Chances are you already know about the main art week destinations: Art Basel, Art Miami and Context. In addition to the three large events, more than a dozen peripheral art salons are planned around the city. But that’s not all! Miami also has a permanent side: more than 30 major art collections are on view within 50 miles of South Beach. Let’s dig into that.
One private collection in particular, that of Miami cultural pioneer Gary Nader, is creating a buzz this year. Nader is the most influential collector and dealer of Latin American art in the world and he is concerned about the future of art in Miami. Although there are many important private collections in the city, and many smaller public museums, he feels Miami needs a major, world-class, public museum with a significant permanent collection. To remedy this situation, Nader has been working for years to build just such an institution and he recently announced he is selling $100 million worth of his personal collection during Art Week 2017 to help finance the project he has been working hard to help create. The sale presents an unprecedented opportunity not only to buy extraordinary works, but also to help fund what is likely to become one of the most high profile cultural institutions in the region.
We caught up with Mr. Nader on the phone and he shared some thoughts about his Wynwood gallery, his passion for art, and about his plans for the future. We recommend visiting his Wynwood space in person during Art Week and why not also take some time to visit some of the other world-class art collections South Florida has to offer?
Your first stop should definitely be The Bass. Located in the heart of Miami Beach, The Bass houses one of the best known contemporary art collections in Miami, if not the entire United States. The building is instantly recognizable for its historic facade, topped with its now iconic Sylvie Fleury installation, Eternity Now (2015). The Bass first opened to the public in 1978 in the former Miami Beach Public Library and Art Center, a historic Art Deco building designed by Russell Pancoast in the 1930s. Since opening it has undergone several renovations, the most extensive of which just concluded, adding enough additional square footage to the original structure that it doubled the amount of exhibition space.
The Bass will have three major exhibitions on view throughout Art Week. Occupying the entire second floor of the museum is “Good evening beautiful blue”, a sprawling retrospective of the work of Ugo Rondinone spanning his oeuvre from the 1990’s through today. Also on view is “Beautiful”, an exhibition of multimedia works from Pascale Marthine Tayou including a new in situ installation titled Welcome Wall that announces the word welcome in more than 70 languages in LEDs in the museum lobby. In Collins Park, the grassy promenade stretching toward the beach in front of The Bass, is a new interactive installation of Chess Tables by Jim Drain. Chess pieces are available at the museum front desk. Finally, a new self-titled exhibition of the work of Mika Rottenberg will open on 7 December , filling all of the galleries of the historic original building of the museum. Also, outside in Collins Park right in front of The Bass, Art Basel Miami will host its annual public art event, Public.
Martin Kippenberger, Elaine Sturtevant…
After visiting The Bass, it is just about a 30-minute drive up to North Miami, where you will find the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) Miami. This elegant, modern space was originally founded as a single gallery in 1981. The museum expanded to its current location in 1996, and since the move its permanent collection has grown to more than 600 items. It is now regarded as an essential resource for the discovery of new artistic talent. On view during art week will be “Jacob Felländer: How to Unlock a Portal”, an exploration of avant-garde virtual reality photography.
After visiting the MCA Miami, head south on I-95 for 15 minutes and you’ll arrive in the heart of what could be called the Miami museum district. This is where you will find three wonderful permanent Miami art collections within bicycling distance of each other. The Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) Miami is located in the Design District, just north of Wynwood. This stunning new structure opened to the public on 1 December, just in time for Art Week. The 37,500-square-foot facility is free to visit, and is already being touted as a must see destination for locals and visitors alike. Its inaugural exhibition, “The Everywhere Studio”, features 100 works in a wide range of mediums by more than 50 of the most influential artists of the past 50 years, including Andy Warhol, Anna Oppermann, Tetsumi Kudo, Martin Kippenberger, Bruce Nauman, Elaine Sturtevant and dozens of others. According to Ellen Salpeter, Director of ICA Miami, future programming will be designed to “advance new scholarship on contemporary art and showcase the work of the most innovative and experimental artists of our time.”
Stranger in Paradise
Just ten blocks south of the ICA Miami is the Wynwood neighborhood. In addition to harboring one of the biggest collections of outdoor murals in the United States, Wynwood has been the home of the Rubell Family Collection since 1993. The collection is currently housed in a former DEA confiscated narcotics storage facility at 29th Street and 1st Avenue. But it will be moving next year to a location in the nearby Allapattah neighborhood. The move will double the size of the available exhibition space. But that also means this year is probably your last chance to visit the original, historic location. Two new exhibits will be on view for Art Week: “Still Human”, a group exhibition examining “the complex consequences of the digital revolution” in relation to the human condition; and “Allison Zuckerman: Stranger in Paradise”, an exhibition of new works by the current Rubell artist in residence.
After touring the Rubell Collection, it is just a two mile jaunt south to beautiful Museum Park, one of the newest gems of the Miami architectural landscape. In addition to housing the Frost Museum of Science, this is also the home of the Pérez Art Museum of Miami (PAMM). In a sense, PAMM is the new kid on the Miami museum scene. But this institution is actually an old soul. Originally founded in 1984 as the Center for the Fine Arts, it changed its name in 1996 to the Miami Art Museum. Then in 2013, it opened in its current location in Museum Park, and after a large donation from art collector Jorge M. Pérez changed its name to the Pérez Art Museum of Miami. Its new 200,000-square-foot facility on the shores of Biscayne Bay is truly stunning, and has become a major attraction for all ages. During Art Week, PAMM will feature several extraordinary exhibitions, including “Dara Friedman: Perfect Stranger”, an immersive retrospective of 20 years worth of films by Dara Friedman, “Steve McQueen: End Credits”, an installation honoring African American entertainer and activist Paul Robeson, and “On the Horizon”, contemporary Cuban art from the personal collection of Jorge M. Pérez.
Finally, to round out your tour of Miami-area museums, head south once more on I-95, about five miles, to the American Museum of the Cuban Diaspora. Nicknamed The Cuban, this institution has existed for more than a decade as a “museum without walls”, but just this year its new permanent home was completed. The Cuban is dedicated to exploring the work and the social impact of the artists of the Cuban diaspora. On view during Art Week is the exhibition “Luiz Cruz Azaceta: Dictators, Terrorism, War and Exiles”.
And last but not least, just west of The Cuban in Coral Gables you will find the Coral Gables Museum. This intimate, modern space hosted the 2017 Cintas Foundation Award Ceremony and Exhibition. During Art Week are three exhibitions: “Boundaries”, which combines the work of poet Richard Blanco with photographs by Jacob Hessler; “Sheltering Survivors”, an exploration of the experience of contemporary displaced populations; and a solo exhibition of the work of Intrarealist painter “Juan Antonio Guirado”.
Gary Nader is a cultural force of nature. Few people can match his knowledge and passion and no other collector boasts a more substantial collection of work by important Latin American artists, especially that of Colombian artist Fernando Botero. Nader is also a tireless advocate for the City of Miami, and for the future of its burgeoning cultural scene. He is currently on a mission to create the first major civic art museum in Miami with a world-class permanent collection. As a pioneer in the Wynwood arts district we asked him about his feelings on the evolution of that neighborhood, the status of his museum project, and the future of the Miami art landscape.
How has Wynwood changed in the past few years?
We were one of the first ones to buy a major space here. People warned us not to. They said it was very risky to come to Wynwood. The neighborhood had crack houses, prostitution, homelessness. But we came and it has been wonderful. Since we moved here 11 years ago, several million square feet of space has been built. I walked the neighborhood the other day and saw more than 40 construction cranes. Wynwood is a driving force in the Miami art world. I don’t want to compare it to anything else, but it is kind of like our Chelsea.
The Rubell Family Collection has been in Wynwood since 1993, but they are moving now to Allapattah, to a bigger space. Do you intend to stay in Wynwood for the foreseeable future?
Yes, of course. We have one of the biggest spaces in the neighborhood. We are also planning on buying a building in Coral Gables as well. But Wynwood is always going to be important to our presence.
You are currently selling $100 million worth of your personal collection to fund your project to build a public museum in Miami. It is only October, but how is the sale going?
Without even marketing we have already sold $6 million. The items are incredible. Picasso, Matisse, Kippenberger, Stella, Indiana, Botero of course, and some other collectors have also contributed pieces for this sale. We now have more than $120 million worth of works available but we will not sell to dealers until we give the opportunity to serious collectors first. We want to know where these pieces are going. We want to keep track of them.
How is the museum project going?
We are negotiating a very prominent parcel of land. I cannot say where or the price will go up.
What do you see as the future of the Miami art scene?
We are only 110 years old. There are people older than Miami. The city has grown exponentially physically, but we are still lacking important galleries. I would like to see an increase in interest in Miami collectors. We sell 95% of our inventory to collectors outside of Miami. I want to say to people, come and bring your children to see and buy art. This is a must. I have a lot of faith that our children in Miami will be more involved than ourselves. It will make them better citizens. Appreciating art and culture and music and architecture is part of being human. I incentivize my children to be part of cultural institutions. It enhances their lives. That’s why I am building this museum, for the children…