As artists, Stewart Stewart and I (Dena Stewart) relocated from New York to South Beach to join the South Florida Art Center (SFAC). We had a storefront studio/gallery on Lincoln Road for under $100 a month! That was back in 1987. Since then, we’ve experienced the changes and watched Miami Beach and Miami grow into a cultural paradise.

When Art Basel came to Miami Beach in 2002, suddenly the eyes of the Art World noticed. So, the following year, when Art Basel returned to the Miami Beach Convention Center, a few satellite Art Fairs popped up. Then, over the years, art museums, art fairs in huge tents, galleries in storefronts, sculptures lining the streets, and exhibitions in hotels and restaurants, joined the Art Basel|Miami Beach attraction.

Fast forward to now, 22 years later. The three-day Art Basel expo has become MIAMI ART WEEK, making it possible to see more. So International visitors flew into town. Movie stars and big-name recording artists appeared. Art dealers, gallery owners, curators, painters, art collectors, and art lovers, showed up. The after parties and week-end celebrations made headline news. Strangers and friends came together to revel in this phenomenal overindulgence in all kinds of creativity.

Group of local characters

Although Stewart and I wanted to see it all – of course, we didn’t. These are the Art Fairs we did check out:

Art Basel|Miami Beach – We did a very slow walk through the halls of the Miami Beach Convention Center to enjoy the most comprehensive international contemporary art fair in North America. Enormous statues, installations, and International fashionistas in awesome ensembles gave this Fair an air of well-deserved importance.

Design/Miami – Located in Pride Park (adjacent to the Convention Center) was fabulous, as always. This year’s theme “Where We Stand,” focused on human connection and community, using incredibly beautiful objects as storytelling catalysts. Comparable to the haute couture clothes one would see in a high-end fashion show, the one-of-a-kind gilded tables, hand-crafted wooden chairs, furry sofas, and sculpted lamps, were Gorgeous! Made me wish I had a home for them.

SCOPE Miami Beach – Located in a huge tent on the sands of South Beach, Scope brought a slate of experiential and experimental contemporary works from over 130 exhibitors. By night the space transformed into a full nightclub with rotating DJs. This Art Show is one of my favorites … light and fun, with great background music.

Satellite Art Show– As we strolled along Lincoln Road, we couldn’t miss this popup exhibition. An artist-run Fair with a meat installation, live music stages, performance art, and multiple VR projects, this is where we met Zara5D and Marz5D, from the Martian Circus.

Untitled Art Miami Beach – Another big tent Art Fair on the sands of South Beach, Untitled provided an inclusive, collaborative platform for contemporary art by emerging artists and historical figures. Bright lighting and stark white walls gave the Fair an ethereal feel.

Art Miami – Miami’s OG Art Fair returned to its Bayfront location for a 33rd edition featuring a huge lineup of investment quality paintings, drawings, design, sculpture, NFTs, video art, photography and prints. Over 900 artists from 170 different galleries showcased modern works – with recognizable old world Masters next to new young contemporary art. This Art Fair, the original Art destination long before Art Basel appeared on the Beach, still outshines many of the newer additions.

CONTEXT Art Miami – A tent set up next to its parent fair Art Miami, CONTEXT places emerging and mid-career artists front and center with 76 innovative galleries from more than 21 countries as well as 10 installations and outdoor sculptures. Between the two – Art Miami and CONTEXT – Stewart and I enjoyed the flow and saw a lot of inspirational paintings.

Spectrum Miami and Red Dot Miami – Located in the heart of Wynwood, Miami, these two Art Fairs, billed as “two Fairs under one roof,” Spectrum and Red Dot attracted us to see the work of more than 1,000 artists showcased by over 280 exhibitors. That’s a lot of art – with lots of it affordable to regular art appreciators!

ROBOHOOD – Stewart and I wandered into this storefront across the street from the Convention Center to discover a Robotic Arts Studio that demonstrates how anyone/everyone can become an artist. All they have to do is download the software, upload an image, get a render, press start and watch as your Robot paints original artwork! Very cool, indeed, although personally, I like to dip my brush into the paint and decide where and how it goes onto my canvas!

Aqua Art Miami – Every single room of the Aqua South Beach hotel was turned into gallery spaces featuring hundreds of artists from Miami and around the globe. With an outdoor patio in the middle to sit and refresh, Stewart and I reflected on the annual transformation.

INK –For this Week of Art, the Dorchester Hotel on Collins Avenue transformed itself into the Miami INK Fair. Each room catered to a different gallery that showcased Modern and Contemporary works on paper.

Oolite Art Center – Oolite Arts is a non-profit resource for the advancement of contemporary visual arts and culture. The organization also offers artists, in addition to studio space, exhibition opportunities, classes and programming to support their endeavors. (FYI, the original South Florida Art Center (CFCA) that lured us to South Beach later became Art Center/South Florida, and then Oolite.)

Bass Museum – The Bass is Miami Beach’s contemporary art museum and for 2023 Art Week, adding to its permanent collection, the Bass had new exhibitions: Hernan Bas: The Conceptualists; Ann Duk Hee Jordan: I will always weather with you; Etel Adnan: Painting Into Space; and Nam June Paik: The Miami Years and more. Stewart and I plan to go back for another look.

Courtesy of Damien Frennet

Collins Park Rotunda – is a round structure near the Bass Museum. For Art Week, the Rotunda featured “Topography of Memory”, a ceramic installation that explores how memory can be reprogrammed. I kind of like my memories, but I’m open to new ideas on how to improve what I remember!

The Betsy Hotel – is a family-owned and operated luxury boutique hotel on Ocean Drive. Throughout the year, The Betsy hosts art events. The Betsy Poetry Rail – a poetically-inspired installation is illuminated nightly. To coincide with Art Basel, a new work was projected onto #thebetsyorb. And in keeping with Miami Art Week tradition, The Betsy catered an evening party for Miami Beach activists, friends, and their friends. For us, it was a chance to catch up with people we hadn’t seen in a while.  

The Sagamore Art Hotel – The Sagamore Hotel’s iconic Saturday Brunch welcomed the public and Art Basel VIPs to enjoy immersive live art painting, mixology stations, murals, and musical performances by the South Florida Symphony. Industry leaders spanning art, entertainment, and social media gathered in one place to close out another successful Art Basel-Miami Art Week.

Faena Hotel – I finally got to see this year’s Art Basel attraction at the Faena Hotel. I had read about it. It was MAZE: JOURNEY THROUGH THE ALGORITHMIC SELF – a huge Maze built on the beach sand behind the Hotel. According to the artist’s description, “In contrast to conventional labyrinths, this sand covered MAZE was not designed to get lost or disoriented but to find ourselves, to spark conversation and to build community.”

So, Sunday morning during a walk along the Ocean Path with my adventurous walking partner, we saw the Maze and wandered over to it. The entrance from where we were was open, so we ambled in. Halfway in and around, enthralled by the experience, some voice from overhead shouted at us to leave immediately – “the maze is not open yet for the public to walk through!” he barked. But we were in a maze … and we couldn’t find our way out. Again, using a bullhorn, he yelled at us. “Get out immediately”. Frazzled, like mice (in a maze), first we went one way, then another. We were lost and disoriented. We certainly weren’t able to find ourselves, let alone have time to spark conversation – until we found a barricaded exit, climbed over the makeshift blockade onto the sand, and walked away! A glorious ending to an exhausting, but wonderful Week of Art.

Remaining, is R-Evolution – a 45 foot high statue of a woman (originally a Burning Man exhibit) greeting the world to Lincoln Road.

In keeping with the holiday spirit and hope for a peaceful New Year, I thought this was a good time for a shoutout (in this case printout) to a few of my friends, artists who work and live in Miami and Miami Beach year-round.

Thank you NEEDAK REBOUNDERS – a mini trampoline Stewart and I jump on daily for the stamina we need to run around, especially during Miami Art Week.

The Miami Art Week 2023 Video is dedicated to the memory of world-known Sitarist Stephan Mikes 1954-2023. His original composition “Parallel Grooves” is used as background music.

Needak Rebounders

 Rogero Law – David M. Rogero, P.A. –

Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau –

Florida Arts & Culture –