Opened in 1993 by Andrea Meza, a native of Colombia, Meza Fine Art has always billed itself as the "arternative gallery." Unlike most galleries, this one combines art and music. Over the years, musicians such as Albita, Nil Lara, and Malena Burke performed concerts at Meza as often as six times per week. In mid-October, when gallerycafe opened for lunch and dinner with a Mediterranean-inspired menu created by chef Giovanni Oldano, Meza added food to its repertoire. "Museums do it all the time," says the owner when asked what influenced her decision to add food to the mix. "It's commonplace to have a great restaurant along with great art."
The expansive 2500-square-foot space boasts nineteen-foot-high ceilings and consists of a boxy front room, a narrow hallway, and a cozy second-floor balcony area. A long matte silver and birchwood bar is tucked into the corridor. Silver painted wooden tables and curvy chairs with beige cushions provide seating for close to 80 patrons in the various rooms.
Tastefully arranged works from the current exhibition "Beyond the Lens: The Reincarnation of Photography," curated by former Lincoln Road gallery owner Bianca Lanza, hang on the stark white walls. Two other striking pieces, by Venezuelan artist Evelyn Valdirio, stand in the storefront windows. The narrow rectangular wooden sculptures -- one painted silver, the other stained cherry -- are approximately seven feet tall and frame a series of immigration-theme images (maps, buildings, boats) treated with linseed oil and pigments, which gives them a timeworn look.
Aside from the culinary and visual pleasures, Meza provides aural ones as well. Thursday and Friday evening happy hours are graced by singer Lily Blanco, and this Friday (gallery-crawl night in the Gables) marks a new series of after-dinner concerts, first featuring vocalist Burke and then the band Tradison. Expect the joint to stay jumping until 1:30 a.m., a rather late hour for the neighborhood.
But don't count on a rowdy crowd. As yet no one has overindulged and taken off with a piece of art, and as far as Andrea Meza is concerned, that won't ever happen. "I wanted to create a peaceful place where things seem effortless," she says, "a place that's alive, a place where you don't just visit art, you live it."
-- Nina Korman
Meza Fine Art is located at 275 Giralda Ave, Coral Gables. Gallerycafe is open for lunch and dinner Monday through Friday and for dinner only on Saturday. Happy hour takes place from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. Thursday and Friday. After-dinner concerts are at 11:00 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Cover charge for concerts is $15 and a two-drink minimum. Admission to the gallery is free. Call 305-461-2723.