Art in Hotels and Elsewhere, 2021

During Art Week and a week or two afterwards, more opportunities to take in extraordinary contemporary art remained around town. Once we recovered from our state of visual saturation, and, honestly, physical fatigue, our goal was to try to take in as much of the remainders that we could.

First destination was to finish seeing the scattered “No Vacancy” artworks, billed as “Temporary Public Art Projects.” This was the second year the city commissioned a number of local artists to create site-specific pieces installed in hotels. Last year, the SLS offered a chauffeur-driven car to circle the neighborhood and see most of them (see Dec 6, 2020 post). We did it on our own this year.

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Lauren Shapiro at the Royal Palm

One evening before the real start of Art Week, we went to the Royal Palm. One of Constant Companion’s grandfathers was well known at this hotel way back when! Here, Lauren Shapiro’s interpretation of our coral reefs set was accompanied by a video documenting her painstaking process (

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Gianna DiBartolomeo at the Avalon

Early in the week, we passed the Avalon Hotel, the furthest south on our former mangrove forest barrier reef, while walking to one of the fairs. Gianna DiBartolomeo was putting final touches on her revolving sculpture, Slice of Live, ( I think it should have been titled Key Lime Pie, Florida’s much beloved and enjoyed state pie.

Another evening when Constant Companion was out, he saw the artwork by Monica Bravo projected on one the exterior walls of the Betsy Hotel (

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Brookheart Jonquil at the Lennox

When all had calmed down we walked among a cluster of four hotels located in an area near the convention center, the site of Art Basel. The recently renovated Lennox Hotel also hosted one of the No Vacancy works last year.  This year, the artist featured was Brookheart Jonquil (

Two of Chris Friday’s works were located in the lobby and a window of the Rivera Hotel, a block off the main drag (

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Chris Friday, I love the terrazzo floor

Unfortunately, the work by Misael Soto and Ayesha Singh at the Catalina Hotel and Beach Club was not available for view. The Catalina had its 15 minutes of fame in 2012 with a six episode, infomercial-like reality show that promoted some of the worst of South Beach, even worse than the short-lived Housewives of Miami series.

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Art in a cabana

We ended our afternoon walk at the Marseilles Beachfront Hotel to see the wall sculptures of Dana and Ruth Kleinman/KXL ( We’ve both admired their work in the past. The artwork from their Obstruction series addressed environmental issues relating to the vast infrastructure of drainage systems.

An added treat at the Marseilles was a sculpture by local artist, Adriana Carvalho ( We became acquainted a while ago when she had her studio in the former South Florida Art Center (now Oolite Arts). I’ve always enjoyed her imaginative use of materials to make statements.

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Adriana Carvalho

We missed three of the works in this year No Vacancy because they were in locations a bit distant from the center. The artists were Edouard DuvalCarrié at Faena, Amanda Keely at Hotel Croyden, Nick Mahshie at The International Inn, the far northern outpost. But we did see these creatures while strolling the boardwalk!

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Next on the list were the installations on two sides of Española Way, the 1925 “Spanish Village” area of the city. Part of the area was yet again recently renovated and the interlinked hotels and neighboring restaurants reopened. Milagros!, a collaboration between Carlos Betancourt and architect Alberto Latorre recalls the ex votos found in churches in Mexico and other areas of South America. They are considered symbols of devotion, hope, and healing.

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Across Washington Avenue, the FriendsWithYou: Little Cloud Sky “Happy Cloud” installation by Samuel Borkson and Arturo Sandoval III uses cheerful FriendsWithYou “Happy Cloud” to create a joyful place.

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Happy Cloud between 2 Art Deco buildings

Last week, along with Daughter, we returned to the Design District to see “Five Echoes” by London-based state artist, Es Devlin. Chanel commissioned the installation to mark the 100th anniversary of Chanel N° 5. Her mazelike sculpture interprets the legendary Chanel N° 5 fragrance through sound and site; I heard somewhere that the soundscape developed in collaboration with Chanel’s in-house perfumier Olivier Polge, filled with the chatter of birds was drawing local birds to the location!

Devlin transformed Jungle Plaza into a temporary forest with more than 1,000 plants representing twenty local species surrounding a large scale labyrinth. Included in the natural installation are some of the plants and flowers whose essences are part in Chanel N° 5.

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After the installation closes, the forest of over 1,000 plants, shrubs, and trees will be replanted in parks throughout Miami-Dade County. This initiative builds on CHANEL Mission 1.5°, a commission launched in 2020 to tackle climate change, in line with the targets of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement to limit global temperature increases to 1.5° Celsius.

In the center of the structure is a circular platform with sundial that can be seen from above and from inside the labyrinth. Five concentric pathways wind through the structure all leading to the center.

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Another Devlin maze, FOREST OF US, is part of Superblue Miami. Viewers are encouraged to feel the symbiotic symmetry between the tree-like bronchial structures within our lungs and the trees around us.

The art did not end there … on the way back to the car, Daughter identified a small installation by Minneapolis artist,  Hot Tea (

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And then one night, we spied this artfully lit building! Art Week brings art everywhere, if you look.

I’m sure as we continue to go around town for this and that (within the renewed COVID restrictions), other examples of the efflorescence of artwork will brighten our days and nights.


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