Hidden Art Gems in Miami

By Juliana Jaramillo

The words art and Miami have become inseparable in my vocabulary. I have, through much research and some luck, been able to find hidden art gems scattered through out the city. But this curiosity for art didn’t just appear one morning.

In December 2017, I went on a date to the Design District with my boyfriend Isaac Silva. We set foot in a free museum called “Institute of Contemporary Art,” to pass time. Little did I know, this would become the beginning of something much greater. When we entered, we were greeted by a friendly staff, which included a cat, and the natural light from floor-to-ceiling windows led us to a pleasant start.

The place has three floors and a sculpture garden located in the rear end. The first floor featured multiple art works with everything from 10”x4” drawings to 12’ x 10’ paintings. Standing in front of such grand pieces made me feel powerful and small at the same time. It was the first time I gave meaning to a piece of art, and I had the perfect person by my side to help me explore that. We took our sweet time pondering how long it took to finish these pieces, what inspired the artists to make them, why they chose the materials they chose, and what ideas they were trying to convey.

I kept gravitating to acrylic paintings and soon found out they were my favorite. I love thick streaks of paint, so thick that when they dry, they give the canvas texture. The child in me wanted to reach out and drag my hand across a few pieces, but until I own one, I’ll just have to imagine the feeling.

The second floor of ICA made me reconsider what I had always pictured art to be. As soon as we got off the elevator, soothing music greeted us, and my eyes lit up at what seemed like a daydream. Instead of the usual canvas, projectors displayed purple waves, sand, and what seemed like craters on a moon, on all the walls in the high-ceilinged room. The room made me feel calm and not want to leave. I still wish I could’ve brought that whole set-up home.

The third floor included video recordings, oil paintings, installation art, and ceramic art. I was very impressed, to say the least, but the last thing we visited was the sculpture garden, which let us leave with a bang. Marble sculptures, which we were allowed to get close to, made for some funny pictures. They were carved out to resemble humans, and marble is quite translucent, which gives it depth and a resemblance to human flesh. The work and detail that went into sculpting those natural-looking pieces gained my utmost respect.

ICA was a success, and I thank them and my boyfriend for helping me discover my love for art (appreciating it, not making it).  With rotating exhibitions, I know I’ll be paying them a visit again.

Since then, my boyfriend and I have spent a lot of time visiting dozens of museums and art galleries around town. It’s my favorite type of date and with good reason.

The art collection owned by the wealthy Rubell Family in Wynwood is one of the biggest private art collections in the country. Luckily, it offers free entrance to students. It’s certainly at the top of my list and is also recommended by AP Art teacher Ms. Lee. She said it came up in her Google search for the best art galleries in Miami, and when she went to visit, it didn’t fall short of that.

Isaac and I spent about three hours exploring the place (45,000 sq. ft). I was in complete awe at the amount of talent displayed. From monochrome oil paintings to darts and yarn creations—I saw it all. There was an exhibition room where, to enter, you had to take off your shoes. The floor was covered with an impeccable pink carpet, and nothing but a swing with a female figure hung in the middle. The room might’ve seemed sweet at first, but it became creepy. The “doll” looked so realistic, and I don’t know what materials were used to make it feel like it could jump out at me any moment. We also had the honor of seeing the show-stopping piece “LE-vi.” This acrylic painting was auctioned for $6.1 million in Italy in 2004. That price tag alone made my jaw drop.

   This art story wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t express how deeply I fell in love with Vizcaya Gardens and Museum. The place captures European extravagance at its best. The greatest of photographs cannot convey the serenity I felt strolling through Vizcaya’s 10 acres. The formal gardens have trimmed shrubs that organize walkways into mesmerizing, geometric patterns. The house has many secret crevices and detailing on walls, ceilings, and floors that cannot be found an ywhere else. I truly was transported into a fairytale when I visited that place.

Miami can be your artistic playground. If you ever visit one of the locations mentioned, I suggest not going alone, as the new perspectives brought by different backgrounds can only enhance the experience. Don’t deprive yourself of this soul-enriching opportunity. Bouncing ideas off each other and debating on the meaning behind a piece can leave one inspired and knowing more about oneself.