Since 1993, Gen Art has been organizing art and entertainment events in cities like Chicago, New York and Los Angeles. In 2002, the organization expanded to Miami and the rest was, as they say, history. The city wholeheartedly embraced the organization and the events it organized and sponsored.
Monica Glass took over the organization shortly after regional director of events Gigi Ganatra left the post after only one year, having been Gen Art Miami's only director ever since. Under Glass' leadership the organization quickly grew, executing events like Shop Miami, Fresh Faces in Fashion and Vanguard. However, her reign comes to an end this week, when Glass leaves the sunny shores of Miami to the smog-filled vacuum of Los Angeles -- call me bias if you want -- where she'll assume the position of national director of events.
New Times asked Glass a few questions about her new role, her favorite Gen Art events and what she'll miss most about the Magic City.
New Times: You're leaving Miami to go to Los Angeles to take over the operations at Gen Art there. Will your duties be any different than the one's you had here?
Monica Glass: In Miami I served as the regional director of events producing all of Gen Art Miami’s art, film, fashion, and music events which total about 25 per year. I’m now taking on a completely new position within the company and have been promoted to the national director of events overseeing the regional directors in all 5 markets (NY, LA, Miami, Chicago, San Francisco) which all together produce 120+ events per year. While I acted more as a producer and promoter in Miami, this new national role is much more comprehensive and strategic as I will be responsible for communications between the regional offices and national headquarters (based in NY) and developing company-wide processes.
How do you feel Gen Art Miami grew under your leadership?
Not many people realize I’ve been with Gen Art for almost 5 years now, and considering Gen Art has only been in Miami for 6 years, that is a long time! Gen Art’s first Director, Gigi Ganatra, laid down a strong foundation for Gen Art here and got the brand off to a great start. The concept of Gen Art was so innovative and fresh that I knew it was just a matter of keeping that momentum by doing more events and making each one more impressive than the previous.
Gen Art has grown tremendously over the last 5 years. Our membership base has quadrupled in size, and we’ve gone from doing 12 events per year to 25 or more. In addition, we’ve been able to tap into regional sponsorship dollars (thank you Bombay Sapphire, Peroni, smartwater, and 10 Cane Rum), which has afforded us the opportunity to create more elaborate events to help emerging artists. I think my most important contribution to Gen Art is opening up our audience to a wider demographic by offering a variety of events that highlight different sub-cultures in our community. We are able to do this by working with all sorts of DJ’s from the big club DJ’s to the hardly known indie DJ’s and by partnering with mega-promoters and indie- promoters alike. I think it is a big accomplishment that Gen Art has managed to garner mass appeal while maintaining its edge. This can clearly be seen at any of our events where you might see a guy in a $1,000 suit next to an indie-kid with an angular hair cut and somehow they equally belong there.
Out of the Gen Art events you've helped organized, what were some of your favorites?
Out of all the events I’ve produced during my time here I’d have to say my top 3 favorites are: “Fresh Faces in Fashion 2005” where we built the runway over the pool and had synchronized swimmers open and close the show ala Esther Williams glamour but set to Koops' “Summer Sun” for a modern twist. Obviously the most fun part of that was choosing the music for the synchronized swimmers!
“Shorts in the Park 2004” which took place at Margaret Pace Park where we had 1,500 guests came out to see short films from top local filmmakers while sitting on blankets in the park and Suenalo Sound System opened up the night with an amazing set
Lastly, an event close to my heart which is also one our newest is “VANGUARD”, our art event during Art Basel. Last year was the first time we ventured to do our very own art event during Basel as we had been hesitant to try to do anything during this time with so many other art events taking place. But when 2,000 people showed up last year, we took a deep breath and knew we had done something extraordinary by filling the void for many artists that previously couldn’t find representation during Basel while simultaneously creating a new generation of art collectors. It was especially fun as I was able to collaborate with long time friend David "LEBO" Lebatard and curator Francesco Locastro. The idea all started with a simple conversation between us 3 and grew into something bigger than we had imagined.
What were some of the challenges you felt Gen Art face in a city that some consider apathetic and jaded about practically everything?
If people find this city to be apathetic and jaded, I think it’s only because they themselves are. Over the last 2 years this city has really grown its arts and music scene thanks to the Design District, Wynwood Arts District, and the burgeoning downtown indie-scene. Gen Art had its finger on the pulse and was one of the first arts organizations to dare to get the glitzy South Beach folks over the bridge! It did take some time to convince the old-guard that there is life off of the island (much like an episode of Lost) and that while it might not always be shiny and new there is real substance to be had in other areas of Miami. That was probably the biggest challenge I’ve had here but I think people are getting over their mainland phobias slowly but surely as more and more establishments open in these areas.
Has the organization found a replacement for you here in Miami?
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Yes! I leave Gen Art Miami in great hands with Andrea Aberegg who has been working with me for over 1 year as the Regional Manager and there is no one I’d trust more to steer Gen Art Miami in the right direction. She is just as smart as she is beautiful and has a heightened sense of aesthetic, so she is the complete package as far as I’m concerned.
What are you going to miss the most about Miami?
I’m going to miss all of the colorful people that contribute to the cultural development of this fine city of ours. Over the past 5 years they’ve become my friends, my inspiration, and without them I’d probably think I was the only crazy one in this town!