Best Junk Store - 2009
Urban Garden/B West Studio
You know that saying, "One man's trash is another man's treasure"? Well, week-old milk and scratched James Bond DVDs sort of disprove that one. But over at Urban Garden, a charming, slightly kitschy art studio-meets-furniture shop on NE 79th Street, the ponytailed, Coral Gables-born artist in residence, William Valanilla and Peter Caruso, may as well have invented the idiom. He has spent most of his life turning junk into one-of-a-kind, useful home décor. Chandeliers are molded from bulky electrical wires. Sculptures are made using an abandoned mannequin and old car keys. A portrait of Christ emerges from a tossed piece of plywood. And none of this comes across in a pretentious next-big-Basel-project kind of way. The place smells like Grandma's moth balls, is always out of toilet paper, and is filled with the types of paintings and 1950s trinkets that will keep you browsing for hours on a rainy day. When we say "junk," we mean it only as the highest form of compliment.