Miami, more than the art

looking up

It wasn't just about the art.

Michael, our Florida sunshine

We went to Miami Beach during the run of Art Basel Miami this year (and the five or so shows which were scheduled for the same days) because it was additional motivation for a visit to my old school friend Michael - and because I had never been to Miami. Yeah, I know, "not even spring break?"

imitating nature

We did see a lot of Miami and Miami Beach, but we ended up spending far more time with the art fairs and the many related events than we had expected. Even then we were surprised at how little of that ground we were able to cover.

nice, but no convertible

Because of a mess-up with the car we had reserved months before, we missed the big one altogether, Art Basel itself. We had expected to make it to the Convention Center for the vernissage, but it took us almost four hours after arriving at the rental-car counter before we finally drove away with a substitute for our contracted, but totally-no-show Beetle cabriolet. The neat little Mini coupe is a very fine car, even without the blacked-out windows, but in spite of a fine sunroof, it wasn't the convertible we'd both been anticipating, so I accepted the rental agency's offer to switch it for an open Mini Cooper S the next day. I was amazed that the transaction went so smoothly this time.

Michael's house, open Mini below

I had such a ball with this little car I forgot to get a real picture of its pink-gold or burnished-copper beauty, and running around the city from one festival, gallery, installation, performance or party to another - while having to sweat an often impossible parking challenge - didn't leave much time for contemplation of the features of one of the most exciting rides I'd had in years. Hated the silly dashboard and the door design on the inside however.

"Living Room" in the Design District

The entire, very impressive arts shebang was an amazing accomplishment, and I have to admire a city and an [industry?] which could put it together. Still, I don't think I'll be going to another arts fair in a distant city anywhere, unless everything is located in one area, or at least accessible to decent public transportation. I understand Miami is trying hard to show off its many charms and serious real estate potential to visitors who could make a big difference for its future, but I don't need the wear and tear, and the disappointments from missing so many advertised attractions, on what should really be just a pleasure trip.

Miami Beach beach

I should add that it was never intended as a resort vacation either. Neither of us likes sitting still while on holiday. We did walk up to the ocean for about five minutes one afternoon (it was behind Starbucks, where we went to check our mail after three days), even though we were staying only three short blocks away on the southern end of South Beach.

protected relic of old Miami Beach

On our last day we managed at least to drive through some of the older and most interesting sections of the city and nearby communities. It was a kick to see real Spanish Moss on one Banyon Tree (I think it was in Coral Gables, which once was a swamp), but I would love to have seen the Everglades themselves.

behind Carolina Sardi's studio, the asado

I'm not sure if or when I'll be going back, if only because there are so many other places to go, but I know I'm going to be thinking and even dreaming about Miami for some time to come. I may eventually sort out my impressions - to my own satisfaction at least. I'll say right now however that I was happy to find the prominence of Miami's Latin elements confirmed, and thanks largely to the interventions of our host, we saw first-hand evidence of the importance of non-white artists and collectors to the cultural scene of the city.

terrace, Miami Beach house

New York may be able to pretend that it is truly multicultural, but power here up north is still pretty much in the hands of a white establishment. There is no sign of a Yankee establishment, or even a Southern, in Miami. Both the political and cultural walls seem to have been breached, and the entire country is so much richer for the conquest.

slow food on NE 2nd Ave. (Carlos and Joe)

I'll close with a microcosmic note: Miami's multiculturalism is about much more than my poor observation that there doesn't seem to be anything like "fast food" in this amazing, quite Caribbean town. Anyway, those sandwiches were delicious.

inside Aqua Art Miami

Over at least the next few days, I expect to post some images of real art sighted throughout the city, so check back soon.

About seven years ago we visited friends in Palm Beach for a week, but spent one day in South Beach. We enjoyed the architecture and latin flavor, but would not like to live there.