This weekend, as temperatures swelled and snowbirds flocked back to cooler pastures, Locust Projects celebrated its annual Spring Fling Fundraiser. Apart from raising much needed cash, the event brought together Miami’s local art community during the off-Basel season, proving that the scene is still vibrant without the influx of foreign curators, gallerist, onlookers, and artists.
Basel has certainly done a lot for the state of South Florida’s burgeoning creative communities, but it’s the established bastion of local art lovers and organizers that form the core of the city’s art world. “Miami has changed so much over the past five years, thanks in large part to the art community,” says Grela Orihuela, Director of Art Wynwood and Art Miami.
This year Locust Project hosted their fundraiser on the top floor of 1111 Lincoln Road. The vacant floor parking garage designed by fame architects Herzog and de Meuron overlooks South Beach’s glistening skyline. As you walked in, you couldn’t help but be overtaken by the large sheet of drywall hung with contemporary works from regional and international artists. Donors made their way through the floor surveying works by Oliver Clegg, Andrew Schoultz and others, before bidding on their favorites during the silent auction.
As patrons dabbled over the art, they sipped on cocktails courtesy of Grey Goose Vodka, and noshed on bites from Harry’s Pizza, Lyon & Lyon, Lyon Frères Petit Marché, and others. Apart from the pricey art, more frugally minded partygoers could bid on gift certificates to local eateries, and other luxury goods. All proceeds went directly to fund Locust Projects’ many ventures around the city.
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Founded in 1998 by a trio of Miami artist– Elizabeth Withstandley, Western Charles, and Cooper– Locust Projects got the jump on the Wynnwood trend by opening up one of the first galleries in a converted warehouse space in the then downtrodden neighborhood.
As an organization they are committed to supporting a diverse group of artists as they make their way through critically important stages in their careers, jumping from the local to national stage. Apart from mentoring fresh talent, they also provide a number of educational initiatives and programming that are free to the public.
By 9pm the Spring Fling crowd had swelled to mass that almost overwhelmed the large space. The great turnout reflects the exponential growth of the city's creative talent over the past couple of years. As the movers and shakers within Miami’s art world networked and mingled, one couldn’t help but wonder about the potential number of projects currently in development.
While Miami prepares for its annual hibernation from national cultural prominence over the summer, locals can rest assured that the state of the local art scene has never been stronger. While Basel last for just a short week in December, the gravity of the event has rubbed off on South Florida, hopefully changing it for the better.