When Art Basel came to Miami Beach in 2002, I couldn’t have been happier. I was about to graduate from the Maryland Institute College of Art and had plans to return to Florida. It seemed this was the place to be – outside of New York, that is. Over the years, Art Basel has grown, with satellite shows and pop-up galleries expanding throughout Miami.
After the gallery owners, collectors, art aficionados, hotel buyers and developers leave, I’ve asked some of the Miami Design District curators if they display the works of South Florida artists. Their responses astounded me. Many do not represent South Floridians. As a South Florida native and professional artist, it pains me to face this reality: Miami galleries and museums support very little homegrown art.
The upside is there’s a strong emergence of local community studios popping up everywhere, including the YO Miami artist studios and the Bakehouse Art Complex. These spaces will help generate a stronger community of local artists and enhance Miami’s local art presence. Additionally, Miami Art Museum’s New Work Miami exhibit features the work of local artists, as well as The Boca Raton Museum of Art’s All Florida Exhibition. It’s encouraging to see our local talent becoming more visible.
I live in South Florida because I simply love it here; my wife and I feel it’s the perfect place to raise our daughter. This environment stimulates us in so many ways- including my artistic inspiration. But many of my artist friends, whom once worked in Miami, have since moved to New York. They return for Art Basel, showing with a multitude of galleries, as New York-based talent, no longer South Florida residents. If more galleries and museums made a concerted effort to display works of local artists, that would change, and South Florida could have Art Basel-quality work year round.
Marcus Bickler is a South Florida native who lives and works in Fort Lauderdale. You can find his work online here.