For locals, the biggest question during Miami Art Week is not “What should I do?” but “Where can I get past the velvet rope?” The Magic City becomes a global art playground every December, but far too many shows and parties are reserved for the private-jet set flying in from New York or London. Luckily, Miami is also a hub for world-class outdoor art, most of which is accessible to everyone, no dress code required. Here are some of our favorites this year.
Even better news: Unless otherwise noted, admission is free.
Wynwood Walls. The Walls are arguably the selfie capital of North America, but they're still one of the finest outdoor museums around. And this Wynwood institution always bring the goods when it comes time to update its murals and sculptures for Miami Art Week. This year, the debut of a dozen installations by artists hailing from France, Norway, Amsterdam, Portugal, and the States will coincide with Art Basel's opening day. They'll work off the theme "humankind," a utopian ideal needed now more than ever. Opens Thursday, December 7, at 2520 NW Second Ave., Miami.
Patrick Dougherty's Stickwork. Dougherty, an Oklahoma-born, North Carolina-raised artist, makes enormous structures not from steel or stone, but tree saplings. Folding them into fantastical shapes, he constructs buildings that look like something out of The Elder Scrolls. Walking amid them is like visiting a mind-warping alien planet. A 100-strong group of local volunteers helped erect his latest pieces in Pinecrest Gardens for the installation Stickwork, and soon you’ll be able to wander into the sapling village like a traveler in a foreign land. Opens Thursday, November 30, at Pinecrest Gardens, 11000 Red Rd., Pinecrest.
COS x Studio Swine's New Spring. Enter the Temple House, where you'll encounter cloudy bubbles called "blossoms" floating around a metal cherry tree. When they hit your skin, they burst into a fine mist and fill the air with a soothing, oceanic aroma. You can hold them without making them pop, but only while wearing special gloves. That might sound like a scene out of the Legend of Zelda, but it’s actually an installation by the London design collective Studio Swine and the clothing brand COS. We dare you to find a more calming environment during Miami Art Week's madness. Wednesday, December 6, through Sunday, December 10, at Temple House, 1415 Euclid Ave., Miami Beach.
Fantisch & Young's "Apex Predator | Darwinian Voodoo." Fine leather shoes with human teeth on the soles and a headdress with spinal bones in the center — these are the kinds of vicious vestments Björk would wear if she were making a concept album about a serial killer. In truth, they’re the latest pieces by artist duo Mariana Fantisch and Dominic Young, and they’re meant to critique the inhumane criminality of the ultrarich in free-market capitalism. Who says consumerism can't be killer? Wednesday, December 6, through Sunday, December 10, at 221 NW 23rd St., Miami.
Museum of Ice Cream. First, the bad news: Admission costs $38 and doesn't include parking. Now, the good news: For that price, visitors to the Museum of Ice Cream can frolic in a swimming pool of rainbow sprinkles, play on an ice-cream-sandwich swing set, and take as many indulgent photos as their hearts desire. The traveling pop-up has finished blockbuster runs in New York and Los Angeles and will have new dessert-themed sets for Miami. This is definitely the kind of fantastical setup that would have shown up in a vintage Sailor Moon episode. You’ll melt if you miss it. Opens Wednesday, December 13, in the Faena District, 3400 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; 855-258-0719; museumoficecream.com. Tickets cost $38 via museumoficecream.com/miami. The museum will be open Wednesday through Monday.
Meeting Bowls. Did your grandparents' house have one of those nifty conversation pits with couches sunk into the floor, forcing everybody to face one another and interact? Well, the public art project Meetings Bowls is kind of the same thing, but for strangers outside. Created by the Spanish group Mmmm..., the hemispherical, five-foot-tall furniture pieces will stimulate conversation among people hanging out in the Design District. Through December 20 between 39th and 40th Streets in the Design District, Miami.