Every art lover knows the feeling. You’re staring at an intriguing piece of art and trying to look smart. With your hand to your chin, you scan the canvas for details, clues, symbolism, anything. But alas, you have no idea what you’re looking at.
This weekend, you don’t have to guess what the artist was trying to express. You can just ask them.
On Saturday, 300 Miami-Dade artists of all mediums are opening their studio doors to the public for Artists Open, a free, countywide event organized by nonprofit Fountainhead Arts. Artists and studio complexes from all corners of Miami-Dade are participating, from North Miami to Homestead. (And yes, there are studios in Kendall, too.)
Artists Open is an opportunity for South Floridians to meet and support local artists, said Kathryn Mikesell, the Fountainhead co-founder. The event aims to make Miami’s burgeoning art scene more accessible.
“It provides an opportunity to connect that just doesn’t exist anywhere else,” Mikesell said. “You don’t get that when you’re in a museum looking at work.”
Foutainhead started the event four years ago with support from the Knight Foundation, including an online version in 2020. Since then, the number of participating artists has steadily grown and more Miami neighborhoods have been included on the event’s map.
The idea for a countywide open studio day came to Mikesell in 2018. When she encouraged people to check out Miami’s art scene, they always peppered her with the same questions. Where do I go? Where do I start? She usually answered with some big-name art groups, like Fountainhead, Bakehouse Art Complex or Oolite Arts, but that’s just a cross section of the talent Miami has to offer.
Artists Open, Mikesell said, provides the resources for residents to discover new art while getting a behind-the-scenes look at how artists work in their studios. It’s fascinating to see an artist’s latest piece in their studio among messy paint brushes, camera equipment and sculpting materials, she said.
“That’s their safe space where they pour everything of themselves into the work,” Mikesell said.
Nicole Martinez, the Fountainhead associate director, said an artists’ studio is the best entry point to get acquainted with the arts, especially for newcomers.
“They just want to chat. That’s how you have to approach Artists Open,” Martinez said. “Come in and make a new friend.”
But trying figure out which of the 300 artists from all over Miami-Dade to visit in one day sounds like an overwhelming introduction.
Here are some ideas for how to tackle the day.
If you only have a couple of hours to spare, head to an art complex where several artists have their studios, like Collective 62, an independent studio and exhibition space in Liberty City, or the Deering Estate, a Palmetto Bay historic home-turned-museum that hosts an art residency program. In Wynwood, Bakehouse Art Complex features a lengthy selection of artists in a building that used to be an Art Deco-era bakery.
If you don’t want to stray too far from home, explore your neighborhood. The Artists Open online directory is divided by neighborhoods and areas. Click on your area to find artists near you. If you’re feeling more adventurous, fill up your tanks and start from the top of the county and work your way down.
Visitors can scroll through the directory and map to find specific artists and their portfolios. Interested in oil paintings? Check out Milixa Morón’s stunning portraits near Doral or Jared McGriff’s unique work in Allapattah. Looking for ceramics to take home? Visit Latin for Glory in North Miami. Sculpture? See Jen Clay’s supernatural fabric sculptures in Miami Beach. Mixed-media? Stephen Arboite in Little River creates dreamy watercolor-like works with coffee.
No matter what you do, Mikesell offered this pro-tip: wear comfy shoes, bring snacks and explore.
“Power through,” she said. “Because once you get started, you’re not gonna want to stop.”
If you go
What: Artists Open
Where: Miami-Dade County
When: Saturday, May 21, 2022. From 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Info: Free to the public. https://artistsopen.miami/
This story was produced with financial support from The Pérez Family Foundation, in partnership with Journalism Funding Partners, as part of an independent journalism fellowship program. The Miami Herald maintains full editorial control of this work.