The finalists in New Times' eighth-annual MasterMind Awards are a diverse bunch, representing the best locally created culture in South Florida. A group of editors and critics chose these nine talents from a pool of more than 80 applicants. The three winners, who will each receive a $750 grant, will be announced live onstage at Artopia, presented by Miracle Mile Downtown Coral Gables this Thursday at the Coral Gables Museum. The finalists will show off their work at the event. Here's what you'll see.
For Miami artist Franky Cruz, art is more than something you stroll past in a gallery or gawk at in a museum. It's a vital part of life as we know it. Without it, nothing would work properly.
"I'm writing in English, but art is my language," Cruz says. "The world would go a new sort of deaf without art, and an atrophy of a culmination of senses would be an epidemic in the universal consciousness."
Born in Santo Domingo and raised in Hialeah, Cruz says art has been a large part of his life since he can remember — a creative love apparent to anyone who knew him. In a 2013 New Times profile about Cruz, his father explained just how much art has meant to his son Franky from a very young age: "He would draw everywhere since he was about 6 years old. He would even take paper and crayons into the bathroom with him when he needed to use the toilet."
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Cruz's dedication to his craft and passion for art are obvious, and his hope is that some of that emotion rubs off on the people who experience it.
"I would like for the audience to all take a piece of the art, bubble-wrapped and ready, along with the same that I seek as a participant, which is to leave with an ember to light that soul fire that sparks new questions in the mind, inspiration in the heart," he says. At best, Cruz hopes, his work can serve as "a mini escape from the mundane grayness of the confines of the human social construct."
And in case you're not feeling the soul fire, Cruz is perfectly fine if you skip all the way to the most flattering reaction to his art: "Tears are also good."