First Impressions in Miami

from the Artsology series The Arts Adventurer

I traveled to Miami and stayed in Miami Beach during January, 2020, and it was my first visit to the area. I knew that I could expect to see a lot of good art in galleries and museums, primarily from reading about all of the local art-related activity that takes place each year when the Art Basel Miami Beach Art Fair comes to town. But I was also curious to have some art adventures to see what I could find outside of the galleries and museums.

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After I landed at the Miami International Airport and collected my bag, I went in search of the rental car area. As I was walking through the airport, I noticed this large mural, and stopped to take a look. My assumpution was that it would be some sort of historical introduction to Miami, just like I experienced when I landed at the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport on my visit there a couple years ago. However, I soon learned this was an incorrect assumption ...

Mural by Brazilian artist Carybe at the Miami International Airport

This particular mural is one of two installed here and is titled "Discovery and Settlement of the West" (above) and "Rejoicing and Festivals of the Americas" (see below left), which depict two images of the Americas created by Brazilian artist Carybé (also known as Hector Julio Paride Bernabó, 1911-1997), meant to celebrate the unique character and diversity of the Americas and do not relate to Miami specifically. And in fact, these murals were originally installed at JFK International Airport in NYC until they were marked for demolition and moved here around the year 2000.

Even though the themes of these murals don't relate to the Miami area, they were the first public art that I saw upon my arrival - and nice works of art, at that - and so I'm including them here. The image below right is a detail from the first view (see far left, above).

Mural by Brazilian artist Hector Julio Paride Bernabo at the Miami International Airport

Detail of a Mural by Brazilian artist Carybe at the Miami International Airport

All right, let's get out of the airport and on to Miami! Coming from New Jersey - and being January - it was pretty great to go out to my rental car and feel temperatures near 80 degrees. I hadn't even been there fifteen minutes and I was thinking about how I could get used to this type of weather in January!

My hotel reservation was at the Sixty80 Design Hotel in Miami Beach, so I had about a 10 mile drive from the airport to get there. Having never been here before, I didn't realize prior to my visit that Miami and Miami Beach are technically two different cities. It's funny, as a basketball fan, I can remember LeBron James announcing in 2010 at his "Decision" that he was "taking his talents to South Beach," but this is a misconception, because South Beach is in Miami Beach, and the Miami Heat play at the American Airlines Arena in Downtown Miami.

At any rate, the highway took me through Miami first, and then I crossed over to Miami Beach via the Julia Tuttle Causeway. Sixty80 is named as such because its street address is 6080 Collins Avenue, which is considered "Mid Beach" compared to the better-known "South Beach."

My room at Sixty80 was listed as an "ocean view," and I guess you could say that was accurate, since I did see a sliver of the ocean between two other hotels across the street! I had a small terrace, so I was able to step outside and smell the ocean air, which was great. Access to the beach was very convenient from the hotel, as I simply had to cross the street and take a path between those hotels to the beach ... it was only a few hundred yards away, so I thought that was great. I was also happy with my choice to stay in Mid Beach rather than South Beach, as it was both less expensive and also less crowded. It turned out to be a great "home base" for the adventures I was about to experience in both Miami Beach and Miami.

ocean view from the Sixty80 Hotel in Mid Beach, Miami Beach

The view from my room at the Sixty80 Hotel in Miami Beach.

This is the conclusion of Part 1 of The Arts Adventurer in Miami Beach.

Go on to Part 2 of The Arts Adventurer in Miami Beach here.

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