Visual Arts

Knight Arts Challenge names these artists — and South Florida — winners

Juan Barquin and Trae Dellis received $25,000 to build community, entertain and educate with Flaming Classics, a curated film series that pairs classic films from the queer canon with live performances from local drag artists.
Juan Barquin and Trae Dellis received $25,000 to build community, entertain and educate with Flaming Classics, a curated film series that pairs classic films from the queer canon with live performances from local drag artists.

Microtheater productions performed in shipping containers, a virtual reality film about Stiltsville and a Liberty City art project memorializing segregation are among 43 concepts that will share $2.5 million in challenge grants from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

The announcement came Monday when the Knight Foundation celebrated its 10th year of Knight Arts Challenge grants. Since 2005, the foundation has given more than $122 million to South Florida cultural organization, with more than $32 million of that in arts challenge grants.

The challenge recognizes ideas for projects across the region from both individuals and organizations. All grantees must find funds to match the Knight commitment.

In addition to the grants, the foundation recognized 25 Knight Arts Champions for their vision and support of Miami’s cultural community. They include authors, artists, civic leaders and organizational leaders. Each designated $10,000 in donations to a favored cultural institution.


The 2017 grants go to:

Arts For Learning — $80,000 for exploring a chapter of Miami’s history through an art project in which Liberty City students study the remains of the segregation wall on Northwest 12th Avenue and create a living memorial for the site.

Bass Museum — $100,000 for Curator Culture at The Bass, a public conversation series led by Tom Healy that brings together the brightest minds in arts and pop culture to ask: What is really worth our time to look at, listen to, touch, or talk about?

Borscht Corporation — $150,000 to ensure Miami women filmmakers’ stories are told in film by expanding funding and support for their work through the NoBroZone grant program.

Buskerfest Miami — $45,000 to make music accessible by celebrating international Make Music Day with performances augmented by interactive technology in public spaces throughout the city.

Dehja Carrington — $90,000 to inspire a new generation of art collectors and create a much-needed marketing platform for Miami artists through Commissioner, a quarterly series where local artists create works on Miami themes. Patrons will contribute to the commission; each work will be celebrated at an event.

CCEMiami — $50,000 to experiment with theatrical formats by inviting a renowned theater director to produce plays in Centro Cultural Español’s microtheatres, located in shipping containers. Each 15-minute piece is part of a larger story that audience members can see in any order.

City of Doral — $20,000 to bring more culture to the city’s downtown by expanding Ritmo Doral, an international cultural event that will connect local artists and community members with artists in Doral’s sister cities.

Dimensions Dance Theater of Miami — $150,000 to help keep local dance talent in Miami by offering professional opportunities at Dimensions Dance Theater of Miami, and establish a home for the company at the South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center.

El Ingenio — $23,000 to revive the art of the “Oriental Organ” by creating a musical score for one of the instruments made in Miami from Cuban models. It will be used in a theatrical street performance of Ibsen’s “The Lady of the Sea.”

FilmGate Miami — $75,000 to help Miamians explore iconic Stiltsville, the seven homes on stilts in Biscayne Bay, with a virtual-reality documentary that looks at the structures, their caretakers and the underwater life formed under their protective shelter.

Fresh Art International — $50,000 to provide a platform for critical discourse on the Miami arts scene by expanding the internet radio show “LIVE Fresh Art International” with a new virtual platform.

FUNDarte — $75,000 to nurture the careers of the city’s hidden talents, many of whom have recently immigrated to the United States, by expanding FUNDarte’s successful “From El Barrio to the Mainstage” program to mentor under-represented theater and dance artists.

Glades Media Partnership — $30,000 to highlight the story of Pahokee, a rural Palm Beach County town populated primarily by people of color and immigrants, with a feature documentary that follows four high school students coming of age worlds away from the economic advantages of coastal South Florida.

Haitian Cultural Arts Alliance — $50,000 to delve into the story of Cuban artist José Aponte, who was executed in 1812 in part for creating a now-lost book of 80 paintings for slaves in sugar mills. An exhibit will explore both his work and contemporary artists’ reactions to it.

Hanan Arts — $100,000 to foster dialogue between Miami and Havana through film screenings, dance workshops and live performances on the themes of diaspora, dance and identity.

Historic Hampton House Community Trust — $100,000 to inspire conversations on timely topics through film. The trust will partner with Florida International University and Miami Jazz and Film Society on a film and discussion series.

IlluminArts — $18,000 to explore issues women face through an Art Song performance that combines the work of Cuban artist Ana Mendieta with a musical program presenting high-caliber female composers and musicians.

Jai Alai Books — $35,000 to examine three pressing issues facing Miami — transit, sea level rise and poverty — and inspire action on them through a trilogy of books by local authors.

Johanne Rahaman — $40,000 to document black community life by digitizing family photo albums, combining them with photographic portraits created by photographer Johanne Rahaman and presenting them in public exhibitions and innovative media platforms.

Juan Barquin and Trae Dellis — $25,000 to build community, entertain and educate with Flaming Classics, a curated film series that pairs classic films from the queer canon with live performances from local drag artists.

Kunya Rowley — $20,000 to illuminate the musical and theatrical contributions of people of color with a series of performances of works by African-American composers or inspired by African-American history.

Laura Randall — $65,000 to bring art into people’s everyday lives with the Commuter Biennial, a series of artistic interventions by emerging artists that take place in suburban communities.

Letter16 Press — $43,000 to preserve the history of 1970s South Beach and the Jewish retirees who lived there by restoring the photos of lauded photographer Andy Sweet and publishing them in a book.

Mark Hedden — $13,500 to tell the stories of Key West’s liveaboard community, boat dwellers who anchor in the shallows off Key West, in a photo narrative that explores this community living on the island’s and society’s edge.

MDC Live Arts — $50,000 to explore Muslim identity through an artist-in-residence program with four Muslim hip-hop artists who will create work with local students around racism, xenophobia and Islamophobia.

Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs — $125,000 to solidify Miami’s reputation internationally as a center for arts and culture by hosting the 2018 Creative Time Summit, one of the world’s largest conferences on art and social change.

Miami New Drama — $150,000 to explore a piece of the city’s history by partnering with local filmmaker Billy Corben and Rakontur Productions to create a stage adaption of the acclaimed documentary “Cocaine Cowboys.”

Nu Deco Ensemble — $45,000 to present a world premiere by Kaoru Ishibashi, a Japanese-American singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist, exploring the involuntary internment of Japanese, German and Italian-Americans during World War II.

OCR — $30,000 to honor Brownsville’s Lincoln Memorial Park cemetery and the lives and stories of the city’s black luminaries buried there with an art and research project led by artists Domingo Castillo, Adler Guerrier and their collaborators.

Olympia Theater — $80,000 to build on Miami’s spoken-word scene by creating Taberna Fábula, a live storytelling series in Spanish at the Olympia.

PATH: Preserving, Archiving & Teaching Hip-hop — $80,000 to introduce teens to Miami’s landmarks by having them create site-specific performance pieces that explore their stories and traditions, under the leadership of director Teo Castellanos and Brimstone127.

PAXy — $50,000 to bring the arts into people’s everyday lives by holding mini-concerts at Metrorail stations during the morning commute.

SFCA [isaw+subtropics] — $40,000 to provide a way to enjoy sound art by redesigning SFCA’s space at ArtCenter/South Florida to host sound art residencies that lead to exhibitions.

Silvia Ros Photography — $15,000 to explore the international importance of Cuban modernist architects and architecture, both on the island and in the United States, with an online and traveling exhibition.

Siren Arts — $30,000 to raise awareness about climate change with an irreverent, traveling talk show where mermaids interview guests and debate issues of biodiversity, global warming and other environmental challenges that affect life on Earth.

Sofia Valiente — $75,000 to tell the stories of South Florida’s pioneer families through Foreverglades, an interactive photography and photo book exhibition in downtown West Palm Beach.

South Florida National Parks Trust — $9,000 to celebrate Biscayne National Park’s 50th anniversary with art-driven events including exhibitions by emerging artists inspired by the park, musical performances and more.

The Miami Rail — $25,000 to share the perspectives of Haitian writers by translating their works for publication and offering residencies for authors of note.

Little Havana Tours and Sikan Afro-Cuban Dance Project — $25,000 to celebrate people from Cuban and African heritage with pop-up Afro-Cuban dance performances in Little Havana during Black History month and Hispanic Heritage month.

Bascomb Memorial Broadcasting Foundation/ WDNA 88.9 FM Public Radio — $100,000 to expand the station’s nascent Miami Downtown Jazz Festival with jazz piano and festival poster competitions and a jazz jam session.

Friends of WLRN — $10,000 to celebrate South Florida and its quirks by commissioning playwrights to create radio theater plays – for stage and broadcast – inspired by real stories in the news.

Oliva Ramos — $35,000 to expand the conversation around the visual arts in Miami by growing Work Untitled, a Miami-based artist magazine that gives most revenues from magazine sales to participating artists.

YMCA of South Florida — $28,000 to transform the experiences of Fort Lauderdale’s Sistrunk residents into art by inviting them to share their stories over a barbecue meal, then document them in song, dance and poetry to share with the larger community.

Arts champions

The Knight Arts Champions and their grant recipients are:

Sarah Arison, president, Arison Arts Foundation: National YoungArts Foundation

Dave Barry, author: “Havana, Haiti: Two Cultures, One Community,” by Carl Juste

José Bedia, artist: Haitian Cultural Arts Alliance and Yeins Gomez

Shelton G. Berg, Dean, Frost School of Music, University of Miami: Donna Shalala MusicReach Program, Frost School

Beth Boone, Artistic and Executive Director, Miami Light Project: Inez Barlatier

Deborah Briggs and Jonathan Plutzik, The Betsy hotel: The Betsy Community Fund at The Miami Foundation

Ana-Marie Codina Barlick, CEO, Codina Partners: Miami City Ballet

P. Scott Cunningham, Founder and Executive Director, O, Miami Poetry Festival: Exchange for Change

Edwidge Danticat, author: Nancy St. Leger Danse Ensemble, Filmmaker Dudley Alexis and Poet Angie Bell

Marshall Davis, Artistic Director, African Heritage Cultural Arts Center: African Heritage Cultural Arts Center Film and Media Program

Teresita Fernandez, artist: Latina Art Fund at Pérez Art Museum Miami

Carlos Gimenez, Mayor, Miami-Dade County: Forthcoming

Carl Hiaasen, author: Design and Architecture Senior High and South Miami Middle Community School

Jaie Laplante, Executive Director and Director of Programming, Miami Film Festival and Tower Theater, Miami: Visual artist Jonathan De Camps and musician Sekajipo

Lucas Leyva, filmmaker and founder Borscht Film Festival: Third Horizon Film Festival

Lourdes Lopez, Artistic Director, Miami City Ballet: Thomas Armour Youth Ballet

Campbell McGrath, poet: O, Miami Poetry Festival

Michele Oka Doner, artist: Wolfsonian-FIU

Leyden Rodriguez-Casanova and Frances Trombly, artists and founders, Dimensions Variable: artists Christina Pettersson and Jamilah Sabur

Rachelle Salnave, filmmaker and founder, Black Lounge Cinema: O Cinema

Franklin Sirmans, director, Pérez Art Museum Miami: “Havana, Haiti: Two Cultures, One Community,” by Carl Juste

Sebastian Spreng, artist: Lowe Art Museum

Andrew Yeomanson, musician, Spam Allstars: Guitars over Guns