Miami Beach hotels transform into art galleries for “No Vacancy”

Crowd-control barricades are stacked up and bound together to create a monument to anti-government protesters.

“Patria y Vida” by Antonia Wright and Ruben Millares. Photo courtesy of Antonia Wright, Ruben Millares and the City of Miami Beach

Art Basel isn’t until after Thanksgiving, but some of Miami Beach’s most stylish hotels are getting in on the fun early.

What’s happening: Artists are transforming 12 hotels — from the Fontainebleau to the Betsy — into pop-up art galleries as part of the city’s “No Vacancy” arts campaign, showcasing their work beginning today through Dec. 8.

  • The three-year-old campaign, organized in partnership with the Miami Beach Visitor and Convention Authority, is slated to be the city’s largest yet.

Local love: All but two of the 12 participating artists are from Miami. (The others are from Copenhagen and from Hollywood, Florida.)

  • Each artist received a $10,000 stipend to complete their projects. They are in the running for a $25,000 juried prize and a $10,000 public prize.
  • Public voting will launch tonight at 6pm on the “No Vacancy” website.

What we’re watching: The artwork touches on topics like anti-government protests, the fragility of nature and our role in the universe.

  • All the artwork is available for free public viewing daily from noon to 9pm unless otherwise noted.

You can see photos of all the artwork online, but here are some cool pieces we want to check out:

“Patria y Vida” at the Faena Hotel: A cluster of 18 crowd-control barricades are bound together and illuminated with LED lights to create a monument to the global protest movement. Local Cuban American artists Antonia Wright and Ruben Millares evoke the strategy used by pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong of repurposing police barricades to protect demonstrators.

  • The name of the piece is a reference to the protest anthem — and Latin Grammy-winning song — chanted by Cuban protesters in the historic demonstrations on the island in 2021.

“HYPER!” at the Fontainebleau: Most of the time, this work by Danish artist Esben Weile Kjær is simply a chrome sculpture of a carnivorous plant.

  • But during Art Week this month, it will come alive with a two-hour dance performance, as the artist and others bounce off giant inflatable versions of the voracious plants.

“AVS” at the International Inn on the Bay: Angle of Vanishing Stability,” or AVS, is a metaphor for finding balance in life. Literally, it’s an upside-down sailboat suspended 10 feet off the ground by its mast. AVS is a term in nautical architecture to measure how much a boat can tip over before it capsizes.

  • Miami artist Justin H. Long previously used the boat, named Captain Winky, in regattas and other performative work.

Be smart: If you want to visit them all, but don’t want to drive and park every 30 minutes, take the Miami Beach trolley and make a day of it. (Think of it like bar-hopping but for art.)

  • You can get to almost all the participating hotels using the South Beach and Middle Beach routes. But you’ll need to use the North Beach route to get to the International Inn on the Bay — which is the only hotel in the northern part of the city taking part in the program.
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