Six Culturalee Picks: Miami

'The Collectors (Too Good to be True)', 2010, Rachel Lee Hovnanian

Curator Bakul Patki selects Six Culturalee picks at Miami Art Week

The cultural programming that coincides with art fairs hitting any city can be overwhelming – and it’s always hard to get through even a fraction of what’s on offer. Miami Art Week (MAW), however, is renowned for being particularly intense – with myriad art and design launches taking place nightly.  

As a cavalcade of oversized Cadillacs and Chevrolets crawls along Collins Avenue, which runs the length of Miami Beach, conveying the ‘great and good’ between luxury hotels and members clubs, one sometimes wonders whether Miami is really more about the party than the art itself. 

This year, however – having been invited to curate a studio presentation for artist Rachel Lee Hovnanian, and arriving in Miami early to work on the project – I was afforded the opportunity to dive deeper into what’s happening culturally not only in the city, but also in neighbouring Palm Beach where, the weekend before MAW, ‘The New Wave’ brought together a programme of local exhibition launches and artist talks.

Below are six of my favourite shows and initiatives from the two locations – plus, of course my own… (Well it would be churlish not to!)


Perception by Rachel Lee Hovnanian @ RLH Studio 

Photo: Courtesy Rachel Lee Hovnanian

A close collaboration between myself and the artist, Perception takes a fresh look at works from Rachel’s oeuvre that explore how we see ourselves, and the personal, political and societal pressures placed upon us to ‘become’ beautiful. Photographs from the Too Good To Be True and Texas Beauty Queen Cream series, and a number of Narcissus reliefs are installed throughout the studio, whilst its main room is reimagined as a sculpture garden dotted with works in bronze, marble and plaster – inspired by the Italian landscapes where the artist often works and has regularly exhibited, including as part of Venice Biennale 2022. Using synthetic fauna to create the space, we play with ideas that run through Rachel’s practice, including that of perfection, the lengths we go to achieve it, and the relationship between aesthetics and authenticity. 

The immersive elements of the exhibition will close to the public at the end of Miami Art Week, however, the rest of the presentation remains viewable by appointment through Rachel’s studio:

GIMME SHELTER @ The Historic Hampton House

Photo courtesy Gimme Shelter

Launching a new museum of culture and art in the legendary Green Book Hotel, which famously hosted Martin Luther King and Mohammed Ali, Gimme Shelter brings together over 25 contemporary artists, and features works that resonate with the iconic site’s history as a safe space and place of shelter and congregation during times of segregation. 

The featured artists, who all draw upon music, rest, intimacy, and resistance for inspiration, include Derrick Adams, Terry Adkins, Lisa Anne Auerbach, Sadie Barnette, Sanford Biggers, Zoe Buckman, Nick Cave, Charles Gaines, Lauren Halsey, Amanda Ross-Ho, Steffani Jemison, Bronwyn Katz, Maia Ruth Lee, Patrick Martinez, Jared McGriff, ChristopherMyers, Howardena Pindell, Paul Pfeiffer, Bony Ramirez, Devin Reynolds, Lorna Simpson, Warith Taha, Naama Tsabar, Fulton Leroy Washington, and Carrie Mae Weems. 

Until Jan 22nd 2024:

DISplace @ Green Space Miami

Photo courtesy DISplace @ Green Space Miami

An enduring theme dominating discourse in Miami is home, which, in the context of a city experiencing such rapid growth, also means discourse on the subject of change. While growth brings increased opportunity for some, the cost of living, and the rate of demolishment and development, has made it impossible for many artists and creatives to live and work there.

In response, DISplace brings together the work of 10 Miami artists, Asser Saint-Val, Carolina Cueva, Dudley Alexis, Enma Saiz, Jacob Stiltner, Karla Kantorovich, Gabriela Chérrez, Premonition Bureau, Sydney Maubert, and Xiomara Forbez – each of whom explores the theme of displacement, the definition of home, identity, and resilience in this dynamic city.

DISplace is the third Green Space Miami annual open call – originally conceived to benefit Miami artists during the pandemic lockdown. The search for location in which to exhibit awardees’ work led to the Green Family Foundation’s permanent art space, and its year-round cultural programme.

Until February 29th, 2024:

Sustainability during MAW

Photo: ‘Heart of Okeanos – Pacific’ by Petroc Sesti

During a week that can feel particularly uncomfortable in the context of climate change – from the excessive use of plastics and lack of recycling facilities, to the heavily polluting influx of cars and emissions caused by the art world (including myself) flying in for the occasion, it was heartening to see a number of eco-centric initiatives taking place this year. 

Parley for the Oceans announced a long-term partnership with Art Basel, to address the impact global warming and plastic pollution on marine ecosystems and coastal communities. To launch their fundraising campaign, ART FOR THE OCEANS, Parley presents a large-scale outdoor installation titled Oceans, Climate, Life, by Julian Schnabel, and shares collaborations with Ed Ruscha, Jenny Holzer, Katharina Grosse, Pipilotti Rist and Doug Aitken. All monies donated through the campaign will go to fund the removal of plastic waste by the Parley Global Cleanup Network, and support education designed to inspire change.

Elsewhere, the Faena hotel continued its support of The Reef Line, an aquatic sculpture park set to be installed off the coast of Miami, beginning in early 2024. To celebrate and raise awareness of the project, which promotes marine conservation and restoration, the hotel exhibited several works related to those themes, including ‘Heart of Okeanos – Pacific’, by Petroc Sesti – a life-size sculpture of a blue whale’s heart. The piece is made with an exterior layer of CO2-absorbing material, which removes the compound from the atmosphere in the space where it is placed.

Both presentations end with the closing of Miami Art Week, but you can follow and support the initiatives as they move forward.


The Divine Feminine: Contemporary Women Sculptors @ Ann Norton Sculpture Park

‘The Divine Feminine’ Rachel Lee Hovnanian installation shot. Photo credit: Oriol Taridas

Curated by Sarah Gavlak and Allison Raddock, The Divine Feminine brings together internationally renowned artists, including Leilah Babirye, Judy Chicago, Ruth Duckworth, Viola Frey, Katharina Fritsch, Rachel Lee Hovnanian, Niki de Saint Phalle, Arlene Shechet and Kiki Smith, to celebrate the artistic prowess and spiritual depth of contemporary female sculptors. Set in the gardens and studio of the late, acclaimed artist Ann Weaver Norton – alongside and dialogue with many of her works – the exhibition invites visitors to explore the profound contributions of these women artists whose work is permeated by feminine energy. 

Worth a visit not only for the powerful work on show, but also the extraordinarily lush tropical gardens, and particularly the collection of rare palms and of orchids.

Until May 1st, 2024:

The Sporting Life by David Salle @ Dylan Brandt

Photo: David Salle at opening of The Sporting Life @ Dylan Brandt

The Sporting Life is a small but perfectly formed exhibition of works by American Postmodern painter, printmaker, photographer and stage designer, David Salle. Many know the artist best for his much larger paintings, however, the pieces presented here are incredibly powerful for their intimacy, both in terms of subject and scale. The first solo exhibition by the artist in the Miami area since the 90s, This Sporting Life is a much-welcome return. 

Until January 13th, 2024:

2023-24 Exhibition @The Bunker Artspace

Photo: Alex Katz painting of Beth Rubin DeWoody’s Mother at The Bunker Show

Housing the vast collection of Beth Rudin DeWoody, The Bunker opened in December 2017, as a space in which DeWoody could share her passion for art and design with a wider audience, through a series of annually-rotating exhibitions. The latest of these, curated by long-time collaborators Laura Dvorkin and Maynard Monrow, and guest curator Peter Harkawik, presents hundreds of works as mini-shows in rooms with specific themes, including ‘Odalisque’, inspired by Manet’s ‘Olympia’, ‘Family Affair’, where each artist is the child, parent, sibling, lover, partner or ex of another in the room, and ‘Citrus’, which made my mouth water! 

The Bunker building used to be a toy factory, and, I must admit to feeling like a kid in a toy store, as I walked through the space as it is now – filled with some of the most exquisite and important works ever to have been created.

Visits are by invitation and through scheduled private tours:

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