Art Week Miami 2023: Where to Begin?

Historic Hampton House cafe (Photo by Irene Sperber)


Historic Hampton House cafe (Photo by Irene Sperber)

If you’ve ever dared to enter the maelstrom of a teenager's room, you have some idea of what our in-boxes look like leading up to, and including Art Week in Miami. Information piles up as the global art world tries to make sense out of a town stuffed with activities and information (and vehicles, don’t forget vehicles). Starting out, yet again, with hopes for seeing every offering, every talk, every event worth mentioning, you’d think we’d all know better by now. But no.

Original Hampton House Marquee (Photo by Irene Sperber)


Original Hampton House Marquee (Photo by Irene Sperber)

Early in the beginning of the week, before larger fairs open doors to secrets of contemporary art of 2023, is time to search out nuggets of talented creatives trying to swim into the deep end of pool, as well as revisiting local galleries already well respected by world collectors. Buyers are on the move.

Martin Margulies giving a speaking tour on George Segal's


Martin Margulies giving a speaking tour on George Segal's "Subway" work (Photo by Irene Sperber)

I greased the wheels with a visit to the Margulies Warehouse, occupying 50,000 square feet of space in the Wynwood Arts District since 1999 before Wynwood was…you know…“WYNWOOD.” A Robert Motherwell quote is the greeting at the door: “I usually begin a picture with a ‘doodle’ or a liquid puddle like a Rorschach image (but not pressed together)…then the struggle begins, and endures throughout in a state of anxiety that is the ineffable, but obliquely recorded in the inner tensions of the finished canvas.”

A poignant thought to live with on the power of "process."

[RELATED: Look for the resurgence of fabric at this year's Art Week]

Works of Motherwell, Segal and Stella lure visitors into interior rooms, before meandering past large pieces by the powerful German painter and sculptor Anselm Kiefer. I forgot how transporting his work can be in both size and communication.

I’m here to remind us all not to wait so long before visits to Margulies extensive collection.

Ray Fdez aka Ray Fernandez at


Ray Fdez aka Ray Fernandez at "NO More Starving Artists" with a piece from his Raydioz work (Photo by Irene Sperber)

Muse Contemporary Art Fair presented “No More Starving Artists Foundation” (NMSA), out of Palm Beach, dedicated “to Blacks, Multi-Cultural and women artists” and on view through Sunday, Dec 10.

Located in the 1931 Angler Hotel on 660 Washington Avenue, Miami Beach, the deco building was beautifully refurbished by Kimpton hotels in 2007, giving a moment to enjoy that era again.

Work by artist Ray Fernandez, aka Ray Fdez, blends old radios with modern technology. “They all have 500 watts of power so you can blast an incredibly good sound system out of them.”

An ex-fire fighter he turned to his “Raydioz” 10 to 15 years ago. I was reminded of the late Ocean Drive denizen Nam June Paik, who pioneered work with old televisions. Speaking of which, the Bass Museum of Art is currently showing Nam June Paik: The Miami Years, featuring works by the Korean American artist exploring his connection to Miami Beach and South Florida communities. (There through Aug. 16, 2024).

I hoofed it on over to the Historic Hampton House Museum of Culture & Art in the Brownsville section of Miami to see the “Gimme Shelter” art exhibition debuting during Art Week.

I’m a “poker-around-er” of places off the beaten path, so was chagrinned that I had managed to avoid visiting this gem and all its significance.

Originally a civil rights era accommodation built in 1954, the original Booker Terrace Motel was in the legendary “Green Book”, the necessary go-to if you were a Black traveler, listing places one could safely stop to eat or stay over during the tumultuous 50s, 60s and 70s. Ultimately it was a gathering place for the movers of that era. I saw the impeccably preserved rooms of Muhammed Ali and Martin Luther King Jr..

Historic Hampton House ballroom (Photo by Irene Sperber)


Historic Hampton House ballroom (Photo by Irene Sperber)

Malcolm X, Sammy Davis Jr and Nat King Cole were among other notables who frequented Hampton House. The old (and perfectly saved) on-site cafe is so well done it feels like time no longer matters. A photo of Ali and Dr. King perched on the very same existing stools hangs on the wall nearby.

The film “One Night in Miami” is a fictionalized account of the actual February 1964 meeting of Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown, and Sam Cooke in the Hampton House, celebrating Ali's title win over Sonny Liston.

During Art Basel week the museum has staged an exceptional art exhibition that runs the gamut from fascinating to knock-out intense. The opening to be launched that night was setting up with a band stage covering the atrium pool deck. I did not go, but I’m sure that was a bad idea to forego for an (important?) condo budget meeting. I question my priorities anew.

The art exhibition “Gimme Shelter” is shown through Monday, Jan. 22, 2024. 11a.m. to 6 p.m.

History unfolded as I visited venue after venue during Miami Art Week, offering a welcome extra to the art viewing experience, putting context to every creative output on offer

Margulies Warehouse, 591 NW 27 St, Miami, 33127
For visitor info:

Historic Hampton House Museum of Culture & Art, 4240 NW 27th Ave, Miami 33142
Book a tour:

Also Happening in the Magic City

powered by