As the latest edition of Art Basel Miami Beach touches down in South Florida this week, local galleries and artist-run spaces have put on a visual feast across Miami, claiming their space as a self-standing arts ecosystem and beacon in its own right. These shows are unique to Miami, ranging from major showcases for Caribbean, Latinx, and Black artists to exhibitions on some of the city’s most pressing issues like rising real estate prices and climate gentrification crisis. Some of these local gems are on the mainland, and further away from Miami Beach, so less traffic is guaranteed.
Here is a brief glimpse of five of the city’s most exciting local shows to see during Art Basel Miami Beach, as well as several honorable mentions.
“Making Miami” in Design District
There continues to be an outsider narrative about Miami’s art history beginning when Art Basel first arrived in 2002. Part exhibition, permanent digital archive, and book, “Making Miami,” curated by Katerina Llanes and produced by Vivek Jayaram, aims to challenge this narrative. Some of Miami’s longest-running nonprofit spaces date back to the 1980s and ’90s: Locust Projects, Dimensions Variable, Bass Fisher Invitational, and Diaspora Vibe have long showcased the artists who made Miami’s arts community and helped shaped the city. Focusing on the period between 1996 and 2012, and featuring some 50 Miami-based artists, the exhibition, has five distinct parts in a 20,000-square-foot lot in the heart of the Design District.
Artists have re-created and rebuilt 4 of these artist-run or nonprofit gallery spaces that are still standing strong. Each gallery will curate their own shows of Miami artists from a specific era. An outdoor sculpture garden will feature large works by artists such as Jen Stark, Friends With You, and Daniel Arsham’s Snarkitecture. The accompanying book contains about 90 conversations with artists, curators, gallery owners, collectors, and others who were active during that period.
December 6–December 26, in Miami’s Design District, at 75 NE 39th St, Miami.
“Bridge Deconstruction Site” at The Wolfsonian–FIU
Jim Crow–era zoning laws once divided Miami, and Black people could only access Miami Beach to work but had to leave by nightfall. Multidisciplinary artist Loni Johnson, who was born and raised in Miami, sees her work as creating space for self-realization and dialogue that honors Black women and ancestors through rituals, silence, beauty, and song. Her performance, 5:31 Sundown Procession, honored a century of Black service workers who passed through Miami Beach, never being able to claim that space as their own. The gathering on December 1 met at the beach and processed into the the Wolfsonian’s Bridge Tender House building, where Johnson activated a high-spirited altar, followed by a panel. 5:31 Sundown Procession is part of an ongoing series of projects titled “Bridge Deconstruction Site,” organized by Department of Reflection, a Miami artist collective that creates art in public spaces founded by Misael Soto.
Through February 4, 2024, at The Wolfsonian–FIU, 1001 Washington Avenue, Miami Beach.
“Reginald O’Neal: And I Think to Myself” at Spinello Projects
Miami-based painter Reginald O’Neal’s solo show at Spinello Projects comes hand in hand with his participation in ABMB’s Meridians section, for larger-scaled projects. Growing up in Overtown, Miami’s historically African American neighborhood, O’Neal has painted murals and artworks about how incarceration impacts the families of those incarcerated and the overpolicing of Black communities across the US. O’Neil’s art has a specific and unique texture that resembles bodies at nightfall, half-lit rooms, and the intimacy and vulnerability of tight-knit relationships. There is a fading effect in some of his paintings, which are full of emotion if one looks closely. “Painting found me,” O’Neal, who was an artist in residence at the Rubell Museum in 2021, has said.
Taking its name from a line in Louis Armstrong’s song “What a Wonderful World,” O’Neal’s exhibition, “And I Think to Myself,” reckons with modern and past struggles. O’Neal frames Blackness in all its humanity and simultaneously as it is stripped off through contemporary commodification. Video stills of a Louis Armstrong performance, a large-scale bouquet of cotton, several ceramic jazz player figurines, the shadows of half-light rooms, and shiny and sticky visual textures become a visual path toward this young artist’s reckoning with his own experiences, culture, and history.
On view December 4, 2023–January 13, 2024, at Spinello Projects, 2930 NW 7th Ave, Miami.
Get ready to see less commercial and more underground art popping up everywhere across the city. The artist list is chock-full of Miami magic: Charles Humes Jr, Onakide Shabaka, Najja Moon, Sonia-Baez Hernandez, and more. Founded by the artist william cordova and organized this year with Gean Moreno, Marie Vickles, and Amy Rosenblum-Martin, the A.I.M Biennial will feature 56 site-specific installations spread across South Florida, as well as other cities around the world.
In Florida, don’t miss VantaBlack’s To What Lengths activation, reflecting on legacy building and preservation as foundational to Black and diasporic culture, or a solo show for Coralina Rodriguez Meyer, an Indigenous Colombian American artist who has been exploring embodied motherhood for years. Likewise, out in the Everglades, approximately an hour’s drive from Miami Beach, the exhibition “Our Future’s Heritage,” curated by Voices of the River of Grass, a collective of Indigenous artists of Florida, stands as a powerful testament to the rich tapestry of Indigenous culture and heritage in the city with 13 artists displaying works.
“VantaBlack: To What Lengths,” at the outdoor plaza of Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami (MOCA).
Coralina Rodriguez Meyer, at 3225 NW 8th Ave, Miami.
“Our Future’s Heritage,” at 500 US Hwy 41, Miami.
On view through January 14, 2014, at various venues throughout Miami and elsewhere. Specifics are detailed in the accompanying online catalogue.
“Cornelius Tulloch: Poetics of Place” at Locust Projects
A community space of nourishment that is fading in Miami, and across the US, is the front porch. As cities like Miami continue to be gentrified, and real estate developers continues to demolish older homes and replace them with luxury buildings or modern builds, the porch is quickly becoming an architectural feature of the past. “People and artists who had to move from Miami will come back to activate the space,” Tulloch told ARTnews of his project that will be activated this week. Through projection, video, photography, collage, performance, and architectural interventions, this exhibition will transform the gallery’s project room into the porch of a left-standing Miami home.
Tulloch focuses on space, presence, and absence and wants to recognize the history of vacant spaces in Miami, along with the history of walls and divisive infrastructure. His work opens dialogues about architectural language, Black and Caribbean aesthetics, and color palettes that make Miami what it is—but which are being slowly erased by continuous development and gentrification.
December 5, 2023–February 10, 2024, at Locust Projects, 297 NE 67th St, Miami.
Green Space Miami’s group show “DISplace” will feature 10 emerging artists exploring the theme of displacement and what home, identity, and resilience mean in Miami.
At Tunnel Projects, a small room in a basement parking lot in Little Havana, artist and architect Cornelius Tulloch (see his Locust Projects show above) will curate the group show “Woven Ecologies,” centered on the enmeshed relationship between humanity and Miami’s built and natural environments.
Artist-run space Collective 62 will present “Archipelagic Narratives of Female Metamorphosis,” curated by art historian Aldeide Delgado. The show is an ode to Miami’s diaspora, honoring life rituals, fantastical imagery, natural environments, and political bodies guiding transformation and change.
The Historic Hampton House in Brownsville will explore the meaning of refuge and congregation with the exhibition “Gimme Shelter,” curated by ARTnews Top 200 Collector Beth Rudin DeWoody, Zoe Lukov, Maynard Monrow, and Laura Dvorkin.
At Iris Photo Collective (IPC) Arts Space, “Defiance: Open Resistance, Bold Disobedience” will delve into the roots of protests with an excellent lineup of photographers and artists curated by Carl Philipe Juste.
At Miami Beach’s Regional Library, “The Vasari Project”will trace Miami’s art history from the 1970s to the present, while also exploring new perspectives in the archives with a lineup of artists and photographers.
At Mahara + Co Gallery, Gabino Castelan presents several tableaus that collapse time in his latest exhibiton, “The Dream of Ometecuhtli.”
“Hormiga Caribe” at Homework Gallery, an experimental art space, will feature the work of several Caribbean artists whose work is a testament to the spirit of Miami.
And don’t miss “Sydney Maubert’s “Queen of the Swamp,” an installation at AIRIE Nest Gallery that acknowledges Miami’s Bahamian history and its vital ties to the cultural geography of Caribbean and Southern aesthetics, its second activation at Greenspace, Miami.