ArtCenter Bids Farewell to Iconic Lincoln Road Location

Lincoln Road in known for many things these days — $15 lobster tails, parking lots out of Architectural Digest, and sunburned European tourists. As the strip quickly morphs into a cosmopolitan shopping mall, one of the places responsible for the area’s boom closes its doors. This Saturday, ArtCenter/South Florida took a bow with the final show at its current location. The landmark institution housed more than 40 artist studios, galleries, and work spaces for emerging local talent.

The closing comes after announcements late last year that the building was sold for a whopping $88 Million to South Beach TriStar 800, according to the Miami Herald. The company, who also owns the W South Beach Hotel, plan to transform the ArtCenter’s current headquarters at 800 and 810 Lincoln Road into dining and entertainment businesses.

Despite the sale, things aren’t over for the South Florida landmark. This weekend locals got a taste of some of some of the best creative talent nurtured by the center. Taking a page from its long history as a part of Miami’s art scene, the center commissioned performances by Madrid based artist Esther Mañas and Arash Moori. The two created a sound sculpture that played outside the center, beckoning the curious. The site specific work was inspired by the space’s architectural surroundings.

Inside, commissioned work from various artist highlighted Lincoln Road’s desolate past. The works were peppered among empty studios, breathing life into the soon-to-be vacant space. As party goers weaved in and out of maze-like passageways, admiring the installations, they jammed to music courtesy of DJ Jody McDonald that recalled the '80s and '90s.
Back then Miami’s art scene was dire straits, along with Lincoln Road and most of South Beach. In 1984, The ArtCenter took over the old Burdines building as part of the city’s attempt to use artist to reinvigorate the area. The hope, according to the Miami Herald, was that “the three-block colony on the west end of the mall eventually will attract sidewalk cafes, nighttime entertainment – and people.”

Thanks to its success the ArtCenter bought three other buildings along the thoroughfare, converting them into affordable studio spaces as well.

With this latest sale, only 924 Lincoln Rd remain under their auspices. A small group of longtime artists have moved to the new digs in hopes of having a better space in the future. Board Members are seeking to build a space where they can house all their talent under one roof.  “I actually like the new space because I’m on the first floor,” said Karelle Levy, a resident artist working mostly in textiles, “I’m happy not to haul boxes and equipment up a flight of stairs.”

This weekend’s shindig signaled the completion of a decades long mission. As shops, tourist, and eateries swell along Lincoln’s increasingly crowded sidewalks it seems that the ArtCenter met its original goal, and then some.
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Neil Vazquez is an arts and entertainment writer who works at the intersection of highbrow and lowbrow A Miami native and Northwestern University graduate, he usually can be found sipping overpriced coffee, walking his golden retriever, or doing yoga.
Contact: Neil Vazquez