Forget Miami Beach, Coral Gables, the Design District, and Bird Road. The neighborhood to inhabit if you're young, wild, and free (read: an artist) now seems to be Little Havana. Long-time Lincoln Road mosaic artist Carlos Alves has landed there and set up a studio, as have former Bird Roaders Vivian C. Marthell and Carlos Suarez de Jesus. Artists J.C. Carroll, Julie Moskowitz, and Terri Parise also have spaces on the street. Together they have dubbed themselves the 6street visual arts collective, and this Friday night they throw a bash to say Welcome to the Hood to painter Gerardo Gonzalez Quevedo and sculptor Morgen Chesonis, who have moved in as well.
But the party is for more than just the bohemian in-crowd. The public is invited to what the organizers call a "no-holds-barred studio crawl," which will include a concert by rocky jazz band New Relics, a jukebox loaded with rumba tunes, a makeshift bar and buffet set up in a freight elevator, and, of course, an exhibition also called "Welcome to the Hood," featuring works of all types by collective members. Not to worry, though. This isn't the Gables, and no buses will be hauling well-dressed people from place to place on a monthly basis. The open-studio night in Little Havana will be a bimonthly or quarterly occasion at best. "We're artists," says Suarez de Jesus. "We want to work first. That's why we're here."
And what will be on display there is sure to be an eclectic collection of pieces: Parise's tempting, giant ceramic fruit, Suarez de Jesus's menacing tribal paintings, Marthell's discomfiting sculptures, and Moskowitz's whimsical ceramic plates. Art as diverse as the community in which it can be seen. After all Little Havana is just not for Cubans anymore -- Nicaraguans, Hondurans, Salvadorans, Haitians, Jamaicans, and even Americans reside there. Across from the studios are the Church of Santa Barbara, a kitschy bar that caters to locals, and a Honduran political association. Down the street sits a Chinese pizzeria.
What could be better, to add more life to an already lively neighborhood, than an invasion of creative types? "As an artist I don't like anything that's whitewashed, says Suarez de Jesus. "I like to walk into a place and feel that undercurrent of electricity, so I can feel alive, that something's happening. This place is vibrant and it's visually poetic. Anywhere you walk, there's something going on."