Best Museum 2018 | Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Miami | Miami New Times
Iwan Baan

Last year, just in time for Art Basel, the ICA Miami reopened in its new permanent location, an immaculate metal-faced building in the ritzy Design District, just a stone's throw from Tom Ford and Maison Margiela. Its debut exhibition, "The Everywhere Studio," featured work by artistic heavyweights such as Picasso, Andy Warhol, and Yves Klein. While the art world can often seem elitist and impenetrable, the ICA is different. It comes down to a single policy: The museum does not charge admission. Simply provide your email address and take in three floors of world-class art, as well as a backyard sculpture garden. The works you'll see are not only made by artists with blockbuster names. ICA also includes conceptual pieces from rising international artists, as well as work from local, regional, and immigrant artists. At a time when museums elsewhere are making access to art more difficult, this small Miami museum is taking an egalitarian approach.

Photo by Karli Evans

Before 2017, III Points was a small, forward-thinking, yet continually troubled festival. Its lineups, mixing together local talent with major underground names such as Flying Lotus and Earl Sweatshirt, were among the best in North America. But issues plagued the fest, especially in 2016, when Hurricane Matthew nearly slammed into the city and forced headliners LCD Soundsystem to cancel. Cut to last year's festival: A massive crowd packed in front of the main stage at Mana Wynwood sings along with Damon Albarn of Gorillaz as he belts his way through "Plastic Beach." In a city maligned for its connection to EDM and lowest-common-denominator thrills, III Points has become an institution that champions unconventional regional and international artists of all stripes.

Photo by Koury Angelo

Club Space has long been known for its all-night parties and famous terrace. But you might not be aware of this record label started by local impresario David Sinopoli and rebooted last year by electronic producer Nick Leon. You might assume, given its namesake club's reputation, that Space Tapes releases dance music records. But a Space Tape doesn't sound like Club Space — it sounds like outer space. Its small but growing collection of releases from artists such as Get Face, Austin Paul, and Leon himself traverse the stars, mixing ambience, bass, and other alien sounds. This isn't like any music that has come out of Miami before. Space Tapes may produce locally, but they're thinking cosmically.

© Dara Friedman, courtesy of the artist and Gavin Brown's enterprise, New York

Dara Friedman's most famous short film, Dancer, shows dozens of Miamians dancing across the city. They step, grind, pirouette, slide, and tumble on bridges, under overpasses, against building walls, and even atop skyscrapers. It was one of many films featured in "Perfect Stranger," a retrospective of Friedman's work featured at Pérez Art Museum Miami that confirmed her lasting importance to the city's art legacy. Ironically, what makes her art so essential is us — the people of Miami. In films such as Dancer and Government Cut Freestyle, we are the art — she's only holding up a mirror.

Courtesy of Republic Record

In the druggy, seedy world of SoundCloud rap, nothing is certain. Your favorite rapper could be riding high (figuratively and literally) one day and be felled by a disappointing song or sexual assault scandal the next (the latter is unfortunately common). For now, out of all the Floridian artists riding the SoundCloud wave, Ski Mask the Slump God is on top for two reasons. First, he is an undeniably talented rapper. His cartoon-referencing wordplay is clever, and his speed and technical proficiency are close to that of fast-rap legends such as Twista and Busta Rhymes. For another, he actually seems focused on growing his career, putting out consistent projects, working with video director Cole Bennett and the Asian artists of 88rising, and distancing himself from the popular-yet-toxic, domestic-abuse-accused XXXTentacion. Time will tell, but this guy could make it.

The Jewish philosopher Maimonedes wrote that one of the highest levels of charity is giving anonymously. Less righteous is when the donor makes themselves known, rendering the act egotistical rather than for its own sake. Drake, who is Jewish, obviously opted for the latter choice in his "God's Plan" video, in which he blesses the University of Miami, Miami Senior High School, and several random people all over the city, with serious stacks of cash. "The budget for this video was $996,631.90. We gave it all away," the opening caption boasts. Here's the thing: Jewish people are supposed to be charitable. It's a religious obligation to give to others — you could say it's part of "God's Plan." But did Drake really have to make a massive spectacle out of it? Maybe. It brings to mind the words of another great philosopher named Sheryl Crow: "If it makes you happy, it can't be that bad." Drake made a lot of people happy that day, and for better or worse, we have the video evidence.

Let this forever be known as the scene that officially turned Miami into Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. The date: March 11, 2018. The location: the eternally busy intersection of NE 36th Street and Biscayne Boulevard. A silver Infiniti has T-boned another car. The driver tries to take off, lurching away from the scene even as his front bumper hangs off the car like a half-clipped toenail. The other motorists, however, won't allow it. They get out of their cars and approach, screaming, "¡No te muevas!" The Infiniti continues its slow crawl, dragging its grill on the ground all the while. Two cars block him as he drives west on 36th Street, and a crowd grows. They bang on his windows and demand he take responsibility. Then, unbelievably, a bystander whips out a damn ball-peen hammer. He bangs it against the car's windows, attempting to smash them. The driver somehow slips through the blockade and speeds away, but not for long. Police detain him and note he is "high on narcotics" in the arrest report. The hero with the hammer, however, remains at large.

Sometimes it's fun to wonder what Miami would be like if people didn't associate it with cocaine. We might be known for the arts, or our sports legacy, or as a mosaic of immigrant communities. There's comfort in knowing that when the viral video of now-former Dolphins offensive line coach Chris Foerster hoovering three big ol' lines of cocaine was released in October, it was for a good reason. After team ownership reneged on promises to allow Dolphins players to kneel in protest of police violence during the National Anthem, a Las Vegas-based model named Kijuana Nige uploaded it in retribution. "Last little bit before I go to my meeting," Foerster says to his former girlfriend, adding, "I wish I was licking this off your pussy." And we wish you would've laid off the skiing and focused more on your football players while you were with us, Chris.

Photo by Nabil Elderkin

SoundCloud rappers are the cartoon characters of contemporary hip-hop; they dress and dye their hair in wacky colors and do ludicrous things such as dropping thousands of dollars on designer clothes or shooting off guns in improper locations. Lil Pump is the stereotypical SoundCloud rapper, and every cartoon character needs a great catch phrase. For Bugs Bunny, it's "What's up, doc?" and Bart Simpson says, "¡Ay, carumba!" Last year, before the "Gucci Gang" fervor, Lil Pump found his signature phrase. In a vertically shot cell phone video, he shouted from his banana-yellow Porsche: "Essskettiiiiiiiiit!!!!!" (That's "let's get it," slurred into oblivion.) The phrase went viral. Teens began saying it and posting it everywhere. A star was born.

Courtesy of Al Sunshine

No one would blame Al Sunshine if he spent his retirement knocking back margaritas and working on his backhand. Sunshine worked as an acclaimed investigative reporter at CBS 4 for 25 years, often digging into consumer scams and bogus products before hanging it up in 2013. The County Commission even voted to celebrate an official "Al Sunshine Day" to commemorate his career. Now, instead of heading for the golf course, Sunshine is using his investigative skills as a powerful tool to battle developers and politicians hell-bent on paving over the last green spaces of South Florida. Since leaving television, Sunshine has transformed into one of Miami-Dade's most effective environmentalists. He helped found the Miami Pine Rocklands Coalition, which has repeatedly sued to stop a Walmart from being built on one of the remaining patches of endangered rockland environment in South Dade. Sunshine may be off the air, but he's still fighting the good fight.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®