Rohan Walker, 22, has been illustrating for about 17 years, but it wasn’t until two years ago that he found a place to showcase his work.
Walker had previously been painting from his home when a friend invited him to an event he had never previously been to.
Now, once a week, Walker, known as Lord Sketch, performs a live painting demonstration at “Speak Fridays,” an open mic night for different artists, ranging from singers and poets to comedians and musicians.
The event takes place at 9 p.m. on Fridays at Inner Look, a warehouse in South Miami-Dade.
“I’m there every single week,” said Walker. “I like that you can go there and pretty much do anything.”
Like Walker, Christopher Corzo, 23, tries not to miss a beat on Fridays.
With his guitar in hand, Corzo arrives early for the event in anticipation of the night.
“I love coming here,” he said. “I’ve seen famous people come and perform here.”
The lights are dimmed and music is played not only from a live band on stage but also from a DJ spinning records during intermissions.
There is a small snack bar that sells food and drinks, including the sponsored Marley Mellow Moods, a “relaxation” beverage, created in partnership with Bob Marley’s family.
Robert Lee, the organizer and host of the event, said the diversity of the performers on stage and the audience reflect the culture in Miami.
“Our mission is about breaking the gap and allowing an outlet for fostering communication,” he said. “I like the honesty, the ability to say and hear people’s true thoughts and feelings on a range of topics.”
Lee, 40, is a former DJ who became a financial advisor after getting married. He wanted to have a career without sacrificing his passion for music and other art forms.
That’s when he founded and began to host Speak Fridays six years ago.
“We actually started out as predominantly poetry, but I love other art forms,” said Lee. “Now we even have a strong comedic following.”
The first Friday of every month focuses on comedy night, when people who have never hit the stage before can test the waters, or more experienced comedians, such as Josh Silverman, 28, can perform their own material.
“I heard about Speak from some comic buddies that do this room,” said Silverman right before getting on stage. “They told me to check it out, so here I am.”
Although Speak Fridays often attracts more guests than Inner Look can seat, there are no plans for relocating.
Instead, it is currently filming a pilot that will be submitted to networks, such as HBO.
“Our plan is to have a nationally syndicated show,” said Lee. “I like the intimacy. I only want to expand in the sense of coming into people’s living rooms.”