Anthony Spinello's rise on the local art scene has been meteoric. Just a little more than three years ago, he was organizing tiny yet well-curated shows shoehorned into the even tinier living room of his Wynwood walk-up apartment. Soon the lad's comet began burning brightly and local collectors took notice, as did South Florida's emerging talent, who began begging to join the brash young dealer's stable. Spinello quickly became a staple on the art fair circuit and opened a short-lived space in Wynwood, where his shows were always edgy and popular with the Second Saturday crowds. Today he calls the Design District home, and his annual December group show — a micro fair lampooning Art Basel — has become a must-stop for locals and visiting glitterati during the winter arts confab. Spinello recently doubled the size of his space, and his stable boasts some of South Florida's top young talent, including Lee Materrazi, Christina Pettersson, Santiago Rubino, Manny Prieres, and Agustina Woodgate. He recently invited the public to do their laundry in a washer installed for an upcoming show. It's a far cry from when Spinello had to hand-wash his dirty drawers in the kitchen sink while preparing for his first Wynwood show.
There have been entire books dedicated to Miami's street art, but we're fascinated by the handful of Obama murals that grace the streets of Little Haiti and Liberty City. Depending on the neighborhood, his skin tone and ethnicity varies. Some portraits look like something the Oval Office would commission: Obama flashing a reassuring smile, an American flag waving in the distance, and the grand architecture of the White House sitting like a palace in the background. He's been painted alongside Martin Luther King Jr. under I-95 overpasses and then subsequently removed by order of the FDOT. But there's one on a corner in Little Haiti by local artist Serge Toussaint that captures the president rather than the campaigner. Donning a Mr. Rogers-esque blue jacket and a red tie, Obama gazes up, over the blighted gas station across the street. His brow is furrowed with concern, and his mouth is ever so slightly agape. It's as if Toussaint, who completed the mural before the election, had visions of the recent shitstorm. He saw the housing bubble bursting, the Dow tanking, unemployment numbers peaking, and birds in the Gulf of Mexico covered in BP oil.
Leonard Tachmes Gallery
This little seen but deftly mounted exhibit, organized at the now-moribund Tachmes space by indie curator Jorge Hulian, featured 37 haunting photographs by Venezuelan artist Luis Brito. The shutterbug transported viewers into the bizarre world of his compatriot Armando Reverón, who died in 1954 following a steady decline into dementia. One of Latin American art history's most enigmatic figures, Reverón was known for creating a harem of life-size, anatomically correct muses out of burlap sacks and sundry detritus scavenged from garbage heaps. Clad in a loincloth, he lived in a ramshackle compound he christened El Castillete, created from palm fronds and trash, where he communed with nature and led a near-aboriginal existence. Hailed as one of the first multimedia artists of his era, the mad genius used his dolls as models for his paintings and was rumored to have consummated his relations with the moldy muses, later claiming to "fathering children" with them. Brito documented the fetid, moth-eaten carcasses of Reverón's harem for posterity, and the results on view at the Tachmes space, painted in gloomy twilight tones for the occasion, were hair-raising.
“Autopia: Road Trips from the Cold War to the Present” during Miami Art Week 2016
Photo by Melissa Nunez
“Autopia: Road Trips from the Cold War to the Present” during Miami Art Week 2016
In 1987, some hippy artists lost their pad in the Grove, formed a nonprofit, and bought an old bread factory in Wynwood. Back then, the area's main offerings were heroin, guns, and abandoned bread factories. Nowadays, the neighborhood is the epicenter of Miami's art world. While a new gallery seems to pop up and shut down every week, the Bakehouse Art Complex is thriving in its 24th year in the game. Here, more than 70 professional working artists use their studios, two common galleries, photo and print labs, and wood-working, ceramics, and welding areas to express themselves. They are handpicked by a jury and come not only from Miami but also all over the world. The Bakehouse is open to the public every day from noon to 5 p.m., and guests are welcome to visit and interact with the artists in their environs. There are also art classes, membership opportunities, and a monthly art party. This is one awesome place.
The Bass
Photo by Zachary Balber
Last year, the Bass took a radical departure from the musty offerings of baroque paintings and uneven programming that led to the institution's decline. In spring 2009, museum visitors were greeted at the entrance by a local artist who had buried himself in the ground with only his head exposed like an Indian fakir. The neck-craning moment occurred during the opening of "The Best of Bert Rodriguez — Greatest Hits Vol. 1." The occasion loudly telegraphed that new director Silvia Karman Cubiñá was aggressively riding herd on a cutting-edge transformation of the museum. This past December, during Art Basel, Karman Cubiñá further cemented her reputation among the art world cognoscenti by landing "Where Do We Go From Here? Selections from La Colección Jumex," marking the stateside debut of the largest privately held collection in Latin America. Owned by Mexican juice mogul Eugenio Lopez Mendoza, the potent display featured 75 head-turning works in diverse media culled from a legendary collection that numbers some 2,000 pieces. Selections included a giant chicharrón, a decrepit wheelbarrow groaning under a mountain of gaudy Christmas ornaments, and a stainless steel door to nowhere and boasted some of the contemporary art world's top names. It was one of Art Basel's biggest draws, made funkier by a concurrent exhibit showcasing Carlos Rolon, AKA Dzine, whose wacky retrophilia included a tricked out low rider tricycle that looked like it was hijacked from Liberace's garage. With Karman Cubiñá firmly at the helm, the Bass shows steady signs all hands are on deck and sailing full steam ahead.
Wynwood Walls
Courtesy of Wynwood Walls
The concept is simple: Keep the spirit of Wynwood's emerging street art scene, only curate it more tightly. Commission 15 muralists from around the world to cover the outdoor space. Add grass, tables, and a basketball hoop. Open it to the public free of charge. That's what collaborators Tony Goldman and Deitch Projects did on a still-gritty stretch of NW Second Avenue, next door to Joey's Italian restaurant. At the bright, enclosed space, each painter gets his or her own towering wall, which serves as a sort of urban canvas. It's a great place to sit, have a cup of coffee, and talk. One wall displays the face of a Burmese woman; another boasts a cartoon duck; a third shows spacey, graffiti-like patterns. The project began during Art Basel 2009. Now, 15 more walls are on the way, and it still feels like a secret.
Haitian Heritage Museum
So, what is the Haitian-American community to do when trying to connect with its roots while away from the motherland? Build a 60,000-square-foot museum in a neighborhood with the largest Haitian population outside the island. Located on the outskirts of Little Haiti, the Haitian Heritage Museum is a nonprofit organization committed to highlighting and preserving Haiti's rich culture and heritage. View the brightly colored paintings depicting scenes of agricultural workers on ox carts, and lush landscapes filled with colonial-era families frolicking under powder-blue skies, or take in the hand-carved folk art scattered across the cherry wood floors. Listen to local Haitian musicians perform on bongos and guitars, and learn about Haitian literature and Oswald Durand, dubbed the Haitian Shakespeare. Kiddies can soak up the rich culture through Ayiti Exposé, the museum's signature program that provides outreach cultural workshops to Miami-Dade County Public Schools. Visit the only museum in the world outside of Haiti keeping the spirit of this courageous people alive. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday.
Clevelander South Beach Hotel and Bar
Photo courtesy of Clevelander South Beach
Value — like good looks, wealth, and the quality of Will Ferrell movies — is all relative. A good hotel value along the Champs-Élysées, for instance, won't much resemble a value motel along North Biscayne Boulevard. So, what exactly is the meaning of value on Ocean Drive, the beating heart of South Beach's triple-priced, sidewalk-model-hawking tourist-trap racket? In our book, it's a halfway decent-priced beer or rum-and-Coke poolside, cooled by a soft ocean breeze and surrounded by hundreds of tight-bodied partiers dancing the night away. That's exactly what you'll get during happy hour at the newly refurbished Clevelander Hotel, a posh, over-the-top, über-South Beach party zone in the heart of Ocean Drive. From 4 to 7 p.m. every Monday through Friday, every one of six draft beers, 11 bottled beers, all well liquor, and all house wines are half-price. Did we mention there are nine bars inside, all wrapped around a huge pool right on Ocean Drive? Sounds like value to us.
Brevards Art Gallery
At his freshly squeezed Wynwood space, John Brevard has quickly become the envy of neighborhood artists. His eponymous 4,500-square-foot showroom opened in March 2010 with champagne-soaked splendor that included a red carpet and velvet ropes, $10 valet parking, a jazz saxophone soloist, and a fashion show. Revelers at the inaugural were treated to gift bags and photographed for a spread in a design magazine as they arrived at the swank affair. Brevard has filled his gallery with surreal black-and-white drawings, inspired by a visit to a shaman and his immersion into an altered state following an ayahuasca trip in 2001, and with gleaming, spit-polished sculptures combining steel and petrified wood from his Merging Economy and Ecology series. An eighth-generation Floridian whose ancestors founded Brevard County, the 27-year-old artist had never exhibited with a gallery before. Brevard showcases only his own work in this space.
Say you're a new mayor and you want to make a splash. Say your city is known for malfeasance. And say you just whacked the pain-in-the-butt police chief because he wouldn't do your bidding. What do you do? You arrest a bunch of chumps on corruption charges to show the size of your mighty cojones. Problem is, Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado overstretched this past April when he pushed his new top cop, Miguel Exposito, to arrest three cops, one city worker, and four people who work for nonprofits that received taxpayer money. Prosecutors quickly denounced the arrests, which were mostly for penny-ante crimes. Then, a month later, they dropped charges against four of the alleged miscreants. We never thought the day would come when we would miss former Chief John Timoney, but this fiasco convinced us.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®