On NBC’s former television series, 30 Rock, one of its characters (Jack) explained when he was asked why he decided to take a trip to Miami: “Ass… and the burgeoning art scene.”
Well, both abound at Little Havana’s Viernes Culturales (Cultural Fridays) in the heart of the Calle Ocho art gallery district (between 13th and 17th avenues on SW 8th Street).
But seriously, folks… Miami’s art scene is beyond “burgeoning.” It’s solidified with the annual presence of Art Basel Miami Beach, monthly art walks in Wynwood’s Art District and a few other monthlies in area communities to bolster that. The Little Havana edition cannot be dismissed, as it proves to be a viable part of that whole mix.
Inaugurated back in May of 2000, Viernes Culturales is held on the last Friday of every month and features art exhibits, dance, music, poetry, theater, film, and neighborhood historic tours. Of course, the art galleries open their doors, as well, and the artists that call Calle Ocho home are a pretty eclectic bunch with wildly varying styles.
This is where I come in: A recent grant awarded to Cultural Fridays has afforded me the opportunity to offer an art gallery walking tour free of charge to the public for the next few months. This is not to be confused with the existing historical tours conducted by the renown Dr Paul George. In fact, you can think of these as less of a “tour” and more of a “guided walk,” jumping in and out of galleries, with brief moderated chats with the artists and curators that operate the venues that line this vibrant district.
So join me later this month at 8:30pm under the marquis of the historic Tower Theater for a 90-minute jaunt through Calle Ocho and meet the artists that live, work and practice their craft in Little Havana.
This month’s featured artists and spaces include:
- Marta Ismail
- Maxoly Cuban Masters Collection
- Kontempo Art
- Obrapia Fine Arts Inc. (art restoration & framing)
- Agustin Gainza
- Mildrey Guillot
- Katey Penner
- Futurama 1637
- Cuba Ocho Art and Research Center
Art is subjective, my friends. Regardless of whether you love it or hate it, speaking one-on-one with the artists that do it for a living can give you an entirely different perspective on what it is that you’re viewing.
I hope you join me later this month!
–Ralph de la Portilla