South Beach has since transformed from an eccentric city of queers and artists into a commercial and touristic hub within South Florida. While processes of gentrification have pushed the primarily gay male population elsewhere - especially Wilton Manors, a suburb of nearby Fort Lauderdale - the city of Miami remains a center for LGBT and genderqueer artists. In 2015, local artist Pepe Mar curated the exhibition "Versus." which explored these local transformations. Hosted in the newly fashionable Wynwood neighborhood, the warehouse installation sought to embody the "vestiges of a gloried gay past." Mimicking the fixtures of a tropical baroque gay bar, it provided a venue for local queer art. The closing party, or the Versace Ball, included performances by local queer artists such as Pioneer Winter, Sleeper Speaks, Ms. Toto, and Queef Latina.
In the past few years Miami has experienced a renaissance in drag and queer performance as art. Drag artist Queef Latina founded the annual festival Wigwood this past February, drawing inspiration from New York City's BushWig, but with an admittedly more tropical flair. Many prominent museums and cultural institutions have also included major LGBT events and exhibitions. Earlier this year the Centro Cultural Español Miami hosted the art happening "Yo Soy La Mala," a curated event featuring drag kings, queens and other queer performances. Named after lyrics from the famed Afro-Cuban singer La Lupe, the event sought to explore the relation between exile, latinidad, queerness, and performance. The monthly Counter Corner party, hosted by Miami's legendary mothers of ratcheria and alternative drag Juleisy Inbed and Karla Klara, has become the most important nightlife venue for exposing the interstices of drag and creative expression.
Many local artists have also explored LGBTQ topics within the city. Artist Carlos Betancourt explores a queer aesthetic through memory and personal experience. He has moved from South Beach into the city of Miami following its gentrification, and his work often features a cacophony of bright colored objects or photographic collage to highlight notions of beauty and the self within a tropical setting. This year he is part of the exhibition "The Motions of Movement" at Primary, Miami, where his work evokes the magic of the night sky through a collection of brightly lit Christmas tree toppers.
These are just a fraction of the events taking place during this fast-paced week of art and fun. Other prominent events include 'Scratches That Matter' Thursday at Las Rosas in Allapattah, a party featuring female scratch DJs fundraising for a noteworthy cause - the opportunity for underprivileged children in Miami to attend the Scratch Academy Miami. Saturdat, SheLife Events is hosting the Miami Lesbian Networking & Party at Blind Pig near downtown Miami.
If you happen to be in town during Art Basel Miami Beach, do check out the incredible array of art throughout Miami. But also be sure to experience the pastel-hued rainbow that comprises the city's rich, diverse LGBTQ scene - a backbone to the city's wondrous art scene.