COVID-19 has brought a halt to Miami’s most popular international art fair, Art Basel, which in previous years has attracted tens of thousands of visitors. Due to these circumstances, Miami Art Week, from Nov. 30 to Dec. 6, offered innovative alternatives for art lovers to visit exhibits created by both international and local artists throughout Miami safely, keeping art alive.
In early September, the organizers of Art Basel announced the cancellation of their 50th anniversary fair in Miami, as well as in their other two locations in Hong Kong and Basel, Switzerland for the 2020 exhibitions.
In replacement, Art Basel planned on hosting the fair virtually through online-viewing-rooms, or OVRS, which run parallel to Miami Art Week. The event occured from Dec. 2 to Dec. 6, with V.I.P. early access available two days prior to its opening. The OVRS features 255 different galleries, each presenting six to 10 works from over 30 countries.
“I truly hope with the cancellation of Art Basel and Miami Art Week people will begin to realize the importance of art in our society,” said Miami Palmetto Senior High AP Art History teacher and painting instructor Christine Moros.
Art Basel additionally featured a scaled-down in-person event in Miami’s Design District, specifically within the Moore Building, the same location that launched Art Basel Miami in 2005. During Art Week, the building opened, allowing visitors while following the COVID-19 safety protocols of social distancing and wearing a mask.
The building featured Americas-inspired art pieces in light of election year. For guests not comfortable going to the exhibit in-person, Design Miami offers a hybrid fair displaying all of their art pieces virtually through their website, which becomes available for viewing after Art Week.
The Design District in Miami also featured several art exhibitions for Art Miami Week. Outdoor exhibits such as the “Conscious Actions” installation, a playground-inspired device allows guests to safely observe art. Moreover, the district has gallery exhibitions from artists such as street artist Kenny Scharf. The Institute of Contemporary Art also features several free exhibitions in honor of Miami Art Week and remains open throughout the week afterwards.
In Miami Beach, artists displayed their works throughout the dozens of hotels along the water, including murals and sculptures, many kept available for viewing beyond Art Week. Some of the hotels include SBE, Redbury Southbeach Hotel, The Sagamore and Royal Palm South Beach.
In the neighborhood, museums such as the Perez Art Museum featured two shows for Miami Art Week: “Allied With Power: African and African Diaspora Art” and “MY BODY, MY RULES.” Both exhibits remain open for visitors beyond Art Week into 2021. The Bass Museum in Miami Beach additionally featured exhibits in honor of Art Week.
“By showcasing international artists, we are seeing how art is being developed in other areas of the world,” Moros said. “Art, whether international or local, is important in documenting significant events for us to visually remember and record to our future generations.”
On the local aspect, Miami Art Week hosted several other exhibitions showing the diversity and culture of South Florida’s artists. In Coral Gables, open retail spaces have transformed into artist studios for Miami Art Week, showcasing different forms of work by 21 local artists.
For ceramic artist and creator of Red Herring Pottery James Herring, the Coral Gables’s exhibits have allowed him to continue sharing his artwork with others.
“I got involved because I was asked to participate by Carol Damien, who was curating the artists,” Herring said. “And I thought, I am really going to try building up my ceramics business, so I have moved in there and it has been pretty successful.”
Other than exhibiting and selling his art, which consists of functional pottery that people can actually use in their daily lives like teapots and flower pots, Herring hosts pottery classes every Wednesday. The classes follow the COVID-19 safety protocol guidelines and have a maximum of five attendees, who must wear masks at all times.
Throughout Art Week, transportation remained available and free, with the City of Miami Beach providing free trolley services between art locations and museums in Miami. As Miami Art Week comes to a close, art continues to flourish throughout Miami, while staying safe and accessible.
“This really galvanized the art community to come out, and while there’s our thing in Coral Gables, there’s also activations going on at the beach where they give storefronts over to artists,” Herring said. “So, I think [Miami Art Week] is very exciting because more of the local people are doing it, as opposed to all of the people from out of town, so it’s kind of great.”