With the arrival of December comes the kick off to Miami’s social and arts season: Art Basel. An annual celebration of art with artists flying in from around the globe to showcase their work, the city shines a little brighter with the pop up art fairs and other events. Some of our favorite fairs are Red Dot, Spectrum in Midtown Miami and Pulse, which is moving to Miami Beach for the first time. Here, there’s an explosion of sculpture, paintings, photography, mixed media and of course, cocktails, to enjoy while wandering the art tents.
Where to see art
We mustn’t forget the places where Miami admires art all year round. The city is crawling with museums and galleries and the 1-year-old Perez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) in downtown Miami, next door to the Arsht Center and the AmericanAirlines Arena, is a unique place where the building is a work of art in itself. With pieces donated by local developer Jorge Perez, you’ll find the opening of Mexican artist Mario Garcia Torres’ exhibit two days before Art Basel. Curated by the museum itself, Garcia Torres presents obscure stories of art history through the use of a number of media elements.
Not only does Miami boast fine arts but it’s also proudly the home a huge collection of street art and graffiti. The artistic neighborhood of Wynwood consists of block after block of walls covered in mesmerizing pieces by area artists and Wynwood Walls is the heartbeat of it all. A maze of walls, the art is a mix of constantly changing pieces, from the more commercial Obey to unique tagging by the 305’s best artists. If you can’t get enough, many stores sell coffee table books of the works that have been sprayed upon the walls in the neighborhood.
At the University of Miami’s Lowe Art Museum, visitors explore the world with exhibits showcasing traditional African art in “Art in Real Life” and works by Haitian artists in “Transformative Visions,” both open in November. In January, the globe stops in Southeast Asia to examine the intricate tapestries and batik pieces made in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and East Timor.
Where to eat
South Florida is a tough crowd and restaurants seem to come and go as quickly as a fake tan fades. However, there are some classics that have courted foodies and kept them coming back for more. Michael’s Genuine in the Design District is a great spot for lunch or dinner, followed by a walk through the neighborhood for one-of-a-kind shopping. In South Beach, Yardbird Southern Table & Bar is the place to be for a heavy serving of comfort food for brunch. Simply tell us if you’ve seen another Blood Mary with more garnishes than theirs! Another classic that has been a mainstay in Miami since 1913, Joe’s Stone Crab, which opens up in October with the start of the stone crab season. In Wynwood, both Joey’s and Wynwood Kitchen & Bar are must-visit spots for drinks and food, located in the heart of the art district.
One of the new kids on the block is BE Bistro in downtown Miami, a place for Belgian food beyond your typical Belgian waffles. Who knew that steamed mussels with apples could taste so good? Also, for Mexican fare, Cantina La Viente opened its doors this fall to rave reviews. Looking forward, Michelle Bernstein, the brains behind Crumb on Parchment and other delicious culinary endeavours, will be opening a new restaurant this winter at the brand new Thompson Miami Beach. Another culinary bigwig, Michael Mina, is also slapping his name on two more new restaurants for all to enjoy. STRIPSTEAK and Michael Mina 74, both at the iconic Fontainebleau, are set to open right on time for Art Basel.
Where to sip
The drinks will be flowing from champagne bottles at the art tents, for sure, but there is so much more out there to sip on. Oak Tavern in Wynwood is named for the beautiful, towering tree in the backyard and a bar of both classics (a Moscow Mule) and newly mixed drinks (Tavern Storm, with house-fermented ginger beer) lures you in. Broken Shaker is known for their fresh herbs plucked straight from the garden on site to make the most decadent cocktails and also boasts an upbeat scene. At the Loews Hotel, restaurant Lure Fishbar has a menu of drinks that will have you struggling to pick the best musical dedication. Will your favorite libation be Across the Universe, Figgy Smalls is the Illest or Purple Rain, just to name a few of the spot’s musically-inspired drinks? Also at the hotel is newbie Rum Line, opening this winter and sure to feature perfectly crafted cocktails. For a truly classic cocktail bar experience, watch the mixologists behind the bar at Regent Cocktail Club in South Beach and enjoy one of their drinks. Once there, you’ll swear the Rat Pack is hanging out on the couches next to you.