Art Basel, known as the world’s premier art show for modern and contemporary works, will stage its 11th annual international exhibition on Miami Beach, Dec.6-9 with satellite art fairs in Midtown/Wynwood and Overtown.
At Art Basel weekend in Overtown, Dec. 7-9, the public is invited to Shop, Dine and Explore at the Art Africa Miami Arts Fair located in the Historic Overtown Folklife Village and District. Presented by TheUrbanCollective in collaboration with the city of Miami and the South East Overtown Park West Community Redevelopment Agency contemporary artwork from the African Diaspora will be featured at this second annual arts fair.
According to Miami City Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones, “South Florida temporarily transforms into an art Mecca during Art Basel and we want to give people the opportunity to learn and experience the unique culture of our local Diaspora artists.”
Art Africa recognizes the African Diaspora’s artistic contributions to the modern world. Organizer architect Neil Hall and president of TheCollective said, “this group of artists of African descent is dedicated to the advancement of local African, African-American and African Caribbean artists.”
The catalog features professional artists who produce and sell art. For ticket information, www.artafricamiami.com. This exhibition will be held on the Ninth Street Pedestrian Mall, 919 NW Second Ave., adjacent to the historic Lyric Theater.
Head west on Ninth Street to Third Avenue, to the Ward Rooming House Gallery, 249 NW Ninth St., where original works of local artists Purvis Young, Charles Latimore, Earnest King, Oscar Thomas, Jerome Jones and Randall Williams, will be featured. This SEOPW CRA and Black Archives exhibition is curated by Timothy Barber. Tour contact: 305-381-0653.
Plan to spend several hours or several days in the area: Friday, Dec. 7; Saturday, Dec. 8; and Sunday, Dec. 9, 11 a.m. - 6 p.m. On Northwest Second and Third avenues from Ninth to 17th streets there are restaurants, barber shops, dry cleaner, beauty shops, women’s apparel, churches, grocery stores and a kiddie park. Shop, dine and explore is a collaborative of the SEOPW CRA and the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau.
At 4 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 9, The Links, Inc., Greater Miami Chapter presents The Seventh Annual Overtown Holiday Spectacular! at The Historic St. Agnes’ Episcopal Church, 1750 NW Third Ave. Free admission. www.greatermiamilinks.org.
A weekend trolley will circulate through Overtown for those who wish to park and ride. Art Africa will be housed in an 8,000-square-foot, fully enclosed, air-conditioned exhibition tent on sacred land in Miami’s Colored Town, now Overtown.
At the turn of the 20th Century, black people were limited by custom and law in “every phase of life” including being prohibited from living in white neighborhoods. As a result, many blacks owned their own land. In the 1930s Willie Watkins built a mini resort with a tennis court and apartments on the site occupied by Art Africa. The resort became a permanent residence for local blacks and those relocating to Miami. Laws began changing in 1964. In the 1980s, this land was cleared for redevelopment.
Thirty years later, in 1994, the historic pedestrian mall was constructed, beginning the slow painful revitalization of Overtown. The mall’s sidewalk design represents kente cloth developed in West Africa by the Ashanti people.
No doubt pioneer families, including the Dorsett, Rogers, Johnson, Russell, Sands, Smith, Albury, Reeves, Stirrup, Sawyer, Newbold, Bethel, McKinney, Sweeting, Strachan and Heastie, who lived and worked in Colored Town will swell up with pride when they see the exhibition at this location. I did last year at the inaugural arts fair.
This year art enthusiasts will enjoy the more than 50 contemporary artists from the Global African Diaspora. Artists exhibiting include Addonis Parker, Carl Craig, Carl Justse T. Eliott Mansa, Rodney Jackson, Betty Morais, Marie Therese Dupoux and Turgo Bastien.
Featured events include Jamaica’s 50th anniversary celebration and a special exhibition from artists of Trinidad and Tobago, Haiti and Barbados, with a musical honoring the mambo king Cachao. During Art Basel weekend, Overtown again becomes a destination for tourists, visitors and residents.