RAW Artists' Group Launches in Miami With Graffiti, Fashion, and Tattoos

Get ready, hipsters! Tomorrow, RAW makes its Miami debut. No, we're not talking about professional wrestling. (We learned our lesson on that subject already.) This RAW is kind of like the Avengers, only without the superpowers, assassin-level fighting skills, and flying armored suits. Which is to say, it's a collection of interesting, freaky people out to make the world a better place.

RAW is a nationwide society of painters, musicians, fashion designers, make-up artists, hair stylists, tattoo artists, photographers, jewelry makers, graffiti artists, and other talented creative types. And Wednesday from 8 p.m. to midnight, as many as 30 such artists belonging to RAW's newly created local chapter will show their stuff at The Stage, during a cocktail attire event organizers describe as "The Blend."

RAW was founded by Heidi Luerra out of necessity and desperation. A

recent high school graduate from a small California town, Luerra

journeyed to Los Angeles in 2003 with the intention of starting her own

children's clothing line. Unfortunately, there was so much competition

that her work wasn't noticed. So, in 2005, Luerra teamed up with her

other artist friends and threw her first art show. More than 750 people

showed up.

And that is when the idea hit her: She would start an

organization named after uncooked meat in all capital letters that will

provide artists of all kinds in the first 10 years of their career with

the resources they need to expose their work to a wider audience via the

web and various events. In 2009, RAW officially set up in Los Angeles.

By the summer of 2011, RAW spread beyond its Southern California

confines into 32 other cities around the United States. Today RAW

operates in 50 cities. By July 2012, RAW will have a presence in 62

American cities and Australia. And assuming the Mayan prophecies aren't

true, RAW will launch in China and Europe in 2013.

Leading the

RAW empire's conquest of Miami is public relations professional Rosana

Emanuelli. "My responsibility is to find great artists to represent

Miami," she says. Emanuelli also helps judge who is worthy to become

part of a RAW event by sifting through artists' online applications. "We

hand-select artists for each monthly event," she says.


that, it is kind of like being part of the Girl Scouts, except instead

of selling cookies, artists sell tickets to obtain their merit badges.

"[Advance] tickets are $10, and we use those proceeds to produce the

event and do promotions, videos, and interviews," Emanuelli says. If an

artist manages to sell 20 tickets, they can participate in any RAW event

in the nation without selling a single ticket, she adds.


who attend a RAW event can expect to hear plenty of music of various

genres, see a few fashion shows, gaze upon visually stimulating artwork,

and perhaps witness a few body-painting sessions. "It is going to be a

little bit of everything," Emanuelli says. "Every artist is completely


To get an idea how different each artist will be, log

on to For more information on RAW

itself, log on to Tickets cost $10 in advance and

$15 at the door.

--Erik Bojnansky

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Miami New Times staff