Miami People

Brook Dorsch: Father Wynwood

Kids crunch food-truck tacos; long-haired, barefoot musicians strum and sing; and overdressed hipsters with mixed expressions watch performance art. Gallerist Brook Dorsch remembers a time before scenes like these dominated Wynwood.

"It was a lot quieter," he says of the days when he first purchased a place in the area about 11 years ago. Other galleries included only Locust Projects, Bernice Steinbaum, the Bakehouse, and Marty Margulies's place. Besides the sound of planes flying overhead at night while he sipped beer on his patio, Dorsch remembers hearing only "a crackhead riding a bicycle with no tires, just on rims, making a little noise, but that was endearing." Now, he says, instead of inhaling toxic fumes, locals "smell fresh-roasted coffee from Panther."

Dorsch jokingly refers to himself as "a stupid guy who won't leave." From the comfort of Lester's, a neighborhood joint around the corner from his NW 24th Street location, he offers advice to new gallerists: "It's all about giving the right energy. That energy could fade very quickly, so think about the long-term plan if you really want to keep doing it."

Dorsch opened his first gallery in 1991 in his apartment off Coral Way. Now, in a pretentious industry, he remains grounded, working full-time as an engineer designing Internet networks for ships. The position allows him the freedom to show the art he loves. "A lot of this stuff is just me, self-taught. I was just hungry for it," he reveals. "I felt like I was doing something for these artists, and I felt they were doing important things."

A huge music lover who collects his ticket stubs in a shoe box, Dorsch notes, "I was the only one in Miami showing sound art for such a long time." That includes the experimental music festival Subtropics and Miami's reigning king of noise, Rat Bastard.

"The really good artists are those who are always changing their work," he observes.

Over the years, the art he has shown has evolved with the vision of his co-curator and wife, Tyler, as well as his own desire to grow. "That's sort of been a little bit of the challenge — changing with the scene and still showing things I truly believe in. And that's what I love to do."

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Liz Tracy has written for publications such as the New York Times, the Atlantic, Refinery29, W, Glamour, and, of course, Miami New Times. She was New Times Broward-Palm Beach's music editor for three years. Now she plays one mean monster with her 2-year-old son and obsessively watches British mysteries.
Contact: Liz Tracy