Art in South Beach

During my brief stay in lovely Miami, I went looking for a bookstore. Yes, I’m just the type of person who goes to South Beach and spends his time in a bookstore, drinking expresso and reading rather than baking under the sun. And although googlemaps promised Kafka’s Kafe, when I got there it was a cybercafe without tables or couches.

I walked up a few blocks to Books & Books. This is a fine bookstore, with a good sized collection of eclectic books including a room of oversized art and photography books. And there is a cafe with tables in the open air of Lincoln Road Mall.

Lots of cafes and restaurants have tables outside on Lincoln Road Mall. In fact, the only tables or chairs available on the mall appear to be owned by some commercial establishment. I didn’t recognize this on my first visit but later when I returned with Doris to try a banana split from Ghirardelli we had a difficult time finding a place to sit. We could have just gotten table service at Ghirardelli, but we wanted to walk around the open air a bit and then sit.

We wandered and wandered amid the crowds. At first glance, Lincoln Road looks similar to Pearl Street Mall in Boulder, except the people in Miami come in more colors and languages. But Pearl Street has more public spaces filled with art, performances, play areas, and spaces to sit. Tired and frustrated, we finally sat on the edge of a fountain to finish off the remains of our ice cream.

Right in front of us, sandwiched between a trendy restaurant and a trendier jean store, was an art gallery. And the sign above the door of the South Florida Art Center proclaimed it as a PUBLIC SPACE. Not only was there a gallery on the second floor, but inside were open studios where one could see the artists work.

It was a holiday weekend, so the open studios were closed. But we peered through the glass windows at the work spaces. The first artist that caught my attention was Antonia Wright, probably because of the urban setting of her photography. I also have a thing for the incongruous nature of staged photography.

I also appreciated the art of Shady Eshghi and Josafat Miranda. Miranda’s strange machines brought to mind possible creations in the on-line virtual worlds. But what I most enjoyed was peering into the workspaces of these artists.

There is something magical about the spaces where we create art. I remember walks through the Reynolds Building where the UK Art Department has its studios. At any given time, one can find BFA and graduate students working in groups or alone on a range of projects from metal to wood to canvas.

The creative energy in these is spaces palpable and contagious.

2 comments to Art in South Beach

  • Jason, I’m the owner of Books & Books and I want to thank you for your very kind mention of our store on Lincoln Road. I’m glad you were able to find it…In looking at your bio, I see that we have something in common. Although I’m from Miami Beach originally, I attended the University of Colorado in Boulder, from where I graduated in 1976. My fondest memories were of the readings I went to sponsored by the Naropa Institute; these were very early days for the Kerouac school and I had a chance to hear all the masters read. It was very exhilarating for an 18 year old. And, before the bookshop- we now have 3 in South Florida- I, too, taught high school English…There’s a wonderful literary community here in Miami, and if you find yourself down here again, please be in touch.

    My best,
    Mitchell

  • […] summer I shared a New Yorker podcast with Diaz reading How to Date a Brown Girl (Black Girl, White Girl, or Halfie) and a discussion of […]