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By: Gino R. Campodónico

Art is all around us. Especially in Greater Miami & Miami Beach. As a hub for cultural innovation, Miami has become a go-to spot for locals and visitors alike to discover both established and emerging artists. Marquee events such as Art Basel Miami Beach, Art Wynwood, the Coconut Grove Art Festival and many more draw thousands of art lovers each year.

Although there’s progress still to be made, the local art scene embraces the destination’s diverse queer community, offering a welcoming space for queer-identifying artists. In fact, Art Gaysel at Hôtel Gaythering in Miami Beach has become a Miami Art Week mainstay every December, and popular local art spaces such as The Bass, the Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM), the Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami, YoungArts Gallery and Locust Projects regularly showcase LGBTQ+ artists.

We spoke with six local queer artists about what Greater Miami & Miami Beach means to them and about their approach to their art. Here are some highlights from these conversations.

Carlos Betancourt
Carlos Betancourt

Carlos Betancourt

Carlos Betancourt is a well-known multidisciplinary artist who has won numerous awards and grants. His artworks explore his own experiences, nature, the environment and issues of communication and identity. “Ultimately, I am a storyteller, and I like my artwork to have poetry, mystery, energy and magic, and to be as authentic as possible,” says Betancourt. Miami has played a major role in Betancourt’s career, and he believes in supporting the destination. “Miami is fascinating. There is plenty for everybody and each individual's interest. Visiting artist studios is probably the most direct way to be immersed in Miami's vibrant and diverse arts community,” he says.

Rev. Houston R. Cypress (Otter Clan)
Rev. Houston R. Cypress (Otter Clan)

Rev. Houston R. Cypress (Otter Clan)

A member of the Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida, Rev. Houston R. Cypress (Otter Clan) is a queer poet, artist, environmental activist and ordained minister. Through his organization, Love the Everglades Movement, Cypress has dedicated his life to restoring the Everglades ecosystem by raising awareness and organizing positive community engagement. “I want to create community and encourage conversation and help people connect with the natural world, especially in places throughout the Greater Everglades,” says Cypress. He is a mixed-media artist, using a variety of media including written and spoken word, and visual works such as photos and videos. “Being Two-Spirit, queer, gay and Miccosukee definitely influences my art. I’ve learned to heal the traumas and celebrate the joys of my identities,” Cypress says.

GeoVanna Gonzalez
GeoVanna Gonzalez, photo by Jorge Gonzalez

GeoVanna Gonzalez

Splitting her time between Miami and Berlin, Germany, sculptor and curator GeoVanna Gonzalez explores gender and identity in her work. “Being queer is part of my identity and my identity is inevitably embedded in my work,” she says. Her impressive pieces regularly use a variety of materials, including aluminum, steel, wood, drywall, plexiglass, acrylic paint and more. She describes her artistic style as “elegant and poetic,” incorporating “clean lines and hard edges.” “Many things inspire me to make art, but most personally, experiences I have had, as well as things that I read and research, my community, architecture and our natural landscape,” says Gonzalez. “Miami has an amazing community of artists and thinkers and it's important for them to receive support so that they can continue to have a sustainable practice in Miami.”

Ali X Miranda
Ali X Miranda

Ali X Miranda

Born in Cuba, Ali X Miranda resides in Miami and has exhibited his art in solo and group shows in international galleries around the world. Working primarily with photos and videos, Miranda’s art is explicitly queer. He is best known for his erotic nudes featuring muscular male bodies, and he describes his artistic style as “surreal and expressionist.” “I believe everyone should support all communities regardless of gender, color and nationality… art makes us free,” says Miranda. He recommends going to local brunches and cabarets for those looking to immerse themselves in Miami’s LGBTQ+ artistic community.

Najja Moon
Najja Moon

Najja Moon

Born and raised in Durham, North Carolina, Najja Moon moved to Miami in 2009. “In my visual arts practice, I use drawing and text to explore the intersections of queer identity, the body and movement, Black culture and familiar relations both personal and communal,” says Moon. Her work, which includes drawings, sculpture and public art, has been shown in art spaces across Greater Miami & Miami Beach.

José Rafael Perozo
José Rafael Perozo

José Rafael Perozo

Originally from Venezuela, José Rafael Perozo is a mixed-media visual artist who now lives in Miami. “The queer will always be present in my work because I am queer. All my work is autobiographical; almost always based on personal experiences, relationships, contexts and situations,” he says. “I believe that my work changes according to the medium in which I work. I make everything from drawings to videos, through embroidery, sewing, painting and photography.” When he’s not working on his art, Perozo enjoys going to the beach and visiting Miami’s museums. “Miami has very good and important collections. The de la Cruz Collection has incredible works by one of my favorite artists, Félix González-Torres. I also like the Rubell Museum a lot.”

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