Many of Miami's creatives are transient, showing up on our shores and disappearing as quickly as the tides. The Art on the Street series will document this overlooked and ever-changing element of South Beach culture.
"Now I say-ay-ay-ay! I serve the most high, Alpha and Omega he is, beginning and end. The Lord's love is so very sufficient, for you, for me, and for all of man." David Kahmann sings this improvised hymn while his fingers nimbly skate over, under, and through long strips of palm fronds. He's making a rose, one of the most common creations South Beach palm artists weave, but with the added element of a lowing gospel song to accompany the process.
Kahmann has an eager smile and a kind but weathered look.
His life story includes heavyweight superbike racing, living among the
people of the Samoan islands, and walking for four and a half months to
the trek from Santa Cruz, California to Key West, Florida. He says he
the journey when the aftermath of a house fire in his Californian
hometown proved too much for him to bear. "Everywhere I turned reminded
me of my
losses," he said. "Then I fell in love with South Beach. The weather,
Lincoln Road, especially. Such a wonderful community for artists."
He gestures toward the evenly spaced woven objects on his display
blanket. "This is palm art, and I work with the coconut tree. This is
my income, and my expression of myself," he says. "And more than just
creating art to sell
it, I'm here to share the love of Jesus with people. All my crosses, the
of David, even the crescent moon and star that I make for Muslims, the
I give away, these are all free items. I do not charge. Anybody and
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is welcome to the sacred items."
Kahmann's stare is unwavering as he continues. "My grandfather was a Pentecostal minister, and I have adored
Jesus my entire life. The art is a wonderful icebreaker, not only for sharing
my love of the Lord, but for doing my songs, my poetry, and my storytelling as
He said his art is inspired and even guided by his faith. "I tried making a scorpion and the dragonfly for four to
five years. And then I thought to myself, 'What am I thinking? Ask the
creator!' And I did. That very night, literally, I had a dream that I was
making the scorpion and the dragonfly. I ran out of my house at 4 o'clock in
the morning, climbed a coconut tree in my underwear, sat on top of the tree and
made the scorpion."