Claire Breukel portrait. Photo by Mikhailia Petersen. Courtesy Zeitz MOCA North Miami.

Claire Breukel: Miami’s inherent multiculturalism offers huge scope for learning

On the occasion of Art Miami Beach's 20th birthday and Miami Art Week 2022, we interviewed prominent personalities in the cultural scene of the Magic City. We asked Claire Breukel to tell us how Miami is growing and which places you just can't miss in town.
by Mara Sartore
November 11, 2022
Mara Sartore
Claire Breukel

Can you tell us about your work as a curator and your current projects? What are you inspired by?

I am fortunate to work between Cape Town and Miami currently. I am senior advisor for the Zeitz MOCAA Global Council and American Friends supporting the impeccable vision of museum director Koyo Kouoh. She is not only projecting, but also redefining, the voice of art from Africa and its diaspora from the continent outward (as opposed to from the North to Africa which is so often the case). I also curate the art collections for private collectors’ homes in Miami, work on a photography award for Bal Harbour Shops, and write for Miami Modern Luxury Magazine which gives me invaluable time and space to meet new people and research exciting projects in Miami. I’m on the Miami Dade Art in Public Places professional advisory committee which has been an inspiring platform to learn about artists work alongside some incredible Miami-based art professionals. I am equally inspired by the stance of my creative contemporaries’ architect Germane Barnes, artist Antonia Wright and curator Jose Carlos Díaz whose careers have transcended locality, yet they maintain tangible support and love for the city. As I get older clarity of vision, humility and shared consideration are traits I aspire to hone.

Antonia Wright, "Under the water was sand, then rocks, miles of rocks, then fire," 2016. Single Channel HD Video. Courtesy the artist.

Miami and Miami Beach, since the creation of Art Basel, has become more and more an important center for contemporary art, a destination for established artists, and a breeding ground for cultural innovation. How would you describe your relationship with the city? What does working in this environment mean to you?

Miami is in constant geographical mutability and creative evolution. This dynamism coupled with the city’s inherent multiculturalism offers huge scope for learning, experimenting, and exploring. Coming from the “global south”–South Africa— I draw many parallels and juxtapositions to the experiences of the respective Americas, ideas which underpin much of the artistic practice in the city. With Miami’s increasingly rapid growth, I am interested to see how fields such as technology and architecture grapple with the city’s eccentricities and hope that ideas will not just be imported from traditional, colonial spaces, but rather innovated locally. Being an import to Miami two decades ago, the city has sculpted me for the better and been a hugely rewarding companion. I don’t take for granted that Miami, specifically South Beach, offers a space for LGBTQIA+ community members such as myself to live freely and safely.

Let’s imagine an itinerary of the city seen through your eyes: what would you choose and what would you suggest to visit among museums, art galleries, and cultural spaces? Is there a particular place among the less known that should receive special attention?

The ideal art day would comprise of visits to the Pérez Art Museum Miami including an irresistible purchase at its gift shop, followed by Margulies Collection at the Warehouse, de la Cruz Collection, ICA Miami, and a look at what’s new in public art in the Miami Design District. This would be followed by a stop at the Little Haiti Cultural Center and the Bakehouse Art Complex which has grown to include even more immensely talented artists in studio including the likes of Troy Simmons, Chire “VantaBlack” Regans, Jillian Mayer, Najja Moon, Domingo Castillo, and more.  I also have immense respect for the mission of MoCA North Miami, and Bonnie Clearwater’s stellar program at NSU Museum | Fort Lauderdale, and love taking the Brightline to the Norton Museum of Art in Palm Beach and Beth Rudin DeWoody’s cheeky collection at The Bunker.

Moca North Miami

Finally, we’d like to know what places in Miami and Miami Beach you would recommend to our readers: what are your go-to places to meet friends, favorite restaurants, and bars?

I love rooted and real experiences. I don’t miss a Miami trip without a restorative class at Yoga That with Edwin Bergman. After a beach run around South Pointe or over Venetian Causeway, I grab a café con leche at the “cafecito” window at Lincoln Road supermarket or at Enriqueta’s Sandwich Shop.  All Day Miami offers the best breakfast in town; while lunch at Hometown BBQ in Allapattah after visiting the Rubell Museum and El Espacio 27 art institutions is a sinful must; followed by sushi dinner at Makoto in Bal Harbour or delicious Jamaican-style jerk chicken at Clive’s Cafe.  Event invites to The Edition Miami Beach are a treat as is a drink on The Standard’s Lido deck. For casual friend meetings you can find us at the bar of Mama Tried in Downtown Miami or at the Gaythering in South Beach where we might be lucky enough to catch DJ Hottpants or a drag queen roasting guests at bingo.

venetian causeway
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