A long stretch of graffiti wall separates the Bird Road Art District from the Central Concrete Supermix plant. Its tall, white towers a stark contrast to the wall’s swirl of colors, symbolic of the decades old history of the area, where art has coexisted with industrial warehouses since the 1980s.
On the third Saturday of the month, the otherwise-quiet strip off Bird Road, along Southwest 75th Avenue, buzzes with life during the Bird Road Art Walk, which celebrates its third-year anniversary Oct. 19. During last month’s art walk, a crowd shuffled up the stairs of a two-story yellow building to two of the most popular art studios – MANO Fine Arts and Miguel Rodez Art Projects, 4225 and 4229 SW 75th Ave.
“I really enjoy the environment here,” Rodez said. “You can meet and talk with artists. It’s a more genuine feeling of collegiality.”
That evening, Rodez hosted a group exhibition of up-and-coming artists. Pablo Lazo’s kinetic, interactive sculpture, “Useless Artist,” drew curiosity-seekers behind a curtain at the rear of the studio. The piece featured a mechanism that allowed the viewer to command a marionette-type figure to paint on a small paper pad. Rodez said it’s a way of drawing attention to how automation is taking over daily life. An attorney by trade, he launched his art studio a year ago.
A few doors down at MANO Fine Arts, Morgan Butler bought her first two pieces of art in Miami after relocating from New York just two weeks ago.
“It’s a little different than what I expected, but I’m pleasantly surprised,” said Butler, a graphic artist.
MANO, a well-known local artist, closed his gallery in Coral Gables and opened his current studio five years ago with his wife, Cuqui Beguiristain. They are both on the steering committee for the art walk.
“For the last 10 years, we’ve been totally devoted to the arts. What we found here is an amazing sense of freedom,” Beguiristain said.
In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month for the next art walk, they plan a homage exhibition to Cuban vanguard artists titled “Circa Now.”
Walk a block south and you might find Brooke Noble’s parents playing live blues music outside the Leonard King Gallery, 4283 SW 75th Ave., a tribute to the artist who died two days after opening his studio there. The Noble family, who were friends of the artist, now help run the studio.
“It’s a labor of love,” Brooke Noble said.
The Bird Road Art District is home to more than 20 art studios. They are not all open to the public during the art walk, which typically runs from 7 to 10 p.m. Stroll to the different studios and shops, or park and hop aboard the air-conditioned shuttle for free.
For more details, visit www.birdroadartdistrict.com.
While the art walk draws hundreds of art lovers once a month, there is plenty to see and do all year long. These are some of the highlights:
Melissa and Gus Miranda opened Anhinga Clay Studio, 4600 SW 75th Ave., 2 1/2 years ago, offering classes in ceramic arts for all ages. Both are Miami natives and Miami-Dade Country Public School teachers, and they grew up just blocks away from their studio.
As a teenager, Gus remembers going to listen to underground bands playing in the warehouses, but there wasn’t much else going on. When it came time to choose a location for their studio, it was a no-brainer.