Miami Unwraps a Big Birthday Present

Sunday, May 20, 2007

WHAT: "Power of Ten: Gifts in Honor of Miami Art Museum's 10th Anniversary" at the Miami Art Museum.

WHEN: Through Oct. 28


WHY GO: Some of the country's top art collectors are recognizing the 10th anniversary of the Miami Art Museum (MAM) with a generous present: 16 artworks valued at more than $8 million. Happy birthday, indeed.

For MAM Director Terence Riley, the acquisitions not only are a boon for the museum but also further the city's growing reputation as a cultural center.

"Miami is well beyond being thought of as just a beach-and-sun destination," Riley said. "This is evidence of that."

The donations, temporarily displayed in the lower-level gallery, include contemporary pieces by artists including Carlos Alfonzo, Alfredo Jaar, Sol LeWitt and Vik Muniz. The gift adds to MAM's recent windfall: Six months ago, New York art dealer Charles Cowles donated 101 photographs by Diane Arbus, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Mapplethorpe, Man Ray and Andy Warhol, among others. Taken together, the acquisitions represent the museum's most significant expansion since its founding.

MAM houses international art of the 20th and 21st centuries and is divided into three gallery spaces totaling 15,000 square feet. Its 10,000-square-foot upper-level gallery is the largest single exhibition space in South Florida. Even so, the museum is planning to give its collection a new home when it moves from its downtown location to a new waterfront building, scheduled to open in 2011.

"This is a really nice preview of what we hope to see happen later," Riley said.

DON'T MISS . . . "La Chevelure" by Wifredo Lam, considered one of Cuba's greatest modernists. The 1945 painting depicts a woman sporting a fantastical head of hair -- or chevelure -- that is made up of fruits, breasts, leaves and hair. Filmmaker Doug Aitken's "Sleepwalkers," which debuted at New York's Museum of Modern Art in January, is a frantic large-scale video chronicling the after-dark lives of five fictional New Yorkers. Susan Rothenberg's massive painting "Pin Wheel" (1989), measuring 8 feet by 12 feet, depicts an upside-down figure in a seemingly uncontrollable downward spiral.

EXTRAS: The museum's next major exhibit, "Tamayo: A Modern Icon Reinterpreted," opens June 24 and features the works of acclaimed Mexican artist Rufino Tamayo, who died in 1991 at age 91. The show highlights more than 100 paintings created during his 70-year career in Mexico City, New York and Paris. . . . Check out Jam at MAM, an art lovers' social that features hors d'oeuvres, cocktails and music. The event is held the third Thursday of every month and costs $10.

EATS: The News Cafe (800 Ocean Dr., 305-538-6397), a Miami Beach institution, started in 1988 as a small sidewalk cafe. Open 24 hours a day, the restaurant offers a bevy of seafood dishes, including seafood paella and tuna teriyaki; entrees cost $14 to $24.

Miami's new hot spot, Michy's (6927 Biscayne Blvd., 305-759-2001), is named after acclaimed chef Michelle Bernstein, who with her sisters designed the quirky restaurant. Offerings include caramel-skinned wild salmon fillet, blue-cheese-and-ham croquetas and baked Alaska. Small plates run from $7 to $16; entrees are in the $20-to-$25 range.

SLEEPS: Keep the art vibe going at Miami Beach's Sagamore (1671 Collins Ave., 305-535-8088, http://www.sagamorehotel.com/), which for 15 years has compiled an impressive collection (photography, installations, paintings, video and experimental technology) that is displayed throughout the hotel. The property is in the art deco district; nightly rates range from $195 for a standard room to $700 and higher for a two-story bungalow.

The Catalina Hotel & Beach Club (1732 Collins Ave., 305-674-1160, http://www.catalinahotel.com/) features a yoga garden and offers free drinks nightly from 7 to 8 p.m. Rates run from $75 for a standard room to $400 and higher for a more luxurious space.

INFO: The Miami Art Museum is at 101 W. Flagler St., 305-375-3000, http://www.miamiartmuseum.org/.

-- John Maynard

© 2007 The Washington Post Company