walls, still in the Wynwood Art District, is the playground of the most famous street artists like Shepard Fairey (known to the general public for the Obama “Hope” campaign poster that he created in 2008), Invader, the little Frenchy who dots Space Invader mosaics across the planet, Nunca, Futura, Aiko and many others. The walls of this art complex are completely at the disposal of graffiti artists who make it, day after day, into a very popular museum. Their work is exhibited in the open air to the delight of visitors who come to sample the wonderful cuisine of the Wynwood Kitchen & Bar. The Latin influences of Chef Miguel Aguilar make up a menu that characterized by freedom and inventiveness. The “vaca frita”, chunks of beef marinated then fried, is sumptuous. Just like the rest of the menu that pleasantly surprises the palate. Note that the bar and the inner salon of the Wynwood Kitchen & Bar were decorated by Shepard Fairey himself. A must for all lovers of street art!
The neighborhood of Wynwood does not only shine because of its street art scene. Numerous art galleries have set up here, enjoying the large empty surfaces provided by the empty warehouses. It is here, for example, that Martin Margulies, one of the largest collectors of contemporary art in the United States, has installed his incredible collection to be enjoyed by curious visitors. You might even be lucky enough to meet this colorful character during your visit. He – who, after making a fortune in real estate, devoted his life to art – is the best guide imaginable to take you around his amazing collection of often monumental and imposing pieces by artists like Anselm Kiefer to Song Dong. Not far from the Margulies Warehouse, stop by the Bakehouse Art Complex for a visit. Here, you can view work by over 70 young artists of every nationality housed in this old cookie factory. Many French artists are in residence here. It is a wonderful emulating community of artists who work in studios open to the public. This is the best place to witness the budding artistic scene of Miami. Do not forget, either, to visit the De La Cruz Collection or the CIFO that support artists from Latin America. And all the other small galleries and foundations that continue to settle into this neighborhood, where art can be found at every street corner…
The Miami Art Museum is dead. Long live the Pérez Art Museum Miami! Opened in late 2013, the museum was designed by architectural firm Herzog & De Meuron, whose work is inescapable in Miami. This building made of raw concrete and wood gathers together nearly 2,000 works of art from the 20th and 21st century. It is a beautifully eclectic collection that mainly showcases the work of Latino artists. Even though the paint on the walls is still fresh, the PAMM also aims to provide an event-driven program for today’s greatest contemporary artists. The PAMM is a stunning blank canvas that was eagerly anticipated in this city that moves to the rhythm of art. Note that star chef Stephen Starr, who has thirty restaurants in the U.S. (mainly in Philadelphia), is responsible for feeding visitors at his Verde restaurant. A new argument for why PAMM will become the latest hot spot in Miami…
In order to fulfill the soul of the artist that lives within you, one must forget the bling-bling Art Deco hotels haunted by top models and take refuge at the Betsy Hotel. A beautiful 1930’s house overlooking the sea, located at the end of Ocean Drive but far from the tourist traps of the waterfront so prevalent in South Beach. Completely renovated in 2009, the Betsy has a chic, tropical atmosphere. One can almost imagine Hemingway leaning on the bar. He’s never been here, but who cares. With 60 elegant rooms, and a roof terrace overlooking the sea, everything is attractive in this charming hotel that supports writers by providing a room in which they can come to spend a week in the sun, free of charge, to work on a text. This is an initiative started by the hotel owner whose father, Hyam Plutzik, was a well-known poet and Pulitzer Prize finalist. Anyone can submit an application to stay in this room in which you are supposed to find artistic inspiration. But if you don’t get chosen to stay in this special free room, know that in the classic rooms you will enjoy small, unique touches like a poem placed on your pillow at night…Note, the BLT, the bistro run by French chef Laurent Tourondel, reserves a table her at one of the best eateries in Miami for guests of the Betsy. Ideal for lovers of red meat!
When we crossed the Atlantic to discover Miami, we headed straight for the beaches. Just like everyone else. Slightly less common are those who rush over to visit a parking lot. And yet, 1111 Lincoln Road is so much more than just a place to park your truck. This bold architectural multi-storey car park is a serious work of art. Designed by the architectural firm Herzog & De Meuron, 1111 Lincoln Road looks like a kind of concrete mille-feuille. First of all, it has no exterior walls. The structure appears to be non-existent in order to make the cars parked on the various floors look as though they are suspended in mid-air. The highly graphic 1111 Lincoln Road is fast becoming one of the most photographed monuments in Miami! Another plus: the seventh floor is a clothing store for fashionistas. Alchemist offers a very carefully selected selection of the most fashionable brands of-the-moment in a kind of glass cube positioned directly in the middle of the parking spaces. It is truly amazing, explosive even. And so convenient to be able to park on the doorstep of your favorite boutique!