Get Ready To Step Into Studios for 2021 Artists Open
Public Invited To Visit For Free in Miami-Dade County
by Michelle F. Solomon
More than 250 artists will swing open their doors in Miami-Dade County to usher in the public for the second in-person Artists Open presented by Fountainhead Residency and Studio.
Anyone can go to the studios and get in free by signing up with an RSVP. Artists in single studios are participating, too, but there’s a big opportunity for those who have never visited to take in the atmosphere of Miami-Dade County’s major art studio complexes.
The Artists Open is Saturday, May 8 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Kathryn Mikesell, co-founder of Fountainhead Residency and founder of Artists Open, began Miami’s Fountainhead Residency as a place to allow artists the freedom to create and to show people that art is accessible, had always dreamed of a countywide open studios experience. The first in-person open was in 2019 made possible by a grant from The Knight Foundation.
She recalls contacting artists from around the country who had participated in other open studio formats. That’s when she learned what she wanted Miami-Dade’s Artists Open to be and what she wanted to avoid. “So many artists I talked to from other places said they felt that eventually they came secondary to what became more of a party or an outing. When food and performances became involved, the purpose got lost,” she says.
“My objective is very simple: to highlight the artists,” Mikesell says.
There are no ancillary events, she stresses, nothing that will take away from the stars of the show, who are the artists, she says.
The larger studio complexes that will have plenty of artists on hand will range from as far north as Bridge Red Studios in North Miami, as far south as Deering Estates, which is in Palmetto Bay, west to the Doral Art Studios and east to Miami Beach with Oolite Arts. Studios in Miami-Dade arts districts such as Calle Ocho Arts District, Bird Road Arts District, Hialeah Arts District are participating, plus the many clusters in Miami neighborhoods such as the artists complexes in Little Haiti/Little River (Fountainhead Studios, Laundromat Art Space, 8365 Studios, Dimension Studios, Arthood 56, Studios in the Milk District) Wynwood (The Bakehouse Art Complex), and Liberty City (Collective 62). And there are individual studios that will be open, too.
Miami artist Nina Surel, who is the founder and coordinator of Collective 62, an artists-run space in Liberty City, says: “It’s so refreshing for us to be able to open studios again,” Surel says. The first year, Surel’s Collective was 6 artists. “Now we are 16,” she says of the studio complex she founded in 2017 and is excited to show off a new building that was just inaugurated. “We are a compound in itself,” she says, adding that Collective 62 has grown organically and has become an all-female creative community with artists from all over the world working. “We have artists from Morocco, Israel, Brazil, Chile, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Argentina,” Surel says.
For Jean Jaffe, who moved to the area three years ago from Philadelphia after spending time in artists communities there and in New York, says that the Artists Open is also a way for visitors to explore different parts of Miami-Dade. “You get a history of the area. For us, its Liberty City,” says Jaffe, also part of Collective 62.
Painter and installation artist Mette Tommerup, who works out of Fountainhead Studios, says she was asked, and participated for a number of years, in an artists’ open that was curated by Art Basel during Miami Art Week. She explains that the events were scheduled to included visitors the opportunity to see 5 to 10 studios a day. “Yes, we received global exposure and it was the opportunity for people who came from out of town to come into the studio, but it wasn’t inclusive. It was exclusive. What I do love about Artists Open is that it puts everyone on a level playing field,” Tommerup says.
Surel agrees and credits Mikesell for ensuring the event is open to all. “For Kathryn, there’s no status of who is better or best. For her, just being an artist is enough.”
The studio visits are also meant to expose visitors to art from across the gamut. Tom Virgin, an artist who makes prints, books and public art, can’t wait to roll out the welcome mat for visitors at his Little Haiti studio on Northwest Second Avenue to see his printmaking process and ooh and aah over his two letterpress machines.
“They will see the letterpress. I am the only one in Miami with a letterpress and I have two and I will be printing,” Virgin promises.
And for visitors who are thirsting for art, Mikesell says that the chance to witness the creative process first-hand is a different experience than just viewing work in an exhibition. She wants Artists Open to begin a dialogue in the community between artists and visitors – for personal relationships to be developed, which brings another layer of meaning to an artist’s work.
“My wish is that Artists Open is only a start for those who visit. That when they connect they follow the ones they like, that they bring them into their lives, that they buy their work and introduce it to friends. It’s just not about this one day, it’s about what I hope will bring art and artists into people’s lives from that day forward,” Mikesell says.