ARTFUZE: One Girl's Mission to Save The World and Miami Artists One Party at a Time

See ARTFUZE Unites Artists for Charity.

With Wynwood's Art Walks, Coconut Grove Arts Festival, and the granddaddy of all art fairs, Art Basel, most Miamians thank their lucky stars that they live in an art-forward city--a city filled with cultivated (artsy fartsy, if you will) folks who love art and really like to show it. And yet, Miami's art world has suffered some despairing losses this past year: Friends With You, Alvaro Ilizarbe, Jen Stark, and more Miami artists have all moved to greener pastures in LA.

All good things must come to an end, it's true -- but there some locals are taking matters into their own hands to help further the success of local artists without requiring a relocation.

Take Dani Bernal, the bright-eyed FIU grad behind the ARTFUZE art festival. With a mission to showcase local Miami artists of all mediums while raising funds to advocate art and education, ARTFUZE combines philanthropy and local art to form a one-of-a-kind party for all. All ARTFUZE proceeds will go towards funding Build a School in Africa and Art Studio Miami, which provides creative holistic therapy for impoverished children in Miami's Little Haiti Community.

We rang up Dani Bernal to chat more about ARTFUZE and to see what she thinks the future of Miami artists holds.

New Times: What encouraged you to start ARTFUZE?
Dani Bernal: Well, I wanted to create a feel-good event, but I kinda felt like the Miami art scene needed a little bit of love. There's a lack of communication within the art world here. It started off as a way for me to create a place where artists can meet and get to know each other. There's a lot of connections that can be made, like photographers who might want to meet filmmakers to try to get to be the director of photography in their film. But after speaking to a local artist who wanted to be included in my show I decided I also wanted to give back. I was telling him about my experience in the Dominican Republic and providing therapy to orphan children with behavioral issues, and he convinced me that those kids didn't need therapy, what they need are schools. So I molded the idea of ARTFUZE, and I started calling up some non-profits like Build a School in Africa and I fell completely in love with what they do.

How is ARTFUZE different from all other art festivals in Miami?
It's definitely a party with a purpose right now. As far as initiatives in arts and education go, a lot of the events that are in Miami right now are completely for profit and not that there's anything wrong with that--because they still help out other artists--but a lot of the events don't really include all mediums of art in one place. A lot of them just focus on either music or on just film and they have more of a niche. Mine is more diverse. Anybody that creates can join.

What do you feel the future of artists in Miami is? Positive or negative?
There's always going to be artists who are going to come to Miami. For example, this project was to showcase Miami artists, but then I ran into an artist from LA and he's creating art down here. So I kind of wanted to give it that push to give other artists from different places in the world another reason to come to Miami and work from here.

But as far as the future of art in Miami, I'm not really too thrilled with it now, just because Wynwood for instance, is charging every gallery twice the rent. Word around town is that they're trying to create a Coconut Grove kind of area, which is kind of sad. Hopefully through efforts like ARTFUZE and other initiatives we can keep Wynwood alive as far as art is concerned.

What's the future of ARTFUZE?
I want to take ARTFUZE to different mediums of creativity. I'm thinking about incorporating culinary arts and feeding off of this idea of just creating anything and everything. Hopefully, we'll be able to do it again either biannually or annually. Unfortunately I'm not going to be able to do this once a month because it's a lot of work and I have a lot of other stuff to do on the side. But for now, I definitely wanted to just give it the precedent of a feel-good event where anyone and everyone can connect and have fun.

I've been talking to a lot of other artists and they're already telling me that they wish I could do this again.

ARTFUZE will take place at 8 p.m. on Friday, August 24, at LMNT, 55 NW 36th St., Miami, 305-572-9007. Attendees can expect musical performances in the like of Xavier Bustos and K/Rex; photography by Rocio De Maio and Ted VanCleave; films by Nicole Crespo, Deb Garcia, and Jess Weos; and a live exhibition by Lauren Ann Wolfe and Nietzsche's Ghost. Artwork by Margret Accurso, Vince BadPanda Herrera, Trek Six,Isabel Brinck, and Havi Schanz will be on display.Tickets cost $25.Visit artfuze.eventbrite.com.

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