Once again, Miami Art Week has come down to the shores of Miami for its 21st year. With Art Basel on Miami Beach being the central focus, there were so many events and other art fairs available to enjoy and explore.
Here’s an inside scoop on what went down for the 2023 edition of Miami Art Week.
Monday, Dec 4
Heading to the Design District’s Jungle Plaza, I went to the opening of “The Chronicles of Miami” mural by the world-renowned French artist JR.
The mural displays the portraits of 1,000 Miami residents who had their portraits taken in a mobile studio all over the city, including Liberty City, Coconut Grove, Little Haiti, Wynwood, Design District and Downtown.
An app linked to the mural allowed you to hear each featured person’s story when you aim your camera at their portrait, a unique concept from the 40-year-old artist.
The Jungle Plaza had multiple food trucks lined up, as well as a square bar in the center. A large DJ stage was set up underneath the mural as several of Miami’s local spin jockeys cranked out some tunes in the evening.
JR gave a special “thank you” to everyone who let him paint them for his mural before introducing the guest DJ of the night, Brazilian superstar Anitta.
Though known for her reggaeton hits like “Envolver” and her fiery personality, Anitta took more of a back seat as she showcased her DJ skills. Over the loud groovy beats of Brazilian funk, Anitta’s dancers turned the block into a giant Brazilian party.
Tuesday, Dec 5
The morning kicked off with an exploration of the “Paradise Lost” exhibit, an artistic exploration into the life of notorious drug trafficker Griselda Blanco.
Created by Miami artist Flooded, the art displayed Griselda as an image of Betty Boop, a nickname she gave herself after her resemblance to the famous 1930s cartoon character. With the unique location of the Wynwood Hair Supply Company barbershop, it was one of the more interesting Art Week exhibits.
Also in Wynwood, The Art of Hip-Hop exhibit celebrated 50 years of hip-hop and the art behind it.
On display were portraits by legendary photographer Mike Miller, classic Wu Tang Clan artworks by Danny Hastings and memorabilia from the Super Bowl 56 Halftime Show, which included a costume from Kendrick Lamar’s dancers and a denim jacket signed by all the performers.
Art Miami returned for its 33rd edition as Miami’s original modern and contemporary art fair. Galleries came from cities around the world such as Tel Aviv, Venice, Berlin, Seoul, London, Tokyo, Paris, Milan and Hong Kong, as well as U.S. cities like Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York and Houston.
Works from artists such as Jean-Michel Basquiat, Andy Warhol, KAWS, Keith Harring and Jeff Koons were up for grabs. One of the more intriguing displays was KAWS’ Bronze Star Wars set sold by Burgess Modern + Contemporary Gallery for a whopping $1,000,000.
Some of the most interesting and compelling modern art of the week was found in these halls.
“[It shows] art as an enriching element of our lives,” said artist and curator Graciela Montich as she described her latest Art Week gallery exhibit titled, “CHROMA.”
Works from Brandon Clarke, Elidea, Enrique Alfonso, Graciela Montich, Gustavo Ramirez Cruz, Heather Lynn and Payal Tak were all on display at Montich’s exhibit. These international artists emphasized emotions in their work and used a combination of mediums.
Victoria Lopez and her installation “MOTIONS” was made with the intention of pulling the viewer into each individual movement that is first created digitally by the artist, and then presented in a physical form.
Wednesday, Dec. 6
On the morning of Dec. 6, I went to the Art Basel opening media reception. Miami Beach mayor Steven Meiner joined Jason Chandler, head of global wealth management for America at investment banking company UBS, Art Basel CEO Noah Horowitz and Art Basel executives Vincenzo de Bellis and Bridget Finn to share their vision for this year’s Basel.
Mayor Meiner had some nice things to say about hosting Art Basel for the 21st time.
“Art Basel has been referred to as the Olympics of the art world, and literally we are right now in Miami Beach, the epicenter of the entire world of the arts and culture, world and as we look to enhance our arts and cultural footprint here.”
“Bringing together 277 premier galleries from 38 countries and territories. showcasing the highest quality of modern and contemporary art here, we’re thrilled to present a new platform and a new floor plan for the show adopted for enhancing visibility for galleries across all sectors of the fair,” said de Bellis when going over the large scale of this year’s Basel.
After the reception, I explored “Meridians,” the large scale exhibits that included 19 projects this year.
Following our tour of Meridians, I explored many profound works from legendary artists like Soroyama, Murakami and Picasso. The halls were filled to the brim with some of the most prestigious names.
One of the more outstanding talents was that of Esai Alfredo, a gay Puerto Rican artist who had an exhibition all to himself. All of his paintings sold within the first 90 minutes of exhibition with a range from $11,000 to $32,000.
After Basel, I hopped over to the next street to see galleries decorated with the finest interior designs for sale at Design Miami..
Some of the best displays came from Gallery FUMI (who won Best Gallery), Adrian Sassoon, Ippodo Gallery and Galerie Patrick Seguin. There were also some exciting collaboration exhibits with Maestro Dobel, Birkenstock and Fendi.
Following that visit, I went over to the Untitled Art Fair, the leading independent art fair which returned to Miami Beach for its 12th Edition.
Located right on the beach, the art fair brought forth some of the best in independent art, with notable artists Oh de Laval being part of the Room57 Gallery, Colombian artist Andres Orjuela displaying Galeria La Basa and Katlego Tiabela with Southern Guild.
The Resy Lounge was also a notable addition to the fair, allowing patrons to indulge in complimentary bites and beverages by James Beard Award and Top Chef winner Stephanie Izard.
Traveling across the bridge to the Design District, Atiba Jefferson held his first ever solo photo exhibition sponsored by Nike Architecture and OTW by Vans. The exhibit held a display of Atiba’s mementos and classic moments captured by the famed skate photographer.
Highlights included portraits of Dylan Rieder, an iconic shot of Eric Koston and Kobe Bryant and throwback photos of Supreme skaters Na-Kel Smith, Kevin Bradley and Tyshawn Jones. Atiba was also there in-person to sign prints and meet with fans, even indulging visitors in conversation.
A quick stop by the Red Dot Art Gallery in Mana Wynwood featured exhibits held by Renssen Art Gallery, Sachie Yoshino, End to End Gallery and Klamp Gallery.
I topped off the night with a collaboration event between Japanese female wrestling organization Sukeban and Out of Service Miami, the local female-run reggaeton party.
With the unique location of the Lot 11 Skatepark, we knew that we were in for quite the show. We watched as Japanese women came into the wrestling ring, put each other in headlocks, jumped off the top ropes and powerbombed one another for two hours.
Notable attendees included rapper Westside Gunn, Sabrina Fuentes of Pretty Sick and Miami-Dade legend Denzel Curry. Curry was kind enough to take pictures and talk to fans throughout the night, inviting some to his events on Friday and Sunday.
After the wrestling, Out of Service did what they do best and turned Lot 11 into a party zone. Perreo was all over the air as many danced the night away with the female DJs.
Thursday, Dec. 7
Pinta Art Fair, held at the Regatta Harbour in Coconut Grove, displayed some of the best of Latin art during Miami Art Week. Inside their walls were exhibits from Rosas Ek Balam based out of Mexico City, MAP based out of Bogota and Imaginario based out of Buenos Aires. Notable art included that of Juan Roberto Diago and his work in the Galeria Artizar exhibit.
Alec Monopoly held an art show at The Eden Gallery, with many of his popular works on display for the first time. Monopoly made a late appearance at his own show to talk with some art enthusiasts.
Friday, Dec. 8
For the first time ever, Tribeca Film Festival partnered with Art Basel and held several panels across the street at the Miami Beach Botanical Gardens. Under the gaze of the Miami sun, John Stamos joined Leila Cobo to give a retrospective on his life and career.
The topic of discussion was mostly the material in Stamos’ book “If You Would Have Told Me.” During the conversation, he gave an in-depth talk of his rehab, rough start in Hollywood, conversations with his mother and the mourning of his good friend, Bob Saget.
A touching moment came when Stamos recalled a moment after Saget’s death.
“I looked to the sky and said, ‘Bob give me a sign!’ Then I saw a white dove fly past me and I knew,” Stamos said.
When asked what advice he had for new actors, Stamos said, “I think everything you could do in your life goes into your career. If you’re a good enough actor or decent, you’d get a shot. You know? So big work on singing and dancing, acting, experience life. So when it’s time to get a job, you can bring all that with you.”
Once again, I headed over the bridge, but this time straight to Wynwood. Bowery Showroom brought their brick and mortar approach of streetwear to Miami. Held at 1-800-Lucky, fashion merchants from New York to Miami came to display their clothing, selling it under the Bowery banner.
After that was the main event of the night, the RCA Arcade being held and sponsored by RCA and Sony Music. The festivities kicked off with an exclusive, invite-only VIP launch event featuring a DJ set from RCA artist Channel Tres, with openers Barbara Doza and DRE WHO. Guests sipped cocktails by South Bound Tequila and played games to win merch.
It was so exciting to win the Sony WH-1000XM5 Wireless Noise-Canceling Headphones at this event along with other merch available in the form of a claw game. The event was attended by RCA artists Fousheé and Skillibeng and other notable visitors such as rapper Bktherula, influencer Perris Howard, Gen Venom, Kev Mansfield and super producer Yeti Beats.
Throughout the weekend, more guests had the opportunity to receive exclusive merch items and tour through archival images of RCA’s vast history of chart-topping artists, in addition to viewing paintings from RCA artist Doja Cat.
Saturday, Dec. 9
The morning kicked off with the second annual Abloh Invitational hosted by Nike Architecture at Lot 11 Skatepark. The event gave skate enthusiasts the opportunity to skate alongside pros such as Na-Kel Smith, Louie Lopez, Mason Silva, Evan Mock and more.
Photographer Atiba Jefferson and filmmaker Davonte Jolly captured the event, which included opportunities like a cash for tricks contest and the opportunity to win free Nike merch. The big highlight was the unveiling of a new giant spoon obstacle that was added to Lot 11 and skated by all the pros in attendance.
The final event I attended was the Tribeca Film Festival panel that included JR and legendary actor Rober De Niro.
The two sat down and discussed De Niro and his relationship with his father as well as that of his own children. Apparently JR had inspired De Niro to open up his father’s old art studio where he started archiving several momentos.
JR then got the idea to begin a project focusing on De Niro and his father. The project has been in development for two and a half years, and audience members saw a preview that was gravitating and emotional.
My favorite moment which summarized all of Miami Art Week came when JR said, “Each artist’s work is a definition of life. Of their own experiences, what they’ve gone through, and what they transform.”