Untitled mural by Graciela Hasper, located at Faena Forum, photographed by Jorge Miño
It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s… artwork!

This week, as Miami Art Week kicks into high gear, attendees were treated to an art installation like no other: 300 illuminated drones took to the night sky for a dazzling aerial show by Amsterdam’s Studio Drift, which mimicked the natural movements of birds. The performance takes place nightly throughout the weekend, just outside of the Faena Hotel Miami Beach.

As you no doubt know by now, Miami is the epicenter of the art world during the first week in December, when the best art fairs land for major showcases, from Art Basel and Design Miami, to the smaller-yet-no-less-buzzy NADA, Untitled, Pulse, Aqua and Scope events. That’s in addition to the first-rate institutions that already call the city home — Pérez Art Museum; Rubell Family Collection — and the burgeoning neighborhoods that are much ado about all things art.

Which brings us back to the name Faena. It’s not just the moniker attached to the aforementioned hotel (formerly known as the Saxony, a favorite haunt of Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin in the Fifties). There’s also the retail complex, Faena Bazaar, and the not-for-profit arts center, Faena Forum, both designed by starchitect Rem Koolhaas. Even the parking garage, also by Koolhaas, is dubbed Faena Park. As is a residential tower, Faena House. And the nearby stretch of sand, Faena Beach. It should come as no surprise that this entire area goes by the name of Faena District, an official designation by the city of Miami Beach since 2014. The brainchild of Argentine entrepreneur Alan Faena, the entire Mid-Beach district is basically one big immersive art experience, with works peppered throughout.

Take the hotel, for instance, which was designed by filmmaker Baz Luhrmann and his wife, set and costume designer Catherine Martin. As you enter the lobby, you’re greeted by eight massive gilded frescos from Buenos Aires artist Juan Gatti, called The Way to Futopia. Rooms feature works by Gonzalo Fuenmayor; the restaurant Pao, sculptures by Damien Hirst and Alberto Garutti, the latter a chandelier that flickers every time lightening strikes the Pampas in Argentina. Even the spa, Tierra Santa Healing House, has its own creative lighting — it’s crafted from colorful fishing lures by Dutch design duo Tweelink. The pièce de résistance? The towering mammoth skeleton, covered in 24-karat gold and encased in a glass box, that sits on the hotel’s pathway to the beach. The two ton, nearly 10-foot-high sculpture, another Hirst piece, cost a cool $15 million.

And those are just the permanent works. This weekend, you can take in the nightly flock of drones, 3D projections on the facade of Faena Forum by Miami artist Kelly Breez and an incredible trio of installations right on the beach itself: Phillip K Smith III’s mirrored 120 Degree Arc East-Southeast, Peter Tunney’s The Sinking of the Taj Mahal, featuring elements from the bygone casino, and the mechanical, floral-inspired Shylight, also by Studio Drift. It’s the best of the city, all in one — sun, sand, surf and wondrous art.

The Sinking of the Taj Mahal installation by Peter Tunney, at Faena Beach, photographed by Lance Gerber

One of the eight The Way to Futopia murals by Juan Gatti, located at the entrance of Faena Hotel

The waiting room of the Tierra Santa Healing House at Faena Hotel, featuring a painting by Juan Gatti and a colorful chandelier, made from 500 fishing lures, by Dutch design duo Tweelink, photographed by Nik Koenig

120 Degree Arc East-Southeast installation by Phillip K Smith III, at Faena Beach, photographed by Lance Gerber

More to explore in Culture