Sean McCormick's grandfather was Dr. James McCormick, a physician who served Miami's early developers like Julia Tuttle. Sean's father, Edward McCormick, dedicated his downtown Miami warehouse space to Dr. James' memory. And now Sean himself is making his own mark on the Magic City, transforming that same building into McCormick Place, an event space dedicated to foster in the arts.
"I'm a third-generation Miamian," McCormick says, "and living here, going around town, I saw there was something needed. A few venues are doing some different things, cultural organizations with different ideas around art. But I didn't see any cohesive unit in an area that could be cohesive, like downtown."
After a year of planning, his building on the north bank of the Miami River is adorned by murals created by some of the city's most recognizable artists, and preparing for an opening coinciding with the Downtown Development Authority's newly launched DWNTWN Art Days.
McCormick, a supporter of the arts in Miami through organizations like the Miami Art Museum, HistoryMiami, and the Miami City Ballet, says now is the perfect time for a downtown arts renaissance. "At this point, it's become a haven for the young, professional, active person who likes to enjoy fine dining and good bars and restaurants, plus venues like the Arsht Center and the new Museum Park," he says. "Everybody's waking up here in Miami. It's not just a beach destination."
McCormick Place from above, with work by Stephen Gamson and Eleazar Delgado.
McCormick Place adds to that scene both inside and out. Its outer walls have served as canvases for local artists including Eleazar Delgado and Stephen Gamson, as well as a class of muralists from Miami International University of Art and Design. Thanks to the building's placement near I-95, McCormick says, the murals have already exposed thousands of Miami commuters to an extra dose of culture. He's currently seeking an artist to fill one last wall, facing west and measuring 40 ft. by 15 ft. "Ideally, we'll have it executed by Art Basel," he says.
But first, the venue's set to open with an after party that coincides with the Downtown Development Authority's DWNTWN Art Days, a festival of free events and experiences for art lovers, courtesy of downtown art venues. Most events during the 2-day fest end at 8 p.m., McCormick points out, making McCormick Place's opening party (which kicks off at 8 p.m.) the perfect transition from day to night.
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The event will feature a performance by Circ X, as well as a host of musicians, DJs, and food trucks, McCormick says. Exotic cars will be on display in the parking area out front, and inside, artists will be displaying and creating works of their own. Ernesto Kunde will showcase a site-specific work, and another project will allow attendees to make their own mark on the artwork in question.
The party kicks off Friday, September 7, at 8 p.m. at McCormick Place, 111 SW Third St., Miami. Admission is free. Visit the Facebook page for more information.