Mastermind 2014 Finalist: Kevin Arrow Catalogues Miami's Strange History Through Strange Things
Photo by: Stian Roenning
Miami New Times' Mastermind Awards honors the city's most inspiring creatives. This year, we received more than 100 submissions, which our staff narrowed to an elite group of 30, and finally, nine. We'll be profiling those finalists in the days to come. This year's three Mastermind Award winners will be announced February 27 at Artopia, our annual soiree celebrating Miami culture. For tickets and more information, visit the website.
There's a fine line between collector and hoarder. But Kevin Arrow has elevated his love of finding, keeping, and chronicling Miami's random stuff to a literal art form.
Arrow, 51, has spent decades perusing thrift stores, capturing photo slides, and picking up stuff off the street since he arrived in Miami in the 1970s. Some of it informs his artwork, such as the zines he produces. Some of it, like his collection of more than 80,000 photo slides ("I stopped counting years ago," he says), is a work of art in its own right. And some of it is just interesting stuff he has to have, such as the collection of "super-rare record singles" he discovered on a recent thrift-store trip.
"Whenever I go [thrifting], amazing things would manifest for me, and a lot of times these things make their way into my own work," he explains.
Arrow has always been a collector.
"Some people think they want to be a doctor, or a fireman, or a pilot. I was taken with the idea of spending a life in creative pursuit. So I... learned as much as I could about other artists, different artworks, and eased that into my other interests, like anthropology."
Along the way, he continued collecting the stuff that appealed to him. "My interests are pretty bizarre," he admits. "Obsolete media, Himalayan culture, humor -- all these things inform my work."
What he'll do with those things is anybody's guess. In "Overhead," a recent exhibit at Dimensions Variable, Arrow showed a series of light boxes filled with found photos and other images he's collected, presented on walls onto which he projected even more imagery. In his video Gianni Versace, he paired the music of Miami band Harry Pussy with Super8 footage of the South Beach hotels that were demolished to make way for the titular fashion designer's Ocean Drive mansion.
His Instagram feed, @arrowfuentes, is a digital counterpart to his real-world work. And one of his current projects is the telling of a love story through unconventional means: surveillance tapes.
"Someone's phone was being tapped for a law enforcement sting operation, but what really revealed itself on the tapes is that there are two teenagers calling each other, falling in and out of love, breaking up and making up over the phone," he explains. "They talk about iconic locations for teenagers in the mid-'90s."
But of all Arrow's obsessions, possibly his greatest interest is the city of Miami itself.
"It's such an interesting amalgamation of people," he says. "It's a very diverse city. The detritus and cast-off things that people no longer need -- I find the most unusual things here in Miami."
Wanna see more MasterMinds? At Artopia, sponsored by Miracle Mile and Downtown Coral Gables, you can check out work by 2014's ten MasterMind award finalists and watch as the three Mastermind Award winners are announced. And that's just the beginning. Artopia will also include live entertainment by Bottle & Bottega, CircX, and Flamenco Puro; local art by Tesoro Carolina, Trek 6, 8 Bit Lexicon, Hec One Love, Ivan Roque, and Jay Bellicchi; and DJ sets by Main Event Productions, Phaxas, Golden San, Skinny Hendrix, and DJ Supersede. Other sponsors include Rums of Puerto Rico (Official Rum sponsor), Car2Go, El Palacios de los Jugos, Beck's (official beer sponsor), and Vero Water (official water sponsor). Early bird tickets are available through Feb. 2. Visit the official Artopia website.
Send your story tips to Cultist at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Get the Arts & Culture Newsletter
Find out about arts and culture events in Miami and offers you won't hear about anywhere else.