December means Art Basel Miami Beach, and the local museums are ready for their annual close-up. While the fair and its satellites boast a dizzying display of must-see art—including Meridians, a new sector of large-scale works by Theaster Gates, Adam Pendleton and others—they’re not the only shows in town. Here, a list of buzzy exhibitions off the beaten path of the fair proper, but definitely worth a detour.
Cecilia Vicuña, Balsa Snake Raft to Escape the Flood, 2017
In her first major solo museum show in the US, 71-year-old Chilean poet, artist and filmmaker Cecilia Vicuña brings new paintings to the Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami, as well as her ephemeral precario, or precarious, sculptures, which tackle our damaged planet and peoples. Her installation Burnt Quipu (2018) stretches dyed wool from floor to ceiling, alluding to both the West Coast’s devastating wildfires and the Andean writing system of “talking knots.”
Glenn Ligon, Debris Field (Red) #1, 2018
Mera and Don Rubell were the pioneers but Miami is now private-collection central. The de la Cruz Collection has opened a group show that features dozens of artists, including Mark Bradford, Laura Owens and Rachel Harrison. Don’t miss Glenn Ligon’s blood-red duo Debris Field (Red) #1 and #3, both from 2018, or Gabriel Orozco’s jumbled sculpture from 1994, Four Bicycles (There Is Always One Direction).
Teresita Fernández, Fire (United States of the Americas), 2017
Pérez Art Museum Miami’s midcareer survey of Teresita Fernández offers a comprehensive look at the artist’s thought-provoking take on the natural world. Fashioning large-scale sculptures, installations and other works from a wide array of materials (think mirrors, silk and onyx), the New York–based artist contemplates history, identity and the changing landscape.
Installation view of Haegue Yang: ETA 1994-2018
The Bass has a doubleheader on tap. South Korean artist Haegue Yang, who also has an installation in an atrium of New York’s newly reopened Museum of Modern Art, shows a sampling of her quirky anthropomorphic sculptures, moody venetian-blind installations and site-specific wallpaper. Mickalene Thomas, meanwhile, creates one of her groovy, ’70s-themed rec-room installations inspired by her late mother and muse.
Mira Lehr, Shifting Meridians, 2018
Hometown favorite and self-described ecofeminist Mira Lehr, who has been making art in her native Miami Beach for most of her 85 years, has long taken her cue from nature. Now she has transformed the Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU (housed in two former synagogues) into a secret garden with her latest colorful, dreamy paintings and 180 aerial sculptures.