Plotting out a schedule for Miami Art Week can feel like a job daunting enough for a full detachment of obsessive military strategists. With thousands of art lovers flooding dozens of fairs all over Miami-Dade — from the biggest shindigs in Miami Beach packed with million-dollar pieces to the up-and-coming affairs with local creatives — it's easy to get overwhelmed. But don't sweat it. Here are our picks for the best fairs around town.
Art Basel. You know this one. Art Basel 2017 promises to be the same exclusive, high-end affair — with some major changes. Because of ongoing renovations at the Miami Beach Convention Center, the fair is "introducing a new show design with a much more contemporary look and feel, and a new floor plan," says Noah Horowitz, Art Basel's director of the Americas. The fair is also welcoming 20 new galleries from four continents.
For the first time, curator Philipp Kaiser will lead the Public sector, where large-scale outdoor installations are displayed in Collins Park. "Philipp's vision is incredibly ambitious and promises to be a wonderful addition to Miami Beach," Horowitz says. Miami's Frederic Snitzer Gallery and David Castillo Gallery will represent the 305 inside the convention center; the latter will exhibit art that confronts representations of race, sexuality, and gender in modern culture, including a live performance by Kalup Linzy, a New York-based video and performance artist. Thursday, December 7, through Sunday, December 10, at the Miami Beach Convention Center, 1901 Convention Center Dr., Miami Beach; artbasel.com. Tickets cost $50 to $120 online and $60 to $130 onsite.
Art Miami and Context Art Miami. Art Basel is the biggest event of the week, but Art Miami and Context's move away from midtown, where they've anchored a busy village of fairs for years, is 2017's biggest news. This year, Art Miami and its 140-plus exhibitors will be situated between the MacArthur and Venetian Causeways just east of Biscayne Boulevard. "Our new location not only has spectacular views of Biscayne Bay, which we have incorporated into the show, but an amazing infrastructure that includes incredible accessibility," director Nick Korniloff says. Visitors can take advantage of cafés, bars, and VIP lounges onsite.
Korniloff says Landau Contemporary's exhibit, a 2,000-square-foot space with around $100 million in inventory, will present "Pablo Picasso, Lynn Chadwick, Jean Dubuffet, Henry Moore, and many [others]." Context will spotlight the often edgier work of upcoming and midcareer contemporary artists. Tuesday, December 5, through Sunday, December 10, at the Art Miami Pavilion, 1 Herald Plaza at NE 14th St., Miami; artmiami.com. Tickets cost $50 to $95 for general admission and $250 for VIP.
Design Miami. Across the parking lot from Art Basel, Design Miami is most famous to casual fans for the uniquely trippy entryways it commissions each year from early career architects, but there's plenty of reason to step inside the white tents as well. This year, the fair celebrates its fourth and largest Design Curio program with 11 inventive cabinet installations. In addition to seeing futuristic robotic furniture, guests can also tour local Airbnb lodgings modeled after Muller Van Severen's Ghent living room and Belgium home, as well as brush up on lingo at any one of the fair's popular Douglas Elliman Design Talks.
The fair is also making history with its global outreach. "For the first time in the history of the Panerai Design Miami Visionary Award, the recipient is a collaborative project: Mwabindo School, a primary school being constructed currently for students in rural southern Zambia," says Rodman Primack, the chief creative officer. "Prototypes of the commissioned furniture, Mwabwindo Series, will be installed within Design Miami" for visitors to interact with, he says. Wednesday, December 6, through Sunday, December 10, at Design Miami, Meridian Avenue at 19th Street, Miami Beach; designmiami.com. Tickets cost $25 online and $30 onsite.
Aqua Art Miami. A sister fair of Art Miami, Aqua returns for its 13th year with a larger international presence than ever. The fair's new director, Grela Orihuela, says she has aimed to foster an atmosphere where visitors can discover new visions this year. "More than half of our exhibitors are new to the fair," she says.
Aqua will focus on fashion and style in contemporary art and offer an eclectic blend of live performances by tattoo artists, public-space works engaging all five senses, Burning Man-esque sculptures, and a lobby pop-up shop. Daily two-for-one happy hours and curated music from the fair's artists will make Aqua a fun and accessible yet high-art experience with "fresh, bold work at every level of acquisition," Orihuela says. Wednesday, December 6, through Sunday, December 10, at the Aqua Hotel, 1530 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; aquaartmiami.com. Tickets cost $25 to $95.
Untitled. In its sixth year, Untitled, known for its inclusivity, offers immersive and interactive installation art for the first time. Sergio Vega’s Shanty: On the Mimetic Faculty will present a dwelling made of discarded and raw materials that visitors can enter. Florida International University students, meanwhile, will use hurricane debris collected from the Deering Estate to re-create famed installation artist Gordon Matta-Clark's Garbage Wall.
"I am excited about the representation of female artists and their work in this year’s edition," director Manuela Mozo says. "There will be a range of women artists from various generations and locations from around the globe," such as Anglim Gilbert's booth presenting works by Joan Brown, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Clare Rojas, and others. This year, Mozo says, the fair will highlight works reflecting on race and gender rather than simply documenting physical spaces. Wednesday, December 6, through Sunday, December 10, on Ocean Drive at 12th Street, Miami Beach; untitledartfairs.com. Tickets cost $20 for Miami Beach residents and $30 for general admission.
Superfine! This year's Superfine! boasts its most diverse lineup yet, including a quarter of its art made by South Florida artists. Other selections originate from parts as distant as New York and Japan. There are even paintings by eight bottlenose dolphins, which created the work with the help of Dolphins Plus Marine Mammal Responder. "Superfine! is really the people's fair, and in every city we're in, we want the people of that city to be able to find artwork they love," founder and director Alex Mitow says. "Miami is no exception."
Guests can expect to see "a juxtaposition of extremely classy and extraordinarily quirky." For a sneak peek of the fair's offerings, visitors can attend the $50-per-person Midnight Vernissage, a magical light-infused, harp-accompanied preview presented by Soraa. But with 70 percent of its pieces priced between $100 and $5,000 — original works, not just prints — Superfine! promises to be an egalitarian fair. Wednesday, December 6, through Sunday, December 10, at 56 NE 29th St., Miami; superfine.world. Tickets cost $10 to $50.
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Spectrum Miami. If eye-popping variety is your art bag, Spectrum should be your starting point during Miami Art Week. Just take it from Eric Smith, CEO of Redwood Media Group, which owns Spectrum Miami. "We have art being created out of demolished cars, fused glass sculptures, artifacts, and life-size objects made out of wire, and even a native Central American artist who is exhibiting his work on concrete and steel salvaged from the recent earthquake in Mexico," Smith says. Irreversible Projects' Noor Blazekovic will even create a display of 2,000 freshly cut flowers, forming a circular structure hanging from the ceiling at the fair's entrance.
Inspired by this year's theme of "fusion," Spectrum will set up installations all over Miami showing Latin American and international talent. Wednesday, December 6, through Sunday, December 10, at Spectrum Miami, 1700 NE Second Ave., Miami; spectrum-miami.com. Tickets cost $25 to $75 online and $30 to $85 onsite.