During the past year, Second Saturday has exploded into a sensory-scorching spectacle that is part visual kaleidoscope and part street festival stretching between Wynwood and the Design District. In fact, some observers wonder if the artsy party is growing out of control.
What began as a low-key crawl hosted by a small group of Art Basel-inspired locals in early 2003 has ignited into a sprawling showcase of the varied artwork being developed by the 305's creative types and visiting talent from across the globe. It's a case of literal arte en todas partes blooming from the dozens of galleries, art institutions, and pop-up spaces, as well as the neighborhood's streets and walls.
New Times contacted a panel of area dealers and arts activists -- some pioneers, others newer to the scene -- to share their opinions on the wildly popular event's impact on local culture.
We also asked them about the audiences they aspire to attract, the quality of work exhibited, and whether Second Saturday has reached a tipping point or needs fixing.
Our informal jury includes Edge Zones' Charo Oquet; Dina Mitrani, who operates an eponymous space; the Black Square Gallery's Ron Kritzler; the Dorsch Gallery's Alan Gutierrez; and Dot Fiftyone Gallery's Isaac Perelman, who is also director of the recently formed Miami Art Dealers Association, a coalition of nearly 30 galleries working to change Second Saturday and make it more inviting to collectors and families.
New Times: What impact do you think Second Saturday has had on Miami's cultural growth and identity?
Alan Gutierrez: The Wynwood art walk has caused art viewing to become an event, much like a street fair or a carnival. This isn't necessarily a negative outcome, but not all artwork is conducive to this critical-mass context. It is possible that this context, along with Art Basel, has caused Miami's cultural identity to be portrayed as "art for event's sake," ignoring the sensitive experiences that can be had between art walks and fairs.
Isaac Perelman: We believe Second Saturday's main impact is that the masses have become aware of the importance of art as a mobilizing factor. Also, it helped to put Miami on the international map in terms of becoming a city that has something to offer beyond the beaches, the clubs, and the exoticism of the Latin community.
Why do you think the event has become so popular, attracting people of all ages and social strata?
Charo Oquet: During tough economic times, this is a great place to be seen and meet friends. Traditionally it has attracted lots of hipsters and indies. You can go back to your neck of the woods and feel you have been exposed to something new, whether it is art or fashion. When you come to this area, you get clued up. It's all free. You don't have to spend money if you don't want to.
Do you think Second Saturday has reached critical mass, or do you think we can expect bigger crowds in the future?
Dina Mitrani: As a gallery owner, I do hope the crowds remain genuinely interested in art.
Ron Kritzler: At this time, we are at full capacity. When people can no longer walk on the sidewalk and cars cannot transit on the street, you are full.
Do you think the quality of work exhibited during the art crawl has evolved in recent years, or is there room for growth?
Oquet: In the beginning, it had super stuff because it was only those who really knew what was up that it attracted. Now with the quality of people it is attracting, the tendency will be to show works that these people would want to buy. I hope I am wrong.
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Gutierrez: Art walk has happened in response to the exhibitions the galleries present. The artistic happenings that specifically arose in response to the actual art walk, I would say, are murals and street performances. These happenings range from Brandon Opalka's upcoming painterly/spray-painted addition on a wall of Wynwood, to Misael Soto's participatory performance of inviting passersby to crack a beer and watch a movie with him on the NW Second Avenue sidewalk. All of which are examples of great work sparked by the recent foot traffic.
Read the full interviews in this week's printed Arts & Eats Guide. Look for our monthly Second Saturday critic's picks in the print edition and online at cultistmiami.com.