Miami is My Vice: Being an Artist in Magic City

Gorgeous Miami Sky - Being an Artist in Magic City - Pyragraph

Art exhibit in the sky on the night of my Alphabet of Heroes show!

I have lived in Miami for over two decades.

I can’t seem to leave, and I don’t know whether it’s the weather, or the certain niche I’ve found for myself. I’ve watched Miami evolve over these years, from a destination to a happening. Of late, it’s an art happening, thanks to Art Basel Miami Beach; the rise of the warehouse artist community in Wynwood; explosive, skyscraping growth downtown; celebrities; and, to be blunt, lots and lots of money.

Yes, if you are an artist, in Miami you can find somewhere to lodge or launch your career (if you have real talent and persistence). Opportunity knocks all over, in part because of our enormous and diverse community, where there is always something to do and someone with the same interests to do it with. Want to partake? Here are some things to know, before you go…

Mariah Fox's Alphabet of Heroes exhibit - Being an Artist in Magic City - Pyragraph

Alphabet of Heroes exhibition in Wynwood, Miami.

Art Events

With such a large city, there is something going on at all times. There are museums and top-notch public and private gallery collections, with important, interesting and well-known works.

Winter is a great time to see massive quantities of art. In fact, there is so much that you won’t be able to see it all. At times, you’ll leave one of the fairs or art walks reeling (and especially if a lot of the art wasn’t so good, the price tags will make you reel, too). At that point, have one last drink, visit your favorite food truck, crawl into bed…and go to the beach the next day to recover!

The Cost of Living is High

In Magic City there are basically two classes, the few “haves” and the numerous “have-nots.” If you don’t have a trust fund, expect to find a roommate, possibly live in a dumpy, iffy neighborhood, or settle in for a very long commute. If you have a family, think about recreation, schools, and how far you’ll to travel to the nearest decent park, beach or activity. If you visit first, consider the venues you want to see, and plan your routes in advance.

Commute

Expect to spend a lot of time in your car, in traffic and looking for a parking space. If you can, avoid driving weekdays from 7–10am and 4–7pm—that’s stop-and-go traffic almost anywhere. While on-site filming her reality show in Miami, Kim Kardashian complained that our traffic is worse than Los Angeles.

Don’t Have a Car?

Find a place near the train rail, which will limit your locations considerably. Biking is dangerous; our drivers are nuts. Miami has a less-than-adequate public transportation system, and getting around can be burdensome. Visitors should probably rent a car and stay near the beaches or downtown, which are conveniently close to many art and tourist destinations.

Foodies and Culture

You can eat almost any kind of food, if you’re willing to journey to it. Miami is a cultural hub of the US, Caribbean and South America. You can choose nearly any country on the globe and expect good food. Don’t miss out on a food truck event, when many of them gather in one spot for an evening.

What it looks like being an artist in Magic City: art in pieces, ready to be placed - Pyragraph

Setting up for one of my art shows in Wynwood, Miami.

Schools

We have lots of them. Many opportunities for all ages are available in creative areas, as well as liberal arts and technical fields. As always, do your homework and consider your commute.

Weather

Winter (Art Basel time) is divine: cool and tropically mild. Summer, you’ll think you’re in a steamy shower night and day. Some areas come with exhilarating Atlantic sea breezes.

Sculptors who can take the heat work outside year-round, though they need shelter from the frequent tropical rainstorms. Photographers and painters will find many intriguing urban environments, and incredible scenic locations after a short drive.

And me?

I humbly feel fortunate to make my living as an educator and artist in Magic City.

I love the weather, the breeze, the beach and teaching. I despise the traffic and wasting time, and wish I could live closer to work and art. Luckily, I don’t mind staying home. I only go to events that I really want to attend, and I carefully plan the details. I avoid rush hour, take the train, and work a lot in my home studio. I lock my doors, listen to music, make art, and grow plants. I try to make my home into a sanctuary. It’s not always perfect, but it can be good.

Bob Marley lived a few miles from where I do. He said many inspiring things, some of which you could apply to life in most locales: “Sun is shining, weather is sweet.” And best of all, “My home is in my head.”

Photos by Mariah Fox.

Mariah Fox

About Mariah Fox

Mariah Fox, Assistant Professor of Media Arts at New Mexico Highlands University, is an Addy Award winning art director and illustrator. In 2001, she founded her company, Ital Art, which provides creative services for a variety of clients. Mariah’s mixed media work has been exhibited internationally and she has contributed art, editing, research and writing to 32 books and 14 publishers, including several major New York houses.

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