If you were a kid with an affinity for anything artistic, you definitely visited a Pearl Paint Art Supply Store. Heck, you could have even bought watercolors or a brush at the South Miami location as recently as a few months ago. But like library card catalogs and VCRs, Pearl is now a relic that today's kiddos will never experience. The chain went into bankruptcy, and shuttered its last location--the flagship in Fort Lauderdale -- in August of this year.
Rather than let the store's lengthy history go gently into that good night, Barry Fellman of the Center for Visual Communication decided to rage, rage against the dying the of light. Fellman bought the store's stock and has recreated the Pearl experience in his gallery space, just in time for Basel revelers.
The store started as a single art supply store in New York's Chinatown during the Great Depression, and eventually grew to a nationwide chain of 25 Pearls before shutting its doors earlier this year.
The re-creation is more than just a novelty. The concept, Fellman says, is designed to raise awareness for the lack of arts funding in schools.
The show will run through Basel and beyond -- at least four months here in Miami. Then, it will travel.
"The idea is that this will be a symbol for the disappearance of art in our schools and the disappearance of funding and support for arts in the schools," Fellman explains. "Many teachers now have to buy art supplies out of their own pocket. Things seem to be going towards STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) at the expense of the arts and it's been lamented and it's a known direction. The system seems to encourage teaching to the test."
"One thing that I think need to be connected is that the very act of making art is creating and thinking trying to figure out where to go, exploring and experimenting and not being afraid to fail," he added. "So these qualities are important in child development and not only do they help create a being that's interested and curious but they help teach the lesson that failure is part of the system."
In addition to the store component (although nothing in the store is actually for sale, it's like a time capsule), there's also a studio component. Pastel artist Dan Bondroff will be on-site, working live for visitors.
Additionally, CVC will be partnering with Miami-based Arts for Learning and other local school-centric non-profits to collect materials and funds for their visual arts programs -- so feel free to bring goodies (or your checkbook) along.
The exhibit will be open to the public at the CVC, 541 NW 27th St., through Friday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.
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