by adeline talbot

As odd as it may sound--as odd as it may be--I have never bothered to replace my notion of Miami as the place where Tubbs and Crockett spend their days still sporting black tees under pastel blazers, loving the ladies while fighting drug loads and other darkly glamorous riffraff.  

I realize there is a good chance you as a reader may not even get this reference.  Miami Vice.  Don Johnson. Philip Michael Thomas.  1984.

In short, a very long time ago.

A ridiculously long time ago.  And, in fact, I did know better but I have not seen better until my recent visit.  What makes this especially silly is that for well over a decade now the city has hosted Art Basel Miami Beach, one of the more important art fairs--and the largest in the world. The fair lasts for a few days in early December but its presence seems to have resulted in some kind of gene splicing.  Miami and contemporary art over the past several years have entered into each other's DNA.

 As I say, I knew this.  I really, really did.  But even so the image of this city as more music video and less art capital just got stuck in my brain and until this flying visit no amount competing data could dislodge it.

I have now seen for myself what a crazy contemporary art place Miami has become.  Out with Tubbs and Crockett and in with The Margulies Collection, The Craig Robbins Collection, The de la Cruz Collection Contemporary Art Space and The Rubell Family Collection.  And those are just the private museums.   Open to the public but privately owned and operated.  This model is not without controversy--issues mainly center around long-term financial sustainability--nor it is unique to Miami--but it seems to have really taken off in this city and at least for now is positively flooding the city with opportunities to see great contemporary art of truly international scope and often at little or no cost to the public.  

Miami also has a stand-out public contemporary art museum, the recently relocated--and renamed--Perez Art Museum Miami.  A spectacular addition to Miami's cultural scene.  

For more information on individual private institutions see the list below courtesy of the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau. 

The Margulies Collection at The Warehouse resides in a converted warehouse in the sizzling Wynwood Art District and boasts the finest in contemporary and vintage eccentricities. Famed Miami art collector Martin Z. Margulies has gathered photography, videos, installations and sculptures since the late nineties and brought them together in this 45,000 square feet of exhibition space. The Margulies Collection features unforgettable marvels like a towering geometric matrix and an entire train cutout that will leave you awestruck. This collection is open Wednesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. with an admission fee of ten dollars.

Nestled in a corporate office in the Design District, the Craig Robins Collection at Dacra showcases the exuberant spirit of contemporary art and design. Real estate mogul Craig Robins perpetually seeks to integrate art and community by providing public access to his collection of over 200 artists’ works. The pieces revolve several times annually, drawing mainly from German, Mexican, Chinese and American artists. But some creators like Richard Tuttle and John Baldessari reside permanently amidst this disarming and often humorous medley. The Craig Robins Collection is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and by appointment.

CIFO / Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation is a non-profit organization established in 2002 by Ella Fontanals-Cisneros and her family to support art and artists who are exploring new directions in contemporary art. CIFO fosters cultural understanding and educational exchange through three primary initiatives: Grants and Commissions Programs for emerging and mid-career visual artists from Latin America; an exhibitions program showcasing work by Latin American artists and international contemporary art from the Ella Fontanals-Cisneros Collection at CIFO Art Space; and foundation-initiated support for other arts and culture projects. Exhibition Hours: Thursday: Noon- 9 p.m.; Friday- Sunday: Noon- 5p.m. Exhibition Hours apply only during exhibition dates.

Rosa and Carlos de la Cruz beckon enthusiasts to The de la Cruz Collection Contemporary Art Space, Miami’s only free private art collection. The couple even exercises the same benevolence at home, where many view their private collection by appointment. A journey through the Design District’s Contemporary Art Space commences with the amorphous, fluorescent forms of Aaron Curry and progresses to the second story where Kathryn Andrews’ giant birthday candles leave you feeling dwarfed as if in a dream. On the top level, Jim Hodges’ delicate floral installations lie feet away from the largest ping-pong table you’ll ever see, making this one surreal playpen. The de la Cruz Collection at the Contemporary Art Space is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. 

The Rubell Family espouses art education with one of the world’s largest, privatized contemporary art collections and their Contemporary Arts Foundation. The cornerstone of an international enterprise, the 45,000-square-foot Rubell Family Collection/Contemporary Arts Foundation champions established and emerging artists alike. Recently, the foundation received a major donation of artwork by California artists from Boston collector Kenneth L. Freed.  Mr. Freed’s significant gift includes 59 sculptures and 14 works on paper by Taft Green, Patrick Hill, Evan Holloway, David Ireland, Alice Könitz, Lisa Lapinski, Charles Long, Jason Meadows, Jeff Ono, Robert Overby, Torbjörn Vejvi, Nicolau Vergueiro and John Williams.  The collection is open every Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. with an admission fee of ten dollars.

What can I say?  Simply amazing and not a pastel blazer in sight....