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The B-52s x Save The Chimps, The Best Of Miami Art Week And Beyond

Dozens of fairs. Hundreds of galleries. Thousands of artists. Tens of thousands of artworks. Hundreds of thousands of spectators. Too many shows and parties and lunches and brunches and diners and toasts and hosts and installations and “activations” to count. Miami Art Week, held the first full week of December each year, is the Super Bowl of contemporary art in America.

How can any one thing possibly stand out amidst all that commotion?

Most don’t, a rare few do.

One of those for 2023 is an interspecies art project pairing the legendary pop music group The B-52s with artsy chimpanzees from “Save the Chimps,” a rescue sanctuary located in Ft. Pierce, FL. The collaboration can be seen at this year’s Spectrum Miami art fair, taking place December 6 through 10 at the Mana Wynwood Convention Center.

The group has collaborated over the last six months with 16 creative apes from one of the largest chimpanzee sanctuaries in the world, developing an art collection entitled “Wild Planet,” named after the band’s second album. Comprised of 52 acrylic on canvas paintings in various sizes, the artworks, ranging in price between $1,000 and $5,000, will be available for purchase at the fair. Interested parties should act fast, nearly half the collection has already been scooped up by fans prior to the exhibit’s opening.

The B-52s’ interest in animal advocacy goes back years. The group has a decades long association with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and their first hit, 1979’s “Rock Lobster,” is an animal rights anthem.

In a conversation with, The B-52s lead singer and co-founder Kate Pierson explained how she was introduced to “Save the Chimps” by the organization’s events director and friend Dan Mathews. “Save the Chimps” supplies its animals with art making materials as an engagement tool. Not all of them are interested any more than all humans are interested in art making, but for those individuals who are, their pursuit is keen.

Remove images of uncontrollable primates swinging in cages throwing paint around and rolling in it. Man’s closest genetic relative in the animal world gives thought and consideration to its compositions. Pierson visited the sanctuary in summer of 2022, amazed by the intensity and artistic intention of the chimps painting there.

Pierson was wowed by the brush handling, their focus, and the obvious joy and interest they take in artmaking. The idea for a collab was hatched.

Band members paint the base canvases in various background colors recalling their most popular album covers. They also select the color combinations for the chimps to finish each artwork in their own style during their leisure time. Each piece in the collection has been named after a B-52s song or lyric and is signed by the band.

A limited-edition poster from the collection will also be available to purchase for $50 during the fair. All poster and artwork sales proceeds go to “Save the Chimps” in support of its life-long care for chimpanzees rescued from research laboratories, the pet trade and the entertainment industry.

Beyond Art Week

After the crowds have left Art Week, Miami remains one of the top destinations in the world for contemporary art. Highlighting this winter’s presentations is “Gary Simmons: Public Enemy,” opening at the Perez Art Museum December 5 to coincide with Art Week and running through April 28, 2024. “Public Enemy” marks the first comprehensive career survey for Gary Simmons (b. 1964, New York) and features nearly 70 sculptures, paintings, photographs, works on paper, and installations, as well large-scale wall drawings created on-site.

This is not pink flamingo, rum drink, party artwork. Miami may be known for good times, but Simmons philosophy is that the job of an artist is to take viewers out of their comfort zone.

“Art isn’t always a pretty, nice thing,” he says. “Sometimes it needs to punch you in the face.”

Put your mouthpiece in because Simmons’ work does just that.

Since the late 1980s, Simmons has played a key role in situating questions of race, class, and identity at the center of contemporary art discourse. Notable for his early application of appropriated pop-cultural imagery, Simmons’ work aims to analyze and expose histories of racism in visual culture. Over the course of his career, he has revealed traces of these histories in sports, cinema, literature, music, architecture, and urbanism, while drawing heavily on genres such as hip hop, horror, and science fiction.

“Public Enemy” references early hip hop and the iconic group of the same name, and also the target Black men carry on them in America as an imagined “public enemy” in the minds of many.

Speaking of hip hop, the next must-see on a Miami arts crawl is Art of Hip Hop, an exhibition opening in Wynwood (299 NW 25th St.) December 5 spotlighting the visual unsung heroes of Hip Hop culture including photographers, album cover artists, graffiti visionaries, and logo designers.

The inaugural exhibition, From the Bronx to the Beach, will showcase rare vintage ephemera ranging from hip hop’s first New York City DJ, Kool Herc, to Miami’s own pioneer Uncle Luke. On display are the works of famed hip hop photographers alongside hip hop album covers. The exhibition also shines a special spotlight on Miami’s own hip hop history, capturing it through the lenses of local historian and photographer Derick G and photographer Esdras T. Thelusma.

More local history comes alive at the Historic Hampton House Museum of Culture & Art, located within a former Green Book hotel. The Green Book was a travel guide for African Americans during Jim Crow with information on what restaurants, hotels and attractions were safe for Black travelers.

The museum debuts “Gimme Shelter,” its first art exhibition, on December 5. Featuring over 25 artists including superstars Derrick Adams, Nick Cave, Charles Gaines, Howardena Pindell and Carrie Mae Weems, the show highlights how shelter and safety are integral to cultural production and collective creation.

Opening in January of 2024 will be an all-new Museum of Sex housed in a 32,000-square-foot converted warehouse in the Allapattah district. The Museum of Sex New York flagship debuted in 2002, and its first satellite location promises to bring the same commitment to preserving, presenting, and celebrating the cultural significance of human sexuality to Miami.

The Museum of Sex in Miami opens with the first U.S. solo museum exhibition for pioneering Japanese artist Hajime Sorayama, a retrospective look at the design and marketing of sexual health products from the 1920s to today, and an enhanced edition of the museum’s blockbuster installation “Super Funland: Journey into the Erotic Carnival.”

Lastly, enjoy Miami’s perfect winter temps by perusing art along The Underline, another idea imported from New York.

Meg Daly founded The Underline in 2013 after a bike accident with the purpose of transforming the underutilized land below Miami’s Metrorail into a 10-mile linear park, urban trail, and public art destination recalling New York’s High Line. The Underline has become the fastest moving project of its size in the country, raising over $140 million in support, and one of the most visited and appreciated sites in Miami as a real effort in making the city more resilient and connected.

Enjoy The Underline’s developing art trail beginning at the Brickell Metrorail Station North Entrance (SW 1st Avenue & SW 10th Street, exit north). A free public tour of The Underline’s art collection is being offered from 4:00 to 5:00 PM on December 5.

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