Oh Miami, How I Love You

 

Coming home to Miami over any break fills me with your typical “I live where you vacation” kind of vibes. While I’ve prolifically chronicled my adventures at home, especially those I jam pack over quick breaks from school, it wouldn’t feel right if I didn’t document my winter break shenanigans one last time (given that after graduation, I will never have a winter break as plentiful again)!

The first few days at home are always filled with my classic check-ins: a tour of the Wynwood Walls to see what’s new, a trip to Knaus Berry Farms to strawberry pick and learn how to not get sunburnt in the line for cinnamon rolls, and, this year, christening the New Year the of-age-in-Miami way: at a waterside bar replete with latin music, life-sized jenga, and midnight eats.

Spending four weeks in Miami wasn’t all beach days and chilling, but rather forcefully injected with academia. Having to “thesis” over break definitely chipped away at the relaxation of winter breaks past, but the good thing about doing work in Miami is where you get to do it. That’s right, it was a bring your thesis to the beach kind of day:

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When I wasn’t drowning in color theory and art history, I chose to spend my days frolicking in colors and art. PAMM’s summertime showings satisfied my every, aesthetic desire by presenting whimsical spectrums, twinkling yet indoor night gardens reminiscent of the live spectacle at Fairchild, and the perkily pink anniversary homages to Christo and Jeanne Claude’s Miami takeover.

I say this every time I come home, but spending time in Miami makes me fall in love with it all over again. Especially when I look out into my backyard and find new critters trying to make friends.

One of my favorite things about home is the food - the celebration of many cultures through delicious (and often beige) treats. Especially when cultures fuse together, like in this guava filled, patata crisped, bagel from the El Bagel food truck. The handheld version of me, a Jewban, if I were food.

Speaking of my heritage, my Chilean cousins came to visit towards the end of winter break, and I got to have a twin-filled two days with them. From renditions of “Baby Shark” to napping in the cutest of places, these girls were a dream. Their toddler visit to Miami reminded me of my similar toddler visit to Chile, which then made me realize that just like I don’t remember that early trip, they probably won’t remember this one…

Hopefully, at some date in the far future, I’ll get to show and tell them stories like this one. And maybe, just maybe, they’ll have a faint recollection of our time together. Until next time, twins, & until next time, Miami <3

And until then, relive the best of Miami here.

Xx, Maia

 

An Aussie Tour of Miami

 

In thinking about showing my hometown off to someone who A.) is very important to me, B.) has never seen Miami, and C.) probably thinks everyone in the 305 goes to school in their bathing suits... I had to concoct the perfect 7 day storm to express how much I love my home. And a storm indeed was a-brewin'. Upon arrival (post the 1.5 hour long driving detour my dad took us on to show Curtis, the resident Aussie, a thumbnail survey of the city from the airport), we were greeted by one of Florida's classic flash downpours - one which quickly dampened the day's beach prospects.

Sunday then turned out to be a day of culinary cultural consumption as we stuffed our visitor's stomach with a hearty Jewish breakfast and again with a full on Cuban dinner (luckily, we napped through lunch). Little did I know that my Aussie would take the bait and fall in love, stomach first, with my funky heritage. 

@fiftshades.ofbeige  on instagram

@fiftshades.ofbeige on instagram

On Monday, a light rain kept enough Miamians inside their houses and allowed us to explore Fairchild Botanical Garden all to ourselves! We happily frolicked (read: sweated buckets) through the garden grounds, hung out with some fluttering butterflies, and felt one with nature. Fairchild is truly the perfect spot to show someone the lushness/swampiness of Miami. And it was quite the sight for sore eyes post a concrete summer in New York City. 

Tuesday's travels took us to the beach where we baked our skin while eating some baked, Cuban pastelitos. And Wednesday we slept our work-long summers away. 

Thursday was more of the same plus an afternoon trip to the famed Wynwood Walls. 10/10 recommend taking a boy toy to this art district as it forces them to take pictures for the 'gram given that you can't NOT stop and pose amidst the murals! 

Friday and Saturday were days of exploration for both of us, given my recent induction to the 21 Club and thus new accessibility to Miami's well known nightlife. If being 21 means getting to salsa dance in the rain at my dad's 65 birthday party, then that's what I'll be using my license for from here on out! And no night out would be complete without an uncomfortably posed photo with a feathered dancer on Calle Ocho. 

All in all, in trying to visually/culinarily express to Curtis why Miami makes me smile, I think this 7 day stint pretty much captured it: It's a lush, sweltering land full of nature when you need it, and AC when you don't. It has a burgeoning art scene (more on that in a PAMM post to follow), locally sourced mangoes aplenty, and above all, it is home.

Come back and visit soon! I'll have bagels & croquetas waiting for you <3

Xx, Maia 
 

Mo & The Museum of Ice Cream

 

My dad, Mo, loves ice cream. That's no secret. It's actually become part of his "brand" - as has the moniker "Mo" become his internet stage name, replacing the more official "Mauricio" he was born with. Mo is the kinda guy who can walk into an ice cream place and order the most absurd combo of flavors and you’ll be like “butter pecan and mint? that’s disgusting” and you're wrong because not once has he come up with a gross concoction. No. The man is an ice cream ~savant~. He finagles the most delicious fusions. It’s a gift - but, if we're being honest, he’s also lactose intolerant. So it’s more like a blessing and a curse.

Since Mo loves ice cream (even if ice cream doesn't love him), I figured a trip to Miami's Pop Up of The Museum of Ice Cream would be like taking a kid to a candy store *quite literally*. 

First off, Mo made sure to wear his "pistachio pants:" these glaringly aqua bottoms that he also owns a matching polo for, though I told him to tone it down for this instagrammable adventure. 

Stepping right up to the building on Collins, I couldn't be more eager for this winter break treat - especially since I heard you actually received a treat in every room. When I tell you we all left with cavities and full stomachs - I'm serious. We went at 12pm and didn't eat again until 8pm. 

The very pink lobby of the museum foreshadowed what was to come: facts, fortunes, fun, and fuchsia. After receiving a "fortune" from Fortune Teller "Café con Leche" (of which my dad got "cherries"), we were ushered into the Sprinkle Pool - which did not pique the interest of my adult father, so I took the plunge instead. The sprinkles are made of plastic, so luckily they don't melt on your clothing, but they do get stuck in between your toes and in the spandex I wore underneath my skirt. 

"SPRINKLE POOL is a reminder that when you believe in the power of imagination, anything is possible. Inspired by Museum of Ice Cream's Founder & Creative Director Maryellis Bunn's childhood dream, SPRINKLE POOL represents the magic of an everlasting dream realized."

- Museum of Ice Cream (MOIC)

Because the museum is located in Miami, half of the adventure is outside: murals, balloons, and pink staircases aplenty! (Cue photoshoot with excellent natural lighting):

For our first snack of the day, we were treated to mini chocolate milkshakes at the Bunns Shake station. And we shook our buns indeed:

"BUNNS SHAKE is an homage to a beloved dining institution and a throwback to 1950s Americans. Celebrating our inexplicable feeling of delight when we enter a classic diner, BUNNS SHAKE reminds us of the beauty of genuine nostalgia and memory." 

- MOIC

Next up, we entered a room with life-sized ice cream cone fans, and were instructed to learn the "Ice Cream Dance." Mind you, when you teach two twenty year olds and a sixty four year old the same dance, it's going to look verrrry different. I am proud to say, though, that Mo was indeed able to drop it low for the big finish. 

Post mini dance workout, we got to snack on frozen bananas and swing on life-sized fruit. Peep the huge grin on Mo's face here, leading me to believe that (aside from the day I was born) this must've been the happiest day of Mo's life. 

(While we waited in line for the swings, Val and I crawled into this oven-thingy for some pics):

Next up was the "Melted" station where we were given actual cartons of melted vanilla ice cream. 

"A play on the sizzling heat of Miami Beach, MELTED takes you to your favorite ice cream shop frozen in time. We invite you to slow down and savor your most cherished treat reimagined." 

- MOIC

For a respite from eating, we got to play with some kinetic sand. And Mo insisted that I take a picture of him doing... whatever it is he's doing here:

"SANDCASTLE DREAMS challenges our understanding of "adulthood" by evoking the childhood memory of playing in the sand. Like ice cream, our most treasured treat, sandcastles stir up nostalgia for our most beloved childhood seaside memories. Toying with size, scale, and depth, SANDCASTLE DREAMS urges you to create, engage, and unleash the childlike wonder that lives within us all." 

- MOIC

To work off a little bit of our ice cream consumption, "Sweet Sculpture Studio" let us play with life size blocks of ice cream - and they made a pretty loud *thud* when I dropped them on top of each other... 

"To Museum of Ice Cream, experimentation is the soul of creativity, innovation and the core of our ever-expanding community. SWEET SCULPTURE STUDIO challenges you to explore your creativity through flavors, treats, and ice cream delights that are as grand and robust as your imagination." 

- MOIC

For a little more calorie burning, we got to play ping-pong while overlooking sunny Miami. Having spent most of our adventure inside this four story wonderland, it was easy to forget that we weren't actually at the pink cousin to Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory, but still in vintage Miami Beach - a treasure more special to me than all the ice cream in the world. 

Arriving at the last stop, I couldn't help but smile at it's apt title - POP. Because, without my pop in tow, I don't think I would've had cause to check out this museum. So cheers to Mo, the man, the myth, the legend, and the best father a girl could dream of. Love you, Papa! <3

"POP is the perfect spot to stop, chill out and enjoy the majestic view. Surrounded by a popsicle-city frozen in time, POP prompts you to appreciate the moment and reflect on your journey." 

- MOIC

Xx, Maia
 

Just in Time for Art Basel

 
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I made it home to Miami on December 9th, the last weekend of Art Basel, as if purposefully celebrating my semester without final exams! With only two days left of the festivities, and VIP tickets graciously afforded to us by our aunt and uncle, my sister and I spent Saturday at the Convention Center and Sunday at Untitled.

Having been to Art Basel several times before, I realize that each trip is a little bit different for me. It started out in High School (when I hardly knew anything about art aside the fact that I liked it and neon installations were my favorite), scampering off to Miami Beach with friends because everyone was doing it. Now that I study History of Art & Architecture at school, and everyone I know expects me to rattle off interesting facts about every visible artwork, I feel an obligation to perform but also a relieving freedom at Art Basel.

For people who hardly know what they’re doing when they go to Art Basel (still me), it can be overwhelming to want to see everything. And I mean everything. The Convention Center is riddled with booths and packed with people. And if you aren’t going to purchase anything, which most people my age can’t even dream of, you find yourself in this limbo of consumption vs. appreciation.

Art Basel, to me, is a curation of the now. It’s not as thematic as a museum exhibition, nor as haphazard as a street fair, but a sophisticated in between - where you can survey all of the offerings and notice some patterns in what’s up for grabs. That’s how I like to view it. I like noticing what people gravitate towards, I like seeing everyone get dressed up and put on their largest statement earrings, and I like admitting that I don’t know everything about what we’re seeing.

But I do know some things. This year, my sister and I walked past some colored canvases. You know, the ones that are planes of color that prompt people to say, “I could’ve done that!” Well, in the words of the MoMA poster I have hanging in my dorm room, “Modern Art = I Could’ve Done That + Yeah But You Didn’t.” She asked what those canvases were all about. After a mini spiel about Rothko’s and color fields (is that even the correct explanation, I hope so!), I admitted to her, “But yeah, sometimes I think I could’ve just painted that too.” And she loved that answer. She loved how human I had responded, and how I tried to explain it to her in a digestible but not pedantic way.

To me, that’s the beauty of Art Basel. You are exposed to great art, but you don’t have to be expected to “get it.” You can walk up and down the aisles and glance here or there, and not be scowled at for taking less than a minute to assess if you like the work or not before you move on. Because, let’s face it, if everyone took to Art Basel the way we tend to spend our time in art museums (staring at one work for an extended period of time), Art Basel would have to be way longer than a weeklong show. Here, in the fast paced flow of the shows, you’re free to Look, Like, Smile, and Repeat.

Aside from the Convention Center, I had the time to check out Untitled on the beach. This one felt more “Miami” in the sense that the tent was located right on the water, everything was stark white and well lit, and colors popped out at you in every corner. The total offerings were also smaller in scale, so it was manageable to see them all. And there were even moments in which silent commentators laughed at the spectacle themselves:

Art Basel, you’ve done it again. You’ve replenished my soul with beautiful things to look at, an opportunity to learn the different tastes of the people I went with, and an excuse to simply enjoy an art-filled weekend with my family.

Xx, Maia